Thursday, 21 July 2011

The art of looking

It's quite an art to know how to look at anything when you've been unemployed for a while. Especially anything that relates to job seeking, or people giving you advice as to where to look and what options you might consider. Opinions are free and everyone has loads of them, especially if somebody else has to bear the consequences.

When you've applied for lots of jobs and not succeeded, that begins to chip at your self-confidence and hopes. You begin to become unsure of what you can actually do. It’s OK to keep a foot in voluntary work but you begin to think, they'll take anyone, won't they? The little voice in the head can get busy concocting all kinds of scenarios.

My friend John who is middle-aged, just like me, likes to believe he’s a realist: “Look at the facts,” he says. “Our skills are getting out of date with all this computer stuff. Nobody wants us for anything, apart from stocking up supermarket shelves.” And since he doesn’t want to stock supermarket shelves, John has concluded he’ll never work again.

I find that outlook rather pessimistic. I don’t want to believe my friend could be right. But I look at jobs on some job websites and despair (not just for myself) when I notice there are three hundred applicants for pokey little jobs that pay under £20,000 a year. I look at the Third Sector jobs site: I find myself hopeful that there are jobs for which I have the exact skill set, even when I get nada response to my applications.

I guess I’m keen to keep walking the fine line between realism and hope, while taking care not to descend into pessimism. Or worse, cynicism. I hang in there. I don't let the snipers kill off my hopes. I’m sure it’s better than looking backwards – to the good old days or how things have never worked out. Or looking around to notice evidence of the bad economy and the media and politicians arguing about where we’re at.

It takes something to master the art of looking and not letting oneself be pulled down by what one sees. Do you want to know my secret? I’ve picked a lesson or two from Epictetus. Epi … who? I hear you ask. I’ll tell you more the next time!

by Ready Ready, guest contributor

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

News of the World RIP

As we all know by now Rupert Murdoch's News of the Screws is no more.

Now I don't for a moment wish to underestimate the enormity of what they have done, nor how repulsive their actions have been, not to mention the illegality and just how immorally they have behaved for far too long. Even News International are telling us there is more (and we can only presume, worse) to come.

I'm not going to do the outrage, I'm not going to explain the significance of it all, shit you can get all the stern disapproval elsewhere, about the collapse of society as we know it.

News of the World has been part of my life since I started to read it agog as a paperboy in the late 1970's. Even before that 13 year old boy became a reader, (and I admit, a fan) I had a vague sense of its national importance. Looking at the front cover on a Sunday morning is like looking at those smutty postcards at the seaside. You know, the "ooh-er missus" type of thing.

You might be wondering what on earth this has got to do with the unemployed and the benefit culture which is what I profess to bang on about? Well for starters there's the two hundred journalists who lost their jobs over the weekend. I must admit that they finished their last shift with some dignity, all leaving work together. I'm old enough to remember the huge fuss when Rupert Murdoch moved his News International set-up; lock, stock and barrel from Fleet Street, or thereabouts, to Wapping. This was 1986 when union bashing was very much in vogue.

I'm reasonably certain that it was journalists who worked for Murdoch who invented the phrase benefit scroungers, this alone speaks volumes about News of the World and their outlook, and I don't doubt their boss, Rupert Murdoch. I really feel that we have lost a piece of what can only be described as a part of the British establishment.