Gis’ a job

February 29, 2012 at 11:34 am | Posted in Career, work, Youth | 4 Comments
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In this week’s Grazia, four Warwick University graduates discuss their battles to find any work, let alone a graduate position.

I can relate well to their struggle, and it is a struggle particularly close to my heart, as I am a Warwick alumna. In 2006, I graduated with a 2:1 in English and German: my graduation photo shows me sporting red lipstick and a slightly tipsy smile (the German Department enjoy a drink, apparently). What you may not realise, when looking at this photo of me, is that I had absolutely no idea what to do with my life.

I spent the summer pretty depressed about leaving Warwick. Not because I wanted to be a student forever, you understand, but rather because I didn’t know what else to do forever. I went back to Berlin and Amsterdam with a couple of friends, and spent the holiday trying to disguise how depressed I was. At one point, I went to a blind restaurant in Berlin and sat there in the dark, crying. Not a highlight of my first adult summer.

On returning from my holidays, I worked in a residential home and then started a journalism course that September. This course failed to inspire me; I know how precious that will sound, but learning shorthand and the ins and outs of local government was not how I wanted to spend my days. One Monday, instead of getting the train to Farringdon, I stayed in Croydon to job search. A girl came up to me and asked if I would read her the letter from the DSA in her hand. It was then that I determined to do something with my life, and never to end up in similar circumstances.

And so I left the course, and spent the rest of the year interpreting and translating in an insurance office in Canterbury by day, and working in a pub by night. The interpreting was fascinating; one day, a man phoned from Germany to tell me that his colleague had lost a foot in an accident. I had to then snap out of my shock to ask my boss from the compensation was likely to be.

From January to March 2007, I booked ferry tickets for German speaking customers in P & O’s Dover call centre. The job itself was tedious, but paid reasonably, and I enjoyed speaking to Germans again, particularly those in Berlin.

However, I left P & O, as I had decided to become a teacher, and after spending yet another summer at the residential home, I took up the position of Graduate Teacher Trainee at St Edmund’s R. C. School in Dover. Fittingly, the words, ‘baptism’ and ‘fire’ spring to mind when I think of the five months I spent teaching. I sank into depression again, regularly falling asleep as early as 630pm. Teaching children The Tempest when they cannot even construct a paragraph is utterly pointless.

As I was pretty rubbish at it, I was forced out of teaching, and I’ve never been so glad about anything in my life. I was not a natural: I lacked that essential patience you need to communicate alien concepts to teenagers, and I certainly lacked empathy.

So I spent six months unemployed and out of my mind. I applied for nigh on 50 jobs, which I realise is far fewer than some people apply for before they are offered a position, and even had to chase some of the firms to find out the outcome of my interview. Eventually, a very nice man called Neil offered me the role of bookseller at Waterstones Thanet, and I can say quite honestly that I have never been happier in a job. Most days, I wake up thrilled to be going to work, and I can’t wait to become assistant manager at Waterstones Tenterden.

So I would like to tell those Warwick graduates not to give up, and to take any job they can. In the six years since graduating, I’ve been a cleaner, residential home carer, market researcher, call centre worker, translator/interpreter, barmaid, teacher and bookseller. I am still nowhere near earning a graduate salary, but I have found a job I love. And after all, what’s more important?

And the best bit is…..

January 20, 2012 at 8:13 pm | Posted in Career, London, Waterstone's, work | Leave a comment
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….I’ve got an assistant manager interview Friday! In London! Wooooooo!

Sweetness, I was only joking….

January 18, 2012 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Career, internet, Uncategorized, work | Leave a comment
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….or semi-joking, at least, about the Googling. Google away, if you are so inclined, particularly if you are someone who can help my career (which is pretty much one of the only three things I care about).  It fascinates me, the internet, this endlessly-populated and limitless population we’ve created.  Can you imagine if it ceased to exist?  It would be utterly bizarre.

Oh, go on then…..

January 15, 2012 at 7:46 am | Posted in family, friends, motherhood, Waterstone's, work | Leave a comment
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Ladies and gents, roll up, roll up: yes, it’s that time of year again.  The time when we decide we need to lose three stone, or stop robbing cheese or graphic novels (you know who you are), or give up crack for Lent.  Don’t make me say the R-word – here are mine:

1) Be a better mum. Patience, time, and most of all, love.

2) Go to Italy, for god’s sake.  It’s ridiculous I haven’t been there yet.

3)  Get an AM job in the next year. It will happen.

4) Get in touch with people I’ve not seen in christ knows how long.

5) Give up the cancer sticks.

That’s all.

The Luddite relents….

January 14, 2012 at 8:53 pm | Posted in books, capitalism, film, men, women, work | 1 Comment
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Have you seen Metropolis? No? Well, what are you waiting for? It is one of the greatest cinematic achievements known to mankind; sadly, the version Fritz Lang wanted is lost, leaving us with only a fragment of his vision.

Anyway, Metropolis is a truly beautiful film which shows what happens when society becomes increasingly industrialised. There are two characters called Maria in the film: one is angelic and endeavours to save her fellow humans from the horrors of the Heart Machine, and the other is a devilish and sexy mechanical Maria, engineered to incite the workers to rebel, whilst encouraging them to remain at the mercy of their dangerous, industrial surroundings.  Well, my new IPhone has turned me into the latter, and to hell with it (gentlemen, I would never trust an angelic lady: cinematic studies have proven that they usually have teeth in unmentionable places. More on that subject later).  What I mean to say is, is that I am finally embracing technology and joining the twenty-first century. I will never ever own a Kindle and will continue to fight to preserve the book; I will never worship at the Apple shrine or give a toss about Facebook again (cue one giant collective sigh of relief). But I shall continue to develop a passion for computer shortcuts, and the quirks of the somewhat antiquated Phoenix system. I shall continue to enjoy the thrill of seeing just how quickly I can type an email or text. I may never be a technophile, but I’ll certainly never be a technophobe again.

Kaffee und Kuchen

January 16, 2011 at 8:31 am | Posted in friends, love, men, relationships, work | Leave a comment
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I appear to have entered the caffeine-free zone – save for a sachet of Nescafe which I discovered speaking to me in the cupboard.  I cannot stand starting a work day without a coffee and a cigarette (tea is suffiecient on a day off), and although I cannot expect Emma to stock the latter, I fully expect to see a Willy Wonka’s factory – size coffee jar the next time I come to visit.

I am not a coffee snob, a fact I’m sure you’ll have gathered from my allusion to Nescafe (although if I’m out, my preference is Caffe Nero, then Starbucks, the Costa), but I cannot abide awful tea bags.  Ideally, it has to be Sainsbury’s Red Label, Twinings or Yorkshire Tea, and the bag has to brew for a good two minutes – none of that gnat’s piss malarkey for me, please.

My dear friend is getting married in April to a guy whom I have been informed is a coffee snob of the highest order.  I am sorely tempted to greet him with a cup of Nescafe’s finest instant when I finally do meet him.

Schlaf in himmlischer Ruh…..

January 16, 2011 at 2:25 am | Posted in books, dreams, family, house, insomnia, work | Leave a comment
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…………or not.  Not only can I not sleep, and have been forced to confront the Clipper Sleep Easy tea which smells of manure and other unwanted countryside fragrances, but I also still have the freaking Carpenters in my head (Goodbye to Love, to be precise).  Nice and uplifting for 2am on a Sunday morning in winter.

If I lived here, I would go outside for a cigarette, or, better still, have a cheeky fag in the flat, but this is my friend Emma’s place, and she probably wouldn’t be too impressed by the smell of tobacco, given her ex-smoker status.

So, I have work tomorrow at 9:30; great, let’s hope I’ve managed to actually get some sleep by then, given the fact that I have to drive to Thanet and may have to cash up/operate heavy machinery (ok, well, Phoenix is neither ‘heavy’ not a ‘machine’, but there you go.

I’m not prone to imsomnia, but I am susceptible to bouts of nervous energy; it’s one of the reasons for my recent weight loss, along with too many fags and an aversion to breakfast.  My brain is at its most active at the most inconvenient times, lately, mainly because I am no longer living with my son and therefore no longer need to be a lark.  I’ve never quite decided if it’s a lark or an owl I am naturally; I was an owl at university until prescribed Prozac, which turned me into the larkiest of larks, for want of a more suitable epithet.  If you need to be wide awake and raring to go at 5am, I heartily recommend it.

It is now 2:10am and I am starting to worry, given the fact that my morning shower and subsequent attempt to get a comb through my sodden hair really require me to rise at 7:30.  Yes, many an all-nighter was pulled during my university days, but I would not advocate doing so when you actually have to work for a living.  Nevertheless, despite the hour and the fumes of toxic, manure-esque Clipper tea invading my nostrils, I am decidedly bright-eyed.  I need a lullaby from W H Auden.

The other day, my dad (I am chez parents while waiting to move into my new house) walked in and woke me from a delicious dream.  I was playing a clown on Eastenders and Hilary Mantel had offered to give me free piano lessons and pay me £350 a week to write.  Nice work if you can get it, eh?

What will survive of us is love

January 15, 2011 at 11:13 pm | Posted in books, debate, men, Waterstone's, work | Leave a comment
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The Doobyman

When I was but thirteen or so (ok, sixteen, but I wanted to go all poetical), my parents started giving me £100 a month pocket money (what a spoiled brat I was).  It never went very far, for on that first Saturday of the month, I would hotfoot it to Canterbury in search of the finest gin, kitten heels and new publications.  Yes, I would dabble with Methuen, the charity shops and the independent bookshops, but Waterstone’s was my favourite.  Back in the day, there was only the one in Canterbury, the ‘chip shop one’, as I call it, and I would linger there in the poetry section, hoping to meet my future husband (what a ridiculously romantic teenager I was).

 I am no longer that sixteen year old in her secondhand Burberry trench, scouting the Sylvia Plath section for lines to rip off.  Twelve years on, and my lyrical tastes are more Thomas Hardy and Hugo Williams than the suicidal poets (although Anne Sexton’s verse is truly beautiful).  But I still believe in beautiful bookshops, and I still rage against the company which offers half price chocolate at its tills and employs someone who thinks The Life of Pi is a cookbook.  I still believe in bookshops in beautiful buildings, where the booksellers actually know if Nigel Slater wrote a cookbook called Simple Suppers and who the author of The Master and the Margarita is.  And I really do believe that the company for whom I work will rise, Phoenix-like (how fitting), out of its slightly financially dubious ashes and remain the bookseller’s in which I once loved to roam and for whom I now love to work.  Simples.

Blue Monday indeed

May 24, 2010 at 7:55 pm | Posted in books, Boredom, Literature, Reading, sleep, Uncategorized, Waterstone's, work | Leave a comment
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I want to be doing this:

but I also yearn to feel inspired (that sentence makes me sound as if I need to read Women Who Think Too Much, or an equally cringeworthy read, but hey).

The fact is, my friends, that after work, which I love very much and don’t want to do less of (bad Amy – you ended a clause in a preposition!), Dooby feeding, bathing, dressing and entertaining, and sleep (mmmm, sleep, come to me), there really isn’t much time for anything else.  Yes, I know that their not being enough hours in the days is not exactly a new idea, but that’s not quite what I mean.  What I want is to feel interested again.  It’s been too long since I finished a book; I managed about six in Florida this March, where the hell is the next novel which makes me let my coffee sink to arctic temperatures?

I’m not depressed; I don’t think so, anyway.  It’s true that boredom is often just a mask for the black dog, but I don’t think that’s my problem.  I just want something to stun me.  Is that too much to ask?

P.S.  Yes, I know I sell books and should be able to find one which takes my fancy quite easily, but I can’t.  So there.

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