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Monday, May 27, 2013


how it works (a continuing tale)

this is how it works (or how it doesn't really work, but it is how it is done).

i am unemployed.
i go and sign on.
signing on is not a joyous occasion.

i am long term unemployed.
the jobcentre isn't really there to help me (it could be argued it isn't there to help anyone).
they fob me off (though they would say 'refer') to a, one of many, private organisation who will make the unemployed employable.

that company it seems has taken on a lot of the unemployed so many in fact that they are sub contracting some of the unemployed (me included) to another company.

this company has employed another company (who are being paid by another government body) to come in and pass on their words of wisdom.
this company is also bringing yet another company to pass on yet more (and potentially conflicting) words of wisdom.

so that's at least four companies that are making some money off of my unemployment.

i wish i could get a slice of that cake for me.

Sunday, May 26, 2013


how it works

as someone who is signing on i agree to complete a job search.
i provide this list of jobs i have looked for. my advisor looks them over and signs me on.
i get my jobseekers allowance.

there are other good reasons for doing a systematic job search. you can keep a track of the jobs you have applied (more important than you would think given the fact that many of them are advertised on several sites and by multiple agencies). it is a convenient way to see which ones you have been rejected from (though more often than not you don't get a reply - the caveat being 'if you have not heard by... you haven't been selected'). also it can allow you to target job sectors or locations.

regardless of that it is a requiement.

so it is all so simple.
i do a job search, they check it, i get the jsa.

now what i would like with that is them maybe just checking what it is i am applying for.
perhaps those jobs as a brain surgeon are not quite me.
maybe i shouldn't be applying to be a ceo of a major financial company (but let's be honest here i could have driven them into the ground much quicker and cheaper than their previous boss). is beyond my skill set.

what you get is, at best, a cursory glance.
so much so that the several times i have put down that i have applied to be an adult movie star has gone by unquestioned. (now there is the slight possibility that on these occasions my advisors are thinking to themselves that he has the moves for such a career change. i just doubt it).

recently i am not even getting that.
now it is just a case of turning up. saying hi. signing the sheet and going.

it doesn't inspire confidence. it doesn't give hope.
it is a sign of what is wrong with the job centres and it is a sign of exactly how the service could be improved and how it could get more people back in to work quicker.
if only iain duncan smith and his pals were not ideologically blinkered.  

Thursday, May 23, 2013



there i was in a shop (it happens) that sells greetings cards (yes they still exist).
a shopper asks: "do you have a welcome to the company card. we've just got a new member of staff and we want to welcome them."
assistant: "doesn't look like it. you could always cross out 'leaving' on this 'sorry your are leaving' card." followed by an insincere chuckle.
shopper: "that's not a bad idea we are in pr and we are creative like that and good sense of humour.'
assistant: nods and agrees.

you could tell that the assistant wanted to say what i was thinking: "creative? you wish!".

she didn't.

it is a reason why i admire most shop keepers. 


how it works

one of the joys of being unemployed is the chance to go to visit all the wonderful organisations and schemes that are there to help the unemployed. to sup at their cup of hope and opportunity.

maybe it is the company who proclaims that they are producing 300 qualified security guards a month.
they are just one of many companies who are doing exactly the same. so maybe 30,000 plus security guards a year being popped out.
who knew there was that much that needed to be guarded.

maybe it is the company who is looking to recruit staff to provide back office talent for local councils.
local councils who are laying off people in order that they can employ the back office staff that is being offered by the company (a company that more than lilely is getting a government grant to encourage them to find employment for the long term unemployed).
a company that will stand up in front of a room full of the unemployed and boast about how they are in a long term arrangement with the local council that has the aim to get 250 people into employment in a seven year period (approximately 3 people a month).

talk about setting the bar low.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013


who would have thought it

energy company puts their prices up just before winter.
several months later energy company announces that they have increased their profits over the previous year.

no shit. what a surprise.

they also say that they intend "to resist this trend of higher costs for as long as possible to shield customers from the unwelcome impact of higher prices."
so expect them to keep prices down until october or november of 2013.

hey it's just a guess on my part.
not saying that they are cynical and mercenary at all.

bless maggie and the tories for making sure that we have such and efficient and competitive energy system 


it has gone on far too long now

the year is almost half way done. days pass by. months change.
one thing seems to remain constant - james patterson has had a paperback and a hardcover on the sainsbury's bestsellers shelves.
it is unbelievable that he can be so popular and so bad at the same time.
i would like to put his terrible writing down to his profligacy but he was bad when he was just writing a few books a year - now he is doing a book a month he is just very bad.

patterson is the proof positive that you don't have to be good or talented to succeed - but what you do have to be is dedicated and work at it.

on the subject of bad writers the new dan brown book has been released.
now like a good many other people i have read 'the da vinci code'. it is not a great book but it is a page turner. in it brown had mastered the technique of short sharp chapters that kept the reader wanting to know more. it was a page turner.
you only begin to appreciate brown's skill when you read a few of the 'da vinci code' wannabes (and there are a fair few of them). it theory it should be an easy formula to follow: a mystery, someone to solve/uncover the mystery, someone to oppose the revelation of the mystery and someone trying to usurp the mystery - chuck in several exotic locations, a few action set pieces and bob's your uncle mass market bestsellordom here you come. yet none of them seem to be able to match brown's work for pace, plotting and excitement.
so hats off to dan.
funny thing is though as soon as his new book, 'inferno', is out there are a whole slew of journalists 'reviewing' the book and all of them, sneeringly declaring it crap. personally i think they are all caught in the clutch of the green eyed monster.
not that dan brown cares as he laughs all the way to the bank.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013


right leg out, right arm out

i can't claim to have a firm view on europe.
in all honesty my thinking on europe is governed by very few facts and lots of emotion and supposition on my part.

i don't believe in the european project.
i don't believe it can work: too many diverse cultures who all value slightly different things. more power to us all for being different.
it is not even like the various european countries even like each other, after all just when i start warming to the welsh the buggers go and rob us of the grand slam.

i am not sure that political union works because it is hard enough to get the electorate to vote now but expecting accountability for a government that sits across the channel is a step too far.

so far so ukip.

but that is the problem - i don't believe the european project can work that doesn't mean to say that i am against it.
see my confusion.
my contradiction.

the real problem for most of us is that we just don't know enough about it to make a fair and informed judgement. we are trapped by having to listen to a biased press that swings in the wind of changes and self interest (recently rupert murdoch was reported as being against ukip's immigration policies - when really what this means is he is against a ban against immigration that stops him bringing in key foreign members of staff to his british operation - but don't expect the sun newspaper to be even handed with it's coverage of the immigration debate when it comes to east europeans).

yet at the moment if asked how i was going to vote then i can only say i would vote to stay involved with europe.

why? how? i can hear you asking. after all you have said and all that how can you stay in europe.

the simple answer is: michael gove. he is against europe.

michael gove wants to get out of europe - for me that can only be taken as a sign that we need to stay in europe.

a big thanks to mr. gove (and a few others) for helping me to make my decision.


get it out and get it ready

at the best of times i have problems with humanity.
sure there are a lot of very nice people out there. i have been blessed by having some very wonderful friends.
individually i quite like a lot of people (true there are an awful lot of individuals i despise; it is a long shit list).

but it is rare that i can say i like mass humanity.
there is a lot of guff about the wisdom of crowds - the people who wrote that obviously don't spend too much time in crowds and spend too much time in the gilded halls of academia coming up with bollocks that they can sell to business leaders who want to appear with it and hip and happening.

recently i have had reason to use the tube on several occasions.
i like the tube. i think my liking of the tube goes back to the times when i was stuck out in the suburbs of west london and the tube meant going into the exciting, thrilling london: journeying from dullness to wonderment.
back then i rarely traveled during rush hour, back then it was a ticket you can to the ticket collector at the gates - hoping that you had ripped off the right half of the ticket on the first leg of the journey.

now it is all whiz whaz oyster cards.
press it down and bish bosh the gates open and you go through.

rush hour is longer than an hour and is filled with people who do thw journey day after day after day.
seasoned veterans.
people who know the drill.
so you would think.

look i am out of practice but i know that before i can get to the tune i am going to have to go through the ticket barrier and in order to do that i have to have my oyster card ready.
it is not rocket science.
no oyster card (or ticket) and you are not getting through the ticket barrier.

here is another fact about tube stations - the ticket barriers are always in the same place.
go there once and you will know where they are.
no surprises.
again: simple.

so why by all that is round and yellow and can be called cheese do so many people who are regular commuters get right up to the ticket barrier and then realise that they need their ticket and then start to look through their bag or that coat or even their coat and bag before pulling out their oyster and using it with a triumphant swagger as if they had done something complex, difficult and dangerous - rather than the pedestrian regular thing it is.

these people deserve to share the same circle of hell as the wankers who decide that they will have a conversation smack dab in the middle of the stairs.

yes you are all wankers.
and yes you are all reasons why there are times i have little compassion for humanity.

Friday, May 17, 2013


in out in out

i confess i have no idea whether europe is a good thing or a bad thing.
the information available is either too complex or filtered through a very ideological lens.

however (and much against my own personal feelings) i am currently being guided by the principle of 'can't possibly agree with them'. so bearing in mind that both nigel farage and michael gove are both very keen on getting out of europe it is possible that my view has swung towards staying in europe.

it may not be the right answer but at least it means i am not sharing the same bed as farage and gove. 

Wednesday, May 01, 2013


we are all just ghosts in the machine.

for those of you lucky enough not to have had to sign on you'll have no understanding of just how soul destroyingly pointless it can sometimes be.

for want of a better word for it there is a contract between the signer on and the jobcentre. the signer agrees to do certain things and in return the jobcentre provides help, advice and sanctions the largesse that is the jobseekers allowance.
so far so reasonable.

the signer agrees to turn up for their signing on appointment with proof of looking for work,which takes the form of a list of jobs applied for.
it is not an onerous request.
in many ways your job search helps define what you are looking for. they are not asking you to have searched for hundreds of jobs, to be honest it is a modest number of jobs you have had to apply for. (which is lucky because it isn't like there are lots of  suitable jobs out there that you can apply for).

this has changed recently with the advent of a computerised system that allows the jobcentre to see some of the jobs you have applied for as you have to apply for some online.
it is a little bit big brotherish, it is also not necessarily the best use of resources because they are not looking at the jobs you are applying for but just the number you have applied for. my application to become a surgeon is just as valid as my one to become a playboy bunny as my one to become a clerical assistant (i didn't get any of them)..

it is a painless process that has some purpose.
or it should have a purpose if the jobcentre was there to help.
those of us who have to go to the jobcentre for any length of time quickly discover that the staff in the jobcentre have no interest in helping you they are just there to tick boxes.

on my last two visits i have had two different advisers. neither of them able to shed much light on the situation of the work programme i am supposed to be starting.
the first adviser told me that the work programme was a bit of a disaster. oh and that next time i was in the jobcentre my job search would be looked at.
when that next time came the new adviser told me that i still hadn't been booked in with the work programme (going on three months now - private companies: gotta love 'em). oh and that next time i was in the jobcentre my job search would be looked at.

my last three visits have given me no information. my job search hasn't been looked at.
i'm the first to admit that my job search isn't riveting reading - yet it should at least be providing a starting point for the jobcentre advisers to guide me. that might be the case if they cared or if they had been trained properly for the job.
they don't. they haven't.

to make matters worse i haven't read one positive thing about the private providers of work programmes and their successes.
maybe they'll check my job search when i get to report to them.