I Just Don’t Know What To Do With Myself

I wonder if the Department for Work and Pensions have the internet. I’m guessing – based on my dealings with them this morning – that they do, but that they haven’t a clue how it works. But just in case, I have to start being discreet. I have, in other words, to stop making snide comments like the one I made just a few seconds ago and learn to keep my stupid sodding mouth shut. Ach. It’s a bit of a pain not being anonymous any more.

So be it.

I am Karl Webster and here is my news.

I spent a weekend in London and was overawed and humbled by the generosity of old friends. I also dismantled a garden shed, which made me realise that what I should be – rather than a sub-editor, or a language teacher, or a translator, or God forbid, a writer – I should be a gardener. I have experience too. A little. Back when I was an unskilled builder to the stars – Sinead O’Connor, Anthony Minghella, Harold Pinter’s agent – I did quite a bit of gardening work, and I always loved it. I love the breath of the sun on my concave chest and the honest burn and thrum of a worked muscle.

So that’s what I told them today, at the job centre – or rather, the Jobcentre Plus – it has a ‘plus’ now. That’s progress. ‘I want to work outside,’ I said. ‘I love the honest burn and thrum of a worked muscle.’

Brian was very nice. ‘I can’t tell you what to do,’ he told me. ‘However….’ He then suggested that there was a much greater possibility of me finding work if I concentrated on one of the areas in which I have most of my experience. He was referring to the teaching of English as a foreign language or the sub-editing of arse-numbingly tedious magazines. Ironically, the area in which I actually have the most experience is writing… but not paid writing.

Still, tonight – as an experiment – I put ‘writer’ into the Direct Gov online jobsearch engine, just to see what would happen. What happened was that I was offered one job as a minimum-wage nutritionist or another as a British Sign Language interpreter (pay ‘exceeds minimum wage’). And that’s not the kind of writing I do. Actually, unless I’m mistaken, that’s not actually writing at all.

So I put in ‘gardener’ and I discovered that gardeners get paid, on average, between £6 and £7 an hour.

I was quite shocked by this. I may as well become a nurse. But no… I must follow my heart. And my heart says write, dear boy, write. So. Writing. Writing, writing, writing. A writer writes.

Ooh, something good happened. I forgot to say. A couple of weeks ago, a magazine editor told me he liked my balls. This was because I sent him something. Not a photograph of my balls, but a terse, querulous email having a miffed pop at him for ignoring a pitch I’d sent him a few weeks earlier. ‘File a test piece,’ he said. ‘What else can you write about?’ I filed. I told him. He’s ignoring me again. The shit.

So this is my plan…

I need to rejig my online presence, optimise myself and remove obstacles.

Then, through a delicious cocktail of sporadic physical exercise, utterly self-centred Buddhist practice, absolute bloody-mindedness in terms of Project Festival, and benefit-scrounging, I will stumble on through the Spring, into the Summer and my 44th year of existence, and… I don’t know…. Something will turn up.

Most probably tomorrow.


About the Author

I am Karl Webster. I wrote these words. If you liked them, you'll be overjoyed to know that there are plenty more where they came from. So you should definitely sign up to my newsletter if you haven't already.

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