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.