Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Josh Finds a Real-Life Use for Film Studies.

Greg answers the phone first thing, and then imparts some wonderful news: The Boss has decided to take today and tomorrow off. Oh, the relief! Greg does some celebratory sit-ups, and I even attempt a few. Well, one - but it's a start. (I need to build up quite quickly though - there's only just over a week to go, until I meet Johnny.)

Even though this probably represents the shortest summer holiday ever known to man - apart from mine and Greg's, of course - Recess ends on Friday, so who cares? And, even though it is short notice, we don't need to re-schedule most of Andrew's appointments, as we only made them to give him something to do - so it'll hardly be a disaster if they never take place.

We're so elated that we zoom through today's work. There are none of The Boss' usual pointless interruptions, and my concentration is much improved by the absence of the cloud of his recent disapproval. I'm actually in quite a good mood by the time I get home.

Josh isn't. He's had to sign on for the first time today, and when I ask how he got on, he starts ranting like Mr Meeurghn.

"Why don't they tell you not to join the bloody queue in the entrance to the Jobcentre?" he yells. "Standing there like a muppet made me late to sign on, and then I got in trouble, even though I'd been in the building for ages."

"What happened?" I say. (Honestly, sometimes my home life resembles my working day in a very depressing manner.)

"The woman said that she was showing me a yellow card," says Josh.

"What?" I find this hard to believe. "Did she actually say that?"

"Yes," says Josh. "She seemed to think she was Alec Bloody Ferguson. And would it kill the staff to call people by their full names?"

"What do you mean?"

"When it's your turn to sign on, they only call you by your surname," says Josh. "It was worse then being at school. She just shouted, 'Bennett!' Talk about dehumanising."

I am amazed that my son knows the word, let alone uses it in normal conversation. Maybe I am not such a bad mother after all.

If I get a chance, I shall speak to the manager of the Jobcentre tomorrow, and check whether his staff are supposed to be talking to claimants like that. There's no call for it. After all, if they weren't lucky enough to have lots of unemployed people to deal with, they'd be out of work themselves. And if I can manage to be civil to the usual suspects - when they're all completely bonkers and abusive - then it doesn't seem too much to expect Jobcentre staff to bloody well be polite to sane, pleasant people. (Not to mention that I don't take well to people picking on my children, as Mr Thumb almost learned to his cost.)

Josh is so annoyed about the whole experience that he says he never wants to sign on again, and I start wondering whether the Jobcentre have a deliberate policy of being thoroughly unpleasant to people, in order to deter them from making claims? I don't mention this to Josh, as there's no point in winding him up, and anyway, it turns out that today's visit wasn't a complete waste of time. He must have compensated for the yellow card somehow, as he has been approved to apply for a job for which the Jobcentre are pre-selecting candidates. It's at the cinema.

"I told you Film Studies would come in handy," he says.

I think he's being a bit over-optimistic, but wisely keep quiet. You have to allow your kids to retain some comforting illusions, after all. And anyway, at least the job is full-time, so I am going to keep my fingers crossed Josh gets it. Maybe he'll even be moving out soon, once he has saved up enough money for the deposit on a rented flat. Then Max and I will be able to have rampant sex all over the house, hopefully before we get osteoporosis and can't take the risk, despite finally having the opportunity.

This thought makes me almost as keen to get things moving as Josh is, so I spend all evening helping him write a CV. This involves making a mountain out of the veritable molehill that is Josh's meagre work experience, and proves very challenging. Honestly, what chance do school-leavers have of finding work in this economic climate, when listing their skills and experience barely fills half a side of A4?

In the end, I agree to pad the CV out by trying to make Josh's hobbies sound far more productive than they actually are - though I refuse to add "National Skateboarding Champion" to his list of achievements.  You never know, he might be asked to give a demonstration at interview, and then where would he be? Though I suppose he could always use his (un)broken arm as an excuse. He'd probably claim it was a skateboarding accident, now I come to think of it - which occurred during a world record attempt. I do hope that he'll find a job where he can put all that imagination to good use.


  1. Few discernible skills.

    A temper.

    No life experience outside his comfort zone.

    Vivid imagination.

    ... and yet he always strikes me as fundamentally likeable.

    Has he thought about running for Parliament?

  2. Haha! You aren't the first person to suggest a political career for Josh - rather worryingly. But he IS fundamentally likeable - which might be a bit of a handicap ;-)

  3. When I was unemployed, complaining to the Jobcentre Plus staff was like smashing my head against a brick wall. Actually, no. Smashing my head against a brick wall was more productive. Now I consider the matter, I should have enacted the latter of the two more frequently.

    As a person in extremely close proximity to a person of political ... power (although the word power in contextual conjunction with Andrew Sinclair seems awfully inappropriate based on your description of him), I do hope you have more success (than I had) indicating the errors and insensitivities of their procedures, protocols, and staff.

    In their defence, I was far less eloquent at the time. In my defence, I was far less eloquent because of the way they treat people.