Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Bitter, Possibly Twisted

I suppose as a socialist I shouldn't mind if I'm used, taken advantage of or just generally looked upon as a vehicle for others to benefit...

Two weeks of rediscovering that my mojo hadn't fled, it had just been sitting at the pit of my soul waiting to be reawakened by something, and then just as it is coaxed out it gets butt-fucked back into oblivion. Tis the way of life for some people.

A more kindly review of my book, My Monthly Curse, suggested that if nothing else my timing is off. It's not like the opportunities aren't there, it's like I'm never in the right place at the right time. The book essentially says look how good and unbelievably unlucky I am. Look how I've helped others make loads of money or have careers while I try not to sound too bitter and twisted about not succeeding myself. I am aware of this. I do know that deep down inside me there is this black and nasty thing that hates everyone and everything because I feel I should have got more out of life than I did. Fortunately (or maybe not) there's this bright, colourful, reasonable angel that tempers the black and says things like - that's what happens when you spend half of your life stoned when you could have been doing something practical with it.

The black can't argue with that logic, even if it argues that even when I had my chances I never got the breaks I deserved... Back in the 1980s, long before any comics nonsense crept back into my life, I made a film; just a short that no longer exists, but despite all its arty pretentiousness, it was something I did and I was happy with the results and the guy who made it, using me as the only actor, was also happy and as a result it got him extra work, professional work. This was at the height of the music video craze and he was invited to do a video for a band and he was going to get me to reprise the part I'd done in the earlier short. But then he either changed his mind or someone changed it for him because a 'proper' actor was brought in and I was offered a small amount of nothing to be the on-set dog's body. Now, don't get me wrong, I can totally understand sacrificing an enthusiastic mate for a 'proper' actor, but I'm sure the proper actor started off as someone's enthusiastic mate...

It all went tits up when the 'producer' of the video stole from me. We were back at my place at the time and while I was upstairs getting changed and sorting some things out, he was helping himself to the contents of my food cupboard; crisps, biscuits, anything he could take and I went slightly fucking bonkers at him. I was unemployed and had little money and he had essentially eaten my weeks supply of munchie food in five minutes and couldn't understand what the fuss was. The director, who was more wrapped up in the film and is never one for minutiae of this nature, also couldn't see what my problem was and I sloped off of the video production with my tail between my legs thinking that I was made to feel like I overreacted. 26 years later I still don't think I overreacted. But, you know, if I'd allowed myself to be used without complaint, who knows it might have been me starring in the film made all those years later rather than the guy who 'replaced' me on that video shoot all those years ago...

I 'let him down' is a common phrase I hear from people I have worked for. Dez said it all the time although I never actually let him down on purpose. I didn't wake up in the morning and think, "I'm going to let him down today!" For starters I didn't like being him cruel to me so I wasn't about to do something to encourage his sadistic streak.

I think it's a fucking disaster when life gets in the way of ambitious people; don't you?

The problem is even there when it isn't someone's fault; when things go against me I sometimes feel like lashing out and often there's no one to lash out at. Take, for instance, a recent offer I had to do some work for a youth organisation in the county. I didn't get the job I applied for, but they were impressed enough to offer me some bank or session work. There was one catch; they didn't want to employ me, they wanted me to become self-employed and work as a contractor so that they wouldn't be responsible for anything from PAYE to sickness and holiday pay. It is a situation where an employer wants their cake and eats it.

Having a wife who is a taxman and a BMF who is an accountant this idea bothered them, but, you know, I'm not working and for all the financial stability we had it doesn't take long for that to become fragile, so any work would be good, especially if I could do enough hours to sign off of the dole. Then a series of information snippets were exchanged between me and a few knowledgeable people (plus my JCP PA) and if I become self-employed I can't claim any benefits. It's not even complicated; it's quite simple - self-employed people can't claim JSA and if you are working in that fashion, you are simply no longer unemployed therefore you can't claim any benefits. I would have needed to be guaranteed 13 hours work a week - taking into account travelling costs, incidentals and keeping some money back to pay a tax bill - to earn exactly the same as I get in JSA and guess what, they can't even guarantee me 3 hours a week at the moment, yet want me to surrender everything I get, which aint a lot anyhow, to do that?

I have another meeting about work today. At first it seemed just like a five or six week job, but after careful reading of the details I was sent it has become more and more obvious that the position is a voluntary one. There is no pay and when I approached the man doing the 'hiring', he just said, 'come in, let's talk about it," which I read as, yep it's a volunteer position perhaps I can persuade you that you should still do it. Fat chance.

I sometimes wonder if I have this big, invisible to me and close personal friends, neon sign above my head that says 'Use Me'.

The other side of the coin is my desire to do something with all the knowledge I've accrued over the years. The problem is I appear to have gained lots of experience in things that no longer work very well... Print and publishing might not be as dead as people thought, but the areas I have expertise in don't need a new magazine. I grew up in pubs and have had idea to make successful pubs for years, but, you know, 10 times as many pubs go out of business as become successful. And over the last 12 years or so, I made a career working with the young and disenfranchised. Now there's no money for these things, the best I can get is voluntary work - that's your Big Society for you - be proud working for nothing while you starve to death!

I can't believe someone who has had so many good ideas feels like he's just an extra in an allegorical play about landfill sites...

Effercio et Ineptias
  • Common courtesy behind the wheel of a car doesn't cost anything; it isn't time consuming and you are often not called a cunt by your unsuspecting victims.
  • I believe I am only watching Game of Thrones because the wife is. Every time I watch it I wonder where George RR Martin's integrity has gone and the wife reminds me that it's probably hidden under all the money he was given. I feel a bit underwhelmed by all TV at the moment, tbh.
  • I can be an unbelievable numbskull at times.
  • Highlight of the month so far: slowly burning in the Jazz Butcher's garden reminiscing, talking balls, magazines, bass players, cats, Chermans and wondering when he's going to buy himself a cafetiere that doesn't deposit half the coffee on the floor.
  • It hasn't escaped me I just don't want to tempt fate by talking about it.
  • I don't know if it's just the mood I've been in for weeks but I am still playing God Is An Astronaut to death. I have been playing them just about every day for over two months now and purchased my first album by them - using an Amazon gift voucher before you start thinking I'm being frivolous with my dole money. They have a new album coming out in September and Roger has offered to take me to see them. GIAA are post-rock, like Mogwai but good (with tunes).
  • I have also been heavily into David Bowie's albums between (and including) Young Americans and Scary Monsters.
  • I am sort of reading three books at once, but not. I am reading NOS 4R2 by Joe Hill, which is odd and weirdly disjointed unlike his previous novels. I also have his dad's The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon in the loo and I'm several chapters into that. Plus I read the first part of the serialised King book The Green Mile but the film weighs too heavily on my memory at the moment. I'm trying to tell myself to think 'The Shining' and I'll realise that the book is different. The thing is, like Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption, the film adaptation was that good...
  • I'd say my 2013 growing season has about a 70% success rate at the moment. We've got gooseberries, black and redcurrants that'll be ready by the end of next month; there will be raspberries but nowhere near the amount we had last year - and last year was shit and the new and established strawberry plants are so far behind what fruit I do get isn't going to happen for at least another 4 weeks, possibly longer. I would be very surprised to see any pick your own places before July and that's usually when the season is coming to a close. The nectarine has been decimated by some leaf crinkle; the apricot tree just looks like it would rather be in Fishwife's garden than ours; I don't count plums or apples but they are all well behind. Vegetables: my spuds are like the rest of everything, about 70%; a few haven't come up, while others are in need of being earthed up sooner rather than later. Beetroots are behind but alive. Tomatoes appear to be thriving but I'm rubbish with tomatoes so this'll end up being another exploded octopus of an attempt and the rhubarb doesn't look like it even knew it had been moved. None of my peppers have come up; one bean and that got eaten and no fennel at all. Now you can all sleep soundly tonight with that knowledge firmly tucked away...
  • One of my all-time favourite heroes and probably responsible for me winning more money on horses than I should have won died yesterday. Sir Henry Cecil - RIP.

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