Earlier today I wrote to a friend of mine. Now that all PhD-related technicalities are well and truly over, it's like I have got nothing else to think or talk about. Except, perhaps, the dire job situation. It was easy to scrape by and shut the world out as editing was taking up all of my energies, but now that there is nothing pressing left, it seems only natural that I should be on job search 100% of the time, as opposed to 50% as it was up until recently.
This, however, does not make me feel any better about the task, neither does it indicate in any discernible way that I will be 50% more likely to get a job than, say, winning the lottery, or finding the Holy Grail tomorrow morning on the way to Starbucks. And so I sat down at my desk and let my fingers run freely on the keyboard.
The first thing I wrote to him was: 'I don't suppose you know of a place or way whereby I could *find* £ 600?'. What sort of question is that, I wonder now? Yet, it seemed the only relevant thing to ask as I stared out of the window through the blind, munching on a little cheese and Marmite toastie. And of course, that number staring back, £ 600, fascinated me and worried me in equal measure. Blimey, when I used to work, I paid more than that in tax alone.
Even though I was recently trickling through the last of the writing up process, I could already apply to many relevant academic positions. I say many, but we are really only talking four. Still, it sounds like many to me, as they were as far as Brum and as varied as film studies and English. But I did not hear a thing from those.
Neither did I hear a thing from the countless other applications, CVs and letters that I sent since the beginning of the year, some on a spec basis, many replying to adverts. You'd think I didn't post stuff through a red postbox, but through a shredder, as these days nobody acknowledges anything anymore. Maybe it would be ok if I were a high-school drop-out without plans, goals, qualifications, intelligence or good-looks. Maybe it wouldn't sting this much. But considering that my parents spent in excess of £ 20,000 in further education alone, that I have almost eight years worth of business experience, that I am fluent in three languages and have two degrees and an international work/educational background... well... bemusement, anger and pride are stirring within me every time I click 'send' or kiss another letter good luck.
I have to pay council tax, water and house insurance and have no funds to do it with. Like none whatsoever. It is beyond farcical, beyond depressing, beyond grim. You know those people who say that money cannot buy happiness? Sure, it doesn't buy sincerity, immortality or love either, but what it does buy, water and food, shelter and dignity, that, my friends, is good enough for me.