you quietly hate him

There’s this guy, right. Let’s call him Des. Now he’s a nice enough bloke in person, around your age, really amiable, approachable and chilled. He exudes ‘easygoing’ niceness.  Deep down you kind of really hate Des.

This is his first full year doing something which you’ve been working at for a few years now. Des has waltzed in and seemingly made more of a success of it than you.

Des’s work isn’t better than yours. The agency he works for is one that plenty of people in the industry sort of hate, or at least disapprove of. They sell work at a much lower price than your agency sells work. Therefore his work is frequently used and yours very rarely is. It’s galling to see, especially when his work is not all that great. Des usually at least gets some payment for inferior work, even if it is small, and you consistently get nothing.

How can this not grate? It grates. It really fucking grates.

This would matter less if you were more ‘stable and secure’ in your cashflow and finances. But you are not at all. You haven’t been for years and can’t foresee a time when that will change, despite promises of the Theresamaytron bot. Money is your biggest worry, as it is for most people. Not many people think they have enough money, wherever they sit in the payscale. You appreciate you have much to be grateful for in the grand scheme of things but it would be an enormous weight lifted not to worry about paying bills every month, not to overthink every unnecessary pound spent on common affordable luxuries like booze and coffee.

The devaluation of creative work not an unusual thing but it feels more transparent at the moment. So many borderline mercenary online platforms are available. Work is offered for increasingly cheap rates via a greater number of intermediaries, all of whom take a cut. And people are willing to accept much less money for their efforts, particularly if it is not a full time occupation, if it is merely a nice supplement to a full time job. And if people are desperate for something, anything, they will gladly take what they can get. There is nothing to prevent people doing this, but it grates like hell when you see it repeatedly working against you. It reflects how people / media owners don’t care much for quality, they just want the stuff.

Anyway. Back to Des. Another thing that grates about Des is how he’s SUCH a busy prick online. You know those people who, after a while, come to dominate the experience of a feed?  Under every other Instagram post you see ‘liked by Des’. Every new profile you find which is interesting is ‘followed by Des’ because Des follows thousands of people. Fuck off Des you fucking prick! Is Instagram literally ALL you do?  And you can’t unfollow or block Des because he’d probably know and you’ll see him again soon and it would be awkward. Although you did unfollow him on Facebook. SO busy. Shut up mate.

“Oh, hello mate” you’ll fake cheerfully say the next time you see Des. “How are you?” (you fucking likable prick).

Dear April 2018 Me

The future leeringly dangles hopes and fears in our faces.

Right now, in the week the UK tip-toes towards the Brexit activation button like a manic young child who has been specifically told not to do something, it feels like I am staring down a long dark barrel.

Now feels really hard, properly hard. I really hope Future Me who glances back at this sometime in the next few months or years is feeling better than I am right now, that they’re in an improved state of mind, that they don’t feel like crumbling and crying or screaming at the dreadful unfairness of it all every twenty minutes or so.

If they feel worse, which they may well, things must be terrible.

Is April 2018 Me back home in the village living with my parents? Did we have to give up this house because we couldn’t handle the mortgage payments, and bills, and general cost of living?  (Everyone speaks of how tough it is getting on the housing ladder but there’s less coverage about the humiliation of falling off it after climbing one rung). More to the point because couldn’t handle the mortgage. My wife was always comfortably doing her bit, employed in a serious job. But I let the side down, as I had been doing for months. Despite trying hard, doing everything I could think of, nothing was working. All that constant talk of things being financially unsustainable actually had a conclusion, a sad ending. As it turned out, I could not stumble along indefinitely.

This came after the point of no longer being able to bail myself out with savings from the dedicated tax account. It came after I finally, painfully swallowed hard and was forced to accept bailouts from my wife. It came after the even harder, sickening acceptance of accepting help from my parents. Have I, April 2018 Me, felt sick with guilt and shame and inadequacy for well over a year? Even after all the charity payments I shamefully accepted, am I still unemployable, still fucking useless, still of no professional value to anyone?

Maybe it’s not as bad as all that. Maybe April 2018 Us are still the house and getting by. Maybe I swallowed my pride and went back to an office, a call centre, a factory or a supermarket: anywhere I could get a job of some kind and regular money and they wouldn’t care that much about my qualifications. (Or is even that too much of a fantasy?) Did we have to give up our beloved dog though, because we’d both be out of the house for too long? Or sort of give her up? Give her to my parents? She’d have a decent life there, I suppose. All the same, I bet it broke my heart to leave her there and go spend my days in a workplace with idiots I probably hate.

Maybe I’m dead? Maybe she’s dead? We’re both dead? We’re ALL dead? Big nuclear war. BOOM. No more United Kingdom. Brexit-shmexit. All sorted.

Or, am I just about solvent now, Future Me, paying the bills and mortgage but miserable as fuck on a daily basis? Is my hatred of my work, my misery and bitterness and resentment, is all that badly straining my marriage?

*

A contract on which I was waiting and hoping would have offered considerable financial comfort. In December 2016 I was told it was not competitive and should begin around late January. Then it became competitive. Then they lost it. No contract.

Other things are not happening. Nothing is encouraging. The general economic outlook appears decidedly turbulent. There is an income of sorts but it comes in dribs and drabs and is nowhere near enough. Unsustainable.

Yes I look at jobs occasionally, feeling crushingly underqualified and out of touch for most, overtaken or even lapped by bright-faced smiley people ten years my junior. No, I can’t do that. No, I have no idea what that is. What have I done lately that’s anywhere near as impressive as that? Fucksake.

Now feels really hard, stressful, anxious. But tell me, buddy, Future Me, pal, April 2018 Me, mate: we get through it all ok, right? Don’t we? It’s not worth worrying quite this much about, is it? Is it?

Lots of love,

March 2017 Me.

need to change

Change is in the air. Or at least it feels like it could be, should be.  Much has happened in the last few months.  I joined that company with the strangely blank bosses, albeit on a freelance contract nature.  (Anything to haul myself out of the call centre where I had desperately found myself around Christmas).  My respect grew for one of the men: the Welshman, pragmatic, aware of his limitations, his ‘old school’ nature, disciplined and careful.  My respect for the other didn’t.  He is one of the most profoundly stupid people I have ever worked with, and a wildly deluded boss.  Merely conversing with him tends to be an embarrassing experience, which I avoid whenever possible.

I am fairly sick of this western side of the UK, and open to opportunities elsewhere.  Although there are elements of my life I am happy with, there are others where I feel like a frustrated underachiever and perhaps always will.  One of those is my career, or lack of one.  No neatly paved path or obvious direction.  It’s not helped by a CV which pinballs around with too little semblance of solid linearity.

An opportunity arose.  Pretty well paid, in the middle of the city of London (so you might expect well paid).  Given that it is mere months since I was secretly, ashamedly working on virtually minimum wage in a Cardiff call centre, of course the opportunity was attractive.  I could do that job, I ticked most of the boxes. It was flattering they were interested.  The City of London though.  Every day?  A commute like that, all the living cost expense?  Now I am seriously considering retracting my interest before a second interview.  My impressions of a skittish, difficult to pin down boss, have put me off.  He seems similar to another boss I had once upon a time, not stupid or incompetent, but hyperactive, instinctive and disorganised, winging everything slightly too transparently.  His appears to be a company with no discernible identity – a good opportunity to make an impression for me, but no, I think, no.  A number of things don’t feel quite right.

That was the only opportunity but still, change remains in the air.  Or at least I want it to stick around.  I want things to change now, I want to leave that office with its blank bosses and not inconsiderable number of blank people, I want serious life things to kick on for me.

I proposed to her a few weeks ago (sunset, coastal walk, one knee, ring, all that – her face crumpled in on itself in a way I’ll never forget, she said yes).  No grand Facebook announcement but thanks to excitable family still a modest flurry of scribbled cardboard congratulations from people I barely know arrived through the door.  Now I want to marry her (cheaply, with as little fuss as possible), leave this flat – as perfectly functional as it remains – try to grow up another stage.  I want a dog, still, and maybe even small people. Who knows?  Our thirties are ticking on; I cannot look at Facebook without seeing the small people of friends.  I think I do want them; one at least.  Not to have a relationship like that seems an awful waste.

I have invested so much in photography: financially and in time and effort.  I still love it and want to do more, get better and quicker and more competitive in sport. The adrenalin kick is like nothing I can get in an office or elsewhere in working life.  Thousands of people screaming around you has the undeniable effect of making you think a thing really matters, even if that thing is essentially quite banal and doesn’t really matter all that much.  I still want to stick on that journey for as long as I can, even if only at weekends and occasional evenings.

Change is possible all the time and the major thing stopping us making big changes is ourselves: the actual doing of it.  Upheaval: even the idea of it is scary and unsettling.  We blame ourselves and feel guilty for the lack of balls, too easily accepting accidental happenstance, serendipity, luck.  In retracting my application for a position that didn’t feel right, it feels like spurning an opportunity, a potentially significant turn of life.  Could London still happen again?  Might something else arise?  Bristol?  Elsewhere over the bridge, away from this often tedious cluster of self-aggrandising villages?  Or will we just stick with the dragon we know?

dream dying

It’s like a slow and heartbreaking kind of a death, feeling like giving up on a dream, relinquishing a long-held hope.

You sense things aren’t working and won’t ever work, it’s just not happening. The stubborn hope begins to wobble, teeter and ebb away together with the dim belief, even while you still sustain the work-rate.

Your bank balance, like a football league table, doesn’t lie. It brutally doesn’t tell the sob stories of bad luck and industriousness and how much you care.  And its power to suddenly influence mood is never dimmed. The sharp injection of panic and fear thanks to another retainer lost, income stream dented again, squeezed down now to almost nothing.

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swallowing pride

There has been significant swallowing of pride in recent weeks.  None of it has tasted nice.

I am quite a proud person.  Fiercely independent from quite a young age, I am more disposed to instinctively decline all offers of help than to accept them.  I can manage fine, thank you.  I have always been like a belligerent old person and find it difficult to accept help.  Everybody is essentially on their own.  I have been on my own a lot; I spent the majority of my twenties alone and largely miserable; I should be able to cope.

This is a ‘young person’ thing to think, I am growing to believe – although possibly in an attempt to defend myself.  Everybody needs help.  Success is usually promoted by help, support, nepotism, or somebody helping somebody out, somebody influential believing.

Following a short break away with them and charitably paid for by them (already awkward), I finally accepted the offer of a sizable loan from my wonderful parents.  The Bank of Middle Class Mum and Dad helped me out, which is brilliant but means I am no better than the posh little rich kids upon whom I sneer.

At the weekend, Girlfriend and I took a long road trip to south Devon and a small town in which, my extensive research revealed, there was a store with the best available deal on camera equipment.  It was still harrowingly expensive (multi thousands; you could buy an ok car).  It not being my money but briefly being my money (a flicker of something reckless, a tempting disappearance around the world); that sort of made it worse.   Still, deep breath..  and it was done.  Now I must try to work doubly hard in order to make it worth something, to achieve something I really badly want to achieve.  Although that won’t happen immediately.

Money is still a huge and stressful issue, with that impending big December celebration and all its connotations of stupid expense.  Money is still not being generated in any significant amount and this is deeply worrying.  I sit at my desk and do things and am vaguely productive, but no money comes in and so I worry.  Everything is scary and hard.

It often surprises me how things and people in life can come back around when you think they are gone forever.  In the summers between years studying at university I had two stints in a marketing call centre doing telephone market research surveys.  It was reasonable student work.  I’d certainly had worse (steelworks factory, door-to-door double glazing, selling vacuum cleaners).

This company is still going, doing roughly the same sort of thing.  It’s within walking distance from my flat.  It offers flexible shift patterns.  I am quite desperate for money.  I went up there for a brief chat with a nervous, whispy woman and it seems that next week I could resume there after a hiatus of about twelve years.

This is another borderline indigestible ball of pride to swallow.  It brutally underlines how my career path has not developed.  I will try to act cool and like I don’t care.  ‘Means to an end…’ and just weep quietly in the toilets.

Or…

Or is it a steep, brave, noble, courageous step down, in the hope of taking another back up?

Yes, let’s take that view.  I am SO not a total loser.  Let’s hope, and try to worry less, and try to squeeze every last hour out of the day so I can buy more ephemeral plastic for my already grossly over-toyed niece and nephew at Christmas.

More than that, let’s try to achieve something I really badly want to achieve: working on my own terms and actually enjoying it.  That’s worth a fight, difficulty, some nasty balls of pride to swallow.  Let’s hope.

on your side

It often seems that there’s a need to get the right people on your side in order to succeed in life. You can’t NOT be picked by anyone and just play your own game instead. You can’t stay stuck in a box, producing and shouting and hoping to be asked onto a team.

However constant and consistent your stream of stuff, you need bias, blind favouritism, a little bit of nepotism; you need to brown-nose, kiss arse, suck dick. It feels like that really *really* helps to get on. If you’re not great at doing that, things can get difficult.

In the same way you knew bludgeoning away trying to make a living would be easier if you had a girlfriend to whom you could moan and rant and use as an outlet, now you feel more keenly than ever before the need for similar professional and financial solace.

With the single client you were so comfortably dependent on for so long – because you brown-nosed an idiot, you had that. By letting them go, you suddenly didn’t. Now 6 months on, nothing has come along to replace them and you’re struggling. Small dribbles here and there, a couple of disappointments when you weren’t paid, nothing of substance.

Similarly, in trying to get proper jobs, or even interviews, you need an ‘in’, someone to hold the door ajar for you, tip you a nod. Especially today when there are so many decent calibre people seeking new jobs. Just getting a job is not easy. You have to know your value, know when to compromise and when not to compromise.  As time goes on you might have to though. That’s a scary thing.

Pure, unadulterated meritocracies may exist, but after a while it becomes hard to believe in them. Hard not to grow bitter, for the victim complex not to scale. You must continue to have faith in yourself. You look around you at the produce of others and you do by and large have that faith, but it’s bewilderingly frustrating.

You can only go it alone for so long before spluttering, stalling, crashing to earth in an undignified heap.

Your online stats reflect the ambivalent majority. But even if your numbers were higher it may not matter. What matters is finding one person with influence who wants you on their side. Then word-of-mouth can take over.

You begin to think that it doesn’t matter how good or regular your produce, how hard you work, how committed you are or how much you care. You need more people and you need at least one ‘important’ person with deep pockets and strong influence. You need to get the right people on your side. How you do that and how that happens must depend a lot on luck.

the hard stuff

This place has been neglected a little of late because.  I’ve been trying to build and developing an online presence for new business services, blending with my existing business services of the last four years.  It’s hard.

At 32 I am still massively uncertain about pretty much everything in a general life sense, where my efforts will take me, if they will take me anywhere at all other than back home to my Mum and Dad.  While I’m trying to be as aggressive and productive and proactive as possible without seeming like a needy prick, I’m also considering spectacular failure and what my options are in that case.

Although I don’t feel especially employable, I wonder about trying again with London.  A big city where there are more and better opportunities for regular jobs; where I might be able to compromise less than if I were to re-enter a regular workplace in these parts.  Most decent looking jobs in the provinces have a ridiculous number of over-qualified applicants and I rarely get a look in – and I imagine nepotism and internal favouritism may occasionally be instrumental.

My girlfriend is trying to hire an assistant on a low, entry-level 13 or 14k salary.  She’s getting applicants with Masters degrees and Doctorates.  But she doesn’t like the idea of London.

She is melting down regularly under pressures of her work and home-life, which is in turn having an effect on me.  I had to manage a number of extremely distressed and distressing telephone calls from her yesterday. Things are hard.  She has lots of ‘stuff’.  I have some stuff, but none of it on paper looks as serious and weighty as her stuff.  I try to be super patient, understanding and attentive and she is grateful; but at the weekend I couldn’t help a little childish, resentful “what about me and my stuff?” sulk.  We did recover from it soon enough.

It feels from various sources like right now is quite a fever-pitch time for general anxiety and nervousness, money worries and instability.  Broadly and anecdotally speaking, depression seems rife, suicide and suicidal thoughts aren’t uncommon.  In fact I can barely remember sensing worse than at any time since the recession started.  I wonder if the older and more comfortable groups of people just consider our generation over-angsting, oversensitive or going through something all generations go through.  But it feels like more than that.

In an email exchange, a civil servant friend proffered:

“maybe our generation will implode slightly from raised expectations / less money / fewer jobs / working until we’re 75?”

Maybe he has a point.  He also suggested middle of the road boringness is the way forward.  The jammy bastard could have a case there too.

Still.  Smile eh?  Chin up.  Post an inspirational quote on Twitter or something.  Everything will be fine.

pondering parenthood

Long term goals and lifestyle pondering (as in the last post) have made me consider bigger, serious, scary life things. I’m talking.. I don’t know why but I am talking parenthood. And whether I ever want to be a father. Whether I would regret it if I never was, and how much.

It’s largely arisen as a result of growing more comfortable in a relationship. She has stacks of issues, her internet presence is far from compelling and she annoys the living crap out of me at fairly regular intervals (getting out of bed and leaving the building remain painfully slow processes and I generally do *a lot* of waiting around because everything takes her so long.  Sometimes I exercise superhuman levels of patience, particularly for a not very patient person, and still she moodily considers me impatient and unreasonable and I don’t know what to do other than dissolve into a puddle of hopelessness). But despite all this, yes, I love the girl. I want to live with her. I’ll be 33 this year. She’s only a couple of years younger, uncertain what she wants but pretty great with my niece and nephew, now 3 and 6 and less exclusively like vessels of human excrement.  More like actual small people with developing personalities.

On the one hand my brother’s nauseatingly soppy, overbearing, pandering parenthood style puts me off. But I know it doesn’t have to be like that; it’s just his way. There’s also the exhaustion and the sheer effort and the sleep deprivation and the massive imposition on every single aspect of your life. I like having time to do stuff I like doing. I’m not sure how I’d feel about having to give most of it up for some wailing little emperor who dribbles and snots and shits his pants every few minutes. Fuck the little bastard.  There’s also the whole conception, gestation, birth, early life stuff – all of which can have complications and be immensely difficult.

On the other hand though, I read books and see films (recently Ewan McGregor in tsunami emotion-fest The Impossible), and admire cute families in the street and can’t help wondering what that kind of love must be like, that type of kinship and bond and friendship and closeness. To be *that* important to someone, hopefully for the rest of your life, even afterwards.  To have someone be *that* important to you. It’s unfathomable. Would I be ok dying, likely an underachiever together with an underwhelming highlights reel, with it still being unfathomable? Or do I want one day to fathom it?

It’s commonly the only single thing people are proud of doing, their kids.  Often stupid people who appear on daytime television chat shows and genuinely haven’t done much with their lives, but then neither have I.  And another life is pretty undeniably something significant.

This guff also arises in the face of a current on-going malaise, a tide of futility (trying to pinpoint noteworthy achievements on CVs and job applications is gallingly difficult); a defence against yet more professional patronising and rejection; a lack of any progress in an area where I’d deeply love to make progress; indulgent, possibly immature bleating about unfairness; and  a lingering fog where nothing seems particularly meaningful or important.  Except feeling.

plumbing depths

I was waiting for her, not unusually.  She’d offered me a lift to the station but was still faffing with various things.  For something to do I embarked on washing up the breakfast things, filling the cafetiere with hot soapy water before casually tossing in some cutlery, new cutlery she’d given me as a birthday present the day before, stainless steel and heavy.  A knife punched its way clean through the base of the glass beaker, creating a neat hole in the corner.  I swore.

The day before had been one of my best birthdays as an adult.  The year before I’d visited Legoland with my nephew, his parents and both sets of grandparents.  We share a birthday and I was doing nothing else.  In previous years I had taken myself away somewhere, so as not to sit in a flat navelgazing about my stunted lonely life, but failing to avoid the thought patterns.  This year she was there.  She made breakfast and offered gifts and we went for a drive out of town towards the mountains, settling in a small town café bookshop.  Then we returned to the city and went to a local pub for dinner.

Smashing the cafetiere added to tension that had built up, a tension I couldn’t entirely free myself from even the day before.  This tension was because I was heading to London for an event which would also be attended by my main client, a colossal tit who I have come to demonise on these pages, but also a man whose medium-sized business had kept me solvent for the past three years.

The FuckThesePricks decision I thought I had made a couple of weeks ago; now it was time to follow through.  I had to do this.

My intention was simply to make him aware that I wasn’t scared to walk away from him and his business.  I was going to figuratively open a door and ask him if he wanted me Out, because being In wasn’t very comfortable or nice, and hadn’t been for a while.

Walking along the leaf thick pavements towards the venue I almost hoped he wouldn’t be there so I could win a reprieve and not have to go through with this.  Confrontation isn’t a natural strength of mine, particularly not face-to-face with a hugely deluded man of monstrous ego, a man many probably say negative things about, but rarely to.

So my heart sank upon entering the lobby and seeing that, amongst a sea of suits picking at a buffet, there was his distinctive bald pate, framed by those silver flecks.  It sank in the same way it sank whenever I saw his name in my inbox or on my phone.

Oh shit.  He was here.  I would have to do this.  My sphincter quivered slightly.  Stop it.  Man the fuck up.  It was going to be hard and scary but necessary.  In person would have more impact than an email or a phone call; it would be transparent.

I waited until the mid-afternoon break in proceedings before sidling up and integrating myself in his chat with a cool, good-looking young guy.  He said hello, slightly distractedly?  Offered one of his limp handshakes.  Then he barely offered me any eye-contact.  Was he slightly nervous, aware that his behaviour and that of his staff hadn’t been brilliant towards me of late?  The cool young guy excused himself to go for a cigarette and I heard a drum roll in my head.

If anything it’s possible I laboured my points a little too hard and was at pains to say I disagreed, I found him unpredictable, his colleagues hard to work with, I didn’t want to work with a bunch of guys who thought I was a prick.  At that last point, a shadow of a smile passed over his face, as if acknowledging this was a truth but for the first time seeing it from my perspective. He generally seemed stunned and his replies were weak.  People started filtering back into the main room and we agreed to pick this up when I was going to visit them the following week.  Without a proper parting gesture we turned in separate directions.  My heart was beating fast and I downed two glasses of juice before re-entering the room.

Fuck shit fuck bollocks.  What had I done?

The following day around noon an email dropped into my inbox alongside his name, marked with High Importance, the subject line: our chat. It began  Further to my “talking to”  yesterday.. and went on to explain a planned change in relationship, the full details of which remain to be seen.  The upshot is that I now need to look elsewhere for the majority of my income and I have not the faintest clue what is going to happen.  A large part of me wants to run away and go travelling, like I did when I couldn’t get a job around my 25th birthday.

I was having a new shower fitted when the email arrived.  After reading it several times and sharing it with my girlfriend, I chatted with my plumber.  He’s a good, bold, loud, geezery guy who I get along well with.  Like me, he’s a one-man band, and like me he’s also been subjected to difficult clients.  We spoke about life and work and difficulties at length.  We talked of how people perceive you or might try to sully your name to others if you disagree with them.  How some can naturally be more passive and agreeable, and get riled less by such things.  It wasn’t a chat you’d usually expect to have with your plumber.

I thought too again about how I’ve generally failed to win people over, both professionally and up until very recently, personally.  How people could glance at all the stuff at my CV and quite legitimately question how and why I haven’t stayed anywhere for very long.  Is he hard to get on with?  He can’t be a team player?  Probably a bit of a risk.

It’s the fear and the nerves which are the most difficult to manage, as well as the tedious, endlessly disappointing necessity to earn money.  While it’s liberating to know I won’t have that man’s name constantly infecting my inbox and social feeds, there’s the fear of not finding anything else.  If, a few months from now, I have nothing sustainable, then it will look a brave but stupid act.

At semi-dramatic, unsettling times like this pop music can be powerful.  Selecting the right sort of light track with quirky lyrics on your iPod can offer a rejuvenating “it’s-all-bollocks-anyway” type of perspective.  You can smile to yourself in the street like a simpleton or slump to your knees in tears.

For now I’ll try the smiling thing.

And investing in platitudes like “I’m sure it’ll work itself out”, “something will come along”, etc.

And hoping.

Actually no, hold me.

Sob.

 

in decision

Things have been unsteady on the work front recently.  I’ve been unsure what is happening with my main client, and remain so.  I’ve been a malleable bag of nerves.  I’ve been angry and glum and scared and bitter and resigned and hateful.

A couple of weeks ago I thought a decision had finally been made.  Fuck these pricks now, I eloquently decided, really.  They, and particularly he, had done it this time.  That was it.  I was better than this now, I told myself.  I like myself more than to keep putting myself through this, subjecting myself to him.  So I’d be taking a big risk, throwing huge caution to the proverbial wind if I burnt bridges and told him where to go – his medium sized business has sustained my solo operation for the best part of three years now.  It provides my financial backbone, but if he’s making me so miserable, why should I keep it going?

Because it’s money and I don’t know what else I’d do.  Jobs aren’t easy to come by, nor are clients as reliable (to date), and I don’t want to be poor or have to begin to make lifestyle compromises.

They had recently hired another freelance marketing communications person; a prettier, blonder, more female, cheaper, less jaded version of me.  (In all fairness she is a competent, well-written, perfectly pleasant young mum who speaks northern English better than me, and is hot).  They were delegating more and more work her way.  Less and less work my way.  Everything she provided was wonderful off the bat.  Everything I provided was attacked and ripped apart.  They had grown even more unpleasant and unreasonable and harder than ever to work with.

So I thought: Fuck These Pricks.  That’s it.  I would feel immensely liberated to know I would never see that one name in an inbox ever again.  Especially at 11.30pm on a Friday night, saying something ridiculous or totally pointless, which I am inexplicably unable to ignore.  (My brother recently said it sounds like I have the worst of both worlds, before prescribing some typical brotherly advice; advice which may work great if he is advising a duplicate version of himself).

Anyhow, that was a couple of weeks ago now and not much has changed – except my ever diminishing workload, more indicators of their confidence lost in me, and the confidence grown in my fellow freelancer.  She has the measure of me now, a couple more large bites and she’d swallow me altogether.

In the immediate aftermath of FuckThesePricks I did apply for real jobs, and luckily bagged a short stint of freelance back on a university campus.  It’s debatable whether that helped or hindered my current outlook.  I was doing interesting academic research copywriting which engaged me, educated me.  I was working around more pleasant folk with less bulbous egos, sentient beings, nicer people from the south of Britain with whom I could effectively communicate.  It served to highlight and exaggerate what a total raging man-child buffoon my main client is, how equally dense, slovenly and not terribly pleasant his staff are.  I briefly enjoyed my work.

But it was only ever going to be a short term thing, and now everything has quietened again.

I sought counsel from business associates and occasional partners who I do rate and like.  Their basic advice was that by being small you are also nimble, you have no overheads or children or major responsibilities, so sit tight and don’t seek full-time job again.  You don’t know how you might react to that after having such independence for so long; you might regret it.

Having faith and needing to have faith that “things will be ok” can be a struggle, particularly if you are naturally risk averse.  Blindly trusting that stuff will somehow work out produces nerves.  It’s impossible not to ask “but what if it doesn’t?” and sigh like you sigh in the face of any lazy platitude.

I find some kind of solace in knowing professional paths are rarely simple; much is down to chance / nepotism / accident, we all hit troughs and, maybe not quite “peaks” as such, but still fairly steady inclines too, and that’s all ok. We’d probably get even more bored otherwise. It could be that our caveman brains are wired to only cope with straighter paths, and that’s is why hilly unpredictable tracks can feel so tough.