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 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 ‘strong and stable’ 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. Few 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 to not worry about paying bills every month, to not 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 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 social 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 apparently follows everyone who has ever had an internet account. 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). Fucking shut up, mate.

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

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there’s this guy

There’s this guy who I hate mainly out of pure envy.  And yet I also sort of want to be him. Or be best friends with. Because we’re around the same age, share a fair amount in common – regular blokey things: football, music – and I think in an alternative universe we could be friends.

The thing is, he is SO ‘in’, with the innest of in crowds in a city where it richly pays to be ‘in’. And he’s super ‘In’. A checkered, skinny-jeaned hipster, a pretty cool and stylish mod, quite dashing. It appears like he spent most of his career with one PR agency employer, steadily growing with them from a smallish size and rising up the ranks to a senior title. They are now a big name in the city’s business world, a leader in their space, arguably The Leader. This must have given him access to plenty of influential people, a great network of contacts. I don’t doubt that he’s good at his job; bashfully, floppy hairedly charming, maybe a bit cocky and a bit of a lad, but loveable.

Perhaps. I don’t really know all this. I’ve gleaned much of this intelligence through the internet and just seeing him around at stuff. We did meet once in person, a fairly quick exchange when I was representing a client and he didn’t follow through on his professional promise, but I didn’t much care. He probably wouldn’t even remember. He was confident and likeable enough, taller than expected, and imposing, but charmingly smiley. I’d bet he’s sent many young female PR executives knees nervously quivering over the years. Previously I was aware of him at a business function, flirting with people he knew at the fringes, not genuinely minded to mingle with strangers, as the majority never seem to be. And I’ve seen him once or twice at gigs or in a bar. A girl I had seen him with once, when I was single, was predictably really attractive.

I’ve often wondered if we’d have a great time getting drunk together having really open conversations and end up being mates, or if we’d just think each other dickheads.

In recent years he appears to have bravely put himself out there a bit more in his own right. He has written a novel, distributed by a local publisher, for which he’s done a fair amount of self promotion. I’m not sure how well it sold or was received, but he’s now writing another one, so it can’t have been a disastrous experience. He’s a very well respected PR name locally. The world is his oyster.

Recently my attention has been piqued because he does cool things online too; stuff to do with writing and food and stuff. I look at it and instinctively hate it.

But I tell myself to stop, grow up, and ask what is it exactly that I’m hating.

Is it his popularity and apparent success? His recognition and huge social media followings? (It still eats me that although I’ve been a fairly early adopter of all platforms and my commitment to them has never wained, I fail to have any large followings. This is mainly – I tell myself – because I won’t unthinkingly follow back the first few thousand people to follow me.)

Is it that deep down part of me thinks that he has what I deserve? If I had a little more career luck, shown more loyalty to an employer in my mid 20s, more patience, more diplomacy, been just slightly better looking.

Is it that nothing I’ve seen makes me think he is markedly better than me? (I read the opening and closing pages of his loosely autobiographical debut novel and was largely nonplussed. But then, I didn’t want to like it, so my perception was far from being warm and willing).

Is it that he is very of this place, a local guy people will identify with and want to like, a local hero? While I’ve lived here for the majority of my adult life, I could not and would not ever want to be considered a native.

Is it that so many people seem to fawn over him? There’s an extremely try-hard, busy young guy, around 25, desperate for career success, quite boring: he flaps around him like a moth round a lamp. It’s adorable and disgusting.

But then, despite myself, I can sort of see why. I want to be his friend too.

No I don’t. I bet he’s a dick. Is he a dick? He’s a dick. Yes, let’s think that.

steaming envy

Steam Room.  Steely, takes-no-shit looking Welsh mother, late 30s enters with blank but friendly young daughter, mid-teens.Daughter: gaw, it smells in yur doesnit?

Mum: yeh, they put summink on the thing down there.

They settle and breathe, enjoying the fumes, although Mum retains a general look of hard disapproval at the world.

Daughter: This is making a mess of my fake tan.

Pause.

Daughter:  Stef Jones just got back from Jamaica, she has.  Lovely tan.

Mum: What’s er Mum’s name?

Daughter: Can’t remember.  Young mum.  Works in the bank, I think.

Pause.

Mum (having thought hard): Claire.

Daughter: That’s it!

Mum: ay noes her.  Natwest.  On the counter.

Mum’s disapproving face stronger than ever.

Mum: who’d she go to Jamaica with then?

Daughter: boyfriend and his family.

Mum: Ah right.

Mum smoulders, steams.