Prince Vlad Tepes III (1431 - 1476) was the most famous and most successful of the medieval Princes of Wallachia. He was born in Transylvania in an unstable period for central Europe that saw his father being forced to surrender Vlad and his brother (Radul the Handsome) to the Ottoman court. Though hostages, they were educated in rhetoric, deportment and the Holy Koran. Radul became expert at Turkish sports and was popular with his guards, eventually converting to Islam. Vlad, on the other hand, was constantly beaten and forced to witness the torture and execution of prisoners in the hopes of quelling his rebellious nature. He grew up to reject authority, to take an unhealthy delight in impaling enemy prisoners and (when enemies were scarce) in impaling servants, retainers and family members. Truly, there is more than one path to God.
Vlad the Impaler's "life" ended in 1476 when he was decapitated by Ottomans near Bucharest. However, as his remains were not securely staked through the heart, he began a second career as an undead, blood-sucking monster. In this guise he inspired both Bram Stoker's Dracula and the later vampire movie industry, said to be worth $475 million a year to Stephenie Meyer alone. Vlad's movie involvement began with Nosferatu in 1922 which was a landmark of German film-making and is still widely celebrated today. However, Vlad was thought to lack the box office appeal to transfer successfully to Hollywood and had to watch as Christopher Lee and others thrived on his legend. In 1994, he returned briefly to the screen in Neil Jordan's documentary, "Interview with a Vampire", which followed him as he attended the six monthly Restart interview required of all long-term unemployed in the United Kingdom, his adopted home.
The Restart Interview
Mrs J. Feltch: Good afternoon Mr....
Vladescu: Vladescu. Prince Vlad Tepes Vladescu. Friends call me Vlad. You may call me Your Majesty.
Mrs J. Feltch: PRINCE Vladescu it is then. I'm Jane Feltch, your Job-seeker's assistant and I'll be conducting your 26 week interview and hopefully giving you some of the advice you need to help you back into the world of work. Okay?
Vladescu: Fine, yes.
Feltch: I don't know if you're aware of this, but your photograph on the application is just an orange curtain. Did you leave the kiosk before the flash?
Feltch: No? Well, perhaps you hadn't adjusted the stool. Never mind. Now I've read your initial application for the JSA and I have a few questions about that, but first of all, I have to ask - have you been actively looking for work?
Vladescu: Yes. I have tramped streets of Leeds nightly in my search for employment. And sustenance.
Feltch: Excellent. Now, I can't help noticing that you've put your place of birth as Sighisoara.
Feltch: And where is that? Wales?
Feltch: Romania - where all the gypsies are from? I see. Well, no problem. Romania is part of the EU now so you're quite entitled to claim benefits in the UK. Or, you could just go back where you belong.... No? I don't blame you. Let's look at your application together, then. I am a little concerned with the way you've completed the section for type of employment sought. You seem to have written that you'd like to work with "blood or virgins".
Vladescu: Preferably both.
Feltch: And do you have any experience in this field at all?
Vladescu: I draw blood since before you were born.
Feltch: Oh, excellent, you're a medical professional!
Feltch: No? But you work in the medical profession in some capacity...
Vladescu: Until February I work for NHS Blood Bank in Crawley. They said they not employ me any longer.
Vladescu: It seems I too conscientious for them. They object to me taking work home.
Feltch: I see. Well, perhaps a change of scene? Have you considered hair-dressing?
Vladescu: There are many vacant positions combining hair-dressing with blood? And virgins?
Feltch: Well, no.... We'll worry about what type of work you can do later. I also noticed that in the "Hours available to work" section, you've put "Midnight to 6 am, 7 days a week". While it's commendable that you're prepared to work such unsociable hours I'm afraid that, if you can only work 6 hours a day, we can't say you're looking for full time work. And that will have an effect on your application for JSA.
Vladescu: Ms Feltch, I can't go out in daylight with my skin, I'm slave to it. I'm registered disabled - was claiming Disability Living Allowance but government say I can stand up and breathe at same time so not entitled any more. But is difficult to operate when you're so photo-sensitive. I had to come here in full burqa to avoid sunshine - bus-driver think I am suicide bomber.
Feltch: That's terrible!
Vladescu: Yes. Many nights I pop out for bite to eat only to find that no-one available. Then I can't go out again for whole day. But I don't want to make issue of it, I have survived for many years. And staying out of sun has its advantages. How else I maintain this pale and interesting complexion? When it is Winter again I work from 4 pm to 9 next morning but for now....
Feltch: Okay, so I'll put you down as having special medical needs? And you don't want to consider hair-dressing? There's a very good six week training scheme at the Technical College in town? No? I suppose shelf-stacking isn't your thing either? No, I didn't suppose so. I'll just check the Job Centre Plus database for positions in your line. While we wait, I see you've already filled the Special medical needs section. "Eisoptrophobia"... that's not one I know much about, I'm afraid. Perhaps you could just explain while the computer's updating your profile.
Vladescu: Is fear of mirrors - not a problem at blood bank but I can't see myself working around mirrors.
Feltch: And Alliumphobia?
Valdescu: Sound silly but I have morbid dread of Garlic.
Feltch: Shame, because there's an opening here for work in a night kitchen but I don't suppose that would be appropriate...
Valdescu: I don't think so - also not good around steaks...
Feltch: Have you considered security work? There's an opportunity for a position looking after the Jewish graveyard at night. I believe there's been a spate of vandalism recently. I don't suppose that would interest you at all...
Vladescu: Sounds most interesting. There will be no crucifixes.
Feltch: Excellent, we haven't had much interest so far. Can I offer you a glass of water, at all?
Valdescu: Is not been blessed by ordained minister?
Feltch: Not as far as I know, it's just tap-water. The DWP doesn't run to Perrier.
Valdescu: Is fine.
Feltch: There you go, lovely. Now, it's only fair to warn you about a few things before you agree to anything. It says here that you'd have to use one of the empty vaults as an office. There's no one "resting" in there but it seems that there's an old, stone coffin built into the floor. You wouldn't find that creepy?
Valdescu: Not at all, sounds most cosy. And I save on rent.
Feltch: Well then, that's excellent. I'll send on your details and with any luck this might be the last time we meet.
Valdescu: Wouldn't that be nice.
Feltch: It might help if we could fill out one or two more sections of the form with a few more details. For instance, you've only put the one thing in the "Additional skills" section... and it seems to say "Impaling".
Valdescu: I did much impaling, back in old country. It was some years ago now.
Feltch: Lovely... You were making kebabs?
Valdescu: I roasted some of the impaled over fire, though they weren't really edible afterwards. Certainly, I never enjoyed taste. Also can transmogrify into a bat, if that's helping. And am immune to bullets, unless Lone Ranger comes to town.
Feltch: We'll just leave the impaling then, shall we? Lovely. Now, I was a touch confused by your birth date too. You've put 25th November 1431.
Valdescu: Is correct.
Feltch: It's just that I'm not sure I can tell a prospective employer that you're quite that old... they may think you're a little past it, what with the long nights and cold weather and such. And retirement age is 65, after all.
Valdescu: Not in Romania.
Feltch: No, I suppose not. And you do use a different calendar than ours, don't you. Probably. I'll put you down as 52, that should be okay. Now my other concern is, that aside from the blood-bank, your employment history seems a little threadbare for someone claiming to be nearly 570.
Valdescu: Listen, Ms. Feltch. I not been sitting on arse in council flat watching Jeremy Kyle all these years. Have been out there getting training in school of real life. For eighty five years I work in America. New York mostly.
Feltch: Working as...
Valdescu: Work in kebab shops mostly, as happens. Just not near garlic sauce counter.
Feltch: And the other five hundred years.
Valdescu: I was mostly in Cape.
Feltch: South Africa?
Valdescu: No, just in cape. In Romania. I was what is called Vámpír.
Feltch: And why could you not continue with your chosen line of employment?
Valdescu: They say these days younger men are needed with higher cheek-bones and bouncier hair-cuts. I tell them, I invent this job - Vámpír. But they say that aristocratic sociopaths are yesterday's men. Young girls want social outcasts with softer side, more in tune with own femininity. Is not enough to be able to leap tall castles in single bound or hypnotise visitors, any more. I am past it! I, who destroyed the Ottomans and fed their corpses to the crows. I, who left the battlefields of Transylvania scattered with Bulgarian dead. I can no longer be Vámpír because am neither young enough or blond enough and attended no High School to drop out of.
Feltch: Lovely. Well, I'll just say "working abroad", shall I? But before I press send, I should just say that the Moshe Dayan Synagogue have a generous private health plan and excellent free life-cover for all employees. How does that sound?
Valdescu: Life cover is of no interest - do not expect to "die" soon. However, dental health plan cover would be nice. Is hard to keep fangs in good condition once you pass 400.