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“Peter…” My mother asks me as the titles to Loose Women roll. “Why don’t you get a job?”
“Pah!” Father pipes up re-ruffling his paper. “That’s just an excuse for those pithy paper pushing poofs. I bet you don’t even know what the economy is!”
“Sure I do, it’s, erm, the jobs ratios or—god is that the time!? I have to go!”
“Go where?” He says lowering the paper. “It's not like you have a job.”
And therefore I don't have a life, obviously. Were you actually trying be ironic there?
“When is it you’re on that cruise again?” I ask as my parting shot. Stupid retired people, they don’t want to work and get away with it!
After a Short Walk at a Relaxed Pace...
I’m in the pub, having an afternoon refreshment. Next to me The Fat Controller is babbling about “the old railroad” and how the new one is “all done by fucking robots and Pakis and, and fuckin', young people! Taking the jobs from all us hard-working British... Another one please, Ron!”
I sort of pity him. He actually wants to work despite the fact he’s incapable. The Shakes, you know?
“And it’s like, the young people, like you, Petie, you need to work. Keep your girlfriend sweet and that, yeah!? Heh heh heh.” He coughs and splutters. “Cos it is Girlfriend isn’t it, Petie, you’re not one of those queers that’ll steal the fucking job slips right out of your hand, are you, Petie? I mean they don’t even need the work anyways do they, eh, Petie? They’ve not got kids to support, eh, are they? Not like us eh, Petie. Well, ok mine aren’t mine, apparently. I was ‘married to the job, or something else that gave her licence to fuck the milk man. And the Fireman when I fell asleep with that fag in my mouth, you remember? Actually you probably weren’t born. But I love 'em like they’re mine anyway, and my wages went all to them before that fuckin’ robot uprising. I mean they don’t get a penny now, cos I’ve got none to fuckin' give 'em. It all goes on that fuckin’… I’ll have another chaser, Ron, if you don't mind please, Ron. Fuckin’ like, it goes on the, the erm... the, the whatsit? …The alimony! That’s it. That's where it all goes. And the fuckin' child support – they aren't even mine! Probably.”
“Well actually I think it’s more to do with the economic downturn.” I tell him before turning to the barman. “Don’t suppose you have any jobs going do you?”
“No mate sorry. Why you asking anyway?”
“I am not a work shy cunt!” I could tell that’s what he meant, and it’s just not true!
“Oh, hey – what – no, no, that’s not what I meant at all!”
“Good. I’m glad of that.”
“Well now that you mention it, I did hear that The Other Gate was looking for some part time help.”
I politely consider it for a moment. “Nah, I mean, nah that’s... that’s too far to travel.”
“What? No it’s not, it’s only like a mile, they’re our competition you know.”
“Yeah but I mean I don’t have a car so… I wouldn’t be able to, you know, do things. They wouldn’t want me. I, just – there’s no point, really.”
“That is exactly it, Petie!” The Fat Controller pipes up. “They don’t want the young people anymore do they? Cos they don’t have the experience, like? But, isn’t it most of them have mouths to feed and, you know, how are they supposed to get the experience if, like, you know, the old ones, like even me – I know I wasn’t born yesterday but it’s kinda obvious that nobody’s gonna get any experience if they don’t employ the kids in the first place! Although you can go too young, can’t you, Petie? Like what them posh cunts do getting, like, fucking four year olds to cut their grass for them – I’d say that was child labour! Which isn’t allowed anymore for some reason. I actually don’t see anything wrong with getting out there when you feel you’re ready to earn your own money – stops them nagging at us for Playstations and whatsit, Pokemons, don’t it, Petie?”
After some more of The Fat Controller’s gentle prattle I’m ordering another drink when I notice that Captain Pugwash in the corner is reading his news paper. An innocuous occurrence at any other time of the day, but he’s only here this early on Tuesdays. And if this is a Tuesday that would mean I’d—
“Oh fuck, fuck! I’ve gotta go to the jobcentre – sign-on – fuck!” It’s hardly my fault, it's just, when you’re as unemployed as I am days just sort of all roll into one and become impossible to tell apart.
“Aye, the Jobshop! That’s a fuckin' fantastic idea that is! Sell you a job but you’ve got no fuckin’ money to buy it with! I mean, how does that even work? I bet they steal the jobs from, good, honest people like me and you, eh, Petie, eh!? Yeah if it's not those fuckin' robots it's shitting kids like you! Prick.” He shouts after me.
After a Short Walk at High Speed...
I’m there. And outside there is a bunch of kids. School must be out and that’s not good, showing up a day late is bad but this late in the day? Basically they’re gonna be annoyed.
“Oi fat man, you looking for a job?” one of the kids hollers at me.
“No, not really – I’m not fat! Actually I am – looking for a job, I mean.”
“Yeah, so an extra fiver couldn’t hurt, could it?”
“I guess not.” I concede with a shrug.
“Right ok, here’s the plan. I’ll give you this.” He holds up a fifty pound note as casually as one might hold a post-it note. I’ve never even seen one before. “And you go buy me and mates here some drink. I’ve made a list.” He hands me this too. I’m a bit sceptical. Watermelon Bacardi Breezer, wonder which one of them’s the homo?
“Oh you get to keep the change; it’ll work out as five-twenty-six.” He says, sweeping away my suspicions.
“Oh, ok, I’ll just go over there, get it for you. I presume that’s where you got your prices?”
“Oh yeah, sure – give us your wallet.”
“Eh? Oh, don’t mug me! Honestly you kids think you can do fucking any—”
“Wow, wow, mate, I’m not mugging you!” he laughs “It’s just some collateral. I am giving you quite a lot to look after, you know, can’t trust anyone these days, can you?”
“No, I suppose not.” I say handing over my wallet. I got it free with a porn mag and its content has the smelting value of about twenty-seven pence.
Ten minutes later I return to the wall outside the Job Centre only to find that the kids have fucked off. They actually bought my wallet against my will and made me look queer in the process! I mean, Bacardi’s? And fucking J2O’s aren’t even alcoholic! Didn’t see any of them with Girlfriends either. It’s probably something the government put in the water.
Honestly this whole situation has left me feeling kinda violated. I suppose I’ve come off better, though.
I could go back and get a refund but why not sell it on for more? That’s enterprising.
After a Brief Walk and the Beginnings of a Rescheduled Appointment…
I’m sitting across from a relatively short, middle-aged woman who is asking me about the sort of work I’m looking for.
None really. Would be the honest answer but then they’d revoke my claim and I’d basically have to live with my parents again. Although they are going on that cruise. I could potentially get squatters rights…
“And how many words a minute can you do?”
“Well I dunno, maybe, three, three and a half? Unless the fourth word is “a” or “I” in which case it’s basically just three.” She raises an eyebrow. “Well I have this sorta autistic thing basically; it means I can’t type more than three words every minute – really annoys my friends on MSN – I mean not that I can afford the internet.”
“Can’t, work, in, off-ice.” She types. I actually got away with that? That’s awesome! I could tell them anything! “Right well there’s a job in the school actually, say’s here you’re a qualified teacher!” This is apparently news to her.
“Yeah but I’m an ex-paedophile, apparently that doesn’t go over too well anymore.”
“Riiight…” She breaths in and out, restraining herself. “Well at least you’ve got over your problem. Now, there’s a cleaning job in an office block? And it’s five-hundred metres from any school or playground. Isn’t that lucky?”
“There’s a bar nearby actually—”
“Alcoholic. I can’t work near drink. Too hard to resist drinking it.”
“How about being a porter? These high class hotels pay people to open the door for their clients.” She’s almost got me; I’m very close to being tempted but—
Her nostrils flare. “Fine. Ok. That’s all the jobs that were open for this week.” I stand up to leave, my bottles clinking. “Ah, ah, wait. We need to do something about this alcoholism.”
“I’m not an alcoholic!” I exclaim. “That is a completely unfounded accusation!”
“But you’ve been drinking, and you're carrying a bag of cheap vodka – and you just told me you were!”
After a Long, Long Walk and Eleven out of Twelve Steps on the Recovery Programme…
I'm in The Other Gate. The Job Centre told me to go to for the interview they’ve arranged.
I’m not going to it though. Despite the shirt and tie. I’m here to ‘carry the Alcoholics Anonymous message to other alcoholics’
Yeah right. That anti-drinking binge was enough to drive a saint to drink.
I look over to the regular to see he is talking at a gathering of people. It’s refreshing to see somebody actually saying what they think after all this time, instead of moaning like a kid about how they’d like to wake up dry for a change.
“’Cos didn’t you hear about that, like that, fuckin’ gay marriage ban, it was in, oh, erm, fuckin’, America or something. Anyway they’re saying now that it was actually them fucking darkies that voted against it – or maybe for – it was all kinda confusing on the news; anyway it was them what put a stop to it. Isn’t that sickening? Them niggers been prosecuted all this time and then they turn in to bigots themselves! I’m starting to think Hitler may have had the right idea – you know that thing un-empirically proves that white people are more tolerant! – who’s up for another holocaust!? Eh!?” Good lord he’s actually making sense! Not like The Fat Controller anyway. I walk over. “And while we’re there why not throw them faggots on the fire!?”
“O’right? You’re dressed up?” the bar man (Ron?) greets.
“Yeah, I’m mourning. My last pub barred me. Said it was for my own good. The thing is I’m not even an alcoholic! It’s that fucking Job Centre, jumping to stupid conclusions and threatening to cut off my dole money! I mean how’m I supposed to get by without a good beer every now and then? Eh?”
“Oh yeah, I know exactly what you mean.” The bar man says, pushing a beer across the bar to me.
“Have a chaser please? And I thought the government was meant to be looking after us! But isn’t it those bloody asylum seekers and shit, isn’t it? Isn’t it?”
“Yeah mate. Yeah it is.” He says, nodding and pushing the drink towards me.
“Yeah I mean employers don’t let alcoholics work do they? How exactly am I supposed to get a job?”
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