Well, it’s in: my application for the BBC’s Journalism Trainee Scheme.
Trainee. Hm. I need training. Well, retraining, certainly. There’s something about the word “trainee” that makes me think of apprentices on one of the government’s Yoof Training Schemes, for some reason. I’m no snob, but I’m not sure how I feel about that. That label.
Actually, that’s rubbish. I think maybe I am a bit of an intellectual snob. I do constantly look at people and wonder how the heck they keep their jobs, let alone get them in the first place. Not just anybody, you understand. I mean people who have better jobs than me. For instance, I recently applied to one of the country’s (in fact, world’s) leading academic institutions for a communications role. I won’t name them in case it comes back to bite me on the bottom when I eventually win the Booker Prize. But anyway, the first sentence, from the head of that department, read: “May thanks for your email.” That’s right. “May“. Given that much of the job would have involved proofreading for this person (or at least, this department) I kinda think that he should have practised what he inevitably would have preached and proofread his own emails before sending them out. In a two-sentence email, there were three mistakes. Nothing as forehead-slapping as “should of” or something equally toe-curling, but honestly, sir, if I’m going to spend time asking you for a job, at least have the grace to make just a little bit of an effort when you tell me to sod off.
Applications, as many of you will know (unless you’re lucky enough to be in your dream job already, or ambitionless enough not to care that you aren’t) can be very tiresome and very long. The one for the BBC Journalism Trainee Scheme, for example, requires one to write four mini-essays. That’s quite a lot, I thought, as I got down to business. Not only that, but you have to constantly use the lingo of the day which, in my experience, mainly refers to being “passionate” all the time. Passionate about editing. Passionate about new technology. Passionate about being passionate… How anyone can be passionate about auditing or chartered accountancy is beyond me, to be honest. Whilst I like working with words, I hold up my hands and say that I’m actually a lot more passionate about being happy, healthy, enjoying life with my wife, Formula 1, the odd glass of Cabernet Sauvignon and chocolate.
But rules is rules and I’ve just made pretty damn sure that I’ve come across as passionate in all four of my application essays. And they’d better bloody believe it; I spent hours on that mother…
A lovely fresh croissant – that’s really all I’m missing. Not in general; I mean at this specific moment in time. My location is a bit surreal. I’m actually in Bishop’s Stortford Public Library with my laptop, creating a blog whilst sipping a ‘venti cafe latte’. But I regret not buying a lovely fresh croissant to go with it. What on earth am I doing here at 9am on a Saturday morning? Well, you see, it’s like this…
Marjana, my wife, is a teacher. A very good one, as it happens – though I would say that – here in Bishop’s Stortford. Not having learned to drive yet (we’re working on it) I’m being a good little husband and driving her to school on Saturday mornings from our home in Northwest London. Yes, it’s one of those six-day week schools. I went to one myself and, strangely, I’m not as resentful about it as one might think. So anyway, while Marjana is musically shaping the minds of the future until midday, I’m sitting here in the library – croissant-less but caffeined up after our 7:15am start – filling my time with iPhone apps…and job apps.
You see, my wife has a career. She trained for it through university and beyond, and is doing exactly what she trained for. I, on the other hand, am careerless. That’s not to say jobless, of course. Oh, I have one of those – always have had. The trouble is, it’s been the same job now for over nine years…and it’s a job, not a career. In my book, a career is something you want to do day in, day out (assuming you haven’t won the lottery or are independently wealthy by some other means) and not somewhere where you go during the week and think “how did it come to this?” almost every day.
I don’t want to seem ungrateful. When I first got the job as a television subtitler back in 2000, I was very excited about it. I was using my editing background, I was in the fast-moving broadcast industry, plus I was doing something vaguely altruistic (or at least helpful) for the deaf community. But now, somehow, over time, when I am subtitling what I can only refer to as the arse of programming with toxic eye-garbage like Jeremy Kyle polluting our living rooms on a daily basis (rather than something cultural and enlightening like the South Bank Show, which I did in my first week at work) my enthusiasm has waned somewhat. I honestly think I’m better than this. Not just me – most of my colleagues are too.
I don’t presume to know that they’re all as unhappy as I am at work. In fact, I’m sure a lot of them aren’t. But it’s also a highly creative office where we have a number of published authors and various other intellectuals and experts, all doing what they really want to do on the side while the subtitling job pays the bills. And I’m in that category too.
So what am I doing about it? Well, I’m applying for lots of jobs (sorry, careers) while freelancing as a copywriter, editor and proofreader. But what do I really want to do? What do I want my career to be? I’m good with words, I know that much. (Go on, find a typo in here, I dair you.) So it seems logical that I should do something related to that for a living. That is, of course, assuming that my musical career is doomed to failure. More on that later.
For now, though, I will sit back and admire my first post on my shiny new blog, safe in the knowledge that I couldn’t career less.