Sunday, 23 May 2010
“Well he writes the line;
Wrote right down my spine.
“Oh, do you believe in love there?””
Every other Tuesday, for almost three years, I signed on at the dole office. Let’s blame the recession of the early nineties which kicked in just as I left college. But let’s also blame me for refusing to consider any job that didn’t involve writing.
The job centre didn’t really know what to do with me. I got sent on a week-long course where we were taught how to write a CV. Well, I already had one of those (albeit a very short one as I had no work experience), but I had to attend every day or I’d get my benefits stopped. Everyone else on the course seemed to be a builder – they’d all turn up hours late, suspiciously covered in dust considering they weren’t supposed to be working, and then refuse to put down any details of any job they’d ever done on their CVs.
I then got sent on a Restart course, though I wasn’t quite sure what I was supposed to be restarting as I had yet to actually start anything. And then there was a visit to the Job Centre careers advisor. I did wonder how good her advice was going to be if she’d ended up working as a Job Centre careers advisor. But how wrong was I? She suggested I try tucking my shirt in if I wanted a job and that she may be able to get me some volunteer work cleaning out the Basingstoke Canal. Hmm …
For all this jumping through hoops, I couldn’t actually receive unemployment benefit as I had never worked. So instead I received income support. Which (after food and rent) gave me enough to buy two albums a week down the Rock Box (the local indie store). Suede remind me most of those days – they were always playing on my Walkman as I strolled the two miles into town to sign on, and I had seen them play in the new bands tent at the Reading Festival around the time this first single was released. Brett spoke a lot about his life on the dole in interviews and it was very inspiring to see how things had worked out for him with Suede.
Oh, and there’s a happy ending for me: I got a job. But that’s another story.