Thursday, 27 February 2014

Work 2.0 - Season Reboot

Return with me If you will, to late October, to a secluded beer garden in Norwich, The Lamb Inn to be precise, in the early evening. 

I had lost my job earlier in the week and had decided to spend half term week in East Anglia with Vince at my dad's place while he's working there.
He was minding Vincent for the night so I could go out and explore the city a bit more and gain some perspective on a tumultuous time.

I clutched my pint in the heated garden at a corner table and in the movie version would have made immediate plans to be successful, get another, better job and generally be confident, stupid.

The reality of course was that I was a frightened 40 year old, out of work, living in the most depressed area of the country, my home, with seemingly least demand for my nuanced and specialist set of skills.  To rub it in, social media specific jobs were growing on trees in every other major city, America too which we'd left six months previously to come back to get Vincent into a good English school, which we did.  His progress and joy was the main anchor at the time as the swell of uncertainty was threatening to swamp what little optimism I still kept.

Fast forward four months to the same pub, same time and day and everything has changed. Like swapping a red filter for yellow, everything really does look better.  I start a job on Monday within 15 miles of home, in my field, doing whatever it is I do well and with the kind of companies I've done it well for before.  It's more money than I was on previously and most crucially, is over the pernicious minimum income requirement in order to sponsor Stacey's visa.  

Uncertainty, doubt and fear have now been supplanted by assuredness, regained confidence and expectation. Even the clouds above the garden cleared sufficiently to let me see Orion in all its glory, my touchstone constellation that I could always see from Teesside, Oxfordshire, Atlanta and back. You might almost say the stars aligned again.

The return to the working world will mean saying goodbye to the pattern of living I'd adopted, systematic job hunting online in the mornings, tea by the boatload, Maury, Bargain Hunt & Dickinson's Real Deal now become names in the TV guide and not milestones of the day.

My four months at the sharp end, including Christmas, have opened my eyes to the realities of life down here and its as far away from the tabloid version of an easy life of plasma screens on housing benefit as ITV2 is from BBC4.

Nobody is here by choice. You can exist on support if you make specific choices but I'd argue strongly that you can't live.  I wouldn't call it benefit either as that implies a positive outcome. This is the bulwark against further poverty, destitution and homelessness, not a lifestyle choice.

I've got more to say and it's best in another Blessay but you can't, in all conscience, sanction or cut support until the jobs are available and they pay sufficiently well to make them a clearly better option than the alternative. Minimum wage should not be a starting point - until it's raised to £10 an hour.

So I'm back into the world I know best and it's as a tougher, wiser and probably happier Guy. I wouldn't have chosen the last four months purposely but as Douglas Adams observed 'I haven't always got to where I wanted to go but I've nearly always ended up where I'm supposed to be.'