No, you’re a little bit pissed

I have, this evening, been annoying the hell out of people. This evening might also mean ‘this morning’.

Skypechat saw quite a bit of action.

WhatsApp had heavy use.

SMS had medium traffic.

Twitter dealt with the remainder.


I didn’t get the Oxford contract that I interviewed for, this morning – well, yesterday morning now. I came 2nd out of five candidates.

Most of the rest of the irons continue to rest in the fire.

You’re all very lovely.

You’ve been so understanding, this evening.

There are several different strands to my life, right now, that aren’t terribly easy.

But the biggest, baddest, most not easy of them all is the one I can’t talk about.

And thanks for letting me not talk about it in such great detail.

Because sometimes being in love is not easy.

And I love her so much.

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The scores on the doors at the end of this round are

Just in case you thought I’m sitting on my arse fannying around, here’s an update on (to use the jargon) the ‘jobs in play’.

This means roles where my application has passed the first hurdle, and I’ve made it on to the interview shortlist, though I’m waiting for the interview details.

The jobs are listed in no particular order:

Oxford (interviewed 31/5, came 2nd)
Abu Dhabi
Northampton (2)
London (6)
West Sussex (2)
Aberdeen (vacancy pulled from the market 30/5)

The rates range from a low of £200/day to a stupidly high of £750/day (tax free)

(ps: so far have applied for 53 jobs today)

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Just plain cruel

You know I’m applying for jobs – from anywhere between 40 – 80 positions a day?

Well, this afternoon this email rattled in to my inbox:


———- Forwarded message ———-
From: charles <>
Date: 28 May 2013 12:36
Subject: Invitation to job Interview
To: me


As a result your application, I would like to invite you to attend an interview.

You will have an interview with the department manager, Jenny Wilson. The interview will last about 30 min.

Please bring three reference (If available), as well as a copy of your ID, e.g. Passport, Driving License to the interview.

Please contact me on 07064848727, in order to arrange an interview

We look forward to seeing you

Best regards

Charles Brown




It’s obviously a con for the following reasons:

  • sent from a yahoo email address
  • the lack of personal salutation/greeting
  • the lack of a named post or role
  • the lack of an address to attend
  • the poor grammar (‘last about 30 min’, ‘please bring three reference’)
  • the inconsistently applied punctuation
  • the mobile phone number (which my cynical head tells me will transfer the caller to a premium number, or will reveal that there is a fee for processing the application)

But how cruel is this con, this vile trick being perpetrated against the unemployed and (therefore, to one degree or another) the desperate?

People who are less cynical than I would probably jump on this email, as if it were some kind of salvation.

I’m sure that a significantly large number of people would call the number and get sucked in to whatever nasty, money-grabbing scheme it is, that sits behind this email.


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Working on working

It might, of course, be just me, but it seems that the job market has, in the last couple of weeks, picked up.

The quality of vacancies (and the depth to the vacancy market) have both improved.

I am ‘in the running’ for a number of jobs (Cardiff, Norfolk, Nottingham, Northampton, and Abu Dhabi).

In addition to these five ‘running’ hares, I have an uncountable number of ‘live’ applications still sitting in dozens of pending trays.

Earlier on today, the thought occurred that maybe I should look at this as an opportunity to switch tracks.

Take up a new job.

Teacher, maybe?


I’d be good at that.

I’d enjoy that role.

Except for the fact that I can only handle children two at a time.

So maybe teaching isn’t a good idea.


*strokes imaginary beard*

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Talking the silence out

The only people I have spoken to (face to face, because phone calls don’t count) in the last six days are supermarket checkout people, and the buyer who came to pick up the motorbike.

I am having a few phone conversations each day, with recruitment agencies. And I had a nice long phone call with a friend, earlier this evening.

And I’ve had a telephone interview for a job in Moscow, and another for a job in Brussels.

But the amount of physical human interaction, lately, is small.

It’s 8pm Thursday evening.

And I’m bored.

Don’t misunderstand things – I’m feeling pretty good.

I have every right to be mopey and depressed, but I’m not; I’m upbeat and confident.

I’m just, this evening, very bored.

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Shedding £s not Lbs

I’d like to get hold of any of the authors of the ‘you can live on £1 a day’ articles and shake them warmly by the throat.

Because you can’t.


I’ve sold my motorbike; it was collected yesterday.

I’m still applying for jobs (currently about 30-40 per day), but there isn’t too much out there and, with over 600 applicants per job, employers are focussing on the minutest detail in CVs before they even draw up an interview list. Making it on to the interview list is a feat in itself.

I’ve widened my field of jobsearching; I’m now applying for jobs internationally as well as nationally. Today, so far, includes applications for posts in Belgium, France, and Denmark.

In food news, in terms of quantities, I’m eating less, but I’m not eating fewer meals – and no, I don’t understand this either – yet I’m not dropping any weight.


That’s just unjust (IYSWIM).

Amusingly, I’ve been ferreting about in the depthiest depths of the freezer, and have discovered – and started eating – things that were obviously installed by my ex-wife (that large bag of frozen brussels sprouts hasn’t seen the light of day in at least three years!).

All in all I continue to be upbeat, that good things are just around the corner.

I have no evidence to support this theory, but it’s my theory and I’m sticking to it.

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Keeping busy

Obviously, keeping busy is very important. It is far too easy for we members of the unemployed to waste our time on frivolous pursuits.

And besides, it’s good to maintain a routine.

I’ve spent the last week building a MySQL database, and creating user and admin functionality in to it.

This isn’t what I do for a living, but it’s a set of skills that I have.

The database will drive what will become a commercial website.

I haven’t begun work on the front-end yet, the website owner (not me, obv) and I haven’t had the in-depth design discussions that need to occur.

The next stage is to migrate the prototype database from a test domain over to the production domain.

Then I’ll copy over all the files that make the front-end.

Then I’ll do the last series of very fiddly, technical, database updates.

And then we’ll move on to the front-end.

In addition to these tasks I’ve been continuing my job-search.  I’m still hitting an average of 50-60 contract applications a day, but there’s not much coming back.

Still, I’ll keep the routine going, eh?

Keep hitting the 50-60 applications a day.

And keep myself busy in other ways as well.

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The kindness of…. friends

A Red Cross-style food parcel was delivered this morning.

It was anonymously sent, and yet I know it is from.

The large parcel contained sweets, chocolates and a very generous amount of spending money, on Sainsbury’s pre-paid cards.

I am touched by this display of generosity, especially as the sender can ill-afford to be so open-handed.

Deeply touched.

Another friend called this afternoon, threatening to drive the 140-mile round-trip from her house, with a car full of food.

She, too, can scarcely afford to be so kind.

I am so lucky to have good friends like these.

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…. and I’m feeling good

I have no idea why, but I am feeling ridiculously good.

The all-important, context-setting background to that sentence is that almost every aspect of my life is falling apart.

My contract ended in January.

I’m not eligible for any kind of welfare benefit or state financial assistance.

There is no secondary income to fall back on.

Since January I have been using my savings, while I continued to keep ‘normal’ things going. And while I have been applying for jobs.

This would normally be fine, but in mid-January – just before I finished my last contract – I was hit with two unexpected tax bills that totalled £29k.

That hurt like hell, but needed to be settled immediately, so I postponed planned expenditure, took a deep breath, and paid the tax bills out of my savings.


I am applying for between 40-70 jobs a day.

I’m getting a few interviews here and there, but nothing like the number I would normally expect.

The jobs market is worse than flat, it is dead.

I spoke to a recruiter today who said he had 680 applications for the one vacancy he put out last week.

I got interviewed for that vacancy, but the employer decided not to appoint anyone, pulled the job off the market and is sitting on the requirement.

I’m confident that things will turn around. Yes, I am a glass is half-full kind of guy, but I am genuinely confident that the current situation will reverse. And it won’t take me long to build up my cash reserves again.

But I have never known the market to be like this.

Neither has everyone else I have spoken to.

Unfortunately, my savings are now gone.

I’m selling things to pay the bills (rent, electricity, water, broadband/phone, food).

I had to sack my cleaner, ages ago. That was sad; I was part of their income. That’s how my situation knocks on to others.

The horsebox has gone. That was sad too. I’ve owned that beautiful lorry for ten years.

The horse has gone. I’m devastated beyond words about this. It’s like the loss of a family member. I cried for days when the livery yard sold him.

The motorbike has been sold, and is waiting for the buyer to collect it.

I’m hanging on to my car for as long as I can, but ultimately even that is on the list of of items to sell.

So are items of furniture in the house.

No, in ten years of doing what I do for a living, I have never known anything like this. Oh, for sure, if I hadn’t had the two tax bills in January, my situation would still be comfortable even now.

But that’s not the case, this is dire.

Yet, despite all of the bad stuff going on  (and that list extends far beyond my work and my financial woes, goes deep in to the issues I’ve blogged about in my personal life, and a massive health scare that frightened the crap out of me), I should be feeling terrible.

But I’m not.

I feel bad for everything that is affected by the awful impacts in my life.

But in myself? Personally?

No, despite the lack of things for me to feel positive about, I feel, in myself, positive.

Glass half full?

Or going mental?

Only you can decide.

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Feeding the inner geek

I’ve spent about 15 hours building a database to drive a public-facing website (as opposed to an intranet or restricted access website).

It is, potentially, a multi-user/multi-contributor website.

Anyone should be able to submit content (and supporting photographs) to the site. Some users who submit content may want to register (create a profile). Some users who submit content may not want to register/create a profile.

This either/or/both user-type presents a number of issues, chiefly in the areas of protecting the security of the system, ensuring the robustness of data, and protecting the correct categorisation of information.

I’ve created two methods, through which the users could upload content to the website: either straightforward file/attachment upload (which would then need to be manipulated by the site admins), or text entry through a form.

I’m building a content management system (CMS) in to the database, to help with the correct identification/categorisation of the user-submitted content (text and photographs), but the difficulty is making sure that the user-submitted content is correctly categorised/labelled.

This – the correct categorisation of user-submitted data – is just one aspect of database design that I’m having great fun with.



Because I’m ever so slightly geeky.

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