Monday, 17 December 2012

Blatent self-promotion

So, I wrote something for a friend, and lo, for he has published it on his superior Fight! Fight! Fight! blog, designed to pitch the greatest against the great in increasingly unlikely scenario.

When I say 'wrote' I mostly mean that I provided nerdy canonical facts and Andrew made them be actually funny, but here, it's worth a read.

Fight! Fight! Fight! 11

(You don't get to find out who is fighting whom except by clicking the link. Yeah, I'm teasing you. Hint, though: it's topical!)

Monday, 10 December 2012

New job

When I left university, I assumed that I would have a job in a busy city, striding through crowds wearing a business suit and clutching a Starbucks on the way to an important meeting type thing. This rather failed to materialise. My first job post university was working in a trendy-yet-casual clothes shop so I used to sit amongst the commuters in jeans and a hoodie, and nip for a MacDonalds breakfast when I was trying to bribe some of the younger members of staff. (Management tip of the day for you, there.)

Anyway. Now, to my amazement, I am in fact battling through business crowds whilst wearing a smart suit. I'm not holding Starbucks, because I dislike coffee and Starbucks is just as evil as we always suspected. My first day, as I proudly strode through (and by 'strode' I mean battled in a sort of nervous, 'oh god I'm so short' way) the crowd, I felt sort of proud.

Then I realised that I was totally hopeless at this.

The reason there's been such a long hiatus is because 'Disorientated Graduate' is something that came about when I used to be able to walk to work, and I wondered at what point in my university life it came about I was only suited to work in an office on a farm in the arse end of nowhere. So yelling in an overjoyed way 'LOOK! I HAVE A JOB I DON'T ACTUALLY LOATHE!' was a little cruel to my readers, all three of you.

Yet the last fortnight has proven to me that university has failed to get me used to just about anything. I have stopped internally screaming on the Tube (at one point, even emitting a faint squeak when I realised that yes, yet more people really were going to join our train, let's talk about the Circle line at some point in the future), but gosh, this is a new world. I have no idea how to behave, not really.

One thing I have learnt, though: big offices are <i>weird</i>. More anon.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Moving house (a hiatus)

A query: what, exactly, does everyone else do with their old university work? I have carried it, in the manner of a demanted pack rat, around several houses now and it's currently sat in shiny new boxes (yes, plural) waiting to be moved to the new house tomorrow. Mr DG has managed to get everything into two folders.

I have no idea if this is weird. From one perspective, my mum still has all her college work in boxes in the attic. From another perspective, she actually has an attic, a house she owns, and no intention to move house until she leaves this one in a wooden box. (Her words, not mine.) My university folders are a thing of beauty, preceding my love of filing in a professional manner. I don't want to get rid of them!

Anyway, whilst you all ponder these issues (tell me what you do in the comments!) this is a wee hiatus announcement. Tomorrow, I am moving to London. Today, I am mostly going to and from the recycling centre (I can get rid of, you know, other stuff, I just have a block on uni stuff), packing up the kitchen and trying not to freak out. I'm only writing this post as part of my magnificent ability to procrastinate. After moving, there will be no internet for about a week or so, resulting in some quietness from me.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A bit of consideration, people

As we all probably know, it's currently an employers market when it comes to jobs. I was staying in London with a family friend for a set of interviews, and he wondered if they still reimbursed you for travelling to interviews. I laughed uproariously. I do dimly remember a time, back just before I graduated, when job applications had dire messages telling you that they couldn't reimburse for travel. So clearly, it used to happen. Not any more.

I have become used to not having results from job applications. It's got to the point where getting a rejection letter is actually rather enjoyable, because at least SOMEONE has read the application.

You know what's really bloody rude though? When you've been for an interview and they still don't get in contact with you. One interview I went to – three weeks ago! - told me I'd hear back within 24 hours. After a week, I sent a polite e-mail enquiring about when I might hear a response. At the start of the next week, they told me. It is only today that they've rejected me. And not just a rejection, oh no. They told me that they'd 'decided not to recruit for the role'. So you've dragged me down to London and now you've decided the job doesn't exist? Are you fucking KIDDING me?

There's a bright side to all this, and it's that I've actually been offered a job. Yeehaw! They also didn't get back to me within the predicted timeframe, but I did get a message saying there would be a delay. It takes two minutes to send an e-mail like that, employers. It's not hard. The job I've got is the one I wanted more than the rest by quite a large margin, but I needed work for my move to London.

There is also the very real possibilities of what happens if you wait a long time to let someone know the results. I am, it must be said, enjoying telling people that since my interview I have interviewed for, been offered and accepted another job.

One of the elements of my new job? Sending feedback to candidates who have interviewed for the company, successful or otherwise. Having this element of respect for people who don't even work for the company is a very good sign, in my eyes. Also, no poverty for Christmas. Wheeee!

Just... have some respect, employers. Someone has taken the time to apply to your company, travel to the interview, iron the interview suit, go through the preparation and the nerves. Even if they're no good, it takes a tiny amount of time to let people know how they've got on. We may be the faceless mass of desperate people to you, but one day you might be the same boat. Think about it.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Police Commissioner Elections: sadly free of costumed vigilantes

As you're probably not aware, the Police Commissioner elections are taking place this Thursday. I know, I know, it's been a real hotbed of political discussion over these elections and I'm sure you're all desperate to cast your vote.

After some discussion and thought, I have decided that I will vote for one of these options:

1. Anyone by the name of 'Gordon'.
1a. I will also accept anyone campaigning under a slogan of “Tough on costumed super-villains, tough on the causes of costumed super-villainy.”

2. Anyone who promises to give all of their salary to a police widows charity and to not do any work, instead letting the police do their work without any bullshit needless political stuff.

Unfortunately, I can't find any candidates who fulfil any of the above criteria. The UKIP lady in our area, Merseyside, looks a bit like Gary Oldman but that's as close as I can get.

Not actually the UKIP candidate for Merseyside Police Commissioner. Maybe.
 So now I'm torn between voting Labour in an attempt to keep out the UKIP/English Democrat lot, or spoiling my ballot paper. I'm rather tempted to go for the latter. I'm going to note, no matter what happens, because if I think about not voting I hear my ancestors screaming at me. So like many people, I'm now mostly trying to think of the funniest way to spoil my ballot paper, mostly via trying to think of good quotes from The Thick of It.

I do genuinely disagree with these elections, because we don't need Police Commissioners. I have yet to hear a convincing reason why we should, or frankly any reasons whatsoever. I've heard nothing from any candidates, or from the government explaining this new role, or any reason why we're wasting million of pounds on an election we don't need and can't afford.

I'm thinking 'FUCKING OMNISHAMBLES' wouldn't be a bad start.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Interview preparation, and possibly how not to do it

Job interviews are HARD. I go in intending to have the self confidence and general awesomeness of this:

What actually happens is this:

The only bright side to my current round of interviews is that my current employer knows they're happening, which means at least I don't have to come up with an increasingly large roster of dead relatives and hospital appointments. This is about the only good side.

I haven't done any interviews for a long while, and I haven't done a successful interview for even longer, so to say I'm out of practice would be an understatement. Before we even get to the interview itself, there's all the stuff around it. In my case, this has involved buying an interview suit that actually fits, wearing in a new pair of shoes, and remembering where I had put all of my see-through piercing gauges. (I am aware I am getting too old to be as heavily pierced as I am, but there we go.) This is more difficult than I remembered, although that said I've never been very good at shopping.

After that, there's the travel arrangements. I'm quite good at negotiating my way around public transport systems – if you can work out Salzburg, you can do anything – but getting to London in time for an interview without re-mortgaging your house is a difficult task. I don't even have a house to re-mortgage. That's just depressing. Plus, you have to find the interview location itself. One recent interview gave me a map to their office from the train station. Like a fool, I trusted it, which led to me wandering in circles around a suburban Surrey town for forty five minutes last week. NEVER AGAIN.

Then you have to prepare for the interview. Now, there's a fair amount of research you can do using the internet and a bit of nous, but there are a great deal of unknowns. You have to put together a question to ask,which is nigh on impossible, and try to remember your own work history and how it links in with the company and the job description. Chances are your application was some time in the distant past, so you also have to remember the spin you put on it as well.

I haven't heard anything back from any of the interviews I've had thus far, so I have no idea just how badly I crashed and burned in any of them, or if indeed the preparation listed above was any use. All the preparation in the world doesn't make a damn difference, because you can't control how well you do or do not get on with someone. Or indeed, my tendency to babble a little. 

I have another interview next week too, hence the fact I'm typing this rather than actually doing said preparation. Fingers crossed at least one of them comes back with something positive, and I can get on with everything else to do with moving across the whole country, i.e. freaking out about the sheer amount of stuff we own and making some fairly random donations to the various charity shops in my local area.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Job hunting part the first

So, since I'm job hunting in common with many millions of people – a big chunk of whom are graduates – I feel it's worthwhile using these experiences to blog about. In job seeking terms, this is maximising the potential of a situation to improve myself as a person.

The first thing I'm going to talk about is how wonderfully kind people are. Yeah, that's a surprise, isn't it? Looking for work is HARD, and it's easy to focus on the sensation that you and your multiple applications are basically pissing in the wind, with the only responses being cheery automated messages thanking you for your application and then nothing but deadly silence.

The thing is, though, friends and family are wonderfully kind and well-meaning. I've only been looking for work for three weeks, and I've lost count of the amount of e-mails sending over job openings, people letting me know about agencies that have worked for them, and even putting good words in for me with their workplaces. It's made me remember that the world isn't full of horrible people. There is an element of 'all in this together', storing up good karma. The job market is a horrible and uncertain place, and it feels like everyone has experienced this feeling of pissing into the wind.

I tell you what though, applying for jobs via nepotism is just weird. The jobs that friends send over in their organisations are jobs that I actually want to do and feel capable of doing. So I apply to them, but then there's that weird moment where you think – do I mention the friend or not? Sometimes you have to, as part of the application form, but other times it's weird, wondering if its worth name-dropping in the application form. Then there's the terrifying moment when you ponder if your application is wrong for the job, and if you have name-dropped the member of staff will you embarrass them?


The thing is, I'm still glad that everyone is sending over the job openings. I have no idea if they will lead to anything, but more applications the merrier. I'm being vague because if any future employers are reading this I don't want to give anything away, but one minor bit of nepotism has got me an interview which may or may not lead to a job. I've also had some leads in terms of things that aren't nepotism, so we'll just have to see what happens.

Still, it's an interesting process, and one I can look on with some objectivity as obviously I'm still in my current job so I'm not scrabbling for money, just yet. It's an interesting process. We'll see how it continues, and I will keep on squirrelling blog posts away in an attempt not to wail too loudly about how much I seem to suck at telephone interviews.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

London! Yay?

So, after years in a small town in the North of England, I am taking the well worn graduate path and moving down to London.

I would like to pretend this is because I have a shiny new job, but actually it's because my husband has a shiny new job and I am so ready for a change. When I was a student, I sort of assumed I'd end up moving to a large city, drinking lattes and using public transport. I ended back up in a small town I grew up in, managing to move all of ten miles down the road to the coast 18 months ago to a marginally larger town. I'll admit, there's a stonking pub here but that's about it.

As such, I am wildly excited. We're moving towards the end of next month. I remain excited until you ask me the following questions:

1. Where are you going to live?

2. What are you going to do for a living?

3. How do you plan to move that monstrosity you call a sofa down the stairs, anyway?

Then I sort of crumble and have to try to resist the urge to have a little cry.

Now, we are sort of coping with part 1 via going flat hunting at the weekend, and part 3 has been solved with the grim resolve of spending a large amount of money on a moving firm. I am proud of our large amount of mismatching but sturdy furniture, and I simply can't face going furniture shopping in the near future. Logically, the best thing to do is schlep it all down to London, and to prevent Mr DG and I divorcing with less than a year under our belt we may as well avoid the arguments that our mutual attempts to move furniture cause.

Part 2 is one filled with fear and horror and a grim sense of denial. Do I have a job lined up yet? No. Do I have a plan? Only if wildly flailing counts.

Still, I suppose it's more relevant to a graduate blog as we discuss my wild scrabbles through the world of jub hunting. I'm still in my current job at the moment, but desperately trying to persuade employers that I am really very good at administration and should be taken on for the specialist administration roles I'm applying for. OR EVEN A WRITING JOB TO ANYONE READING THIS. Yes, I actually do enjoy administration work, or to be precise I rather prefer getting paid and administration is the quickest way to do it. Quietly I hope I'm going to use this move to find paid employment writing stuff – are you reading this, employers? I can create content for PRETTY MUCH ANYTHING, you should see my portfolio, ASK TO SEE MY PORTFOLIO PLEASE?! However, I enjoy eating and paying rent more than I want to be a starving artist, so now it's a desperate scrabble for a job.

Still, a small and dirty part of me thinks that at least this will be stonking blogging material. Between the job hunt and the move and the new place, I am set up for MONTHS to come, before we even get to the whole bitter Northerner issue.

Plus, bonus Kermit gif.

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Down with the patriarchy. Please?

The news this week has made me want to weep. As allegations about Jimmy Savile – and now, some of his colleagues – have come out in a terrifyingly long list, Justin Lee Collins has been found guilty of harassment of his ex-girlfriend, a case which has also contained some bizarre and plain nasty details. In Pakistan, the Taliban have shot 14 year old Malala Yousafzai for speaking out about women's rights.

These three cases are on the outside very different. Sexual perversion, domestic violence and attempted murder are, legally speaking, three entirely different crimes. Make no mistake, though – this is the week that the patriarchy made itself thoroughly felt on the headlines. It makes me feel a bit sick, to be honest.

Before you all start protesting that these are radically different crimes, allow me to assure you that they have one thing in common. That thing is the need to have power over women, to keep them in their place, to use violence and coercion to prove that power. Jimmy Savile allegedly chose teenage girls, the kind who would be coming into the awkward stage of adulthood but still be vulnerable. Justin Lee Collins psychologically and physically abused an ex-alcoholic who by her own admission was in a vulnerable place. The Taliban shot a girl on a bus, on her way to school.

All of the women involved in this will forever bear scars, some more literal than others, and I sincerely wish for the recovery of Malala, because she is the kind of young women we need more of. All of these women have suffered because men – and frankly, ones that sound insecure, unable to deal with strong and confident women in any way other than violence – have decided that men deserve power, that women are inferior and there to be used.

The patriarchy isn't a very trendy word. Suzanne Moore has a great piece in the Guardian about it today, actually. The concept is quite tricky to explain without sounding too strident, although on a week like this one I'll sound as damned strident as I please. Basically, though, the majority of the world lives under the rule of men. There are rules, invisible rules, designed to protect the ruling men. These rules damage men too, have no doubt about it, but the patriarchy is the thing that judges women for getting old and praising men for looking 'distinguished'. The patriarchy is the glass ceiling. The patriarchy is the anti-choice movement. The patriarchy says you get raped because you were drunk, or in a short skirt, rather than because you happened to be in the path of a rapist. The patriarchy exists where we let it exist, and it leads to men like Justin Lee Collins, insecure in their control.

It has not been a great week, in short, for happy feminist thoughts. And before anyone talks about Julia Gillard's speech, just stop a moment and think about how depressing it was the leader of a country had to stand up and say any such thing in the first place. It's a great speech, and I love the passion behind it, but my God, I wish we didn't live in a world where such a speech has to be made in the first.

Stop and think about your actions this week, and think about the patriarchy too. The next time you pass something off as 'not really mattering', like a Pimps and Hoes fancy dress night, or the Daily Mail tutting about Lady Gaga's 'shocking weight gain', think of the bigger picture. Fight it, if you can, because the other side of the coin may be uglier than you ever dared imagine.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Do shut up, Jeremy Hunt

In a way, it's almost comforting to know that two major players in the government have such an open disregard for women's right. The fact that they were respectively the Women's and Health Minister really says all you need to know.

A baby born at 22 weeks has a 1% chance of survival from the onset of labour. 1%. The Department of Health's own figures state that 91% of abortions happen under 13 weeks. Just stop for a moment, and look at those statistics properly. Women are not going around having abortions at 22 weeks willy-nilly. They are for reasons. One woman's reason to abort a foetus might not be yours, or mine, but I personally think that jeopardising the physical and mental health of a women who already lives outweigh other concerns.

Abortion should be safe, legal and above all rare. If Mr Hunt and Ms Miller are so concerned about the rights of unborn children, they should start looking at improving sex education in school. They should also start doing something about making sure that children aren't born into poverty, and go through life with a good education and better opportunities. As they are both members of a government that seems to be cheerfully pushing more children into poverty, they should really look at their priorities.

This isn't Nadine bloody Dorries, going around ranting about the unborn children and the evil nurses who deliberately kill them. She's a fringe player, with very little impact on what really happens. These two are from the government, with portfolios to deliberately care for women's health. That's why this is so enraging, and so frustrating to hear.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Beep beep

So, car insurance.

I am no longer a Young Person according to official statistics. The other day I had to fill in a form and it was with great melancholy I ticked the '25-34' box. As such, today's news stories about the car insurance industry technically don't affect me, as I am theoretically skipping into the world of 25+ married person car insurance. In theory I am stability itself.

So why, exactly, my premiums have gone up is a puzzle.

Cars are essential in today's world. I wish they weren't. I would love to get rid of my car and not have it as a necessity. Unfortunately, this would involve living in an area with decent public transport links, or indeed not working in the countryside. Both of these things are facts in my life, so I pootle on with my car. Mr DG cannot drive, so it's very definitely my car and my bills for petrol, for insurance, for car tax, and for repairs. Weirdly, I found these things slightly easier to afford when I was a student. All of the above bills have shot up exponentially in the seven years since I passed my test.

I have had very few jobs where didn't need my car to get too and from work, starting from pretty much as soon as I passed my test, which I passed about a month before my eighteenth birthday. I have a feeling that every 'group' of friends needs at least one person with a car, which has pretty much consistently been me. It makes finding work easier, it gives you a bigger list of places to live. I would feel a bit lost without my car, now.

I worry about people who have to jump straight into the new world of driving, and how they'll cope with the bills as they rise steadily. I can still afford to keep my car going, although that said my fan belt sounds like it's on the fritz and if it goes before the end of the month I'm going to have to sacrifice a pair of tights and make do. Hell, I can't afford to not keep my car going – there's no way to get to my work by public transport, and the walk would take about six hours on a good day.

I don't know if there's a point to this post, per se, other than to ponder if car insurance firms don't put out daft ideas like 'Make new drivers only drive during the day!' (so sucks to be 20 and work night shifts, then) to try and distract the rest of us from the fact that it's getting more difficult by the year to still run a car. I'm no Jeremy Clarkson, bleating on about my civil rights to drive cars at whatever speed I wish. I'm thoroughly aware of the environmental impact of cars, which if I walk and take public transport everywhere I can. But in this country, if you live outside a major city, a car is a grim necessity.

I wonder.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Feeling slightly left behind (this time, avoiding libel!)

I had a very weird experience in work the other day. We have Radio 1 on in work, despite all being way too old for the demographic. (I want Radio 6, other staff want Radio 5, some losers want Magic, weirdly on that list Radio 1 is the middle ground. We all like Scott Mills.) Anyway, it chirps along in the background, excluding occasionally howling abuse at Fern Cotton. No one really listens to it, but it keeps the office from weird silence.

No, really, I'm going somewhere with this.

Anyway, the radio was chirping away, and I was vaguely aware of Fern Cotton and another female presenter talking cheerfully about a hot new boyband, and how the lead singer was the only one worth looking at. Christina, my desk buddy, suddenly gave a shriek.

“Disorientated Graduate! That bloke they're talking about! You went to school with him!”

[n.b. Christina went to a different high school, but in the same small town – the crossover of people known is fairly high.]

Anyway, I listened properly and gave out a small shriek myself. “OH MY GOD, I DID!”

He's the closest thing from my school year that constitutes a celebrity, obviously excluding my upcoming fame as a writer. He was on a popular talent show, albeit without getting through to the live shows or having too much TV time, and dated a famous female singer for quite a long time. Then they broke up, and an ex-colleague of mine, who lives opposite the chap in question's parents, informed me she broke up with him because he 'didn't earn enough money, and she wanted a man to earn more money than she did'. I am, as such, failing to name any of the people involved so I'm not sued for libel. (DISCLAIMER: I would also like to point in that I have no idea if the aforementioned story is true, and is probably just slightly malicious gossip. Amusing, though.)

Anyway, I did some googling and was highly amused to see that the chap in question is in fact the lead singer of an up and coming boyband of whom even I've heard of, although he's got a lot of fake tan and a bit of a perm involved.

Then I felt a bit depressed, and a little bit old as well. Or possibly that I'm getting left behind, a little bit, mostly because one of my dearest friends just had a baby and has now made a lovely little family. One of my fondest (and fuzziest) memories of aforementioned friend is in our first year at university when we got legless at a Rocky Horror themed night at the union, and I think we're still on the Union website in our underwear, convinced we look sexy. Now she's a mother, and a radiant one at that. And someone I still remember singing in the Year 3 Christmas play has a song on Radio 1.

I am aware that I'm pretty awesome, honestly. I'm doing well in my life, and at a party this weekend a group of us celebrated the genuine leaps ahead we've made in the last twelve months in our lives. One of the problems of being a graduate – and perhaps, simply being this age – is that occasionally I'm blown away by the achievements on my peers, and I feel a little behind. I know I'm not, and goodness knows I don't want to be a pop star or indeed a mother; still, it's a strange feeling.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Guide to Freshers Week?

It's Freshers Week across the country for many students, or alternatively it's about to start. I've been reading the various 'Guide to Freshers Week' in papers with a sense of arch irony, wondering if many of the articles are in fact writing for graduates who chortle at the stereotypes and remember their own Freshers Week fondly. After all, no student is reading the paper, right?

It was at about this point I remembered my first day at university. I moved into university owned housing, a self-catering house for six girls, and on the first day three of us sort of awkwardly banded together and desperately tried to make tea for the others. We all had biscuits, too. I felt very cunning, because I'd read the UCAS guide to making friends and it was very emphatic that making tea was a great way to make friends. The only downside is that Frances managed to make a round of tea, first.

About a week later, more comfortable in each other's presence and with a few vodkas in us, Frances mentioned that she didn't actually like tea. She'd only made it and drank it because that was what she'd read in the UCAS guide. I gasped. So did Sandra. Turned out we'd all tried the same cunning trick.

(True story: Frances really doesn't like tea. I've seen her drink it once since, when she was desperately trying to work out what her pregnancy cravings were. Turns out that it wasn't tea, but she felt it was a fair guess.)

My own Freshers Week was an awfully long time ago, but I do know that Freshers Week is a lot more fun when you're not a Fresher. Still, it's the start of a great time. Plus, in what feels like an eternity away, you'll be sat on the internet and reading Freshers Week guides and feeling horribly nostalgic, particularly as you have to be up early for work tomorrow. Alas.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012


One of the main problems of being a graduate type is that when you graduate and don't fall into your dream job (or indeed any job at all), it leads to a strangely existential crisis. You see, for years and years you were just 'a student'. Okay, not just a student, but the studying was essential to your understanding on yourself. Student discount, student politics, student feminism, student geek, student historian. They come with their own assumptions and values, which can often be negative but have positive connotations for the student themselves. My sister thinks students are lazy scum, but I rather like students.

So the crisis when you leave university and lose the label is something of a traumatic thing. Having been defined for so long by your full-time life, it's horrible having to be 'Second Accounts Assistant' or 'Retail Assistant' because quite simply it's not as snappy a title. Even those in their dream jobs are generally struggling a little, as many titles don't trip off the tongue. And 'job seeker' just doesn't sound good, even if it's not a negative thing in itself.

Tackling it is difficult. I take the self-deprecation route, myself, and go for 'Office Monkey' or 'Admin Bitch' depending on my mood. Or I lie at parties, which is morally wrong but I like to see what I can get away with. It was a moment of some distress when I got married and filled in a census in a twelve-month period and realised that I would, historically speaking, forever be tarred as 'Administration Clerk' for the rest of my life. Hell, I put down 'clerk' instead of 'assistant' just to sound a bit more historical. I wanted to put astronaut, but the council office were pretty insistent that was illegal. I wonder if on <i>Who Do You Think You Are 2150</i> some descendent will look at me and just think I was boring based on the records. I hope not.

My trick, these days, is to look at the other things in my life, and create a series of labels that aren't based around my job. Yes, I'm an office monkey, and that is a big part of my life. I'm also a writer. I'm a feminist. I'm a geek. I'm lots of things that are separate to me as a worker, and it's with that I keep my happiness and my sanity.

- -

Another label I can take on for the next fortnight is 'traveller'. Having managed to get my laptop back, I'm on the road as of Friday, finally getting to go on honeymoon. As I only have a year left to be classed as a 'young person' (another label!) according to Interrail standards, I'm off around Europe for two weeks with Mr DG and probably too much beer. As such, this is another hiatus announcement, but things should settle down when I'm back. Probably.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Computer issues

My beloved laptop has developed a perplexing issue of not charging and as such it's soon to be taken to be repaired for hopefully a very small amount of money. My computer time is therefore limited to whenever Mr DG isn't using his, which isn't very often and also he has a Mac which I hate using.

In short, this is a minor hiatus but I will be back shortly. Honest! (And then going away for two weeks in September, but that's by the by.)

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A-Level results day

Good grief, it's A-Level results day tomorrow. How the time flies. It's been EIGHT YEARS since I did that. Best of luck with that to anyone reading to whom the luck still applies.

To all graduates currently feeling very, very old - man, I feel your pain.

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Quarter life crisis

I turn 25 in two days. I am trying very hard not to have a quarter life crisis about this. It feels like a tremendously big number, and my brain has spent the last few weeks punishing me for this. I've been finding myself ominously going through all the stuff I haven't done with my life; I haven't got that high-flying job, I haven't yet blossomed into a sinewy twenty-something with perfect skin and hair, I haven't got a cat, I've barely travelled in any meaningful sense, I haven't written a novel. Well, actually, I have done the last one, technically speaking, but I don't think that Lord of Rings fanfiction when your 15 counts. Also, I'll be spending my birthday at my parents so I can use their garden. The last birthday event at my parents? I was SEVENTEEN.

I've read a lot recently about turning 25 – what can I say, my generation really enjoys a bit of naval-gazing – and mostly it makes me feel wretched.

SO. Instead, I've been trying to make a list of all my achievements thus far that the seventeen year old me would have been proud of. Apparently this is the best way to think of it.

1. Passed my driving test and NOT KILLED ANYONE.

Now, there are people out there who wouldn't be impressed by this. These people did not see my driving lessons. Not only have I been driving for eight years, I have gone to and from Scotland more times than you can shake a stick at BYMYSELF. Once I drove a car from St Andrews to Cardiff. It wasn't my car. It was a borrowed car, and the seat didn't move far enough forward for me to touch the pedals the whole way down. And I still failed to kill anyone. SUCCESS.

2. I have a degree!

The title of the blog is a hint on that one, but it's easy to forget that having a degree is a really big achievement. To be honest, the seventeen year old me was just hoping she'd pass the AS-Levels.

3. I have managed to acquire a husband.

This is not an achievement, per se, mostly because in this one I've just been lucky and I don't think that 'being settled' is a universal achievement. Still, managing to organise a wedding is an achievement in itself.

4. I get to write sometimes.

Not that often. But I do get paid to write, both in my day to day job and outside of it. I manage to produce something for here on a semi-regular basis. I feel myself moving very, very slowly, to doing this professionally.

5. I have my own place.

Do I own it yet? No, of course not. But I've boomeranged and I've got out today. In today's world for people of my age, that's definitely an achievement.

6. I've managed to become a reasonably rounded human beings.

A true story, and one shared by many graduates: I was picked on at school. Horrendously. And once, Dad took me to one side, and he said: “Look. One day, you'll be driving past that lot in a car that you own, on the way to your nice job, and you'll see that lot queuing for a bus with hordes of kids, and they will look old. You'll have made something of yourself. You'll have won.”

He's not quite right yet. The nice job has yet to materialise. But occasionally I hear of the people who made my life hell, and, well, I seem to have improved since I was in high school. They haven't.

So fingers crossed, I will spend my birthday eating barbecue food, drinking copious amounts of red wine and feeling good about myself. Until the hangover, which is a totally different issue.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Long distance friendship

Long distance friendship starts being a problem in university, for most people. Even if you don't move too far away from home, chances are that some friends will do so, and visits may take place across the country, dossing on floors and seeing what other student unions look like. There's the beginning of a sense that your friendship network spreads across the country, sometimes even the world.

(And here's a fun story for you, young 'uns – we didn't have Facebook when we started university! It used to just be for students, and only permitted universities got to have it – St Andrews was possibly the first in the UK to be accredited, in my first year in 2005. I have no idea how we all kept up with each other beforehand.)

Most UK universities are hubs. You're more likely to meet someone from a different town than from the town you're actually studying in, excluding possibly the London universities. With an increasingly cosmopolitan outlook in most universities, you're also more likely to make international friends. Forced together into new circumstances, and possibly also a result of your age, you make firm friends. Then you all graduate, and chances are you all go to different parts of the country.

How do you maintain these friendships? Even worse, if you move home, and all of your friends have moved away, how do you keep a circle of friends at all?

I'm lucky in that I have a strong friend network from 'home', from 'university', and from that weird subsection of people who started as friends of friends and then became my own friends. That said, I have this topic of long distance friendship on the brain, firstly because Mr DG has a university friend staying this weekend who's travelled from Down South, and because it's my birthday next week. Parents have very kindly allowed me use of their garden and barbeque, and said I should invite friends if I want. (God, it's like being seventeen again.) So, I asked 'local' friends in an effort to overwhelm a house that I no longer live in and realised that there's about three people.

That was a shock.

The point is that I still have many friends, and I don't feel lonely. In fact, my social calender is currently fairly stuffed in terms of seeing various friends! It's just the nature of the friendship that changes. It's more difficult to 'just nip out for a drink', being that it involves hopping towns and checking diaries. However, it leads to more big social activities and more long weekends, chilling out and chatting.

It takes more effort, and I will be the first to admit that I am a terrible friend in terms of travelling to people – I need the odd weekend off, which explains why I am sat at home watching the trampolining at the Olympics and blogging rather than socialising with my husband and his friend, although we'll be eating together this evening.

The point is that the friendship stays strong. It's a pleasure to see people again, and I hope they're glad to see me! I'm lucky in that at least most people seem to be roughly between the lowlands of Scotland and the Watford gap, so not too big a distance considering, despite the issues with the rail network. It takes work, but then, that's true of most things worth doing. It's just a change, that's all – but then, it seems to be a change that most graduates are sharing these days.

(Long distance romantic relationships are a whole different kettle of fish. There just isn't enough blog space in the world to tackle that one, or at least not today!)

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Greetings from the North!

Greeting, visitors to Britain! You are probably here for the Olympics, which I'm probably not allowed to talk about, being as I'm not an official sponsor. Before Logoc comes to break my fingers, allow me to express warm felicitations from the North of the country. You know, not London. No, Watford doesn't count.

I hope you're enjoying the warm weather! According to the weather lady on Breakfast (is the lack of adverts confusing you yet, by the way?) she'll cheerfully tell you that 'the UK is getting sunshine today!' This isn't strictly true, as she'll go to mention '… except for Scotland, Northern Ireland, the North and some areas of Wales'. It's okay! We're just sacrificing our sunshine for athletes from hotter climes. We're really enjoying having humid yet grim days, and being consistently reminded of how lovely it is down South, like we don't matter. HONESTLY, WE'RE NOT RESENTFUL. NOT AT ALL.

If you enjoy driving, I entreat you to come and visit us up here. We have exactly the same traffic as we always have, not having half of the place shut. I wouldn't advise getting public transport up here, though. Just trust me.

Please also come and see our industrious attitude to work! Unlike our capital, we're all working through the Games, and that's including anyone in cities that are having events, such as Manchester and Edinburgh. When I say 'working' I mean 'signing on', a quaint custom from the 1970s and 1980s that our Government has been working tirelessly to bring back to our cities. Those of us who are not (yet) indulging in this historic tradition may occasionally be found muttering about the difficulty in doing any business south of Birmingham, as for various reasons our economy still swirls around supply there. Still, we're managing to power through the next two weeks, unless the economy drops any more. The excitement, for many of us, is just too much to bear!

You will also be astonished to hear our quirky accents. You won't have heard us on TV before, and no doubt you'll have prepared to cope with London accents via Dick Van Dyke and Audrey Hepburn. Still, if you do take a jaunt up here then try not to look too surprised at our very different approach to the language. “Fookin' cockney twat” is a charming term, we assure you, and please try it on any locals you may find in the East End of the London! They will be amazed at your attempts to take on the language of the entire country. That said, they probably haven't heard it either, as many are of the believe that above Watford simply reads 'Here Be Dragons'.

(We have no dragons. That's Wales.)

Try not to be alarmed at the food prices in the Olympic parks! Come to the North, we can do you double fish and chips with mushy peas for the price you'd pay in the Olympic parks. If you are also alarmed by the security in Heathrow, we can assure you that it's all for your own good. In Manchester airport, it's possible for an eleven year old to wander through without a passport, possibly because the North has also given up all of its Border Agency staff. We do this for your safety, Olympic visitors!

Enjoy the Olympics, and if you have the time, do try to think of the North of the country, and allow us to assure you that we have nothing but warm feelings towards London and our fine and mighty Government!

The author of this piece is in no way bitter and cold about the whole matter, and hasn't just had a surprising and worrying letter at work from some suppliers and contractors about logistics in London, messing up the whole month of plans. Nor does she find the mascots the most frightening thing she's seen in some time. The only sport she's honestly looking forward definitely isn't just keirin. She's overwhelmed with excitement. Honest.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Summer holidays

Most, if not all, schools, colleges and universities have Broken Up For The Summer (excluding you poor buggars doing nursing, who I am aware don't get to have holidays either). Although the weather has yet to show much sign of improving, it's officially summer time. Ergo, it's time to talk about holidays.

I took all of one summer holiday while in university, three glorious weeks backpacking around Italy. (I came back with a deep and spiritual need for tea, mostly.) Other than that, I spent all of my holiday time working, and used to think I was a pretty hardcore and awesome human being, working all through my A-Levels and then my degree. Take your internships and stick 'em up your arse, I thought quietly, I'm going to spend the summer cleaning the toilets.

What I didn't realise was that a change is as good as a rest, and essentially nine months studying and working and then three months working and, er, mostly drinking was sort of like going on holiday. It was a change to the routine, and I was desperate to get back to uni by the end of it.

Now I have, in essence, four weeks of holiday a year. My employer chooses to give us the legal minimum of holidays, and being office based this includes our mandatory shut down periods which eats up a week of leave. As such, four weeks off a year. Last year I hoarded them like a miser in order to take off all of March, and coped with it reasonably well, I thought. This year I am struggling, somewhat.

A week off last week ended in a surprise trip to Venice (surprising to me, Mr DG and probably also Venice) which was wonderful, but the flatness on the return to work was fairly awful. After four days in I headed out again for a long weekend, and now I know that I'm in (including two six day weeks) until September, when I get two weeks off. Weirdly, I'm dreading that (or at least, the bit after it) the most, because then I only have four days of annual leave left to play with.

This is possibly the ultimate first world problem: middle-class Western girl whinges that she doesn't get enough paid time off. BOO HOO. I think, though, that I don't necessarily just want the time off, although a day off midweek here and there would be handy for doing stuff like 'going to the post office'. What I miss is the change from the routine, one long enough to make you grateful for the return to the routine. I'm also aware that I'm going to have the same amount of holidays pretty much for my entire working career.

Honestly, it's enough to make you go into teaching. Then I remember that if I did that I'd have to, you know, actually teach children, so perhaps I can cope without the holidays.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Anyone after some work?

Any graduates looking for work? I hear that G4S are getting a bit desperate...

Joking aside, I actually do think that on one level this is a graduate issue. This sort of temporary work is the kind of thing that unemployed graduates flock towards, and it's crap, let's not put too fine a point on it. Not the work itself, I hasten to point out, but the conditions. G4S waited until the last minute to hire staff because as far as it was concerned, temporary workers are disposable scum who you can always get more of. You can hire and fire at will, and not give them decent working conditions and training because who will they complain to? Put off the recruitment process – after all, you can even get them for free and make them sleep under a bridge

Then again, if you've been out of work for a little while and are desperate for a job, even without the prestige of the Olympics, you'll take anything, and you will put up with these conditions. That's the point. Things like this have been going on for years now, but it took a multinational event and a massive cock-up to give them a spotlight.

There will always be a need and a market for temporary workers, and there are some temporary workers and agencies that are undoubtedly treated very well. I just hope that this makes the government think twice about outsourcing to companies that don't seem to have done their homework, particularly when it makes Britain and it's industry look like complete dicks on the world stage.

Oh, and for the love of whatever it is you believe in, Nick Buckles, please prepare the next time you're hauled in for a Parliamentary enquiry hearing. And give back the management fee, because this mess-up isn't management by any definition.

Friday, 13 July 2012

More learning?

So being a graduate sort of person, you're probably reasonably intelligent and not too bad at this whole 'learning' schtick. Plus, your career may be moving somewhat slower than you were hoping, and the general sensation of ennui leads to a feeling that perhaps you should be doing Further Training.

Getting another degree is somewhat tricky, and daunting considering the amount of debt you're already in. The same with postgraduate work, or specialist training. It's a big commitment, particularly if you're not entirely sure what direction to go in, though.

So when the little notice goes up in the staff canteen, advertising training courses, you sign up like a bolt. Apart from anything else they may also herald a few days out of the office and paid expenses. They look great on the CV, and you don't have to pay for them. Score!

Which, a few weeks later, is how you find yourself in a room full of strangers learning how to perform CPR on co-workers. Remembering what your co-workers look like and how they spend their spare time, you suddenly realise this is the worst idea you've ever had.

… or to be put it the other way, I am now a fully qualified first-aider for my workplace. Oh dear. Well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The course itself was quite interesting, I must admit, but the people on the course didn't, perhaps, share my enthusiasm for learning. This makes me sound like a cow, I realise, but a degree does seem to give you a kick up the arse when it comes to retaining information; the younger ones on the course, like myself, were taking notes and doing the prep work we were asked to do overnight; older ex-dockyard workers rocked up and hoped for the best.

Will this course help me at all in my future career? Or even better, give me a slight payrise? Not entirely sure yet, mostly because I did the course and then went on a week's leave, which is nearly over now and more on anon. I hope it does, mostly because I still have my head that learning=success (a narrative we frankly should have learnt is a lie by now, but there we go).

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Shock realisation: we are governed by morons

I have come to the conclusion, spurred on by this final news story, that David Cameron just doesn't care any more and is spurting whatever daft opinion the1922 Committee has come with this time. No more benefits for anyone, particularly not those scum who are under 25! Let's leave the EU and go to war with France again for good measure! Schools abolished for poor people!

I'm being deliberately facetious there, but this week it's felt a little like that. It's that or he's deliberately winding up the left with a series of daft proposals in order to get the headlines away from Jimmy Carr and corrupt banks, possibly because he doesn't want to rock that boat too tightly. (Is Jimmy Carr finally paying his tax the reason for the freeze of fuel duty? Doubt it.)

I really dislike the right using the E.U. as catnip for the crazier fringe, trying to bring in the nastier elements and probably nark off the Lib Dems at that. Genuine worries about sovereignity always seem to be taken over by frothing xenophobes, who classify the E.U. as a sort of Gomorrah of liberal ideas/fascist removal of sovereign rights AT THE SAME TIME, despite the fact that all countries seem to send over a contingent of equally bizarre people who reckon that standing for the European parliament is totally the best way to remove themselves from it.

I feel a little fatigued with the news at the moment. When it's a graduate specific story, it's a little easier to comment on it in the spirit of the blog, but stuff like this just keeps me so utterly flabbergasted that I'm unable to rebut them. It's a bit like being asked to explain why falling in a pit of spikes is a bad idea – it's so patently a bad idea that it's hard to know where to start, as it includes stuff that you assume a rational human being would know instinctively.

Possibly assuming that we are governed by rational human beings is where I've been going wrong.

Monday, 25 June 2012


I graduated three years ago today. I am generally reminded of the day I graduated by the yearly Michael Jackson obituaries, as I have a sort of magic touch for killing celebrities on important days on my life. (One day I will tell you about how I killed Whitney Houston.)

I loved graduating. Loved it. The actual ceremony was a bit odd, but the feeling of pride and achievement gently wafting through the room was beautiful. Mum cried, and Dad looked a bit gruff and pleased that finally someone in the family had made it through university. There was a garden party, and then the graduation ball was the next day.

There was an article in the Guardian a few days ago – Can you afford to go to your own graduation? This just makes me sad.

I had a unique set of circumstances when it came to my graduation. I was still in town, tickets to graduation were free for me and for two family members, and the garden party was also free for me and my two guests. The medieval history department also put on a significantly more boozy party, still free. There was an academic uniform that was mandatory, which for me was black skirt/trousers, nude tights, black shoes and white shirt. What I didn't own, I picked up at Primark fairly cheaply. I had to pay for the gown and cape. Looking at this article, I have to admit that I find it shocking that people are charged to attend their own graduation – you pay that much in fees for a reason, surely?

If you can afford to go to graduation, I sincerely urge people to do so. It's a decision you'll regret, otherwise. “It's all about the parents!” some people moan. Well, fine – let your parents celebrate your achievement! You graduate at 21, 22 – you're big enough and ugly enough to tell your parents to get stuffed if they're insisting on things you don't want. Getting a degree, despite graduate worries, despite the loans, despite the guff you get from people like me, is one hell of an achievement. Celebrate your awesomeness and embrace the stupid traditions. Graduation is the pay off for all of the hard work, and if you're lucky, there's a really good party afterwards.

In St Andrews, you get hit on the head with John Knox's trousers. Other universities have their own mad traditions. Come on, that's an opportunity you only get the once.

Friday, 22 June 2012

An unexpected sense of loss

That time has finally come for me. It happens earlier for most graduates, I appreciate, but the joy of the Scottish system is that you get to put stuff off for a bit longer.

The people who started university in the year I have graduated this week. I no longer have am active undergraduate link to the undergraduates of my old university.

I knew it had to happen eventually. One of the good things about being a part of societies, etc, is that you can pop in and still talk to people. It makes you feel connected, even as you get jobs and get married and do various grown-up things. You hear about things that are happening, rather than hearing about them through the alumni magazine, and pop along to visit, and good things like that.

Now, however, all friends from my time during university have all flown the nest. (St Andrews has an academic family system, so the metaphor is accurate.) Whilst I am very pleased and proud for them- graduating is SO MUCH FUN, more on that topic soon – I am also a little bereft and sad for myself, because now I have to accept that some of the anchoring to my student days has gone.

I don't know how common a sensation this is amongst graduates, mostly because I only noticed it myself a few weeks ago, but to all those currently graduating – look out for this one in three or four years, whenever the equivalent time comes up.

Oh well. There's always the Alumni Chronicle.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Disorientated Graduate: news edition!

I would like to have to measured, considered thoughts on the news, but mostly I am just baffled by it. Let's start with one of the major stories, according to the BBC, of the last few days:

They also seem to be of the opinion that allowing two ladies or two gents to get married will ruin marriage forever. Unlike, say, divorce. It's perhaps worth pointing out at this point that whilst Jesus was quite vocal on the issue of divorce (i.e. bad) he was surprisingly quiet about homosexuality. This is odd, considering the obsession some modern Christians have with the latter rather than the former.

Look, I can't add anything to this debate that's particularly fresh. I am a lady who is married to a dude and we got married in a church which we were lucky enough to be able to do. If the church doesn't want to marry two people, that's their decision. It's got nothing to do with how the state chooses to define marriage. If anything, extending gay marriage is an inherently small-c conservative thing to do, bigging up the idea of stable relationships in an old-fashioned mould. I don't think marriage is for every relationship, or indeed every person, and that's fine by me. I also happen to think that civil partnerships are ace ideas for people that don't want to be defined as in a marriage. Let everyone get married to whomever they wish, or civil partnerships.

Government, stop pussyfooting around the issue and pandering to the bishops in the House of Lords who you should have thrown out years ago. Let straight couples get a civil partnership, and let gay couples get married. And if a religious organisation chooses to marry gay people – the Quakers and Unitarians very much wish to do this – then let them do that. Don't be dictated to be a church that was, from one perspective, set up in order to allow Henry VIII to get his end away.

Now we're done with equal rights, let us move onto the economy:

Really? Ah, good, we must be out of recession then, because surely everyone would get that pay rise, right, down to the cleaning staff and the lady that pushes the tea trolley? No, wait, that doesn't happen? And share prices are down? And the economy is still fucked? And yet, these people are getting obscenely richer whilst the masses struggle?


Now, to something about the alma matar!

YES. THREE MONTHS TOO EARLY. IT IS THE SUMMER HOLIDAYS. I can't believe I've had to crack out the Sisko picture AGAIN.

I'm not even in St Andrews anymore and it makes me want to die as a statement for sheer fucking stupidity. Also, Harry Potter and Gin Society? I'm not saying that it doesn't exist, but I was president of the Doctor Who Society for two years and I drank like a fish, so if that society slipped under the radar then it must have been a little low on the whole publicity issue.


That's enough ranting for now, I think.

Monday, 4 June 2012

Musings on patriotism

I'm not especially proud to be British. I'm pleased to be British. I'm pleased at being a small part of a historic nation. I like the Union, and would rather be British than English. I'm happy that I have the benefits of being British; I am aware of my national global privilege, but I like that I have free and fair elections in my country, that I have reasonable freedoms and all that good stuff. Proud, though? That's like being proud to have size 5 feet. I like that size 5 feet generally makes shoe shopping more straight forward, and I think they look nice and in proportion on the end of my legs, but I'm not proud of them.

I'm musing on patriotism at the moment, as the Union flag (fun fact: only the Union Jack when at sea!) has exploded everywhere, a bit like spores on moss. The Queen is having a diamond jubilee, something about which I am deeply ambivalent about. There is going to be a pageant of boats across the Thames. Last time this happened it was to welcome Catherine of Braganza to the country in 1662. I have no issue with Catherine of Braganza – seemed like a nice lady! - but she failed to have any children by Charles II, and unlike Hency VIII this probably was her fault, given that Charles had something like 35 acknowledged bastards by seventeen other women. This led to a major constitutional crisis and quite a lot of bad times for the monarchy. You know, just after Charles I had his head chopped off.

I'm just saying.

Anyway, the diamond jubilee is a thing that is happening at the moment. I am delighted to have a day off work, in much the same way I was delighted to have a day off for the last royal wedding. And I sort of respect the Queen, mostly for still being alive, even if she and her family are a set of parasitic leeches on society. So is my Aunty Phyllis and her brood, mind you, and I don't know if I want anyone to chop her head off. Then again, I'm not being encouraged to have street parties for Aunty Phyllis, either.

One thing that makes me quite skeezy, though, is the Jubilee song.

I am basically an emotional sponge and am fairly easy to start blubbing. I have been known to get a little bit weepy at adverts, and DIY SOS. To throw Gary Barlow at me (I love Take That with the passion that only someone who liked them the first time around can muster), Andrew Lloyd Webber (yes, I am an awful person) and then put in a bit of Gareth Malone is basically designed to make me weep like a child. It's a reasonably stirring song with vague lyrics.

And yet, the whole thing makes me uneasy, possibly because it reminds me what the monarchy really is. The Military Wives are defined by their relationships to men, not what they do as a living, and it says that we are a country at war, a country nearly always at war, and one that has belligerently pushed around big chunks of the world via a militaristic power, where those who are signed up and those who are left behind are made to feel Like It Really Matters. Lots of shots of angelic African children singing away are beautiful, yes, but how relevant is a tiny little British woman with a big hat to Kenyans? She was on the throne during the Mau-Mau Uprising, for goodness sake, there is not always good history there. The Commonwealth has made some good strides forwards, but there's an uncomfortable colonial history there that this song just blithely brushes under the carpet, and I don't know that's the right thing to do.

It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of a crowd, to be blown away by the spectacle and pageantry, and I might find myself watching that Jubilee concert tonight. But then, the pageantry is a show designed to hide the cold steel that lies behind the history of monarchy, the sense that if the Queen is in her God-given place then so are us underlings. That's a concept I'm really not comfortable with.

I'm enjoying my long weekend, although to be honest I spent the weekend catching up with some friends and have spent today watching so much Game of Thrones I think my eyes are going to fall out. That's probably as close as I'm getting to royalty today.

Sunday, 27 May 2012

How To Definitely Get A Job After Graduation

… okay, that title is a lie. Sorry. There's no set way for anyone, at all. This entry is more a vague set of tips about what to do in the search for an elusive job post-graduation. A survival guide, if you will.

As dissertations reach and completions and exams start to look like something that might go away soon, many soon-to-be graduates are looking into the maw of employment and wondering what on earth they're going to do with their lives. You may well have a plan, or a job-related degree. Best of luck, teachers, doctors and accountants! I am aware that everyone has trouble with first jobs, but at least if you have a direction then you know where to start looking.

But what of those of us who are cast into the ether without any clear direction, what should we do? It's all very well to beat our chests and rent our clothes and bewail that we didn't take the time to visit the Careers Centre, but alas, for some of us the Careers Centre is too far away now. These are some very vague tips for anyone who is currently resembling a headless chicken and have no idea how to go about even starting to look for a job:

1. If you want to go the graduate scheme route, go nuts – they're designed for graduates. Milkround and Prospects are both good websites, and I managed to get a few interviews/assessment centre places with them.

2. Apply for everything that takes your fancy, but tailor your applications. A general CV is a boring CV. Why do you want to do that job? More importantly, what unique thing can you bring for that particular role?

3. “£25,000 OTE!” means 'Slightly above minimum wage unless you're really, really good at sales'. If you're really, really good at sales then hooray for you! If you're not, though, a sales job will probably make you unhappy. Sorry.

4. If you don't understand some of the job terms used, then that's fine! If you don't understand the whole advert, then there's only so much you can blag.

5. “This job is below me!” No, it's not. Get out of that mindset right now. Work is a good thing to be in. The job may be hell, and you may not enjoy it, but the job you're doing now? The waitressing, the call centre, the data inputting? Some people do that for their whole life. Work is a good thing to have, and that McJob will keep you with some money, some self-esteem and if you're clever, will help give you a leg up into the job you want to do.

5a. Did you have a student job? Can it be transferred or made full time in some way? That's what I did, and within two weeks of transferring to a different store in a different region (translation: I moved back in with my parents) I got promoted to supervisor. Okay, I left that job, but it means I have MANAGEMENT EXPERIENCE which is, on a technical level, gold dust.

6. Don't buy an interview suit until you have an interview. It's soul-crushing to look at it, unworn, swinging gently in the wardrobe.

7. Beware the recruitment agencies. They will lure you in with a job title and it turns out they just want you on the books. I am on more recruitment agencies books than I can shake a stick at, and I've never got a single interview out of them, let alone a job. Recruitment agencies, unfortunately, also advertise very real and current jobs. Read the adverts carefully and ask about their client for this role. If they have a specific client, it's probably a real job. If it's vague, they don't.

8. Lastly, keep in contact with friends. Not for networking, you mercenary bastards, but just to keep in contact with people you may have moved away from during the job search. Frankly, it's good for the soul.