Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage


This article was written on 26 Feb 2017, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Mea culpa

For a long time after the referendum result, I told myself that I wanted to build a life overseas, to persuade my partner that it was viable and then bring her over, too. I don’t know which part of me thought this would be a good idea, but I suspect it’s the same part of me that has, in the past, ploughed on with stupid plans, in the face of reason, with a kind of deranged single-mindedness and seen that some, like going to university and living in London will come off, while others, that I’m going to talk about in more detail in a bit, are close to being the stuff of fantasy.

As an insular, anxious and diffident teenager, university seemed like it was at the apex of a very, very steep hill which I had no inclination to climb. When I started school in 1984, people from my background simply didn’t go there at all, so it was never discussed. As we all got older and there were wider social changes, it had started to become an idea that was discussed so that by the time we did our GCSEs, it was almost feasible. Then we did our A Levels and suddenly, it was something to which we could legitimately aspire to do. I went along with the pretence of wanting to go without ever thinking I’d be good enough. Sadly, I was wrong. I got a place at university.

After a false start or two, I not only went to university, but ultimately made a success of it and, somewhere along the way, became convinced of the power of my own will, which sounds slightly like a film shot by Leni Riefenstahl, only starring a thoroughly dull and unimpressive twenty something, destined to make no mark on the world whatsoever. In time, I was convinced that this same will would help me move to London, which I did, and get a job as a journalist which, despite utterly long odds, I also did. My will, then, was all I thought I needed.

In time, after I’d got married and made a limited successor myself, I decided that what I really needed to do was to embrace the challenge of working abroad. Except this wasn’t a decision made in isolation. My wife at the time was bipolar and, hindsight suggests, I was running from the slow burning tragedy that had become my life, dragging her off to Denmark, of all places, to pitch for work and suggesting that this was a place we could both live, without any kind of support network and without any kind of understanding of the mental health system. It seems inevitable that it would all end in tears as the tragedy ended up engulfing me, but there we are.

And so it was with the referendum. I couldn’t believe that my country had set this course for itself, so I determined that the thing to do was to build a life overseas, succeed and persuade my new partner to forsake family commitments move. In tandem with this, I also applied for jobs in the UK, but never so much as had a reply to any of them. Even an ambulance dispatcher’s job that I knew I could do ended up rejecting me, right at the eleventh hour after innumerable interviews, and another job with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission that I knew I would be able to do because of my experience writing for the Army yielded no response. In fact, 2016 was carpeted with jobs applied for to no real result.

Then I applied for a job with a company in the Czech Republic, which paid forty grand, that involved writing and branding, two things I excel at. I heard nothing and then, in a blaze of activity, was invited out to Prague and offered the job. And now I have been brought face to face with a sure and terrible certainty. I can’t do it.

Not that I cant do the job. I can’t make myself move to Prague. Every morning for weeks, I’ve woken up with a tight, tense feeling in my chest of someone who knows that, at some point in the near future, he will have to find a flat in the city and start building a life there, things that I know, deep down in my soul, I am unable to do. I could no more find a flat in Prague and live in it by myself than I could flap my arms and fly to the moon. Whatever people could make a success of this situation, I’m not one of them. I’m as adventurous as a pair of dull trousers and have all the buccaneering qualities of a small model pirate destined to live his life on the shelf.

What the past 48 hours have brought me face to face with is the end of my ability to will myself through situations with the pure force of something within me. Whatever substance this relies on is no longer present and the power of insistence alone is no longer anywhere near enough. Maybe this is mental illness talking, but I need support and succour in larger quantities than would be available to me were I out there alone. Denied this support, all that would happen is that I’d live like a hermit during the hours I wasn’t working and slowly get ill again. And more than anything else, I don’t want to go back there.

My options now are uncertain. I’ve drafted an email to send to the HR director of the company in Prague which is suitably apologetic and which only requires me to swallow some pride and send to her. There is a local factory which is looking for minimum wage employees and also a call centre, which would appear to be my best options going forward. More than anything else, I want this blog to serve as a reminder, in the future, to my idiot pride and conceit that I am not enough. Because of age, fear or mental capacity, I no longer have the power to force events or decide them alone and the rest of my life MUST be lived in the light of this knowledge. Should I try and do something so irredeemably stupid again, its words need to be a rebuke that, for each brief and fleeting moment of jubilation that my will has prevailed, there is a longer and more fearful realisation that I now have to deliver on something that both body and brain say I cannot.

While I may hate what Brexit is turning this country into, I know that I can’t leave. Provided I earn enough for rent and for food, things I never imagined I’d say a few months ago, then I will be infinitely happier with my smaller horizons. Let it be shown that I have learned my lesson.

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