Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 10 Oct 2016, and is filled under Uncategorised.

The end

I admit it. I was wrong.

When I started out on what I hilariously call my career path twenty something years ago, I made what I now recognise was an epic mistake. I wanted my life to be fun and interesting and saw myself as the classic hack, banging out stories for money and having loads of fun along the way. This is a tempting vision and, as I type it, I’m remembering the mindset that went with it, telling my university newspaper that I wanted to live in a caravan in Cornwall and write books. Well, my twentysomething self, that really isn’t how it’s finished up working out.

Instead, I’m skint. After a few, admittedly interesting years, I’m now sitting here applying for jobs that pay slightly above the minimum wage in which Bob Corporate will talk to me like I have advanced brain damage, take his cock out and shove it up my arse. Whatever I imagined when I started out, young, and pink, and innocent, it really wasn’t this. In fact, right now, my one wish is for a time machine so that I can go back in time to my graduation ceremony, knock seven shades of crap out of myself and leave him with the idea that he really needs to take one of those corporate management jobs that people are offering, instead of pricking around with vague notions of having fun and meeting interesting people.

This is because having fun and meeting interesting people does not pay the bills. Or even come anywhere close to it. At the moment, I’m humiliatingly dependent on my partner and my parents, half a person, if that, with no ability to make executive financial decisions for myself of do anything much other than get through each day with the objective of spending as little money as possible. My main way of making a sporadic living is working as a steward at the local football club with the kinds of people I’d normally cross the street to avoid, which means that every week or so, I get to taste the humiliation of my own failure to earn a decent living all over again, standing there in my high vis jacket like the world’s most obvious failure. ‘Look at this stupid fuck,’ they’re thinking. ‘No matter what decisions he’s made in life, they’ve led him here.’ And they’re right, of course.

It’s my life. Not, I realise, in a moment of terrible clarity, somewhere I’m just passing through on the way to somewhere else more exciting, but my life. I can’t tell myself that unskilled, minimum wage jobs are just something I’m doing for a while. They’re me. The fiction has been allowed to linger because, like most men, I lie to myself with brilliant consistency, only really seeing life as it really is, in all of its mocking bleakness first thing in the morning before the lie factory that is my brain has truly had time to get into gear, but also because I’ve been applying for jobs overseas. These hold out the promise of well-remunerated, interesting roles which I’ve been grasping at, desperately, in the hope they’ll at least interview me. Not a bit of it. I’m 43 and I’m too old. They probably don’t even look twice at the application before pressing ‘delete,’ laugh to themselves and give the job to someone half my age. I don’t blame them. I’d do the same.

The culprit here is that I think I can write and have previously believed that I deserved to be read, by actual people. Well, that’s too damaging a belief and has been allowed to lead my thinking for too long. It’s horribly obvious that nobody is ever going to read this blog and think ‘hey, let’s give this guy a column,’ in which case they serve no purpose. Either writing pays for itself, puts money in the bank, food on the table and lifts me out of having to mix with the dregs of humanity, or it serves no discernible point. I’ll write about washing machines, wind power systems or geopolitics. Anything that my masters want me to write about from whatever point of view they want me to have and say pretty much anything. I left work I was doing with the Army because it felt morally wrong. Well, to hell with those scruples. If they asked me back and paid me that £30 000 again, I’d take their arms off. I’d recant my pacifism in public and suffer any level of humiliation. Just give me the bloody money and the financial independence that comes with it. I was a fool to walk away. Ask me back.

But they won’t, of course. Writing work has dried up, which is why I’m here, with the minimum wage people, grinding along as best we can and living lives of utter desperation. This blog, then, will be my last. Writing doesn’t pay and my self-delusions are exposed as what they are. They said of poet Matthew Arnold that he ‘thrust his gift in prison until it died,’ such was his strange relationship with poetry. Well, my relationship with writing isn’t strange. It can fuck off. All this supposed gift, all this supposed creativity has brought me is long, slow financial suicide, delivering me finally to the realisation of my own catastrophic uselessness. I’ll write nothing else, for as long as I live, to which there isn’t a price attached. Thoughts, impulses to write and sundry other things don’t pay. And it’s being paid that, in this society, matters most.

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