Tales of daily life from a 20-something Student from London.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Irish Smirish

Admitedly, I should have guessed when I walked in that this wasnt the pub I was searching for. Looking for an oneills to watch Ireland kick off their world cup campaign, I consulted google maps, only to be given a crude image that showed me to be far away, then close, then far away again. 

I spotted an irish pub and decided to risk it. Now, as I walked in, the fact they were playing 'let me lick you up and down...' says a lot, but the 5 people in here were giving me evil looks, so this young upstart from the city decided to balls up.

I immediately realised, after asking for a pint of smithwicks and hearing the barmans accent, this was Irish in name only. 

"you lads playing the ireland game?"

"no, why?"

"sorry, i just gathered by the sign"

"oh...no, sorry" 

It took me roughly 5 minutes to see i'd walked through the wrong door into the pub next door, a student bar called varsity. I realised why the barman was staring. Great. 

I finished my carslberg and left. 

Sunday, 2 September 2012

I've been riding on my bike...

I'm not entirely sure why, but I find the topics of most of my more recent posts have been a bit serious. I mean, I know most people who read this either click the link because they've scrolled through their newsfeeds a hundred times and see nothing more than a selection of baby photos (well, not a selection. There's nothing selective about them, they just throw every picture their 2gb SD card can hold on every social media network they can find), some photos of guys and dolls dressed up to the nines holding up a sign in a club advertising the club (seriously, what is that about?), and a tonne of 'funny' photos from a page you liked back in college and can never be bothered to unlike, or have a mild interest in some of my awkward misfortunes, but I do feel the need to vent a few serious bits and pieces on here occasionally. So, to anyone who genuinely does read this every week, I apologise. And get a job, y' deadbeats.

So, I still don't have a job. But, I have applied for plenty of staff-writer jobs. In theory, staff-writer is a relatively simple job. I know writers who have worse grammar than sign writers for a Chinese supermarket, and structure an article like the way 500 Days of Summer plays out. I've applied for writing jobs at all sorts of publications. I applied for a particular job at a monthly motorcycle magazine.

The editor of said magazine should probably be "surprised she hasn't seen me on the Isle of Man before" as I've been "going to the TT since I was as tall as a motorbikes kickstand". I mean, if I get the job, I'll brush up on my motorbike knowledge. I'll learn the difference between a Yamaha and a Suzuki, a gas guzzler and a penny pleaser, and, primarily, how to actually start a motorbike. But then again, she also shouldn't be surprised if I "turn up on some sort of bike" as "cars have the restraint that a motorcycle just doesn't give you, allowing you to really enjoy the road".

It's not because I haven't passed my test. I promise. And I wont be turning up on a Boris Bike....not that that'd matter, as I said bike.


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Nautical Pub Golf

After the fun that was Pub Fox Hunting, a general consensus was that it shouldn't be our only voyage into the sport-drinking genre. Last weekend, we opted to take our pal Steve on a night he would forget instantly (thanks to the alcohol, not due to it being below par (yes, note the pun)). Dressing in our best nautical clothing, we headed to the fair city to drink beers and drink other things that aren't beers.

The night began in the Kings Arms. A fairly low key pub, the rainbow flag flew lazily in the summer wind outside. However, a quick check on Google Maps review section revealed there was more than met the eye. The Kings Arms was Soho's premier 'Bear' bar, a meeting spot for what was essentially groups of butch homosexual men. 12 lads walking in dressed as pirates and sailors was like throwing a pound of cat nip into the local pet shop and watching the magic unfold. However, thanks to a cheeky 50% discount we wrangled, Guiness' were downed and brandy was shot, a nice addition to the numerous train beers we had on the journey.

Train beers was the case for some, but not all. Phil 'the animal' Hewitt took part in his compulsory 'wine strawpedo challenge' whilst on the family-friendly c2c into London. 7 seconds the time to beat, he came in at a poultry 11, possibly due to the wine being less than £3 and more like paint stripper. By the time we'd left the bear pit, Phil was devastated, leading us on to our next pub, the John Snow (no resemblance to the c4 news megastar). To say it was small was an understatement. At one point, I limboed under the tiny door to the next room, which I imagine looked absurd to the normal revellers. Phil, again struggling to be served, sat in the corner and wallowed for a while, whilst we spoke to some Danish guys. At one point, one Dane had his chair pulled away, and things got a tad icy (there's a joke about iced Danish in there, I'm sure you can figure something out, so get back to me).

As with every golfing holiday, things get hazy at some point. My last memory of the evening was strolling down Oxford street desperate for some sort of food, missing last orders in a sports bar, and having a small ginger lad threaten to punch me. I'm sure I'll remember some more soon, so you'll have to coax it out of me.

2 tonne trouble

Not having a job, although massively frees up seven out of seven days in a week, often limits the amount of money you have coming in to your bank account. It varies from none to very, very little, and is few and far between.

That is why, today, when a cheque popped through the letter box of number 35, I was ecstatic (partly because I really, really need a haircut, it's like a Furby gone wrong right now). The deposit from living in my hell-hole of a uni house has finally arrived back in my mits, all £250...wait...what? £200.67? What mess could I have possibly left that has resulted in me owing £49.33?

"Jack's room was not cleaned at all". Oh...well. Certainly not the case, I spent a good 10 minutes glueing on a broken door handle.

"Furniture not moved". Now we're getting a bit silly. I never said I was an expert at Feng Shui now, did I?

"Desktop not cleaned". You didn't include a coaster.

"Doorbell missing". It played Mary Had A Little Lamb every hour. It's self explanatory why it's not there.

Apparently, cleaning my window cill and frame cost £30. If you know the right guy, you could get a new one and have change. I expect the new one is made from some sort of rich mahogany.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Running the Gauntlet

The natural progression for a student, or graduate technically, after university is to get straight on the job ladder and earn some of the money that has been much fabled over the past three years. I wouldn't say I took my first tentative step straight away, but now that the kiddies (I can call them that, I'm almost 22 and I have a fancy piece of paper that says I have a degree) are nearing the end of their holidays, I kinda guess I should at least be slightly proactive, if only because it's getting slightly awkward when I turn up to the job centre without the uniform of worn-out Puma tracksuit and Reebok classics (it even feels like the children of the young-mums are giving me a stare).

Last week, I had my first interview, a group interview whittling 18 down to just 7 through a series of gruelling group tasks for a recruitment company in Islington. Now, when I say 'gruelling', I don't say it lightly. The first task involved 'selling' your partner and talking about why they should get the job. After both partners did this, presentation style infront of everyone else, they laid this bombshell on us:

"Now tell us why you should get the job instead of your partner, making note of why you're better"

Oh...oh dear. Poor old Emily, not the most confident of girls, looked up at me with her little eyes, begging me to go easy (Jesus, I'm really trying hard not to make this sound dodgy). I then had 30 seconds of almost ridiculing her infront of everybody else, so much so that, when it came to her turn, she barely had anything to say. This is what guilt feels like.

The next task involved picking a character, alive or dead, real or fictional, and in groups of 4, explaining why you should stay in the metaphorical balloon, and why whoever else should be thrown out. Poor Costas picked Henry the 8th, and the weight card was thrown at him like a ten tonne Tiramisu, legitimately giving him no choice but to throw himself out. I'll be honest, as a group, we may have ganged up on him, but when three people have picked footballers, and one has picked a Tudorian king, it's easy to find common ground.

After these tasks that separate the men from the 'those-who-cant-stick-up-for-themselves', we had the one on one interviews, never something I've struggled with. However...

"Any reason you aren't wearing a tie?" They said, not wearing ties.

"I think it show's I'm relaxed, and confident"

"Are you?"


"...You should wear a tie. You're a smooth customer, but you look cocky"

I felt anything but a smooth customer. But, after the interview, I'd obviously succeeded, as I was told it was good news, and I'd hear from them the next day. I was even told to wear a tie at the briefing day on Friday.

I am currently still unemployed.

My custom clearly needs to be less smooth.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Graduate Gripes

When I first went to university, I thought it was the best decision I'd ever made. I'd leave here with a ticket to a top job, sensible wages, I'd move out within a year, and get ready to start living. If anything, that was how my college sold it to me. Work? Getting a job? What a ridiculous prospect, you need to further your learning. I still feel their pushing of higher education was something to do with them getting alumni in high places, but that's irrelevant now. And in a way, so is the prospect of uni itself.

Not that I didn't enjoy uni as such. I loved it, I met great people, and had great fun. But, almost 3 months after officially finishing, and, by my count, 63 jobs applied for, I've had a grand total of two 'we'll put you on our shortlist', 1 interview, tonnes of 'we had so many applications we weren't able to look at yours and, like more or less every other graduate, no sniff of a 'welcome to the team'. And that's just the jobs I can apply for. There are so many grads nowadays, a lot of employers are finding cheeky ways to sift through candidates that, 10 years ago, would have been close to the top of the pile. 'Minimum 300 UCAS points' needed to apply. That's 3 B's at A-Level, more than a lot of Uni's require you to get accepted onto a course. 'A degree from a top 20 university'. Ok, I get that Oxford is a damn sight better than Sheffield Hallam, but why can I not even apply? Why is my English Degree worth less than an English Degree from say, a university 5 places above? Is it easier? I doubt it. Is the content any different? Well again, I wouldn't imagine so. And yet still, I wouldn't even be given a second glance. I'm left, with a respectable 2:1 from an upper-mid table uni, to apply for jobs that don't exactly seem appealing, despite the fact I've studied for three years to even be able to apply for them. Nowadays, us 2:1 holders are propping up the table.

I don't have any gripe with anyone who's earned a first, as, like I've just said, they earned it, and deserve it. I've got no problem with being second best to a first class honours student at an interview. My problem is, nowadays, I can't even apply to most jobs. I was 0.375 marks into the grade boundary for a 2:1. Had I been just a little bit below, I'd have got a 2:2. Applying for 'graduate' jobs with a 2:2? Forget it. And all those first class students who aren't from a top 20 uni? Well, they're all applying for the jobs that in the past, a 2:1 student would've taken. It's dominoes, and nowhere near as good as the pizza. And so, here I am, on a Friday afternoon, no money, seemingly no prospects, and parents worried about me finding a job and being unhappy, applying for jobs marketed at college leavers. And I ask myself, what was the point?

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Pub Fox Hunting

21st Birthday's are always monumental occasions. People go abroad, go to expensive clubs, eat expensive food, do things they'll regret in the morning, generally go all out. This year it so happened that two of my friends 21st's, Sam Ham and Bean'ed, fell across a single weekend in January. This weekend. Naturally, we decided there was only one way to celebrate this.

Pub Fox Hunting. Essentially a similar concept to Pub Golf (google it), but instead of dressing as golfers, we instead dressed as fox hunters. Well, I say fox hunters...
When the message went out, and we discovered that real fox hunters actually dress a bit like posh circus ringmasters, we took it upon ourselves
to just dress a bit like posh farmers. Only, Phil didn't quite get this:


As you can see Phil, on the left, DID dress like a genuine fox hunter. So there were 11 farmers, and 1 circus ringleader, trapsing around the West End, drinking drinks. The first pub was solely chosen due to the name 'The Intrepid Fox'. A fitting way to start the evening, clearly.

We had found the West End's premier Metal/Goth pub. If I was in plain clothes, I would have stuck out, let alone dressed like Bernard Matthews. After the obligatory shots and bottles, progression was made to a small bar down Tinpan Alley, where the sign for 'happy hour' couldn't go amiss. The place was full of couples enjoying a nice drink, so I take pride in the fact we completely ruined any atmosphere, but probably did give them a talking point. After the barman shook 12 woowoo's for a group of farmers and Zippo the ringleader (a sentence I never expected to utter), the cocktails were downed, and we progressed to the 'ale pub' that we were all dreading. My hazy memory tells me this was the first pub that someone chundered, with Busby eventually finishing the pint at about 24 over par. Not the best effort.

At this point things started to get a little messy. The cider pub left many of us declaring it was, in our tipsy states, 'the coldest thing we've ever drunk', and the barwoman disliked us for asking so many questions about/pining over a small plate of sausage and mash lying on a table. Following this, if anything was needed to push us that bit further, the Guiness pub arrived. People cheekily tried to 'accidentally spill some' and someone else chundered, unfortunately slightly spattering their own shoes. Hungry, we needed food. The first place in sight was a curry house, and to my knowledge, I paid about 15 quid for a beer that I didn't want and definitely didn't need and a small container with a spattering of rice and a bit of Tikka Masala. 12 brave men were slowly reaching the end.

Sadly, or not so, as this was a fairly long entry, this is where the story is left. Partly due to an air of mystery being kept, partly the fact I can't remember much else. If you've never tried pub golf, try it, it's excellent. But do prepare yourself for a hangover like no other. Have a good week everyone.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Cause whatever I did, whatever I said, I didn't mean it...

Ok. So, roughly five people have complained about the lack of new entries. If I'm honest, I got a little bit tired of it all. But hey, at least it's given me plenty of time to get some material to write some more entries, right?

One big issue that got missed was a trip to the delightful European city of Amsterdam. Which is exactly as seedy as it is portrayed. Not that this is a bad thing, mind. You couldn't walk down a street without being tempted by the 'aromas' of a local coffee house. And the Dutch are very friendly people. Well, most...

"Are you guys English?"
"We sure are"

This could have gone one of two ways. Either he was a big fan of the English, and we were about to be praised and loved, or he was a crazy Dutch national from the Dutch equivalent of Luton.

"Whereabouts you from?"
"OHHH! So, what football team you support?"

Risky territory. What if Millwall had a Dutch division?

"West Ham"
"Oh. Good. At least you aren't Chelsea"

Conversation over. I was ready to get out of there, and away from Amsterdamaged-at-birth.

"Why's that?" my buddy Sam pipes up

Now, what came next can only be described as a bellow. I'm saying this because cap locks doesn't quite cut it.

"BECAUSE I FUCKING HATE CHELSEA!!!" (notice the triple exclamation marks)


Much to our dismay, we had found a couple of new friends, who spent the next hour or so with us, discussing their disdain for Chelsea F.C. and how their Uncle is involved in 'the firm' of a popular London football club, who I cannot remember. If you look through my Amsterdam photos on Facebook, you will see him in a few. I have no need to tell you who he is. I think he's the kind of lad you just notice. For being a bit of a nutter.

As you would imagine, various other mishaps happened on our weekend away, so here are some of the best:

Bean ate 8 hotdogs, each from a different stand, in the space of an afternoon. It became a bit of a joke by number 6, 'the 'dam hotdog crawl '11'. And became a bit of a mess by number 2.

Phil smoked a pipe through his nose. It was really funny. It left him incredibly ill for two days.

Nick slept curled up on the bottom of my bed for a few hours. Then asked to get in. Then had the audacity to moan at me for only being in boxer shorts. He was fully clothed, including coat and shoes.

We accidentally walked into a Dutch national bar after I wrongly assumed it was playing the Liverpool game. We got coaxed into buying numerous beers whilst we got backed into the corner by 10 or so middle aged Dutchmen dancing to 'What's New Pussycat' followed by 'It's Not Unusual' followed by some sort of patriotic Dutch ballad.

Have a top 2012 everyone.