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

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?