Tag Archives: london

Travellin’ Tuesdays : TFL Are Not My Friends

Today is the first time in 4 days that I have been able to look forward to a simple journey to work. For the entirety of this bank holiday weekend, during which I have worked 3 days out of 4, TFL (Transport for London) have royally fucked up my day.
Every weekend there are tube closures, it is the bane of every Londoner’s journey. However this weekend, the powers that be truly outdid themselves, closing, delaying or someway altering 4 out of the 5 routes by which I can get to work. I was prepared for the tubes, I was prepared to allow extra time to bus, train and then tube my way through central London on one of the busiest weekends of the year. What I wasn’t prepared for the closure of said bus and train services, meaning that I had to use such a massive roundabout route that it probably would’ve been quicker to invent a jet pack.
So thank you TFL, for closing my nearest tube lines, delaying my nearest train service, and shutting off the traffic lights on an extremely busy intersection next to my house, meaning that every bus had to miss out my neighbourhood. Thank you so very bloody much.

Rant over.

But still, REALLY TFL?!

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Travellin’ Tuesdays : Becoming A Productive Commuter

So I’ve been away for a while, unfortunately not getting my life together, just working and wasting away in a minimum wage job while desperately seeking the start to my career. Endless application forms, a few unsuccessful interviews and I’m still without a meaningful position in life. But hey, I’m not bitter. Not at all. Nope.

So I figured that instead of spending my days glued to job boards I might as well do something productive and fun…as well as still looking for a career. Now writing a blog every day is quite the commitment, in fact it’s that level of commitment that was my undoing before. So I figured that the best time for me to set aside to write every day was my journey into work, 20 minutes of sitting on a tube with nothing but Sims Freeplay and endless ‘Mind the Gap’ announcements to entertain me. I’m not saying that I won’t falter, there will probably be days when a sudoku puzzle will simply have to come first, but I’ll do my best. And if I can make this blog into something worthwhile then all the better.


[Image via http://www.flickr.com]

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Wednesday’s Got Issues: Education counts for nothing.

As I’m typing today’s post I’m listening to BBC 5 Live’s unemployment debate, broadcast this morning. It is difficult to decide whether it’s more or less depressing to hear that so many other people are going through the same thing as me, graduates and others searching for jobs over a period of months and years to no avail. A number of people are discussing the utter uselessness of job centres, and I have been reaffirmed in my decision not to sign on – it was repeatedly said that job centres have no idea how to deal with graduates. I think the main reason for this has to be the preconceived idea that going to university is an ironclad guarantee of a well paid job, it seems that job centres are equipped to deal with the uneducated, and even then they’re useless. Ever since I can remember a degree has been a non-negotiable part of my life. I never thought about any other options, university was always the plan. I enjoyed my education and was generally placed in the top sets, so it seemed like a natural progression: if you are thought of as smart, you go to university. I wonder if the next generation will think the same, factoring in the astronomical rise in tuition fees, and I envy them. The teenagers of today are becoming more exposed to the availability of apprenticeships and training programmes that offer a cheaper and more stable alternative, as degrees become less of a certain route into satisfactory employment. They are much more aware of their options than I ever was.

Admittedly, my degree is not the best foundation for a vocation. A 2:1 in European Literature and Cultural Studies provided me with excellent skills in researching and persuasive writing, and my year abroad in New Zealand left me with a brilliant ability to adapt and problem solve the most trying of situations. But friends of mine who studied Geology are currently looking at jobs in exotic places with a starting salary of £75000, while I am left to apply for 12 month internships in which my only wage is expenses of £5 a day. And that is the one thing that the debate has not touched on, the rise in vacancies described as internships or work experience, in which you are expected to do a job for nothing. A recent movement discussed on theunitlist.com (one of the many jobsites that I visit multiple times every day), has highlighted the exploitation of companies who use people desperate for experience, yet don’t reward them for the valuable contribution that they make. As I understand it, work experience is defined as a shadowing programme, you don’t actually undertake any significant duties but rather gain first hand knowledge of an industry. I accept that internships are different, but from what I’ve seen in vacancies advertised over the last 8 months, it is generally equivalent to the work of an admin/communications assistant, which in other vacancies warrants a salary upwards of £15000. During an internship which I undertook last year, during which I learnt a huge amount and thoroughly enjoyed myself, I received no renumeration whatsoever. And from what I saw, the majority of the legwork was done by the team of interns who assisted the permanent staff. That is not to say that the permanent staff did nothing, they worked very hard and took the time to teach us a lot of skills, however I don’t think that the festival that was organised would have been possible without the work of the interns, and yet we received very little.

I understand that internships are a necessary part of gaining experience, and I am so glad that I was able to undertake one myself, but there are times when the expectations seem a little unrealistic. Could someone explain to me exactly how I’m supposed to live in London and support myself for the entirety of a 12 month contract, in which I am only paid minimal expenses, or nothing at all? The only reason that I was able to support myself during my internship was that it was based in Cambridge, where I was able to stay at my family’s home. It is just not possible to manage for an entire year, in London, without at least minimum wage. A few months, yes, but not much longer than that. The bank of Mum and Dad will not extend that far.

So I am continuing with endless job applications, hoping that one day someone will see that I am employable, and maybe I’ll be one of the lucky ones. If not, it’s down to the job centre, degree in hand, where I expect I’ll be viewed with the same indifference that is extended to everyone who comes through the door.


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Happy new year to one and all

2011 was a year of death, destruction and unemployment. But it was also the year that those without a voice fought to be heard. Let’s hope that changes continue to be made for the better throughout 2012.

From the looks of social media pages this morning, everyone had a pretty good night from what they can remember, and I imagine that there may be something of a bacon shortage as people try to correct their delicate state.

My New Year’s Eve probably sounds like a PSA about the benefits of online dating – I was alone (with my dogs), eating Ben & Jerrys and watching Alan Carr et al getting steadily more trollied on Channel 4. To some that might sound like a cry for help, but it has become my personal NYE tradition to avoid generally everyone, take control of the TV remote and shamelessly eat/drink myself into a stupor while dancing around the living room with a bewildered Springer Spaniel. Bridget Jones I may be, but lonely I am not.

From my experiences of previous years, NYE is impossible to enjoy if you’re with other people in a social setting. I have sat in a busy Sydney park for 13 hours waiting for a few pretty lights, I have attended house parties full of people I’ve never met, and I’ve ventured into the festering, overcrowded meat markets known as “NYE club nights”. Believe me, I have tried to be normal and decided against it.

So this time next year, I would like all of the usual: less weight, more money, a job and somewhere new to live. So not much. There’s nothing like being an unemployed 23 year old, forced to move back into the family home after graduation, to bring home just how much of a failure you have become. So in the next year a new flat please. Oh, and a job in TV would be nice. And maybe someone with whom I could share my end of year ritual, there’s more than enough Ben & Jerrys for two.

Happy New Year all x

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