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Annual leave

Do you sometimes feel like an invisible force is preventing you from getting on with your life? I know I do.

I have bogled before about my little house, that has been ‘on the market’ as they say for over 22 months, and how I have not had a single enquiry from any possibly interested buyer since last October.

The bored couple filling time over a rainy bank holiday, the buy-to-let speculator, the people who would really rather rent, or who are dreaming of an acre of land and a cow but were persuaded anyway just to have a look at a micro-house with a suntrap patio on the edge of town; the curious neighbours – all have fled the stage, leaving only a forlorn signboard, the thunderous traffic and an owner grown weary with keeping on top of the housework, just in case.

And it’s coming up August – the worst time of year for job-hunting – too.

It was in 2008 that I first realised my employers hated me and were plotting to make me redundant just as soon as they could.

This period of grace was going to depend on their finding the necessary five million gold splonders to restore the house and bring it up to the standard they had been told by a cunning but strangely ignorant ‘consultant’ would qualify hugely profitably for five-star status as a dreary and snobbish provincial hotel; a venture I told them would most probably bankrupt them within eighteen months*. This was about the length of time the other two dreary and snobbish provincial hotels in the area usually lasted between periods in administration.

But the owners weren’t of a mind to listen to the old caretaker.

So, I started registering with the dreary and snobbish domestic recruitment agencies that infest the posher areas of central London, sifting the CVs of Philippino maids for the consideration of oligarchs and screeching Saudi bitch-princesses. Agencies I imagine being run by an embrittled Sloane Ranger in a Hermès scarf, her second husband – perhaps a silver-coiffed individual whose demeanour suggests that he failed the exam required to become an undertaker – and staffed by brutal Australian temps so stupefied by nail varnish that they can’t get anyone’s name right, open an email or manage to file two CVs in alphabetical order.

Naturally, they demand the very highest standards from their candidates.

No-one recruits in August, any more than they do at Christmas. You don’t want to pay someone who’s going to turn up on Monday and then take two weeks off, starting Tuesday, do you.

We once hired a print buyer who came with an eye-smacking reference from a grand employer we had actually heard of, only to inform us the day before she was due to start that she had prebooked a five-weeks’ tour of Australia with her boyfriend, and wouldn’t be in just yet…. If we hadn’t desperately needed a print buyer at that moment, we wouldn’t have advertised. It was an awkward situation, but we were forever undone by decency.

So, when she did eventually come up from down-under, tanned and deeply relaxed, we discovered that, having only ever worked for the famous company before, she had no buying skills and simply bought print at whatever optimistic price the printer quoted, instead of hammering the bastard into the ground. It reduced our already tiny profit margin to below zero. I hope you’re reading this, Donna, you fat little….

Anyway, sorry… I get flashbacks. I need to remind myself it was twenty years ago.

So, as I am rapidly exhausting my minuscule savings and the Inland Revenue is at least one month overdue rebating me the tax I shouldn’t have had to pay on my pathetic earnings last year**, presumably because they are professionally incredulous that anyone can live on so little, and I have no work guaranteed before next January, I’ve been desperately trawling the interweb thing looking for paid opportunities for domestic caretakers and gardeners who blog – which is basically what I do.

I’ve even extended my normally narrow criteria, which are that I need to find somebody wealthy but not TOO wealthy, if you know what I mean – no pop divas, footballers or oligarchs, no Saudis – somewhere that accepts cute little sheepdogs, maybe even scary singing cats – and definitely no shooting estates. But, encouraged by the unseasonally warm and sunny summer weather, I’ve dropped my previous insistence on somewhere abroad in favour of extending my search to some of the more agreeable areas of the British Isles. And do you know what?

Yes, my applications are being totally ignored.

And in the intervening six years, despite having ten years of relevant qualifying experience under my belt, and a raft of other impressive attributes – few domestic caretakers, I suspect, having been at school with the Prince of Wales – despite ‘keeping an eye on’ their dreary and snobbish websites and marvelling at the way they manage to go on advertising improbably wonderful nannying jobs in Chelyabinsk or – worse – Monaco, that must have been filled months or years since, if they ever existed – despite being registered at one time or other with no fewer than seventeen of these impressively high-minded institutions, they have between them succeeded in obtaining for me only ONE interview with an actual employer.

It was, to be fair, the only job interview I have ever obtained through a recruiting agency of any kind, in forty-five years of working in industries where you need to keep one step ahead of your current employer, your CV ‘out there’, in case you need to book passage in a hurry on a more seaworthy ship. And, fifteen months on, I still have no idea if I got the job or not, neither the pecunious lady client nor the agency having had the good manners to let me know.

So why am I so exercised about being unable to apply for one situation in particular, that I found online last week, that looked pretty doable, albeit for only £14k a year, in an agreeable location known to me, while the agency simply ignores my anguished emails and updated CV with (none-too) recent reassuring photo?

Because, I think, of the accumulated tonnage of casual discourtesy and disdain with which one’s efforts to find useful work have been treated down the decades, despite one’s seniority and qualifications, in the world of arrogant and incompetent, semi-illiterate commission-serfs who make up the recruitment ‘profession’.

Or perhaps because of the invisible forces that are clearly at work, guiding me to some other manifest destiny beyond my ken.

Or perhaps indeed, as you have observed, because I am heartily sick of the lot of them.

I’m worried it may be starting to show?


* I am happy to admit I was wrong. I have not noticed anyone actually staying there, the carpark (they bulldozed my rose garden to enlarge it) is normally deserted; friends who have eaten there say the food is passable but they were the only ones in the restaurant. The owners either have bottomless pockets or are incurably romantic. But they have stuck it for two and a half years.

** A fabulous coincidence, I wrote to the Inland Revenue yesterday, begging for my money back, and guess what? That’s right, my regional tax office is going on a three-day strike tomorrow. Something about staff shortages causing delays in processing assessments… I can’t even laugh anymore, honestly. Somebody shoot me.


This has been my 350th Post to this, muh li’l bogl. Well done me.



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