So I decided against stand-up comedy …

My sister said that if I couldn’t find a job in London, I should launch my career as a stand-up comedian. I love my sister.

So, this is my compromise. I’m still looking for work; I’m much more confident brandishing a laptop than a mic; I prefer sitting to standing – it doesn’t make my back hurt, and – to be honest – I’m not really that funny!

But living in this heaving mass of humanity they call London, is SUCH fun and gives me plenty to write about. I can add “job hunter” to my CV, we’ve seen concerts aplenty, and – as something of an avid people-watcher, and one who has a keen sense of the absurd – I have mountains of London material to keep this blog going for some time. Thank you for coming along for the ride, please let me know what you think, and I’m sure we’ll have fun. Here goes…

I’ve been living in London for almost a year. I moved here, with my husband, so he can do his doctorate at a London university. We moved here from South Africa (yes, way south of the river!)

So, apart from being temporarily unemployed, I’m like Sting: an alien. One who gets ribbed for saying now, just now and now now, when none of them means soon. One who gets teased for saying plizha. I was taught that politeness is up there with cleanliness, and you know what cleanliness is next to. So if someone says thank you, I say plizha.

I’ve learnt that being asked if you’d like a drink usually means tea or coffee. Pants are worn under trousers. Tea can mean just about anything. And it can cost 30p to spend a penny.

Despite what everyone says, I’ve learnt that Londoners – generally not estate agents or recruitment consultants – can be really helpful. The day we arrived in London last autumn, I had two strangers offer to carry my suitcase up stairs and down stairs, into and out of tube stations. And not away from me, either. I’ve seen a young woman escort a frail, elderly gentleman across a busy street, as he was scared and in arthritic pain. And I’ve been on a bus when the busload of commuters have waited – and yelled at the bus driver to wait – while a carer tried to coax her young, nervous charge to get off the bus at their home stop.

At the moment, I am sat here in my lovely London flat, staring into space, procrastinating up a storm, and spending yet another day searching for jobs and submitting job applications into the ether. Having worked for only five months of the eleven we’ve been here, my optimism to find a job that will support us does not dim. My glass is half full, but London is teaching me the value of a thick skin.

Armed with my laptop, I again stalk the internet for a job. Each job in my field looks like a real possibility; I complete each application with care and detail, and press “send”. Off it goes into the unknown, usually heralded by an auto-reply that acknowledges receipt of my application, and removes any obligation from the recruiter to respond further.

I know that I will hear further if I’ve used the right words, and passed the first test that is “writing the application”. My ability, skills and experience mean very little in this hunt; playing the game and completing the forms in the right way are the weapons of choice. And if you get as far as the interview, and answer the questions according to the “interview formula”, you’ve bagged your prey.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not cynical. I’m just learning. And I’ve decided that when I get another job, I will have a better understanding of what it is that the London job market is looking for. And then I’ll bottle it and sell it and make my millions!


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