Bankers Are People Too, Probably

Am somewhat struggling with getting myself into a routine and finding work. Or as they call it now, ‘sustainable employment’.

A few thoughts on the matter:

  • I am not interested in job competitition. I believe in filling gaps, not treading on others’ toes.
  • Better to focus on one’s uniqueness.
  • Look upon applications as adding a new dish to a menu, however cluttered. You may not be to their taste, or you may be exactly what they want.


One advert asking for freelance reviewers now looks likely to be some kind of scam, possibly where one’s details are used for junk mail. Still, it got me to put together a portfolio of clippings and a CV anyway.

The constant motto of the optimist: ‘Ah well, it’s a lesson learned.’ I just feel I’d like to start earning alongside all the learning, if that’s okay with the world.

Forgotten just how much I’d done over the years: a cover feature for Rock ‘n’ Reel magazine, a column in Select Magazine (the magazine folded before it was printed, but I was still paid), and quite a few full page review columns in Plan B, of films and exotic CD reissues.


To make my life just that little bit less lovely, Lloyds TSB has introduced a monthly £5 ‘usage fee’ for their agreed overdrafts. That’s on top of the £15-£20 monthly interest I’m already paying them for the privilege of being in the red. I’m on the dole, so paying off an overdraft isn’t possible until I get a regular wage again.

Stupid thing is, I paid off the overdraft when I last had a job, eighteen months ago. I was in the black. And it felt… unnatural to me. Just as cancelling my dole would have felt unnatural. Over the years, both dole & overdraft had muted from being fiscal crutches to actually becoming a part of me. An addiction, of a sort. Like heroin, just less cool and more pathetic. Even more pathetic.

But there’s another reason. Part of my depression manifests itself as a constant self-hating, self-harming voice telling me that I’ll always be like this. That it is my place to be on the dole and in the red from here to the grave. Now, I know this is not true. But it is something I have to struggle with every day, and it’s something that keeps holding me back. Living alone doesn’t help. But right now, just writing this diary entry means today is a success.

I read recently how Andrea Dunbar, the tragic Bradford playwright and subject of the film The Arbor, was taken to court by the dole office: she hadn’t declared her royalties from the film Rita, Sue & Bob Too. I can’t help thinking the same thing applied – a fear of change, even a change for the better. I also think it was why Quentin Crisp never moved out of his rooming house in New York, even though he had the best part of a million dollars in savings.

A phone call to Lloyds reveals the new £5 fee replaces their unauthorised fees for going over agreed limits, which I’m careful to avoid anyway. So effectively it’s a punishment for being good.

Amusingly, the staffer on the phone got quite annoyed with me when I made this point. ‘So it’s all about you, is it?’

Similarly, I was actually told off on Twitter by a financial journalist, for quipping that bailed-out bonus-scoffing bank executives weren’t even good at their job, de facto. Good luck to him if he’s going around Twitter attacking everyone who shares the sentiment.

This kind of unexpected defensiveness – for bankers, footballers and Government alike  – is very much in the news. There’s just been a debate on BBC4 on the ethics of pay, in which the footballer Wayne Rooney’s salary (£10.2million) was compared to that of a care worker (£12,000).

‘Well, he is worth it,’ said a young woman in the audience. ‘He runs about more than a care worker.’

Still, I have to face my own part in my penury. I could have avoided having an overdraft, depression or no.

And just as the Government and I agree that once I start earning the first thing I need to do is cancel my dole, the bank and I know that I need to cancel the overdraft as soon as I clear it.

The good thing about all this is that rather than sit and stew in my own anger, it’s spurred me into making three new applications for work today. This time as a TV & film extra. I’ve sent off photos to The Casting Network, Guys & Dolls, and Ugly.

If it were offered, I’d even appear in an advert for a bank. And that would be me told.

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