Tuesday, June 06, 2006
I had been out of work for thirteen months when there came the time when I had to join a course for my self improvement in the areas of CV making and general job search activity. This was of course not due to my own divining but instead was as a result of certain initiatives laid out by the work and pensions department. It was yet again trying to revamp the welfare state into a more streamlined and efficient organisation, its various organs working as hard as can be expected to invigorate we job shy youths, and some old, to pass our time more actively in the work area. Their version of work being of the paying and full time kind, our form of hell that is. Our ultimate betrayal to a lifetimes studying at the table, fending off cries of wastrel and layabout from relatives and old fashioned old men with long moustaches and old ideas about a days work and the fact that they pay taxes - codswallop! We have the right to walk the streets like anybody else. The maintenance of a well stocked pool of fit and efficient non workers is our mission, not the passive submission to a scandalous work ethic contradicting the real need for activity in the work markets. Work being in reality a social control acting in much the same way as school, the training place for work. That everybody should file in and line up and be at attendance otherwise how could they possibly control us? What would people do without work? They would lounge about and do pointless activities just in order to pass the time. Their unchecked minds would run riot without the sensible and firm controls of leadership only to be found in the rigid structure of the workplace, full time not part-time.
I walked tentatively through the double swing doors. Before meeting the course leader I stood taking in the scene that lay before me. The first impression was of the smell, the room being used, I found out, as a public bar in the day time and stank of stale beer and fag smoke. The sound of constant singing with awkward drumming backbeat came through the semi-permanent left wall, under which you could see feet moving. On the makeshift tables gathered in the long room lay strewn around an array of newspapers taken apart and half read. Towards one end of this display before me lay, or sat, a woman with her head and arms sunk downwards in a heap across an open newspaper, making no sound, in the midst of some sort of seizure maybe, as if having dropped dead in mid read, gravity had caused the front of her forehead to fall upon the beer ringed formica coated chipboard table. I turned my head slowly around, eyes passing the worn out nicotine grey sofas, a landscape of neglect strewn all around me. Suddenly I found Bob the course leader up close and in my face, standing and introducing himself with interview like formality, beckoning me towards a scruffy looking moulded plastic seat standing opposite a desk, informing me that he would explain how it all works and everything, thanks for coming, I’m waiting for two others, no point starting till then.