Me Da Man!

Far too many things to do, all of them barely started.

First, I had to replace the hard disk of this here laptop. The hassle isn't replacing the disk - it's replacing all the data I didn't get around to backing up from it. Maybe 75% of it I did back up to CDR, but I don't know what is backed up to where, because the catalogue of backup in the data I didn't back up. Yes, I know.

I've got a stepping machine and a radio in the garage, and a promise to myself to do at least half an hour's exercise on the former every day.

I'm also carrying around an unopened bar of chocolate to remind me to eat sensibly. Amazingly, the promise and the bar are working so far.

Looks like I've got another gig lined up. The Radical Art Group are putting together an exhibition on climate change, and putting on a fundraising evening to finance it.

I was the last of the five acts asked to perform. There's a blues-rock outfit, two emo/punk bands, a solo blues singer, and a DJ rounding off the evening. So I've got a month to come up with a twenty five minute set, half of it new material.

Ordinarily that wouldn't be difficult, but yesterday the latest pointless government scheme for dolebirds started, and takes up most of each day.

Day One: Nineteen long-term unemployed people in a stuffy room, filling out forms. The majority of the men - aged eighteen to fifty - want to work in the building trade or drive fork-lift trucks.

One is a landscape gardener/dustcart driver/bricklayer/security guard who can't afford anything paying less that 15K per year, just to pay off debts. He was quite successful in the 1980s, then lost out in the 1992 recession, and was left with wife, children, and a stack of loans that once seemed a breeze to deal with.

Another is a fitness freak who knows the building trade inside out but doesn't know one end of a computer from the other. There's a young woman who wants to marry her boyfriend as soon as she gets steady employment as a beauty therapist, and two in their late forties who dress and write like they were secretaries for thirty years.

And then there's me. But I never fit in.

It only seems like a month since I filled out exactly the same forms with similar people in an adjacent room of the same building - largely because it is only a month.

Day Two: Five people just didn't turn up - probably because they couldn't see the point of doing unpaid manual labour for firms who wouldn't offer them a job at the end of it.

The jobcentre call it an "Opportunity", the mysteriously funded charity who run the course call it a "Work Placement", and the rest of us call it a "Scam".

And on the third day - tomorrow - we get to put together our CVs, again.

Last Thursday the univerity's art department held its graduation show - where the various streams (photography, video, fine art etc) display the graduation pieces of this year's graduating student.

The show itself was quite impressive. After a decade or more of limp, derivative work from students,

The photography department has thankfully lost its fascination with Adobe Photoshop, and is rediscovering the potential of straightforward portraiture, landscape and still life. The students of Video Production (soon to be rechristened Creative Technologies) are going naturalistic too, with a series of low-key documentaries and high-octane soap operas.

Half the Fine Art-ists are still painting big confessional words on canvass, or cutting up Vogue magazine to comment on hypocritical attitudes to female sexuality blah blah blah.

Video (now rechristened "Creative Technologies") had the most and best wine, and I drank a pleasantly immoderate amount of it, spilling quite a lot over myself, coming on to a lot of male students, and on one occasion doing impromptu sociology with one of their mothers, dissecting the attitudes of working versus middle classes towards single parenthood in Britain.

Short version: The middle class are fascinated by it but refuse to admit it exists, and the working class regard it as a fact of life, unless they're social climbers.

I remember dozing off on a pavement after my friends left me behind to go to another party.

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