Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Finding the right words

Exasperation would perhaps best describe my state of mind at the moment but really that is not the right word. It isn't enough to say what I feel. I can't be bothered to think of anything better or more eloquent to put in its place though.

The end of last week was a particularly bad time, not for any specific reason, I just felt shit every day. Not physically; emotionally and mentally drained, unwilling and distant. I am not even sure that I was here at the end of last week. Of course, physically I was here but otherwise it felt like I was living on auto-pilot. What prompted this sense of crisis is many things. Mostly that little voice in my head that keeps on and on about how things will never get any better. Everyone says that I should stay positive and that is sound advice. I try; it is becoming harder and harder though. I find disappointment everywhere, I look for positive signs and find them wanting. I also feel a lot of anger at the injustice of where I am. The trouble is I have no direction to vent my anger. I have no one to blame, no one who is culpable, only myself. So I end up dwelling on it, over and over again until it comes to a point when I just shut myself off and drift through the days like I did at the end of last week.

I can't explain what an immense mental effort it was to go my first Open University tutorial last Saturday. It sounds ridiculous and probably is as I only had to walk into Bletchley and it was only for a couple of hours. The night before and on the Saturday morning I kept going through whether I would go or not, running all the possibilities of why I should or shouldn't. More than that, I was running through all my insecurities, all my feelings of doubt and loathing, making it all seem like a Herculean effort rather than the simple task of turning up for a few hours and getting something valuable in terms of learning. On reflection, I wonder why I do it to myself. Why do I put so many of these ridiculous barriers in my way and then view them as being completely insurmountable, when in actual fact there is nothing to fear in the first place?

I am keenly aware of when I am doing this and I know it makes no sense. I am alert to the signs of when I am not coping and I suppose I should stop myself and do something about it. Like the mantra of 'staying positive' the words come easily, doing the same comes much less so.

Where am I now? Well, I feel better than I did. I go through these phases from time to time, there is nothing new in it. This was just a particularly bad experience.

I am immensely frustrated and disappointed that I am still unemployed. Every deadline that I have set myself for getting a job has come and gone. I have only had one interview this year! Is it any wonder that I feel so pissed off? I wish I could say that I am 'keeping positive' but you already know from the above that is a lie. Not that I am completely negative; I have moments, maybe days when I feel that things are finally coming together. Then that feeling passes and I am back to where I am now, wondering if things will ever change. I keep thinking to myself, this wasn't how it was supposed to be. Not that I ever had any grand plan for life although it certainly didn't involve being 32 and unemployed with nothing important achieved.

I keep looking for work although more often than not it feels like I am just going through the motions. All the agencies I have registered with seem unfeasibly positive at first and all have great jobs that will suit me just fine and then the reality strikes and they fail to deliver anything at all. Or they seem incapable of understanding my skills and experience and matching me to jobs that would suit my background, instead offering jobs in sales, which I have no experience of and is always required for these type of roles. I trawl the Internet job sites and the local papers, occassionally a job will appeal that matches my skills and experience but then it is either a case of the salary is too low or it is in some far distant place that would be difficult, if not impossible to get too.

Stay positive? Yeah, right. I've been out of work now for three months and I've had four interviews (and two of those were with the same company)! I can't help thinking that I will never find work. I don't know where I am going from here.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Getting it together

Phew! What a busy week. After feeling really fed up and ready to give up at the end of last week, things have picked up considerably. I still don't have a firm offer of a job in my hands but I feel like I am moving forward rather than standing still and that it is now only a matter of time before I am back in to work.

I have an interview next week for a call centre job. Its not great pay and it involves working shifts, which I am not too keen on either. But its a job. I am hoping the interview goes well and that I get the job. If I don't, well there are other things on the go and besides this would only be a stop-gap to something better, not a permanent career move.

I saw two agencies this week and spoken to a couple of others. All seem quite enthusiastic and keen to get me into a position as soon as possible. I feel encouraged by that and confident that things are beginning to turn around.

As well as looking for paid employment, I've also been considering doing some voluntary work until I get myself into something more permanent. I've volunteered for a couple of things, which I am just waiting to hear back on. According to the Job Centre I am okay doing this as long as its no more than ten hours per week and I keep actively looking for work, which I fully intend to do. Also, I've signed up to work a couple of conventions at the beginning of March. I'd been thinking about doing this for a long while, having done a couple of cons here in Milton Keynes about 5 years ago. Then there is my OU course, which I've just started. The calendar is beginning to look quite full for the next couple of months!

So I feel a lot more positive than a week ago and a lot more in control. Despite not having any money, I feel happy. I feel contented with my lot at the moment and happy and glad for the things I do have.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Dumbing down the BBC

The hallmark of the BBC was its news coverage.The world's largest news-gathering organisation with a staggering array of journalists (over 2,000 worldwide) and facilities (41 foreign news bureaux) available at its disposal, I always took BBC News to be a trusted, impartial and articulate voice in the world of news. Sadly, the high regard which I always held for the BBC and its news coverage has taken a precipitous decline over recent years. I think BBC News has dumbed down to such an extent that it is about on a par with The Daily Mail, or in other words prone to hysteria, unbalanced and illiterate reporting. The BBC used to be distinctive and better for it, now it seems to be clamouring for the same base level as its main competitors.

The decline in BBC News seems to be no more apparent than on TV and there are further changes afoot this year, which I am sure will damage its TV coverage further. Basically, the BBC has to save money and News is no exception. It is cutting its staff by around 350, while another 500 or so will be lost in the BBC Nations & Regions, which produce the regional news (for England) and national news output for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. How can the BBC hope to maintain the current quality let alone aim for higher standards, if it is losing so many staff? Furthermore, I read that the BBC has axed plans for 4 new BBC Local Radio stations. Presumably included in this is the new station that was designated for Milton Keynes and I doubt now that we will get the new BBC Centre in MK that was promised or the regional television service for Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire and Northamptonshire. Instead, we will have to endure the current BBC provision of radio from Luton, which is heavily Bedfordshire-biased and regional news from Cambridge, which is biased to that region. Indeed, the local BBC radio station has recently cut back on its broadcasts for Milton Keynes and I wonder how long it will be before a seperate opt-out service will be abandoned altogether.

But returning to the TV news and this is currently undergoing another reshuffle. Essentially, in an effort to save money, I understand the current BBC World studio and facilities is to be moth-balled.To enable this, BBC News 24 and the BBC's One & Ten o'Clock News are all moving to share the same studio facilities. Currently, BBC News 24 already simulcasts (shares) the main news output from BBC 1 - so much for it being an independent rolling news service. However, at the moment News 24 does continue its own coverage during a major or breaking story and doesn't take the BBC 1 output, how this will be possible with the changes proposed is not clear. At the same time there are suggestions that BBC News including the English regions will all be rebranded, a quite extraordinary waste of money, which could surely be invested in improving the current news provision. Then in 2012, all of BBC News will move from Television Centre to the new Broadcasting House complex, which will be the largest live broadcast centre in the world. No doubt to pay for such investment, more jobs will have to be lost and the news dumbed down further, to ensure that there is a large enough audience to justify this wasteful expense.

Perhaps the most insidious development in news over recent years is so called 'citizen journalism' where viewers are asked to send in their reaction to events or pictures. Nearly every news programme now and the BBC News web site, invites people to share their comments and often what is said is not put into context and thus we have a deluge of ill-informed or crack-pot opinions priveliged to the same status as the actual 'news' itself. Local radio excels in giving people a voice and allowing everyone an opinion on the issues of the day and this where it should remain. I believe the job of news, whether it is on television or radio, is to report the facts. News should tell the viewer or listener what is happening in an intelligent, informative and literate style without editorialising or dramatising. I don't want other people's opinions about the news; I want considered and informed analysis.

It seems to me that good news reporting and in particular BBC News is in terminal decline. It still amazes me how with all the resources it has, the BBC can produce such squalid and atrocious news coverage. About the only bastion of decent news coverage I've been able to find is the BBC World Service, which does what BBC TV News used to be about, report the facts; tell the audience the news. It does so in an intelligent and sober manner. The BBC can and should do better, much better.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Feeling better today

I spent a good couple of hours this morning ringing around all the agencies that I've had contact with and sending four of them my CV again. I've been particular in making lists of the people I've spoken to and their contact details so that I can pester them continuously! It seems that registering through agencies web sites is akin to launching yourself into a black hole. But I've made progress I feel. I've got an action plan in place for next week with a list of follow-ups, tasks and things to do for each day. It might sound a bit silly although I feel much more in control. I have objectives, lists of things to do and tasks to complete. I might not actually have got anywhere nearer getting a job but I am feeling in control of the situation rather than it controlling me, which is what I felt yesterday.

Also, I went through my financial budget and have started the process of pruning out expenditure I don't need and getting things a lot leaner on that side. Its hard but again I am making progress. There are a lot of things I still need to do and I now know what needs to be done and when. I am not letting it all run away from me and I feel much happier about that.

I went out for a walk a little earlier and that helped. I've been feeling so trapped, which probably sounds ridiculous because what's stopping me stepping out the front door for half hour? I don't always find it that straightforward and to quote an old saying sometimes it is difficult to see the wood for the trees. Everything was crowding in on top of me and all I was doing was focusing on my anxiety, disappointment and frustration instead of seeing a way out. I am sure I'll have other days where I will feel like that again although I hope by setting out an action plan for myself I can avoid that sort of crisis affecting me too much.

Okay, my situation is still far from wonderful or even near what I want it to be. I am making steps though. I am moving on and although it might be tough I know I am getting there.