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Mrs. Monk's Would-be Diary should have been written by Mrs. Monk, since she is the "Writer" in the family.
However, since she is a writer only in the conceptual sense, I have undertaken to fill these pages on her behalf
If not by her, these pages will certainly be about her, and other important matters of the day         Leslie Monk




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Death In Essex

Part 1.1

by  Saramo 23 January 2014

The very first thing I learnt about the Job Club was that you don't need money for the tea machine when the green light is on. And that the green light appears only for Job Club managers for they have keys.  When managers use their keys the green light appears and shines on for about a minute. Job seekers have no keys and need 15 pence.

An Indian gentleman,  and a fellow job seeker drew my attention to this arrangement on my first day.

"Go! Go now! It's free now."

He pointed vaguely and at first I thought he was pointing at the toilet,  but no it was that discriminating machine in the corner. He showed me the trick of hovering about the machine to exploit the last few remaining moments of the green light, the last vital moments after the managers had been dispensed with free coffee and walked away from the machine.  Three weeks after my Indian friend showed me the way, I too delighted in tipping off my friends when the coast was clear. If any of my colleagues looked like they might not make it to the machine in time, we helped each other out by pressing all the buttons like demented jackpot seekers. Sometimes we got coffee instead of tea, or hot chocolate instead of coffee, but it was the sting that counts.

The first day of Job Club was the introduction to the induction. We were all huddled in a small room. The radiator was too hot and the windows were wide open. We sat down at an oversized industrial grey table and tried to talk. We each introduced ourselves.

We met John who moved down from Surrey a year ago. No work since. He wants to be a DJ but he has no experience and no studio. His mother gave him to a children's home when he was four years old.

Ryan worked in a bank for 20 year but automation got him laid off. He hasn't been employed for two years and claims to be willing to do anything to get off the dole.

Tom, a young one, arrived late. He pleaded a broken alarm clock and made things worse for himself by disappearing into the toilet to comb his hair. We all had him down as a waster but then we found out about his pacemaker fitted a year ago when he was just 16.

We met Bob, An executive job seeker in his mid 50's, an ex BT man, pre privatisation and the only job seeker wearing a suit, shirt and tie; although wrinkled and shiny. I boldly asked him about his attire. He said that by wearing the suit he was always available for an interview. But then he was also able to pretend he was going to work. He had been an executive personnel manager. I now know that he is hopelessly overqualified for what is on offer or for whatever is likely to be on offer at the Job Club.

So, I quickly got to know the down and outs that would become my job club associates for the next 6 weeks. And they quickly got to know me.

We soon learnt the rules and we each signed a written pledge to abide by them.

We undertook to arrive at one and leave at four. To take one break between 2:20 and 2:40, to keep up appearances, to refrain from smoking on the steps outside Job Club, and if necessary we may use somebody else's door step. In return, postage and stamps would be free and so would be the phone. The photocopier is free also but we would have to log everything and justify every stamp and phone call.  Basically it was all free but without the trust; because we were the underclass; the untouchables and the untrustables.
We formally sat around a Formica table and discussed how hard it is to find work and how important it is to have clean fingernails and clean hair when you go to an interview. Gee! I would never have thought of that.

On  the second and third day we made draft CVs that no employer would want to read. We held mock interviews and hoped that the Job Club would make a difference to our lives. So far, the main difference it made to mine was that I would read the daily papers there, rather than at the Library.


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last few remaining moments of the green light


first published by BBC R4 immediately before the 1997 General Election



Part 1.1

Part 1.2

Part 2.1

Part 2.2

Part 3.1

Part 3.2