Thursday, 21 June 2012

i've learned that life is just.... crushing defeat after the other until you just wish Flanders was dead.

Blogging is a lot (well a moderate amount) of effort for what feels like not much reward. Waaaaaaaaaa.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

san miguel primavera sound

So after one whole week of working, I decided that I already needed a holiday and jetted off to Barcelona for San Miguel Primavera Sound, a music festival held at Parc Del Forum along the seafront. Among the hugely overpriced tourist-trap bars and restaurants, the large amount of sunburnt butt-cheeks I saw sticking out of too-small hotpants, and shifty looking Spanish men peddling a concoction of crushed headache pills and flour as MDMA and coke, I had an absolutely wonderful time.

Musical highlights for me included Shellac, who as well as bloody smashing it with incredibly coarse minimalism and effortless vocals, made the audience stand on one leg and pretend to be planes, Atlas Sound, who provided shoegaze so wonderfully beautiful it made the audience gaze dreamily at him as opposed to their shoes, and Wavves, who, for a man just droning about how bored he is over some fairly simple chord progressions played with such fantastic raw energy.

That's enough about my loser music taste, it's time to talk about the city. Aesthetically, Barcelona is very pretty. A notable highlight includes the Parc de la Ciutadella which features a picturesque lake for boating and a waterfall with meticulous details and sculptures, featured below.

The polaroid I'm taking in the above picture is here. I shoot using film made by The Impossible Project, because, as you may or may not know, Polaroid stopped making instant film. What is pretty irksome about this film is that you cannot expose it to light within the first 4 minutes of shooting, hence why in the above picture I have a box taped over where the camera spits out the photos, but I have a sneaking suspicion my taping wasn't quite thorough enough 'cause that shot is fucked.

After spending three months in the Maldives, I can't say Barcelona had the most beautiful beach I have ever been on, but it was lovely and in Spain it's actually legal to wear swimwear, so that's definitely a plus. A personal highlight of mine was the amount of men selling beer on the beach; now I am aware that they purchased them for 75c and then double the price for idiot tourists like me, but the joke is on them because I am more than happy to pay an extra 75c for straight-to-beach delivery for an ice cold brewski whilst I work on my tan.

Shopping is probably great too, I saw many interesting boutiquey looking shops down windy streets slightly reminiscent of Brighton's Laines, although having spent in the region of £600 on hostel, flights, festival ticket and spending money I wasn't in any position to be bringing home souvenirs for anyone. £600 may seem pricey for a week's holiday but it could probably be done significantly cheaper if organised further in advance, maybe around £400-£450. The price means that the average age is somewhat older than you'd expect at UK festivals such as the Carling Weekend (thank fuck, pesky children!) and it's only full of serious music lovers as opposed to people who heard it was well kewl to go to Glasto and be just like a T4 presenter!!1one

The festival site itself is, as already mentioned, along the seafront which is pretty cool. The food stands are vast and rich in variety, catering more than just adequately for fussy-eaters and hippie vegetarians like me, offering falafel, paella, burritos, kebabs and all sorts of wonderful edibles. A beer will set you back three euros, but it is pretty easy to smuggle in alcohol to the site if you're that way inclined. A nice touch for me was that most of the stages are adequately kitted out with seating areas at the side for when you're only moderately up for partying or just plain lazy. And of course, the lineup is way better than any other music festival I've ever witnessed.

Overall, would I go next year? Yes. Definitely. Best festival ever.

All photos taken by my beautiful friend, Nichol Callaghan.

some blathering about unpaid work

I haven't updated in a while, so I thought I would provide an update as to where I am on my adventure from unemployed loser to employed high-flier. Well, reader, I've taken the first step towards success, I can't tell you how many steps there are left; it's a poorly lit staircase, so we'll see. Anyway using a giant shoehorn-like implement, I prized myself away from the sofa, lest my body become part of the cushioning which I sunk into whilst watching utter shite such as Dating in the Dark and Man V Food. Seems everyone loved me so much at my old job I was asked to go back there, so for 22 hours a week I am a data-monkey for the local council yet again. With the typical working week being 37.5 hours, your GCSE maths qualification is probably telling you that 37.5 - 22 = 15.5, and you'd be correct. What do I do with the left-over time?

Currently, I've decided to get gripping the greasy pole. Not an actual greasy pole of course, the thought of someone with my balance, strength and overall climbing ability doing that sure is a comical thought. No, reader, I have not lost the dream of gaining a degree-relevant job, and have decided to "volunteer" in my local constituency's office in order to try and make my CV a tad less pathetic, and a tad more political. Many of the most competitive industries now require experience before you can even start drawing a salary in them, and it seems politics is no exception, even for a job as a constituency assistant with a measly £16k salary. Doing work for free to gain skills is a highly contentious issue, from unpaid internships to the controversial workfare programme introduced by David Cameron's government towards the end of 2011, both of which seem to side-step minimum wage laws. Proponents of extreme laissez faire economics would argue that the most unskilled and uneducated people price themselves out of the market by expecting to work for at least minimum wage, but is anyone so bloody useless they don't deserve £6.19 an hour to perform menial tasks? Then again, I have seen The Jeremy Kyle Show.

Of course the things that fresh-faced graduates will to do gain "valuable employment skills" are hardly comparable to fully grown adults stacking shelves in Asda with the threat of otherwise losing their benefits. You will no doubt have seen in the news the poor unemployed souls who were bussed into London facing horrific conditions to work on a Jubilee Pageant, and if you haven't you can read more about it here. Who do the proponents of this scheme think they are fooling when they claim such work is actually useful to the individual?

However, unpaid work from a young graduate's point of view can be quite different. My own experience has involved constituency casework, political research and writing summaries of legislation, all at a comfortable pace which would in no way would replace the work of a paid individual. Trying to stay positive, I'm viewing this as free training, as opposed to doing a Master's Degree to bulk up the ol' CV where I would be paying an institution to learn more to become overqualified and still probably unemployed. Obviously not being a total moron I already know how to write letters and google things, but I think it has been useful to learn a certain style of writing and get used to using certain sources and overall I have a great time working there, the people are great. I know my experience is not typical of unpaid internships - I went for one interview for an unpaid internship with a certain frontbencher where just the interview involved writing a press release, letter to a constituent, 3 questions to ask the prime minister to elicit statistics regarding job centre closures which could then be attacked, a quote summarising the state of the economy, and a tweet about something happening in the constituency in just one hour. Sounds difficult, doesn't it? I didn't get the gig, but I assume the job I would have been doing constituted a large portion of an MP's work who gets paid £70k a year to do it whilst I would have got a measly £6 a day for tube journeys (whilst I slept on my friend's sofa for three months as I don't live in London). But then, why would she have paid someone to do it when there are those willing to do it for free? It's just fiscally irresponsible. Unpaid internships like this have become an uncomfortable reality, and even those who champion meritocracy are doing it - I'm looking at you left-wing thinktank Demos and certain Liberal Democrat and Labour MPs!

Unpaid internships have been criticised as barriers to social mobility, especially in politics where so many jobs already belong to male, rich, white guys who were probably privately educated, leaving the povvos of our nation unrepresented in parliament. I'm not rich or privately educated (or male, or even technically "white"- I am one eighth black, true story) and I'm still hoping to get some sort of vaguely political work eventually, even if it means living with my parents like a total loser for the foreseeable future, so we'll see if it really is possible. My advice is not to shy away from unpaid work and try and find some that does not take the absolute piss, which does not expect too much from you and can fit around part-time work. If you really want it, you may as well try. Of course, in six months time when I'm still working for free and eating out of bins we'll see what I have to say about unpaid work then, but at this time I'm feeling rather positive. If anyone reading this would like to share thoughts/experiences, I would love to hear from you.

Join me next time for more adventures in (un)employment!