Back in 2001 I was young and broke and trying to make it as a writer. Now, I realise that ten years later I’m old and broke and still trying to make it as a writer, but I have had one or two slivers of success. Back then I’d had no slivers of success. This lack of success lay mainly in my ability to cleverly disguise any ambition by working on building sites, spending most of my waking life drunk and not doing any writing. It also lay in me cleverly disguising any ambition by not really having any ambition.
Oh, but you should have heard me. Really, you should have. If you had been working with me on a building site back in 2001 you have thought that I wasn’t just someone working on a building site; no, I was a writer working on a building site. Yes, I was an idiot then and I’m an idiot now – albeit a slightly braver and tougher idiot after ten years of living like a tramp.
Where were we? Ah yes, we’re in 2001 and I’m working on a building site and one day I pick up the Euro Weekly News, a free English language newspaper – we’re in Mallorca by the way, I should have mentioned that earlier – and read in the classifieds that they are looking for columnists. “Brilliant”, I think, “I could do that.” Normally when I think “Brilliant, I could do that” I tend to imagine doing whatever that thing is over and over again in my head and polish it to such a level that, when it actually comes round to doing that thing I feel as if I’ve already done that thing hundreds of times and so the thing never gets done. This time, however, that thing got done. I came back from work one day and hammered out two columns about a young, broke writer in Mallorca who was working on building sites whilst writing a novel – and not only a novel, but a dreadfully important novel. I say hammered them out but because I didn’t have a computer at the time I hammered them out by hand and then went to my ex-boss’s house and hammered them out on her computer. As bad luck would have it, my ex-boss’s internet connection was down and so I had to fax over the columns.
This next bit is good, this next bit is where I fuck up.
So, two or three days after faxing off my columns I get a call from the editor of the Euro Weekly News saying that he “loved them”. The columns, that is. And not only did he “love them”, but “everyone in the office loved them”. And not only was there a lot of love going around the office with regard to my columns but they wanted to offer me a regular gig as one of their columnists. Well, I was bowled over. The only problem, said the editor, was the format: could I, instead of sending them over by fax, send them by email? Could I? Of course I could.
Except of course I couldn’t. At the time I was chronically computer illiterate and after spending hours trying to send the columns by email I just sort of gave up and then refused to answer my phone for a few weeks. That, I’m afraid – and here I really must apologise to all the people in the English speaking world who were deprived of my copy for the next five years – put the breaks on my writing career (if you can call it a career – which you can’t, not really) until late 2006 when I started to eke out a living as a journalist.
And we all know what’s happened since then. You don’t? Oh, well then let me regale you: I got married, got semi-divorced, had a series of breakdowns, drew some excellent pie charts, ate some beetroot, had a trial for Colchester United and swore at some bottles of alcohol in East Horsley, Surrey.
Which leads us rather unseamlessly onto last night when I was mucking around on the internet wondering where I’m going to move to next. Out of this month’s favourites – Paris, obviously; Buenos Aires; Bali; Canada; Somerset – I think I might have to move to Mallorca for a while. And if I do move to Mallorca for a while then I’m going to have to get a job in Mallorca for a while. And after looking at the opportunities for writers who happen to be in Mallorca for a while, it appears that my best bet lies in applying for a position at – wait for it, because this is fucking brilliant this – Euro Weekly News. How wonderfully cyclical. It seems that EWN want people. And I’m people. What sort of people do they want? According to their selection criteria:
At EWN we are rather choosy about who we employ.
This bit is worrying. But:
We are not afraid of those with ambition, just as long as they have the talent to back it up.
This bit isn’t too bad: I have ambition. That my ambition is to do more than nine kick-ups with a tennis ball and to get through the remaining 30 minutes of this morning without nipping to the off-licence downstairs from my office for a can of super strength lager can be overlooked – I won’t put that in my application. I’ll put about wanting to be a real good EWN employee and that – they’ll probably like that.
The next bit though, is pretty bad. It reads:
For our part, we do believe in developing our staff where possible. Hard work and commitment will always be recognised and rewarded.You need not apply if:
You are all mouth and no trousers
You have a drug or alcohol problem
You have a criminal record
And this is where the dream ends. First, all that talk of hard work and commitment being recognised and rewarded leaves me cold. Second, I’m worried that I’m no mouth and all trousers, or perhaps no mouth and no trousers, or possibly some mouth and some trousers, but whatever I am, I’m certainly not all mouth but also with trousers, which I assume is what they want. Is that really what they want? Meek people with massive dicks shuffling around the office? I’m not sure. But regardless of where I fall in the relationship between mouth and trousers, it’s all painfully academic as I fall woefully short on point two.
So, it seems my promising ten year career at the Euro Weekly News (if you can call it a promising ten year career – and you can’t, you really can’t) comes to an end. Next stop: the Majorca Daily Bulletin, quite possibly the worst newspaper ever produced.