This is a cry for change
From one who’s eyes have gone square
From staring at spreadsheets
Mind begging for something strange
A respite from a monotony of right angles
Please give me a tangle
Of jungle vines and steaming streams
Why is it all that I can see
Is a over crowded car park
Vibrant hues of showy paint jobs
Covering grey steel
Over grey asphalt
Under grey skies
So much fucking grey.
But I know that way out there beyond
Is a globe of infinite colour
A sea of new treats for my eyes
Yet I’m stuck in this stagnant pond
There’s so much to explore
So much to adore
But how do you get to it when you’re dirt poor?
I spend endless hours gazing
With wide rectangular eyes
As my youtube heroes, household zeroes
Jet over and over into foreign skies
So many people have turned their lives
Into a flipbook of permanent adventure
And I’m so green it’s flowing from my pores
Puddling on the floor
Drowning in my own bitter envy
Inside I’m screaming
WHY ISN’T IT ME
Because I know it could be.
(2018. Written at my desk, at my third temp job in four months, on a particularly grim February morning.)
I toiled along a valley road
Sinking lower into fog
Stinking mud pulled at my toes
Trapping me within the slog
To either side rose winding paths
Twisting, splitting, clawing free
Carpeted with seedlings growth
Promising mighty future trees
A peculiar train caught my eye
I wrenched my feet out of the sludge
And leaping forward, breathed goodbye
To the endless filthy trudge
But throwing my foot blindly down
In a first step of upward hope
A stone beneath grass overgrown
Sent me tumbling back down the slope
Sitting arse deep in the mud
That I had so briefly escaped
With heaving lungs, face flushed with blood
I did not pause to ponder my fate
Rising, I ignored the grime
Embedded deep as my grubby soul
And growing weary of the rhyme
I focused on my new found goal
Every path my hide a pitfall
Every one I’ve walked does
But one of them will lead to something better
One of them has to.
I took another step.
It’s been a month and a half since I moved to Maastricht.
What a month. A hot, lethargic, sweaty, heart-rending, life-affirming few weeks.
This is, it seems, where I belong. In a medieval cobblestoned city, getting merry with folks from all over the world. It reminds me in so many ways of that glorious year in Prague. But then, that’s sort of what I was trying to recreate. So… success?
Maybe. Probably. I don’t know.
Part of coming here meant giving up an incredibly loving, if hideously unstable, relationship. A necessity, but one that still aches.
And suddenly being so far from family is not the best feeling, after being so close by to them the past few years.
I guess that’s the main thing I ignored when I saddled up all my belongings and fled for the border. That it would, almost inevitably, be really fucking lonely for a while. Not that that’s anything to do with Maastricht. I’ve made some fantastic friends here so far. And spent an absurd amount of time in bars watching football. But they don’t really fill the hole I dug. There’s a fair bit of downtime in this hotel room, which feels like a luxuriously hipster prison cell. And I killed my cellmate.
That should soon change though! As of time of writing I’ve put the deposit down on a place to live. It’s a huge attic room perched atop a student house, the kind of place that has that delightful veneer of grime that still doesn’t dampen the energy within. Not that I’ve actually met any of my 6 new (masters students, one and all) housemates, but judging purely by the amount of beer bottles in the garden, I think we’ll get along.
Hopefully I will be in there by the weekend. It had better be soon anyway, I’ve only got 9 days until the hotel gives me the boot.
Let’s see, we’ve covered housing, friends, my emotional state… what else…
The job! For any who are curious, or aren’t in the mood for overly emotional exposition, here’s how it’s gone so far.
Week 1-2: Mostly training in ‘classrooms’ learning about the company. Honestly that was one month ago and I can hardly remember a thing from it. It wasn’t a bad time, we got to know our colleagues and get used to the company. But MAN do they ease you in. Slower than naked genitals into a boiling bath.
That was a weird simile. I like it though, it’s staying in.
(I don’t edit. This is all stream-of-consciousness shit. I just go back and correct typo’s when people point them out.)
Weeks 3-4: More training, but gradually working our way onto computers and starting to figure out all the different system we needed to learn. Ultimately quite useless as the version of Compass (main system used at work) we got in training was aaaaaall fucked up.
I could describe exactly what was wrong with it, but you wouldn’t understand, I’d be bored, and ‘aaaaall fucked up’ is more dramatic. So there.
Weeks 4-5: (there was some overlap. this is hardly accurate timekeeping). Then we moved into the AMG room, a sunny little corner where 4 newbies would be sat with 1-2 trainers, gradually figuring out how to do the job. To be honest we could have skipped straight to this step. In a week and a half using the proper systems and making/taking calls from actual customers and suddenly I’m there. I can do the job. Quite well too. Sorted.
Which brings us up to last week, starting proper shifts. Easy. That’s the best word for it. Sure confusing shit pops up quite regularly, but most of the time the job is a doddle. Making what they pay me to do it slightly absurd. But there you.
I guess that’s everything then. Jobs going well, should move into a permanent address by the end of the week, keeping fit and having fun. For the most part
With a sickening squelch I pulled myself free
Letting the remains of that which had engulfed me
Fall heavily and shatter
Into delicate fragments
Plinking and pattering
Like so many pills strewn across a worktop
I pushed forward
Hardening my heart
Ears straining to hear
The pieces being picked up and slotted back together
Eyes forward. Do not crack.
Do not waver. Don’t turn back.
So of course I do. Of fucking course I do. I have to.
I peer carefully over my shoulder.
It’s been a little while since I posted anything, but for frankly excellent reasons. My life has been flipped turned upside down in the past two weeks, and great changes are underfoot.
I shall endeavour to explain.
As anyone who is unfortunate enough to know me in real life might be aware, I’ve been at something of a loose end for the past year or so. Working a lot of temp jobs, drifting through life with all the energy and direction of a half-eaten jellyfish.
Until a couple of weeks ago. I had been applying for full time jobs for a while, trawling through job sites and sending out endless copies of my CV, with lukewarm responses. Some interviews, nothing coming of them. When up pops a rather interesting little role doing customer service for Mercedes. Seems they’re looking for native English speakers who are willing to relocate to their central customer service hub in the Netherlands.
So I give it a click and send off yet another CV, with my cut-and-paste cover letter. It’s worth a shot, right? Besides, I’d be happy to relocate. The best year of my life so far was when I found myself out in Prague after uni. To be living in a medieval city in central Europe once more…
But honestly, after applying for dozens of jobs and recieving so few responses, let alone interviews, I didn’t hold a great deal of hope. Job hunting is a hope-killer. You’ll find so few perfect sounding jobs, and you can be damn sure those will be the ones that come back with instant rejections. Best to just apply and wait.
Imagine my surprise then, when a mere two days later an email lands in my inbox, with hope shimmering all over it. They like my CV. They want to do a telephone interview. Which goes great. Then they send me a written task. It’s essentially creative writing, way to play to my strengths! They like that too.
All of a sudden I’m being offered an interview/assessment day out with them.
In Maastricht. The Netherlands.
I fly to Amsterdam. Three trains and three hours later and I’m in Maastricht.
It’s like a weight I didn’t know was on me had suddenly been lifted. For the first time in three years I was back out doing what I loved most, wandering a strange city in Europe, soaking up fancy local beers and medieval architecture.
The assessment day was odd. There were meant to be three of us, but both of the other applicants failed to turn up. Apparently they never checked in the hotel. No warning given. Strange people. As many group activities were planned, I was treated to a great deal of attention. Whether this worked to my advantage or not I don’t know. But I walk out of there after 6 hours punching the air and feeling like I’d nailed it.
Two days later, the offer came in. I accepted, obviously.
So now here we are. In three weeks I will completely uproot my life, moving out of my family home in Devon, England and settling down in Maastricht, The Netherlands.
It’s all still a bit surreal. Not a dream come true, because one month ago I wouldn’t have dared to dream things would work out so well. Yet here we are.
Now I’m preparing, which doesn’t require a massive amount of effort as Mercedes are sorting out all of the travel and accommodation for me, lovely people that they are. For the time being I’m going through all of my worldly possessions and trying to cut things down to the bare minimum.
Turns out I owned approximately 45 t-shirts. Isn’t that ridiculous? I’d had some since I was 17. Absurd. So now half are in a bag to go to charity. Next is books, a far more difficult challenge. I’m far too much of a hoarder for moving country, but I’ll manage.
There you have it. That’s what’s going on with me at the moment. But enough about me, how are you doing?
“There is great stupidity in this, or at least minimal imagination, which is more or less the same thing only morally worse.” -Stephen Fry, Moab is My Washpot
When I was seven they sent me away
Away from the country in which I played
Off to a place where my parents would pay
To give me an education
I got on the train, rattling and roaring
And perched myself next to a man who was snoring
And sat for two hours, long stiff and boring
Until we arrived at my school
Tucked away in a green and pleasant land
Closer to mountains than seaside or sand
Where every day was drawn up, closely planned
And they would teach me to study
When I told others they said it was cruel
To send a child to eat bread and gruel
A hundred miles away at a school
How could parents do such a thing?
I smiled politely, for they were dumb
To think it cruelty on the part of Mum
Even though I was still sucking my thumb
When really they hadn’t a clue
I retorted, “why ever should that be?
To private school went my mum, dad, bro, me,
So punishment would be school primary,
I would wonder what I’d done wrong”
But they shook their heads, and tutted at me
That I was damaged and I couldn’t see
Ever so sad is a private school boy
Defending a place that beat him
Well yes I was beaten, and rightly so
A terror I was, the whole school would know
Wherever I went trouble would follow
I could hardly complain my lot
Though I was naughty, though I was bad
And later my mind couldn’t overcome the sad
For my schooling I can be nothing but glad
To be given an education
Another from my University archives, written sometime in 2011, this is loosely based on some experiences relayed by the legendary Stephen Fry in his first autobiography, Moab is my Washpot. For the longest time I had the audiobook on my iPod, and would listen to it over and over whilst walking the dogs in the summer. Good times.