Ill Thought Out Ranting.

In theory, with education your life should follow this progression:

School – GCSEs – A levels – University – a reasonable job.

Or

School – GCSEs – An arguably less, but still reasonable job, but without the wasted 3 years and mountains of debt.

As it happens it actually seems to go like this.

School – GCSEs – A levels – University – Nothing, absolutely nothing you’re going to have to fight for a job in a pub which will work you 47 hours a week for very little money until you wish you were dead.

Universities are no longer educational establishments. They are graduate factories, built on an unsustainable economic model. They use fancy marketing, with huge open days and lovely catalogues that show beautiful nineteen year olds smiling giddy smiles as they joyfully expand their knowledge.

There’ll be a page of numbers that tries to bamboozle you into thinking that those with degrees are 120% more likely to get a great job when they leave with their degree. They’ll be so likely to have a great job that many will have a job without even realising it, some will have two, a few will have so many they won’t know what to do with them.

The government are in on this too. It was not so long ago that David Cameron, then Prime Minister, said he thought 50% of people should go to university. Primarily because it keeps the ‘unemployment’ figures down and lands people in debt and Western economies are reliant on people being in debt, but we’re not here to talk about that.

They then go on to drop random statistics saying n% of graduates are in employment, so the system works. The survey is often flawed at best, however taken at face value, the statistic is usually impressive. However, may statistics fail to take into account the capacity in which these people are employed.

We live in a world, where more people than ever are degree educated… and yet, we are not in a golden age of efficiency. With so many university graduates, surely the business world would be booming, the world of science should have discovered flying cars by now and there shouldn’t be a place on television for ‘Love Island’.

Instead we have history experts waiting on tables, English Literature nuts pulling pints, astrophysicists working in milkshake shops.

Why is this?

I do not know.

Perhaps it is just the very fact that so many people have degrees, devaluing the whole system. Unfortunately, we live in a time where unless you have the best degree, from the most prestigious of all universities, you will find yourself in employment limbo. Retail and hospitality won’t want you, they’ll see your degree as a sign that you’ll flee at the earliest chance. Companies looking for graduates won’t want you, because they want the best of the best.

With a 2:2 you’ll find yourself cast aside and left to flounder in mounting debt and lack of fulfilment. People’ll say ‘why not try teaching’, which in the current climate you’d be better off blowing your own legs off, you’ll earn more from your disability allowance.

Then there’s the issue of experience. Graduates will routinely get turned down for jobs based on their lack of experience. In order to get experience, you will need to get a job in your preferred sector, but in order to get a job in your preferred sector, you will need experience, and to get that experience…. Well shit.

One day, all the people with experience will die. Then where will we be?

Well, no worse off than we currently are.

Whilst there are jobs (much like the truth) ‘out there’ the number of people looking for them are much higher. Supply and demand comes into play and unfortunately, whilst you may show some of the desired attributes, employers will decide to go with candidates that better suit their criteria… though they will helpfully wish you luck with your job search.

You’ll need it.

 

Make me feel less like a failure and download my kindle book. It’s reverent, silly, playful, self aware and incredibly cheap.

This New World

Below is a thing I started writing this morning. Maybe one day it will become an actual thing, but I have other things I need to make into actual things, I also have work in an hour.

***

In many ways she was deeply unhappy, but she didn’t mind that so much as she guessed most people were pretty unhappy, those that weren’t were probably in denial. It had been fifteen years since the Rift, as people had taken to call it. Scientists referred to it as, a flux in the temporal membrane, but Rift just sounded better.

The world thought it was in a sorry state of affairs before. Right wing politics on the rise, regular terrorist atrocities perpetrated by confused, fascist fanatics, rising sea levels and climbing global temperatures, a flimsy economy and severe over population. Now, well… it’s mostly the same issues just taken up a notch or two.

Emma put on her jacket, an army camouflage affair, dull green and occasional brown. She bought it because it was cheap, not because it helped her blend into the background of the city, which was mostly grey, occasionally beige. Marketing departments would have you believe London was the epicentre of culture, a point from which all modern history was made. A diverse hub celebrating art, science and industry. In reality it was just a tangled mess of apartment complexes and the occasional bridge.

Ortha House was about as cheap as you could get within the city limits. That was probably because it was built as part of an initiative to allow the Others to integrate themselves amongst the human populace, granting them a place to live at low cost whilst they find themselves in this strange new world. Of course, the fact that they were referred to as the Others rendered the whole exercise pointless.

Emma left her flat and strolled down the cluttered corridor. Half full bin bags lay strewn all over the place, strange stains marked the walls and all sorts of noises drifted through the various doors.  Baldus was leaving his flat to start his day too. A dwarf many called them, though those who suffered from dwarfism complained that that was offensive. The dwarves referred to themselves as the Blendring, which to a human was just a noise, especially for the average English human, who thought any other language sounded ridiculous.

‘No axes Baldus,” said Emma, noticing herself how bored she sounded. Baldus clenched a fist and shook his head, his rigid Mohican wobbling a little. A shimmering, double edged battle axe was slung across his muscular back.

‘A blandring without an axe or hammer is no blandring at all!’ he lamented, hiding his face in his meaty hands. His black skin had been marked with red dye, criss-crossing his face in an elaborate and quite frankly ridiculous pattern.

‘No axes, thems the rules,’ said Emma.

‘Rules!’ Baldus spat, ‘what about the rules set down by the Great Sculptor? It is the duty of every Blandring to carry an axe or hammer, ready for war at all times!’

‘You’ll be arrested as soon as you leave the building. Just take a pendant.’

 

Following the Fifteen Minute war, the more reasonable of the

Blandring decided that the Laws of the Great Sculptor were

Very much open to interpretation. Whilst it cannot be denied

That all Blandering are expected to carry an axe or hammer

The scriptures never state how large said axe or hammer

Need be. Therefore, a blandring can still keep to the scriptures

By wearing a pendant sporting a tiny axe or hammer, which

Conveniently relieves it of its status as an offensive weapon. As

for being ready for war, it is said that it is a state of mind all blandring

Should be permanently in, rather than a physical readiness.

–          Blandring and Belief – pg 75 2nd edition.

 

Emma had thought a degree in Rift Cultures and journalism would be a good idea in the current environment. The world was changing, the Others were here to stay and the only way to live with such extreme difference of culture (and in many cases physicality) was to understand said cultures.

As it turned out, it had rendered her almost unemployable. Her ten thousand word thesis on the Fifteen Minute War and its effects had been a waste of time. How she managed to get ten thousand words out of such a brief period was beyond her. Like most conflicts, it could be summed up in a handful bullet points.

–          The Rift happened.

–          The blandring dutifully carried their axes and hammers and were ready for war at all times.

–          The blandring were told by the human government that they could not carry axes and hammers and should probably only be ready for war a few times a year.

–          The blandring decided they would not stand for such oppression and will not be ruled by a blasphemous government and gathered their forces and marched on parliament.

–          In the classic game of rock paper scissors, it is well known that assault rifles always beat axes and hammers.

–          The Blandring uprising was quelled in 14 minutes and 52 seconds. 58 were killed, 34 injured and many arrests were made.

Baldus went inside his flat grumbling audibly. Emma waited for him to return, when he did, a crude stone hammer hung from his neck. In her opinion it was still large enough to be considered a weapon, but decided to let that be decided by the police. There was always a police presence outside Ortha House, just to make sure the locals were integrating properly, and to arrest all those that weren’t.

Emma couldn’t blame them really. The pair exited the lift and passed through the cluttered and half destroyed foyer. She could see the unmarked police cars on the perimeter of the grounds already. Whilst the majority of those that lived in Ortha House were law abiding citizens just trying to make an honest living, some were level three shadow demons from the Realm of Darkness that occasionally consumed human souls, so precautions had to be taken. That and a Blandring who lived on the third floor had taken to selling drugs. It only took one idiot to ruin everything for everyone else.

They made it past the police cars without incident. Baldus lingered longer than necessary, in the hope of provoking a bored looking officer, but thankfully the officer in question didn’t look up from his phone.

‘Little boxes have stolen your souls!’ He grumbled as they moved on. The street lamps were beginning to flick out of life as the sun rose beyond the grey blanket of cloud. The factory wasn’t too far away. After months of unemployment Emma had secured an admin role at a meat packing company that prided itself in providing opportunities to ‘the Others’, almost 80% of their staff was made up of Rifters.

‘With your degree, you’ll be able to keep the rabble in line,’ the overseer had told her at her interview.

‘As long as you pay them, they’ll keep themselves in line. Most aren’t that different from us you know?’ she replied. The overseer nodded, grinning a broad and self-satisfied smile.

‘Oh yes, except none of them are unionised and have no concept of minimum wage. The ogres… they only need to sleep every four days and the little tasks we give them keep their simple minds occupied.’

‘So, you’re treating them like slaves?’

‘You could say that, but…’

‘But what?’

‘Oh nothing, just a figure of speech.’

 

It’s Hot.

It’s currently sunny and hot. I hate both those things. I don’t know why everyone’s so big on the sun, it’ll be the thing that eventually kills us all. People bemoan the rain. Claiming how it’s always raining, forgetting the fact that it’s plenty of rain that allows for production of crops and you know, all that water we like to drink – especially on hot days.

Rain is great, I love the rain, even beyond its life giving properties. Rain stays outside, it creates a nice ambience, it freshens the air. Same with cold, once you’re indoors with a jumper on, you’ll be alright. Sunlight on the other hand barges into your home uninvited and stabs you in the eyes. The heat is stifling, preventing sleep and worst of all, it brings people outside in droves.

Due to poor life choices and a job market in tatters, I currently work in a pub. It’s awful and if I’m still working there by July I’m finding a bridge to leap off of.  It’s a bank holiday weekend and it’s set to be a hot and sunny one, which means these fucking people are going to all think it’ll be a good idea to go out and get a beer and sit in the pub garden. All of them will think this, regardless of my opinions on the matter.

Then once they’re there they will think “let’s get some food” and who’s going to have to take that food out to them, burning their fingers just so they can stuff their faces? Me that’s who. Fucking sun.  some time ago it rained a lot and no one came out, I got to sit at the bar and do the crossword, it was good, I only had to cheat 3 or 4 times and the rest I texted my dad for answers.

I might not make it through till Tuesday.

I have read that this year is set to be hotter than last year, which was hotter than the year before that, which in turn was hotter before that and so on and so forth. This displeases me for a number of reasons.

A few years ago when I was still at school, global warming was mentioned everywhere. As a society we were very concerned about it. It was on the news on a daily basis. Now it barely gets a mention. We seem to have stopped caring. Admittedly, it’s very difficult to keep caring about it and not go insane with the knowledge we have killed the planet.

I have done some reading to find out where we are at with the global warming stuff. The most recent thinking is that, we’ve fucked it. We’re past the point of no return and the rising of the sea and the roasting of the land is inevitable. There are not enough life boats to save us all, many of us will have to go down with our little island. The polar bears will also die.

The fish will be okay… apart from all that plastic.

With that in mind, will we view the hot summers with suspicion and dread? Will we stop using our cars so much, stop using so much plastic and all en masse tell China to get their shit together? No, you’ll all go to the pub and make me work hard. Drinking away the worry until the world around you turns to desert, or you’re swept away by a tidal wave filled with dead polar bears and Asda bags.

I hate you so much.

We Lowly Millennials.

First let me tell you, my computer broke, so I wrote this hastily on a computer in a library (they have computers now!) and I only had 30 mins to do so. Then I copied it to my phone and from my phone am pasting it here. No proof reading was done, it’s not very good and it was more venting on my part than anything else.

Also, I still don’t know what millennial really means, or quite why it requires 2 Ns.

 

In the space of a month or so, I’ve gone from being a copy editor to working in a pub. I had to work hard to obtain this job in said pub. Who’d have thought that we’d one day live in a world where even bar work was a competitive industry. I saw a line outside the Job Centre the other day, there were eight people fighting over an application form for Clarks. Some one pulled a knife – he had a degree in astrophysics.

I have been applying for many jobs. It is a soul destroying exercise in futility for anyone in their 20s. No matter how you approach it, you’ll always get the lazy responses ‘thanks, but no.’ Or, worse than that, you’ll get ‘you have not got enough experience.’ If you ask how you go about getting the necessary experience when every company turns you down for your lack of experience they mutter something unintelligible before pointing behind you and saying ‘what the fuck is that?’ Like a fool you turn, and when you turn back they are gone.

If you ask what happens when all the people with experience eventually die, their faces adopt a far away quality, as though they are staring into some murky abyss, before whispered words escape their puckered lips ‘…then God help us.’

The problem is, most of us were conned into going to university, and for most of us it was a con. A massive fat CON. We were lured into it by talk of walking out the other end being more employable than those who didn’t go. We were told not to worry about the massive debt, because our degrees would propel us into roles so well paid that it’ll be gone within the week. All of this turned out to be a lie. Everyone has a degree, and when everyone has a degree than we may as well not have bothered, especially if your degree is in performing arts.

I suppose it doesn’t help that I went to the University of Hertfordshire, which is less a university and more a community centre catering for unemployed millennials. Which brings me on to the crux of my point.

What the fuck is a millennial? I think I am one, but I don’t know what it means. Everywhere I read or hear it, it sounds patronising, dismissive and dripping in ridicule. Often when we lament the lack of jobs, those in positions of authority say “there’s plenty out there, you just have to look hard for it.” or the problem with millennials is we “have a huge sense of entitlement,” and “want success handed to us on a plate” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-4232696/Millenials-generation-huge-sense-entitlement.html)

Others say the problem lies within our work ethic and maybe we should all work in bars and restaurants and do so happily without complaint. Stefanie Williams writing for the Huffington Post writes about her success in The Problem With Millennials and Work Ethic: All of this was afforded to me not in the first month I was working at a restaurant, but after I put in the hours, made the sacrifices and sucked up my pride in order to make ends meet and figure out what I wanted to do and how to do it.” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stefanie-williams/the-problem-millennials-work-ethic-talia-yelp_b_9282244.html)

Well done Stefanie, though as well as hours and hard work you missed out huge dollops of luck. However, with astronomical rent prices climbing ever hire and even those restaurant jobs being harder to come by as well as the cost of living forever climbing, we millennials will be aged and haggard by the time we start earning enough to make a proper go at life. We’re the first generation that on the whole, will be worse off when compared to our parents. Most of us will never own our own home and as to having a career progression to boast about, the vast majority can forget about that, what with our chaotic Cvs. Worked in one bar, worked in another bar, had a brief stint in IT support, was made redundant as it was outsourced, worked in another bar.

As for being self-entitled, we have lived and are currently living in one of the worst economic crisis in recent history. An economic crisis that was not our doing. In fact, we had nothing to do with it. Yet we must be the ones to fix it, we have to be the ones to suffer the low wages, the lack of jobs, the crushing financial burdens. I say again, most of us will never be able to afford our own home. Either because they’re too expensive, or because we’ll just end up having that nuclear war we’ve been talking about for so many decades.

Of course we expect a good job, we were promised a good job, coaxed into spending a lot of money on higher education due to the that promise. Of course we want more than bar work, as we approach our mid-twenties. These are the years we should be starting on our path to a career we can be proud of. Soon we’ll be in our thirties, maybe wanting to squeeze some of our own children into an already over-populated world, how can we afford to do that when we’re barely getting by on our shifts at The Wobbly Cow or The Fat Crustacean or The Whorish Whore or Wetherspoons?

Just give me a fucking job!

13 Reasons Why… is shit.

Angst Angst everywhere, but not a drop to drink. Or something like that.

Living with another human with only one TV means sometimes I’m sometimes forced to endure her choice of television. I could get up and sit in another room, but I’m a prisoner of my own laziness and alcoholism.

The latest Netflix Original that is being forced into my retinas is 13 Reasons Why. I would say something “clever” like “13 Reasons why you should watch something else!” Hoho! But then most critics have beaten me to it, though much to my chagrin they’ve been saying “13 Reasons Why you should be watching this show”.

Words like “powerful” have been thrown about, which is a strange word in terms of critiquing something. The Nazis were powerful, they were still shit. Stupid Nazis. It’s based on a book apparently – 13 Reasons Why that is, though the Nazis were also based on a book so legend has it.

The premise is thus. A girl (Hannah something) commits suicide, because her life at the age of 17 isn’t going quite as she would like, but before she does it she records 13 tapes describing why she killed herself, naming and shaming all those who contributed to the decline of her life and mental health. Which in some ways is the main issue with the whole thing, as in my mind, these are the actions of an unstable person who would probably have ended up killing herself or someone else. Each episode we see Hannah’s life and all the shittiness that comes with it as well as those dealing with the repercussions of her frankly short sighted and selfish act except with the added pressure of these tapes.

There are a myriad of issues with setting a drama series in an American high school with mostly teenagers as the focal characters. One is real life teenagers are awful. They’re the worst things in the world. The second is, for the sake of drama, TV Teenagers are unlike any real life teenager, but are equally as awful.

Now, one of the main characters name is Clay and I refuse to acknowledge that there’s anyone in the world called Clay. What a fucking ridiculous name. The others I couldn’t be bothered to remember, so they’ll just be referred to as a number, which is just as well, as each seems to represent a teenaged trope and have nothing else.

So there’s the friend who has a lesbian experience with Hannah and then is like ‘oh shit, everyone has seen a picture of our lesbian experience I’m so embarrassed, my life is destroyed, never mind that it’s the twenty-first century and we’re all a bit more open about this shit.’ There’s the tough guy whose every piece of dialogue is something like ‘game’s changed.’ Or ‘I’m going to use my fists to punch that guy’s head and then everything will probably be okay after that.’ There’s the basketball guy, who plays basketball. There’s the cheerleader. There’s a poetry man. There’s the pervy stalker who is conveniently the photographer, and everyone knows he’s a pervy stalker, but no one seems that bothered and let him photograph away. And then there’s this weird guy who has a mob like family and seems to play the role of aged wise guide.

No one seems to have sat these kids down and told them that what they’re feeling, these feelings of melancholy, rage and constant uncertainty is just life and it’s only going to get worse. No one seems to say ‘fuck at least we don’t pay taxes’.

The worst character however, is Hannah, I’m sort of glad she’s dead, but outraged that in death she’s still the most annoying character. She’s apparently an outcast, despite being fairly attractive and socially aware. She writes a poem, because of course she does. Writers it seems are so bitter about the fact that no one liked them when they were young that every protagonist they write turns to the written word for solace and for incredibly forced moments of profundity.

There’s a concept in literature, films and TV known as ‘The Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ the quirky outcast that changes the lives of the dull miserable men. They’re really fucking irritating. Hannah is sort of this, but worse, more obnoxious. She has monologues about how school makes you conform and takes away your ability to make decisions, ironically played as she peruses a number of different stands there to give information so she can make a decision as to what university, college or career to go into.

She tries to apply for a top university, is told that only those with the best grades get the financial help to join and then rants about how it’s only available for those with money and doesn’t for an instant think ‘maybe I should work on my fucking grades’.

Sure, there’s a certain elitism to the education system that can be exploited by those with money. But that’s not the point. The point is, why does this girl feel so entitled? Other than the fact she’s a teenager? How can I feel empathy with a girl that feels life isn’t worth living because a few people have called her names and not liked her poetry? There’s one scene that really sticks out.

He with the stupid name is reading the poem and says ‘I like this poem.’ And Hannah says something obnoxious. And Clay says ‘Whoever wrote this is a dark person, I like the poem, but I’m not sure I’d like to hang out with her.’ At which point Hannah looks sad and wanders off. Why doesn’t she just say, “I wrote that poem?” I mean she’s already had it confirmed that he likes it, and they already hang out, so he’d go “oh, cool, wanna talk about it?” and then the choice would be hers.

Just once, I would love to watch a show portraying a “social outcast” who truly is socially inept and at the very least plain looking. And just once I’d like to see a drama centred around teenagers where someone says ‘IT DOESN’T FUCKING MATTER! So people laughed at your poem, that’s what you get for doing something as stupid as writing a fucking poem, get over it, there’s children out there who are living in war zones and don’t have any food, deal with that you arrogant, self-obsessed pieces of shit!’

But that may be just because my teenaged years flitted by in a drunken haze, I was in a band and shit and we didn’t really take it seriously… we won Hertfordshire under 18s battle of the bands. No one wanted to have sex with me and that’s okay because that’s their choice, and I’m a fucking moron, so it’s all good. My teenaged years were boring, maybe if they had some drama I’d feel differently, but I can’t help but feel Teenagers are misrepresented in the media.

What was I talking about?

Right. So, why should I care that this obnoxious middleclass white teenager died because other teenagers said they didn’t like her or her poetry and there was some bullying? Thousands of teenagers go through that, it’s really mundane.

The whole show is poorly written, it’s angst, angst and more angst. None of the characters are likeable. Yet, people are enjoying it, so I guess that’s the main thing.

Rejected TV Shows.

After losing my job for using company software to instigate office wide rap battles, I have decided it is time to start acting my age and enter the real world. So, with that in mind I have been pitching television ideas. Here are some that have been rejected.

 

Conformity:

A children’s TV show teaching the value of conformity. The tag line is “There is no greater feeling than fitting in.” It has an educational element, using maths and statistics it teaches that with 7 and a half billion people in the world, it is highly unlikely that everyone will be unique and that realistically most people will be dull and uninteresting. Striving to achieve dreams ultimately leads to disappointment and unemployment, whereas simply turning up and doing your bit without pomp and ceremony leads to a steady income and a reliable economy.

 

The Team of Global Stereotypes:

A bit like the X-Men, only every character is a stereotype of some description… so actually quite a lot like the 90s version of X-Men. Led by the bowler hat wearing, tea swilling English leader “Joseph Badteeth”  Chad ‘Gun Toting’ Americanson from the deep south must lead his team of borderline racist caricatures against the evil Gwylim the Unboxed, who cannot be put into a box and his team of Quirkies.  There were talks of getting Christopher Lee to come back from the dead to voice Gwylim, but ultimately they fell through as he was demanding the power to change the script. He wanted to change ‘maybe’ to ‘perhaps’, fucking diva.

 

The Community Support Officer:

The wannabe policeman Derek Swaby is a high functioning alcoholic community support officer who gets results. He deals with loiterers and litterers with his unorthodox mix of violence and psychological games. Not being an actual police officer he has not the power to arrest. One day, he moves along a group of loiterers, unaware that they happen to be the notorious “Stabby loiterers”. He goes home to find them loitering in his own house having stabbed his family and littered for good measure, that’s when he decided to take the law into his own hands. He rejects the role of Community Support Officer, and instead becomes ‘The Officer who Supports his Community.”

 

The Butcher, The Baker and the Candlestick Maker:

Like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, but with the above professions. Obviously, there will be no spying, but they do have a punch up in a car park.

 

LoserChef:

A cooking show that takes it back to the basics. Episode one: How to Boil Water, is a 45 minute step by step guide detailing the process of boiling water. Episode two:  You Did it Wrong Didn’t You? Another 45 minute episode repeating the steps of water boiling for those that couldn’t manage it.

 

Future Archaeologists:

A group of archaeologists sit at a dig site simply to show that they are in fact archaeologists. They are tasked with describing what the far future will be like, based on wild assumption and absolutely no evidence. These assumptions are then submitted to the government who have to make decisions based on these predictions because science.

 

The entertainment industry is a ruthless one. Only those willing to persevere in the face of failure and rejection can succeed. One day I will be a rich TV man and you’ll all be clawing your way through the muck and grime of normal life. Fighting over the scraps we members of the cultural elite deign to give you.

Just Went Out For Coffee.

The below is a true story, albeit embellished in places. I decided to document my mundane adventures as if it were lofty prose, because there are many hours in the day that need to be filled somehow.

***

It was a cold day. Not too cold, but cold enough to make people say “ooh, that’s a bit cold.” Our story starts a few weeks after our hero lost his job for using company software to instigate an office wide rap battle. The official reason was “gross misconduct” which he reasoned was the same as normal misconduct, except done naked. He made the same joke at his disciplinary hearing. No one laughed, glances were exchanged. He still maintained the whole thing was a team building exercise, they countered that it was simply him avoiding doing any meaningful work.

Our hero – who for the sake of argument we will call Jasper – once again found himself endlessly applying for jobs. Any job would do. It is often said that the key to success is perseverance. Plugging away endlessly will eventually lead you to your goals. It is also said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If both these statements are true, then logically, the key to success is insanity, which is all very well, but hardly sustainable.

Jasper hit the submit button for an application to Which? Magazine. A strange organization. They seemed to be an authority on just about anything. “Best washing up liquid as voted by Which? Magazine.” “Best estate agents as voted by Which? Magazine.” “Best internet provider as voted by Which? Magazine.” Jasper doubted their credentials; no one could claim specialist knowledge on such an eclectic mix of products.

Enough was enough. His eyes hurt and he had not blinked for a good few hours. The blue light leaking from his computer screen was slowly frying his retinas and melting his brain. There was only so many times he could lie about why he wanted to work for various companies. No one wanted to work for the 60 plus years until they were decrepit or dead, it all came down to financial necessity. It was time for a coffee. He stood up and donned his bobbleless hat. It did once have a bobble, but he forcibly removed it. No one over the age of 9 should have a bobble about their person. It looked odd and served no purpose. The only logical purpose he could see would be if a bird were to perch atop his head, which he would not appreciate. He thought the hat gave him a working-class look. However, in truth it made him look like an exceptionally middleclass person attempting to look working-class.

He found his jacket and slipped on his loafers, life was too short to be fannying about with laces every time he left the flat.   He lived in the centre of a vibrant, modern town. Some might say it had fallen victim to gentrification, meaning that it was wall to wall coffee shops and estate agents and the occasional estate agents with a coffee shop inside. Jasper often wondered why the coffee growing nations of the world didn’t rise up and use their ample stock of roasted coffee beans to become a global superpower. By holding coffee hostage they could easily bring western civilisation to its knees.

He patted himself down. Phone… Wallet… all good. He passed through his three doors, down a flight of steps and out into the world. He entered his popular coffee chain of choice and joined the queue. Already he could feel the ever present rage begin to bubble up from his stomach into his chest. The queue was not long, but there was only one person serving and the man at the front was clearly doing an office run, an unnecessarily expensive and needlessly complex daily exercise.

“No, that’s 3 flat whites, one decaf soy latte and four cappuccinos, chocolate on two, no chocolate on one, and chocolate on exactly half of the last.” The man rudely bellowed out his order to the poor flustered girl, whom Jasper recognised as the one that would refuse to meet his eye ever since she forgot to lock the toilet door and he entered to see her sat mid shit. Frustratingly, it was the closest Jasper had come to an erotic experience for a long time. His penis was purely a decorative appendage these days.

“So two flat whites?” She asked smeared in coffee grinds.

“No three flat whites!” The man retorted.

Jasper had no idea what a flat white was, he only knew he hated them just as he hated the man ordering them. He wished it wasn’t illegal to beat him to death with a chair leg, or melt him in a vat of boiling flat whites.

“Here’s the decaf soy latte,” said the girl popping a paper cup into a cardboard holder.

“Is it super decaf?” Asked the man critically.

“Erm… no,” said the carefree shitter.

“It needs to be super decaf. If Wendy even has so much as a whiff of caffeine she immediately dies!” the man exclaimed sending the girl back to the whirring spluttering machine.

Two hours later Jasper left with his coffee, angrier than he had ever been in his life. It was at that moment his brain decided to remind him of the third step to the leaving the flat dance. It doesn’t stop after wallet. It goes Phone… Wallet… Keys. He had left out what was perhaps the most important step. He frantically started patting down his pockets with his one free hand. Modern clothes are made with what he viewed as an unnecessary number of pockets, so this took him some time his anger growing all the while.

He had no keys.

His flat mate, who was possessed with more self-control than him, was still employed. Although that may have something to do with the fact that she had a made up job title and a good day’s work consisted of saying the words “E-learning environment” over and over again. However, at work she was and her work was in the next town over.

At times like these, Jasper found him awash with inconsolable anger. He would froth at the mouth and hurl out expletives by the dozen. He would be angry with himself first and foremost, for forgetting his keys. He would be angry with humanity as a whole, for being so shit that the concept of a lock and key need be invented, lest people come into other people’s houses to murder them and/or steal their shit. Thirdly, he be angry with his parents. His existence, and subsequently his current predicament was all their fault.

Taking a deep breath he reasoned he could just go to the estate agents. They would have spare keys and if he explained the situation in a calm manner, they would get him back in.

He pressed the buzzer to the estate agents. After a lengthy pause a voice rasped through the speaker.

“Yes?”

“I’m Jasper!” he declared his coffee having amplified his rage to untold levels. It took him sometime to see through the red fog to realise that announcing his name would not be enough.

“From 7B!” he said, “I did the pat down dance wrong.” He said.

“Locked out?” said the estate agent.

“That I am. Have you spare keys?”

The door was buzzed open and he entered the run down little office building. In a small room were his agents in a cluttered, open plan office. A man who looked very estate agenty, with smart black hair slicked back and a shirt and tie approached him. Jasper did not think himself a judgemental man, but if pressed he would have to describe the man before him as a bellend.

“7b you say? Let me have a look, we have spare keys.” He said before disappearing. Jasper stood glaring around at the wretched scum and tosspots about him, feeling very exposed. He felt that if he lingered too long he might catch a serious case of arsehattery. The agent returned with a smug look of accomplishment on his face. He handed Jasper a pair of keys. Jasper regarded them with an unimpressed look.

“There are only two keys.” He said.

“Yes!” The man said, chest swelling with pride.

“There are three doors to the property.” Jasper explained. The man regarded him with a dubious look, tinted with a healthy dollop of suspicion.

“Well… that’s all we have.” He said. Jasper frowned wondering just what sort of moron he was dealing with. At a loss for words he retreated from the office and headed back to his flat. Needless to say neither key worked on the outside door. However, quick thinking as ever he formulated a plan. He had forged an alliance with those who worked in the milkshake shop, who also had access to that very door.

“Good afternoon. I am locked out, could you please let me through the front door,” he said entering the milkshake shop, one of many that had burst into existence in recent years. He had no idea how they stayed in business, as he had never heard of anyone express an interest in an Oreo flavoured milkshake, let alone think to buy one at one in the afternoon on a winters day.

“We can’t let anyone upstairs for insurance reasons.” Said the girl in a state of panic. Jasper frowned. The girl was young, a little plump and dim looking. He was confused, as he had not mentioned stairs, he had certainly not said anything that would be in breach of insurance policies.

“No… I need you to open the door for me.” He said as softly as he could, the girl, like a startled elk looked ready to bolt at any minute.

“What door?” she asked.

“The front one. The black one. Has a large 7 on it.” He explained taking care to use one syllable words.

After some time, the girl opened the door for him. He was home at last. He thought.

Only to find neither of the two keys the estate agent had proudly bestowed upon him worked in the second door either. Just what he held the keys too was beyond him. Perhaps they were the keys to someone’s heart. He hoped they were the keys to the estate agent’s heart, so he could return repeatedly and jab them deep into his ribs.

It seemed… he had to get the bus to the next town over.

***

The bus driver looked like an older, slightly fatter Harry Potter, who having been kicked out of the wizarding world had resigned himself to driving a bus. As per usual, getting the bus during the day was like being in Dawn of the Dead. Hordes of shuffling old people dragging their ridiculous wheely bags clogged up the busses, huffing and puffing at the audaciousness of the young, daring to sit down. Each one seemed to enjoy a lengthy conversation with Harry Potter about nothing. Jasper asked for a return to the next town.

He did not hear the price, but simply handed over a fiver, the face of the queen giving him a mocking look. The driver took the note and stared at him expectantly. Jasper looked around wondering if Harry had finally snapped, or whether he had had a stroke.

“£5.50.” said Harry. The rage was rising once again. Five pounds and fifty pence, for one bus journey. For the third time Jasper enjoyed the idea of murdering someone.

He handed over another fifty pence and off they went.

It was at that point that Jasper realised just how talented the bus driver was. He was driving the bus, whilst reading a newspaper and eating a sandwich. Jasper would struggle to do any one of those things on their own. Just how much attention was being paid to the road was another question entirely, but it was impressive nonetheless. If they were to crash and die, Jasper knew his grave stone would read “it was an article on Brexit.”

It took over an hour to get there, collect his flatmate’s keys and then return. At which point he decided that the day was a right off and drank himself into a stupor. The next morning he received an angry call from the estate agent demanding he return the spare keys as soon as possible as they were their only spares and would not be able to access the property in case of an emergency. Jasper did his best to explain that there was only two keys for three doors, and those two keys did not work anyway, so even if they did have them they would not be able to enter the flat in an emergency. He also did his best to explain that any ‘emergency’ would probably require people to leave the flat not get in. He asked under what circumstances they would need access to the flat. There the phone call ended.

Two days later he received a letter saying the landlord had to get extra keys cut and he would be charged for this.

Jasper checked his emails for responses to job applications. He found one from Red Strip estate agents saying that he did not seem qualified to be an estate agent. He closed his laptop and went to get a coffee.