The Hunt

Yes, the title does make it sound a bit like an apocalyptic romp through a Norwegien forest trying to outrun genetically engineered tigers but that is in fact NOT what this is about. (I’ve never been to Norway.) No, this is about the inevitable culmination of a students life; the job hunt. See, I’m facing a few wobbles in my road to postagraduate study, namely the fact that it is sooooo expensive but also the fact that the majority of the Trust Funds seem to have a weirdly specific criteria for who they let in. I would optimistically click on a link only to find that this particular fund was only available to Canadian men with a rare eye condition while others were happy to take anybody as long as you were studying biochemistry and, for some reason, excelled at painting. The self proclaimed Society of Authors-that made me do a little woop and mini victory dance- as it turns out, won’t fund anybody under thirty five. Apparently we don’t have enough life experience..

So, there I am, casually strewn before a laptop, eating my breakfast at 1pm in my usual, vigorous, greet-the-day routine when a link pops up on my email  for a secretarial position in a Chaplaincy. Something about the title has a ring to it that catches my eye. I picture myself in quaintly stylish wool pencil skirts, clipping over wet cobbles to sit in a leaky office, taking shorthand notes in a leather bound ledger. There would be a cosy atmosphere; poor lighting; and the smell of damp and incense, the walls all grey and covered in posters quoting hopeful messages for the afterlife. People would talk in hushed voices all day long. I’m not really religious- in fact I had to double check that a ‘Chaplaincy’ is of Catholic denomination- but I’m writing a story you see, and the main character, she’s meant to be Catholic. Maybe she could in fact be the secretary in a Chaplaincy. Next thing I know, I’ve clicked on the link and am applying.

It is only later when I’m strolling home with my shopping in the faded afternoon sunlight that I suddenly think over what I’ve done. Did I really just apply for a job because it would be perfectly suited to a fictional character of my own invention? Is there really that much confusion in the space between fiction and reality in my brain that I cannot distinguish between myself and an aspiring nun from a story set in the fifties? Not that it’s a completely terrbile idea. I could probably be a secretary. Its not like a Chaplaincy would be a hub of Wall Street jargon with stacks of data to upload (into what??!) or credit rates to push (what does this mean?!) And I’m sure there was something in the job description about books. Maybe I’d get to handle ornate copies of the Bible or canonical texts with gorgeous line drawings of martyrs being hung upside down and jewels frosted into the covers. Maybe I’d get to meet the Pope! Hmmm…

I realise what has happened here. I’ve had another attack of a completely made up condition that I like to call Hyperactive Narrative Voice Syndrome aka. that persistent drone located somewhere in your imagination that feels the need to turn EVERYTHING into a story regardless of the effect on your day to day life. Its only real symptoms are a compulsive need to write everything down, and the feeling that you only ever have half of your concetration turned on at any one time. This is particularly disruptive in the workplace as, while half of your mind is completely dedicated to the prompt and cheerful serving of coffee, the other half really wants to tell you why this couple are having a fight on a train. Maybe he complimented another woman? Is she having an affair? Maybe they’ve been together a really long time? Physical symptoms may include long periods of staring blankly into space and deciding to make ridiculous lifestyle choices because, for a moment, the two sides of your brain get confused and tell you, yes you are definitely Catholic material.

I think there should be some sort of medical certification for this condition that affects millions of vaguely artistic people everyday. You should be able to get doctors notes explaining that you royally fucked up that last order because you had a sudden overwhelming urge to sketch that man’s distinctive nose. Or that you slept in and missed a meeting because you had to stay up all night fixing chapter three. It simply could not end that way! Just a thought…

Oh well, I think, slumping down in the hall to drop my shopping bags, at least I’ve made a start. Punctured the skin of latent unemployment with a needle probe into the unchartered territory of ‘secretarial work.’ Maybe I’ll be incredible at it. Perhaps the ultimate career for an English graduate, that they never tell you about, is administrative work for a member of the church. Perhaps I will end a nun. Either way, I’m pretty sure that it will almost definitely be nothing like The Sound of Music. Hmmm…



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