Early morning. Eleven o’clock. It’s about the time I usually make my entrance into the world. I’m coming downstairs in my bathrobe and the letterbox clatters. Two letters fall through onto the mat. I go over and pick them up. They’re both for yours truly. The address on one of them is handwritten, in a scrawl I know well, and has a London postmark. The other’s official, with the name of a council about a hundred miles away in the logo on the top. I wrote to them recently, or, to be more accurate, I applied for a job with them.
I go into the kitchen. There’s no one else in the house. They’re at work. There are things to be done before I turn to the mail. I put on the kettle and take a cup out of the cupboard. I need coffee to get me moving. I can’t survive without that caffeine rush at moments like this. As I wait for the kettle to boil, I turn on the radio, to see what tunes they’re playing. There’s nothing that interests me so I flick around a little. I stop on a news station. It’s the usual. Unemployment. Firms closing. Rising prices. Financial crises. War. More rumours of war. It’s depressing stuff. I turn it off.
The kettle’s boiled and I make my coffee and sit down at the table. I put the two letters in front of me. which one do I open first? I decide to get the official one out of the way. I tear it open and have a read.
“Thank you for your recent application for the position of administrator. Unfortunately...”
I don’t have to read any further. I know what it’ll say. They appreciated my interest in the job, it was a good application, it was hard choosing who to interview but there were so many applying they had to narrow it down. It might even tell me how many applied. It does. “Over sixty,” it says. I put the letter down. That’s a lot. It doesn’t make it any easier for those of us who didn’t get a look in, though, does it?
So what do I do with the letter now? File it? Get rid of it? I decide on the latter. I was keeping a folder of these when I started my journey down the job-seeking road. There doesn’t seem any point. It would be full by now. I tear the letter up and put it in the bin.
Now, to the other piece of correspondence. As I say, I know this handwriting, it’s become familiar over the last few months. I open the envelope and take it out. It’s on plain white paper and the scrawl looks a little as if a spider’s walked across it after paddling in ink and the lines slope down towards the end, much like mine used to in my exercise books at school. It makes me smile. I know who wrote this. It’s from Miles, my old college buddy. The postmark gave it away, even if the writing didn’t.
He’s in good spirits. There’s no doubt about that. There are no concerns about the lack of jobs, inflation, or rumours of war from this boy. He’s full of news of life in London town. He tells me about some bars he went to in Soho, a super hip club he ended up at one night and the bands he’s been to see. He says there are some good ones around at the moment, playing in Camden and thereabouts, who are going to set the world alight, given half a chance. There are some “hot as hell” jazz bands around as well, who he catches on a Monday night in the same club in Soho that he was telling me about earlier. He makes it sound like a magic carpet ride to hepcat heaven which, knowing Miles, it probably is.
Just as importantly, he exhorts me once again to join him there for a few days. I can take a sleeping bag and crash at his. He’ll take a few days off work and we can explore the capital together. It’ll be just like old times, he says, except in The Smoke. I put down the letter and contemplate. As I’ve said before, the only issue is the money. It always is. There’s my old savings account, I suppose, that has been building up since I was knee-high to a grasshopper. Maybe I need to raid it.
With all that in mind, I fold up the letter and put it back in the envelope. It’s time for some cornflakes and more coffee. While I’m eating, I’ll start the main task of the day, checking the situations vacant column, the “opportunities” in the world of work that we’re always being told about. It’s a mind numbing process but it has to be done, I suppose.
Then I might wander into town; see what’s happening. I’ll have to see how the mood of the day takes me.