Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Job No. 95 - Supervisor, Children's Zoo

Today, fresh from my application to be a Digital Sun Tzu Strategist - and still pulsing with the art of war - I was, momentarily, tempted by Kareo who were advertising for a Web Development Ninja...

The idea of dressing from head-to-toe in black, of creeping stealthily through the workplace armed only with my wits (oh, and a shedload of throwing stars and a set of double sai) and dealing sudden, painless death to all who dealt in bad css design was not, I figured, altogether a bad one. However, my dreams of ninjadom were struck a mortal blow upon reading the job description; for it seemed that neither stealth nor slaughter were in any way on the agenda. Thus, cursing the inadequacy of some job titles I instead turned my attention to something altogether more interesting - Supervisor of a Children's Zoo.

The concept of a Children's Zoo is, I'm sure you'll agree, a sterling one.

Houston Zoo are to be commended for their forward-looking vision in this regard. After all, in this modern day and age - when there is a worldwide rise in infertility and the current economic crisis is seeing many couples putting off both marriage and having children - it is surely a distinct boon that, at least, couples will be able to visit a zoo and see children in their semi-natural habitat...

I was a little concerned that the job advertisement consistently referred to the children as 'animals' but I am sure this is simply affectionate terminology along the lines of 'let's see how those little animals have got on with their dinner, shall we?' In this light, it is quite understandable and such nicknames only goes to show the, obviously, close bond that exists between staff and children/animals at Houston Zoo.

Of course, I was very curious to find out at what age the children were no longer regarded as such (at a guess, 16?) and what policies Houston Zoo had in this respect; after all, what did they do with the 'animals' when they no longer conformed to the age restrictions of the zoo?

Filled equally with curiosity and all manner of ideas for this pioneering institution, I quickly fired off an application letter:

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing in order to apply for the position of 'Supervisor - Children's Zoo', as advertised on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums website.

I have many years of supervisory experience, albeit in a slightly different field, and feel that my skills and expertise would translate well into your field.

I have a good many ideas about how to improve the standard of the experience for both visitors and the 'animals'. For example, I think visitors would love to see age-themed exhibits so that they can experience the different stages of development; while the youngest ages would likely offer only minimal entertainment, the older the 'animals' become, the more interesting they will be.

Equally, I think it's important to keep abreast of modern technology; integrating modern game consoles into the enclosures could allow for children to enjoy the experience far more and, I'm sure you'll agree, the happiness of the children/animals should be paramount.

Finally, I was curious as to what age limits you impose on the children? At what point do you feel that a child is too old for the children's zoo and needs to migrate to a venue designed for adults? After all, I can only imagine the heartache involved when it comes times to tell a child that they no longer match the zoo's age criteria.

I trust you will give my application serious consideration and look forward to hearing from you shortly.


Oliver Davies.

I am certain that my extensive management skills will be looked upon favourably and, in the not-too-distant future I could be supervising an entire zoo filled with little darlings...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A vague update...

While my workload has, undoubtedly, contributed to the relative sloth I have displayed in updating the blog (and generally unsuitably applying for jobs), I like to think that there is something more to it than that. To which, one might be tempted to cry 'laziness!' but I am certain that it points to a deeper, more philosophical question - a question which has been pondered by all manner of brilliant minds for millennia but which can, perhaps, best be summed up in the words of that well-known philosopher William Bruce Rose (aka Axl Rose) when he said "where do we go now?"

You see, I set out intending to apply for 100 Unsuitable Jobs and now, seemingly centuries later, I have almost scaled that lofty pinnacle. 94 out of the 100 unsuitable jobs have been filled and I'm left to consider exactly what I will do with the blog afterwards...

I could, for example, leave it untouched as a tribute to 100 Unsuitable Jobs and be done with it - but this seems unlikely, since I enjoy writing too much. Another option would be to come up with 100 unsuitable something elses to do - and thus expand upon the original purpose of the blog and take it in a new direction. Yet another possibility is to keep going with the unsuitable job applications, to say to myself 'why stop at 100? Why not 200? 500?'

But the thing is, the closer I edge to the magical number 100, the more I realise that I am going to have to make a decision of some kind (rather than just pushing it to back of my mind and refusing to think about it) and thus, by slowing the pace, I am perhaps subconsciously postponing that day. Or maybe I'm just lazy. Hmm.

Truth is, I'm not sure what I'm going to do yet. But I have a feeling that it will be difficult to resist the urge to blog on in some fashion or other...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Job No 94. - Digital Sun Tzu Strategist

After spending a, not inconsiderable, amount of time away from my pursuit of 100 Unsuitable Jobs, I was lured back into the fray at the thought of applying to be a Senior Enterprise Security Architect - after all, who wouldn't want to work for the United Federation of Planets, exploring strange new worlds and boldly going where no man has gone before, etc.?

However, it then occurred to me that, amid the high wages and impressive job title, there just had to be some kind of catch. And, sure enough, there was. You see, as I mentally drew up my application letter, it dawned upon me that 'Senior Enterprise Security Architect' is just a fancy way of dressing up the title of 'Security Officer' and, as any self respecting Star Trek fan will tell you, the role of Security Officer automatically reduces one's average lifespan by about forty years...

Thus, suitably determined not to be eviscerated, frozen, eaten, immolated, crushed, molecularly disrupted, strangled, suffocated, decompressed, poisoned, rapidly aged, vaporised, crystallised or merely having my component atoms scattered across subspace in a bizarre transporter accident, I decided to instead turn my attention to the altogether less dangerous profession of Digital Sun Tzu Strategist.

Now, at this point, you may well be asking yourself what exactly a Digital Sun Tzu Strategist is and what a Digital Sun Tzu Strategist does but, the truth is, the job advertisement is very vague in this respect (merely referring to online media research and healthcare). However, I believe this is a tactic merely to dissuade those who are not suited to the role. After all, was it not Sun Tzu himself who said:

"Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent's fate."

Yes, this was obviously a strategy to deter the uninitiated from applying for a position for which they possessed neither the tactical awareness nor the iron-fisted leadership skills that are necessary. I decided that only a finely crafted application letter that subtly highlighted my in-depth knowledge of both Sun Tzu and his seminal Art of War would be enough to impress them...

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing to apply for the position of Digital Sun Tzu Strategist, as advertised on The Guardian website. I believe that I possess the full set of skills, and pertinent knowledge, required for this role.

You ask that candidates possesses an entrepreneurial spirit and I indeed possess this for unhappy is the fate of one who tries to win his battles and succeed in his attacks without cultivating the spirit of enterprise.

You ask for good communication and negotiating skills and I too value these, for the difficulty of tactical maneuvering consists in turning the devious into the direct, and misfortune into gain.

Equally I, like your organisation, pride myself on a team-player philosophy and ensure that I retain staff confidence and morale through developing strong relationships; it can be seen that if you regard your soldiers as your children, they will follow you into the deepest valleys; look upon them as your own beloved sons, and they will stand by you even unto death.

I trust you will give my application serious consideration and, may I end this application letter with one, final, point - can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.


Oliver Davies.

Now, since I did such a sterling job of blending in the teachings of Sun Tzu with my own thoughts, I decided that I should really highlight his contribution to my application letter. I cannot see how this approach can fail to have the desired result and am certain that, before too long, I will be demonstrating 'supreme art of war' in an online healthcare medium near you...

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Job No. 93 - Rock Star Executive Assistant

Being a Liverpool fan, I was very tempted to make an application for the currently vacant manager position. However, what with Liverpool having failed to get into the Champions League, the two American owners apparently trying to milk the club for all its worth, little sign of a transfer budget and numerous players sounding like they might fancy a move away from Anfield, I decided that the climate probably wasn't right for my first move into Premiership management. Also, because I'm not entirely convinced that Hicks and Gillett wouldn't hire me, simply to save money...

So, with my football management career on hold, I turned instead to the pages of and found a particularly intriguing vacancy awaited me there - Rock Star Executive Assistant.

This appealed to me because, contrary to my initial expectations, it is not a job in which you are an executive assistant to a Rock Star. After all, while being an assistant to a Rock Star might have been vaguely fun, how could it ever compare to being assistant to Stephen Hawking?

So, I was very pleased to find out that they were looking for an executive assistant who was a rock star. This, I thought, was a superb opportunity - I don't need to do a whole lot about my general appearance (long hair, check; dark glasses; check; black shirts; check) and just need to work on my rock star behaviour to impress them.

The job description mentioned that this was not a position for "the faint of heart - it requires determination, long hours..."

Delving into the excesses of rock's yesteryears, it quickly became apparent that a career as a Rock Star certainly wasn't for the faint of heart - and that long hours of partying, while binging on a cocktail of alcohol and drugs (ably supported by an endless supply of groupies), was very much the order of the day. During my research I stumbled across a number of examples of Rock Star behaviour that I was sure would set me in good stead with my potential employers; from driving cars into swimming pools to throwing TV's out of the window of hotels, from setting fire to guitars to biting the head off bats. It seemed that the best way to impress them would be with my ability to show utter dedication to the rock star lifestyle...

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing in order to apply for the position of Rock Star Executive Assistant, as advertised on

I believe that I would be an ideal fit for your organisation; I have no problems with either drugs or alcohol and am enthused about the opportunity to work long hours in this type of environment.

I possess a full, clean driving license and am adept at parking in even the most difficult situations; am in good physical condition (and thus capable of lifting heavy objects, such as - for example - television sets) and, additionally, am not particularly fussy with regard to any form of mammalian snacks.

I look forward to hearing from you shortly and becoming a Rock Star on your team.


Oliver Davies.

I have a good feeling about this one. I'm now going to nip out and stock up on razors, straws and animal tranquillisers so I'm fully prepared when they call me in for the interview...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Eurovision 2010 - The Morning After...

In comparison to last year, Eurovision 2010 started quite slowly...

After all, the fact that the hosts didn't try and sing and generally did their best to minimise the 'fake improvisation', meant that rules 2, 3 and 4 were only rarely touched upon. Throw in the fact that hardly anyone in the room mentioned Terry Wogan and the, frankly conspicuous, absence of Pete Waterman being mentioned and I was concerned the drinking may not be able to fully get going...

My theory, by the way, on Pete Waterman is that he realised what a turgid, mid-1980s song - perhaps taken from a selection turned down by Rick Astley in his heyday for being too cheesy - he had delivered and, like a used car trader selling you an utter lemon, decided to leg it before anyone else realised what they had taken delivery of...

However, with a range of songs that borrowed from previous entries, a selection of moustaches and leather clothing (not to mention Serbia's entry which clearly fell foul of rule 8), my early concerns were soon replaced by a realisation that if the judging was as ethnically, geographically and/or politically biased as last year (thus tripping the dreaded rule 20) then I may have to drink even more alcohol than I had imagined...

And then, it happened.

The judging. And suddenly, all my concerns about rule 20, paled into insignificance as the sleeping threat of rule 19 revealed itself. No one was voting for the UK. No one. Round after round of juries voted and not one of the buggers gave even a single point to Josh (who I actually felt quite sorry for - he ended up being given a turkey of a song and his backing had the production value of a primary school nativity play). Cue a chorus of "Royaume-Uni? Nil point!" - cue another sip of vodka (aquavit all long gone by this stage). Cue an impossible to catch slide into drunken oblivion...

Definitely some rules changes coming for next year's inevitable revision (you'll just have to wait and see). Hope everyone who played enjoyed themselves and I sincerely apologise for the current pain you may be experiencing...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Job No. 92 - Operational Officer

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, Operational Officer? Really? Operational Officer??

After all, Operational Officer sounds like a rather dull job that would involve considerable stapling and possibly the use of spreadsheets - it's surely a job nowhere near as exciting as, for example, being a part-time Antelope Keeper, a Sock Designer or a Psychic Medium...

But you'd be wrong. Oh so very wrong. So wrong, that if you went any further, you'd be right (see my earlier circular theories).

You see, Operational Officer is actually the politically correct, dressed up for the 21st Century, term for a James Bond. Yes, that's I have applied to be a member of that sterling British establishment, MI6.

Back in Bond's heyday, a military career was an obvious requirement for such a job but times have clearly changed. Now you don't need to be able to shoot a perfect 600 in the 25 metre rapid-fire-pistol range - instead you just need a 2.2 degree and strong awareness of global politics. Which, on one hand, is rather disappointing but - on the other - suddenly opens the door to people like me (who only score 592 on a good day...).

Now, having watched plenty of Bond films (and even worked on a James Bond videogame) I felt that I knew what MI6 would be really looking for - someone with the ability to play world class poker, the desire and skill to drive fast cars to the very limit, their own pair of speedos and an irresistibly magnetic effect on women (particularly of the Eastern European persuasion).

So...just my poker skills to work on then...

The website was pretty clear that I shouldn't talk to anyone about the fact that I was applying but I figured that they wouldn't have a problem with me blogging about it - after all, this is a typical spy ruse. Here I am blogging about applying to MI6 - who, therefore, would ever believe that they would hire me? Ha - and thus I am able to hide in plain sight! I'm sure they'll be impressed by my reasoning...

But, before I could go out and order my Tom Ford suit and Omega watch, I needed to craft an application letter that would have MI6 scrabbling to hire me before I was snapped up by a less reputable agency such as the CIA...

Dear Sir/Madam

For Your Eyes Only

I am writing in order to apply for the position of Operational Officer, as advertised in both the Guardian and on your website.

I possess an MA and a strong awareness of Global Politics. Above and beyond that, I have a good knowledge of a wide variety of card games, possess a full clean UK driving license, own several pairs of swimming trunks and have a basic grounding in the essentials of a variety of Eastern European languages (certainly, enough to allow for meaningful interaction with foreign operatives).

I look forward to hearing from you soon...


Oliver Davies.

Based upon that, I am fairly confident that MI6 will waste little time in calling me in for a more detailed assessment and, before you know it, I'll be slapped on a plane to an isolated tropical island where an ex-Soviet General, now transvestite Voodoo priestess, is camping it up in an underground layer, guarded by giant piranhas (equipped with lasers)...

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Job No. 91 - Bad Debt Collector

I have a theory relating to films, a theory that first coalesced around about the time that I first watched Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus. The theory holds that the relationship between a good film and a bad film is entirely circular; which is to say that a film can be so bad that it comes all the way back round to being good.

Pah, you say (or some similar utterance), I've had that theory for years! But wait, there's more...

You see, because the relationship is circular it means that, if you watch a film that is truly, deeply, utterly, mind-numbingly and soul-destroyingly bad (please, watch Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus in its entirety so you truly understand) then not only does it come all the way round to being good but it keeps going - until it has come all the way back round to being bad again.

Now, you may be asking yourself why, I am making reference to this fascinating cinematic theory (which, even now people are likely scribbling down and trying to turn into a PhD). Well, the answer is simple - the circular theory, as I realised today, can also be applied to the relationship between suitable and unsuitable jobs.

Which is why, tempting as it may be, I cannot apply for the position of Gay Travel Guru, as advertised on

So, instead, I have today turned my attentions to a job which, initially, I thought would be a cinch for me since it required that I be completely inept - Bad Debt Collector in La Porte, Indiana. After all, it's not often that you find a job in which they are actively looking for people who are bad at their job (with the possible exception of politics, in which it appears to be a prerequisite) so I was quick to begin crafting my application letter.

Until a worrying thought crept into my head. What if they didn't want a bad debt collector but, instead, wanted a bad debt collector? A quick visit to an online dictionary and I was left in a quandary - were they looking for someone who would fail to achieve an adequate standard in their debt collection, or someone who would carry out their duties in an evil and sinful manner?

Choices, choices.

So, I decided to play it safe and, after a quick watch of Pulp Fiction, crafted a letter that would hint at my ability to seamlessly adapt to either interpretation:

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing with reference to the position of Bad Debt Collector, as advertised on

While I am not formally trained in the noble art of debt collection I have the sense (from your job advertisement) that this may not necessarily be a negative and, indeed, could be a positive. I feel that I could attain the very nadir of your expectations and fulfil the demands of the role.

I appreciate that the path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men and, thus, I feel that the position of Bad Debt Collector would be a perfect opportunity to strike down, with great vengeance and furious anger, those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers.

I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.



Now, I just have to sit back and wait. I have a feeling this could be the one; unless, that is, they want me to lay my vengeance upon them...

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Oliver's Eurovision Drinking Game 2010

Well, it's that time of year again and, after the sterling success of my Eurovision drinking game last year (and the vague hangover that followed), I decided that I should really follow up with a revised version of the game which can be played while watching the BBC coverage of the 2010 Eurovision Song Contest. As before, some of the rules are slightly UK-centric so, if you intend to play this in another country, just ignore rules 1, 5 and 19 and knock back three shots before you get started.

Now, a word of warning; this game is based upon the consumption of strong alcohol. I cannot, therefore, be held responsible for your health (or lack of) if you stringently follow the rules of my game and drink yourself into oblivion. Play this game at your own risk…

1. A shot glass for every person playing (probably best to have a couple of spares in case people get excited).

2. For true authenticity you need several bottles of Akevitt or Aquavit (a favoured Norwegian spirit made from potatoes and carraway seeds) but, assuming your local Tesco has failed to replenish its Akevitt supplies, I would recommend a decent vodka. If in doubt go with Stolichnaya...

The rules are very simple. You take a sip of Aquavit (or vodka) if:

1) Pete Waterman is mentioned. Drink an entire shot if the camera picks him out in the audience.

2) Either of the hosts attempts to sing.

3) Either host pretends to be surprised at something said or done by the other in a clearly well rehearsed piece of improvisation.

4) Either of the hosts loses track of their autocue.

5) Anyone sitting in the room with you mentions Terry Wogan. Drink an entire shot if someone says something along the lines of ‘It’s not the same without Terry Wogan’ - he's been gone for two years people! Deal with it!

6) The video shown before an act contains shots of people in traditional costumes. Drink two shots if anyone is seen doing the traditional Norwegian Halling dance. And, yes, I know it looks eerily similar to some of the scenes from Monty Python's Silly Walk sketch...

7) You see an elk. Drink an entire shot if it’s a person dressed in an elk costume.

8) You aren’t entirely sure whether the singer is man who looks like a woman, or a woman who looks like a man.

9) A country is represented by a singer from somewhere else in the world.

10) The act involves people on stage banging large drums or industrial objects acting as large drums.

11) An item of clothing is removed on stage. Drink an entire shot if it is removed by someone else.

12) The act is bald. Drink an entire shot if they are also female.

13) The act possesses a large moustache.

14) The act is dressed in leather. Drink an entire shot if they are dressed in leather and have a large moustache.

15) If you hear a language used other than that of the nation who is singing (i.e French singing in a song by Malta). One sip per language. If in doubt, take a sip.

16) You recognise the song immediately as being a blatant rip off of a previous winner of Eurovision.

17) The song is an ode to world peace. Drink three shots immediately if there are any children on stage at any time during the song.

18) Every time there is an awkward silence and/or miscommunication between the hosts and the people reading out the votes. Drink an entire shot if the votes get mixed up.

19) Every time you hear "Royaume-Uni? Nil point!"

20) Every time a country gives top marks to someone for geographic, political or ethnic reasons. Drink an entire shot if they give them to Russia because they’re worried they won’t get any gas next Winter otherwise.

21) If there is any alcohol left once the show is finished and you’re physically capable of coordinating the movement of alcohol from the bottle to your mouth.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Job No. 90 - Catastrophe Modeler Manager

Unsuitable job applications occasionally feel like buses in the UK; you wait around for ages to catch sight of one, then two turn up at the same time...

And, while most days I have no problems in sorting the wheat from the chaff and deciding which job is for me (and which gets consigned to a brief mention in the intro), today was one of those days in which I was forced, much like Solomon, to make a nearly impossible decision.

I mean, how does one choose between a Cloud Architect and a Catastrophe Modeler Manager?

On the one hand, being a Cloud Architect would give me the freedom to really let loose my artistic sensibilities; on the other, being a Catastrophe Modeler would allow me to relive all those childhood lego-based memories (and be paid for it...).

Decisions, decisions.

But, in giving it more thought, I decided that Cloud Architect was probably not for me. Not only am I less than fond of heights (which I assume are a given in this line of work) but clouds are such temporary things - imagine fashioning a cloud to resemble the Taj Mahal, only to watch the wind drift and twist it into a caricature of Ricky Gervais before anyone else got a chance to appreciate it?

So, with my decision made, I turned instead to the heady world of catastrophe modelling...

Now, while I am certain that in this modern day and age people do most of their catastrophe modelling on computers, I wanted to impress Pryor Associates and show them that I could also, as they say, kick it old skool. Thus, despite feeling a little under the weather, I decided to put together a showcase of my catastrophe modelling capabilities...

Step 1. I needed somewhere for your catastrophe to happen. So, armed only with a pizza box, a pair of scissors and a plentiful supply of sellotape I set to work. Some time later, the following miniature metropolitan modelling masterpiece was installed in the middle of the living room:

Step 2. I needed a catastrophe.

I considered simulating a tornado, but decided it was far too clichéd. A towering inferno was tempting, but I was worried it might get out of hand on a wooden floor and turn from a modelled into a fully blown catastrophe. Tsunami ruled out for similar reasons (besides, who has ever heard of a tsunami striking in these conditions?). No, if I was to impress with my catastrophe it needed to be something different. Something unique. Something that would make it impossible not to hire me...

With such a strong calling card, I felt this job was already in the bag so I drafted a brief covering letter:

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing to apply for the position of Catastrophe Modeling Manager, as advertised on

Although I am not directly experienced in Catastrophe Modelling, I have a keen interest in the area and - as well as being familiar with current technologies - am fully versed in the work of greats such as Ray Harryhausen. I feel that given opportunity I can deliver the modelling you need...



Now I just have to sit back and wait. It will, quite frankly, be a disaster if I don't get this...

Monday, March 01, 2010

Job No 89 - Update

I would like to make it absolutely clear that no Lulus were harmed in making my application to be a zoo performer...

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Job No. 89 - Zoo Performer

I began the day hankering for adventure; which is why the position of Space Planning Manager was so very appealing to me. After all, since I've already applied to be a Country Director and a Global Team Leader, it was only natural that I should want to aim a little higher - and you can get much higher than outer space...

I've felt that Space is rather badly planned - I mean, big fat clusters of stars all stuck in one place while there's acres (or should that be light acres?) of space in between in which very little is going on at all. Not only that but, I'm sure you'll agree, this whole elliptical orbit thing gets rather tedious after a while - perhaps, therefore, it would be more fun to throw in a couple of triangular orbits here and there just to spice things up a bit? Gravity tends to be a little bit too predictable for my liking and my first action as Space Planning Manager would be to do something about this and make the Universe a far more entertaining place. You see (to paraphrase Mr. Brent), I like to think of myself not just as a Space Planning Manager but as a chilled out entertainer...

However, upon reading the job description more fully, it appeared that the job was less focused on Universe scale problems than it was on furniture, which dampened my ardour faster than a liquid nitrogen shower.

But, no sooner had my hopes been cruelly dashed, then I stumbled upon a job that left my interest so piqued that I had to check it for bruising - I mean, who could possibly pass up the opportunity to be a Performer within the Animals on Safari show at Columbus Zoo?

Now this was surely the adventure I had been hankering for - a chance to perform with wild and exotic animals and an opportunity to demonstrate the daredevil lion taming routines I had played through in my head a million times. Of course, I must confess to feeling a little nervous at the prospect of chancing death on a daily basis - with only my razor sharp reflexes saving me from the attentions of razor sharp teeth...

Therefore, I was slightly relieved to find that the Animals on Safari show features "cats, dogs and even rats and pigs" - which I am certain are altogether less fearsome denizens of the jungle. Taming a pig, for example, is likely to be a tad more forgiving than staring down a quarter of a ton of slobbering lion...

The application asked for a cover letter, a resume and a photo - so I decided that I needed to impress them with the photo. I needed a photo that clearly showed off that I could handle myself in the rough-and-tumble world of animal handling. Without a big cat of any kind to hand, I decided that I needed to call upon the services of Lulu, my Pekingese, to help me show off my considerable taming abilities...

With my nerves in tatters after my dangerous shoot, and with my photographic evidence safely taken care of, I decided all that was needed was for me to fashion an application letter that I was certain would capture my enthusiasm:

Dear Andrea

I would like to apply for the position of 'Performer' as advertised on the Association of Zoos and Aquariums website.

I am confident that I fulfil all the physical requirements of the role and - while I have previously considered animal performance with more exotic, and dangerous, animals I have done my utmost to prepare for a role in the Animals on Safari show by spending extensive time taming a white Pekingese (please see attached photographic evidence).

I very much have my heart set on the world of animal performance, and I am hoping you will see that - despite my slight lack of experience - I am the perfect candidate for this position.

I look forward to a positive response from you in the near future.



Now I just have sit back and wait for the call of the wild...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A job update...

Having applied for a few jobs recently, I thought it only prudent to give you an update on some of the - very encouraging - feedback I've been receiving of late from my applications. Although I've not yet managed to snare that, as yet, elusive unsuitable job I think you will see - based upon their feedback - that I am coming very close each time...

My application to be a designer of Men's Bottoms came perilously close to success but, after some deliberation, they said: "Upon review of your resume, we have determined that your qualifications do not identify you as the most eligible candidate for this position."

Meanwhile, it appears I won't get a chance to stretch my sea legs (for the time being); I think perhaps they were worried that I was a little overqualified: "Unfortunately at this time, I do not have a suitable vacancy meeting your experience and expertise."

While my efforts to join the magic circle were halted, like a Balrog on a bridge, at the first attempt despite how much I obviously impressed them: "Although you have excellent experience, unfortunately it does not match the critera set by my client."

But, I received considerably more success in my application to be a chair...

The initial feedback was extremely positive - while there wasn't, currently, a centre in my area to be chair of they made it clear that they saw my potential "we would be very interested in rectifying this if the right individual was to volunteer to set something up. Would this be something that you might be interested in?"

However, I was a little perturbed by their failure to appreciate my concerns about the strains of supporting a couple at the same time "Regarding your question about supporting couples, I am not a practitioner and so am not really qualified to answer. However I don’t think it’s about being ‘safe’..."

Obviously, I was still interested, so I followed up my initial enquiry:

Hi Mary

Thank you for your response. The idea of establishing a new centre, for which I could be the chair, is obviously appealing - but there is always the concern that it would be a great deal to support on my own.

With regard, to my question of safety - I suppose I am just concerned about the pressure of two couples at once. I believe there may be upcoming Health and Safety legislation that will address this area.



Their response disturbed me, not only were they "not aware of upcoming H&S legislation" but they obviously expected that - during the course of my employment - I would need to bulk up to ensure I had the physical strength to be up to the task: "our counsellors are obviously trained to deal with couples."

I'm currently weighing up whether I'm prepared to undergo such a radical regime...

Sunday, February 21, 2010

A snippet from my novel in progress...

Chapter 1

Wednesday, 18th June, 1873

I awoke, for the second time, on Wednesday morning with a sore toe.

I raised my head a fraction from the pillow and squinted in the direction of the window, where the pale grey light of a London morning was nervously creeping into the room and a distinctive pitter-patter of rain was spattering against the glass pane.

My toe throbbed painfully and so, gingerly, I poked my foot out from beneath the layered blankets in order to examine the extent of the injury. My initial impression was that my big toe looked altogether too big for my liking; this was an impression reinforced by the way in which it throbbed painfully when I made even the most tentative attempts at flexing it.

The end of a piece of white string was looped loosely around my toe and led out of the bed, across the dusty floorboards and, from there, up to the handle of my bedroom door where the opposing end of the afore mentioned string was similarly attached. I must admit, I was toying with the notion that tying my big toe to the bedroom door had not, on the face of it, been one of my better ideas.

I lay back on the pillow and blinked tiredly up at the ceiling; mulling that, if it weren’t for the fact that I had tied my big toe to the door this would be the first time I woke on Wednesday morning. Although, equally, if it weren’t for the fact that I had tied my big toe to the door I would have likely awoken to find that the scant few possessions I could still count as my own had mysteriously disappeared in much the same way as had my pocket watch, my silver comb, my best pair of shoes, two good white shirts, a pair of black socks and my only pair of cufflinks.

Ever since I had taken up lodgings with the, quite frankly fearsome, Mrs Avery it appeared that my belongings had developed a life of their own. In my previous occupancy, if I were to leave a shirt in a drawer then I could be quite confident that it would still be there waiting for me when I got back. Now, however, it seemed that my belongings had developed the desire to wander.

“Forgetfulness,” scowled Mrs Avery, when I nervously broached the idea of installing a lock on my bedroom door the day before. “I think you’ll find that you are just forgetful, Mr. Beckworth.”

Since Mrs Avery stood at least four inches taller than me and had the build of a navvy (with an armful of tattoos to match) I simply bobbed my head in agreement and assured her that I had certainly not even given consideration to the idea that one of my fellow lodgers could have been responsible for my missing items.

At this Mrs Avery had scowled even more harshly, her huge face reddening and her already large eyes almost popping from her head, and I was forced to quickly revise my statement in order to convince her that I fully accepted her explanation that the other three gentlemen in the house were not lodgers, but were merely occasional guests.

Indeed, I had swallowed Mrs Avery’s lie about this with little hesitation when I came to view the property at 312 Chandler Street ten days earlier; my writing work with the newspapers had been increasingly short in supply since the Travers Incident and I desperately needed to find somewhere cheaper to live than my current flat. Mrs Avery had explained that I was to be her only lodger, although I must be prepared for the fact that Mr Douglas, a close family friend (who kept himself to himself), sometimes had need of a room while Mr. Murphy, a banker no less, would sometimes stay when he was in town to conduct his business.

I communicated that this seemed certainly to be agreeable; after all I surely would not wish to stand in the way of either guests or the occasional professional visitor. Mrs Avery had beamed a crooked smile at me and then, as if the fact had completely failed to cross her mind beforehand, belatedly remembered that Mr. Winters, a legal gentleman, also had an agreement to use a room, usually no more than one night in a fortnight.

This all seemed perfectly acceptable to me; a friend, a banker and a legal gentlemen who, in total, seemed to spend no more than a few nights per month in the property surely would not be a problem and the price for lodgings was far lower than anything else I had been able to find in the City.

On my first night in my new lodgings it transpired that, as luck would have it, Mr. Douglas was also going to be staying; and while I cannot vouch for the fact that he is a close family friend, I can vouch for the fact that he is an extremely poor singer when drunk, although what he lacks in musicality he attempts to make up for with both stamina and volume.

Suitably exhausted the next morning I laboured down to the kitchen and prepared myself a plate of morning vittles from the meagre supplies on offer; it was there that I encountered a thick set man with a flat nose, cauliflower ears and a crop of short grey hair entering the property through the back door.

I, of course, introduced myself as the lodger of the property and was a little surprised to find in return that I was meeting Mr. Murphy, the gentleman that Mrs Avery had described as a banker. Now, while I would not, by any means, consider myself an expert in the clothing styles of banking professionals, I must confess that I had never before encountered a banker who wears moleskin trousers, scuffed hobnail boots and a shirt with sleeves rolled up to the elbow, exposing forearms like slabs of meat. Nor had I ever before met a banker who carried a, clearly well used, black leather sap with him to work.

Mr Murphy indicated that he was returning from a hard night’s work and proceeded to sit down in the place I had set myself at the kitchen table and began to eat the food which I had just spent time preparing for myself. Perhaps it was the presence of the leather sap dangling from his belt, perhaps it was his beady black eyes that held all the emotion of a dead fish, but there was something about Mr. Murphy that persuaded me to allow him to tuck into my breakfast without registering a single complaint.

Our conversation that morning was brief, and mainly one sided, but I was able to determine that that Mr. Murphy had what would be considered a tenuous connection to the banking profession; namely that he collected outstanding debts for a local money lender by the name of O’Riley.

More than a little appalled by the motley crew who were currently sharing a house with me (and indeed who seemed to be far more consistent visitors than I had been initially informed) I was lucky enough to be out of the house for the first four days of my stay and, despite the garbled singing of Mr. Douglas at night and the propensity of Mr. Murphy to eat my food at his convenience, I began to think that, perhaps, I could manage to adjust to my housemates. Unfortunately, that was before the arrival of Mr. Winters.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Job No. 88 - Organizational Wizard

I like to think that the design skills I have (lovingly) nurtured within the game industry over the years are perfectly capable of translating into other industries (hence my forays into the world of Men's Bottoms, Socks and Lingerie). Thus, for a few brief moments, I was tempted to spread my design wings and take flight for the job offered by M.C. Dean who were looking for a Fire Alarm Designer...

But, the more that I thought about it, the more I became troubled as to whether the job would offer me enough challenge. After all, from what I can tell, fire alarms are pretty much the same the world over - a button (or buttons) that when pressed causes an alarm to ring. This, therefore, seems to limit the amount of creativity offered by the position - and, while I did consider transplanting successful video game elements into fire alarms (for example, you need to do a double-tap to make it work or perhaps a four button system in which you have to hit the right combo to activate the alarm) I just wasn't sure that the world of fire alarms was quite ready for such a radical paradigm shift.

Perhaps, in time, people will look back at this blog and see it as the catalyst for a wholesale change in the methodology of fire alarms; fire alarms that are more challenging (thus creating a far greater use of the risk/reward mechanism) and altogether more entertaining (albeit with a slightly higher casualty rate). At this time, it's likely that I will be given the due credit I deserve as a lone prophetic voice in an age of hideously dull fire alarm systems...

Fortunately, the feeling of disappointment did not last long as I stumbled across an advert on the Guardian Jobs site for an Organizational Wizard.

I felt eminently qualified for this position; I have managed a wide range of projects (thus demonstrating my organisational qualities) and have also (in order to satisfy their wizardry related demands) watched all four episodes of Breaking the Magician's Code, reread the first chapter of Harry Potter as well as having a good listen to some Paul Dukas...

At first, I wasn't quite whether I needed to be a wizard who organised things, or an organised wizard (damn you semantics!) but a quick read through of the job description left me in no doubt that they needed magical assistance in the areas of organisation; after all, the job required that, amongst other duties, I would be "managing diaries, producing reports...organising meetings and generally providing a first class support service".

Managing diaries and producing reports are tasks that, in normal circumstances, can tax mere mortals but obviously would be a cinch to an organizational wizard with an auto-answer quill, while a broad range of organisational issues could be quickly and easily solved with a Time Turner or something similar. Feeling confident that (despite my current lack of magical training) I could manage to bluff my way through my employment through the purchasing of various enchanted objects (and swot up on Latin in my spare time), I quickly typed out a cover letter:

Dear Kara

I wish to apply for the position of Organizational Wizard, as advertised on the Guardian Jobs website (ref. GDKG040989).

While not directly experienced in this area, I have carried out considerable research and believe that I could satisfy your organisational demands. I have a good knowledge of Latin, am a quick learner and am amenable to any and all dress codes that may be required for the position.

If you have any questions or queries, please don't hesitate to contact me. I look forward to hearing from you in the near future.



Having sent the letter I did have a momentary pang of doubt as to whether the use of email (as opposed to owl) would have been something of a giveaway but figured it's too late to worry about that. Now I just have to find Diagon Alley on Google maps...

Monday, February 01, 2010

Grandma's Cheese Pudding (aka when cookery goes bad)

In a change to our scheduled service, today I need to share with you my experience of attempting to cook a meal for my wife's birthday. By the end of my (sorry) tale, I am certain that you will be in agreement that any job involving food preparation is about as unsuitable as it gets for me...

Our story begins when, having been asked by my wife what we were going to be eating on her birthday, I foolishly blurted out something along the lines of 'I'll cook something special for you...'

Now, I'm not entirely sure where those words came from (my current working theory is that, for the briefest of moments, I was possessed by the spirit of Keith Floyd) but I regretted them as soon as they came out of my mouth. You see, I just knew that my traditional speciality of beans on toast just wasn't going to cut it for birthday celebrations.

And thus, on the day of the afore mentioned birthday, while my wife was at work I threw myself into the task of scouring the internet for good recipes - with my only guidance being a request for a 'cheese based dish'.

So, when I stumbled upon the recipe for Grandma's Cheese Pudding, I figured I was onto a winner. Not only was it cheese based (check!) but it was also (in my opinion) well within the scope of even my, hopelessly limited, culinary capabilities. It said you needed a 2.8 litre dish to make it but, since I didn't have one this big, I made the executive decision to simply halve all the ingredients.

A quick dash to the shops later and I had got all of the ingredients save for breadcrumbs. My supermarket doesn't sell breadcrumbs - and, apparently, just breaking up some pieces of bread (in a similar method used to feed ducks) doesn't count. So I sought advice and, after some crust slicing, oven baking and grating, I had a plate full of breadcrumbs. Of course, not having any scales I had to estimate how many I had but I figured there must surely be enough and moved onto grating cheese (which also went, I must say, swimmingly).

Perhaps I wasn't so bad at this cookery thing as I thought. Which was obviously the point at which the spirit of Keith Floyd decided he was no longer needed and drifted back to whence he came, leaving me in charge of bringing the milk to the boil and mixing it in with my ingredients.

One litre of boiling milk later, I pour it over my breadcrumbs and stir in my cheese, only to find that I have a very watery (well, actually milky) gloopy mess. Even to my untrained eyes, this looks very wrong indeed. I recheck the recipe. Bugger. I have halved all the ingredients except milk. There is now twice as much milk as I need mixed in with my breadcrumbs and cheese.

At this point - with only an hour or so until my wife got home (expecting Grandma's Cheese Pudding - I'd made the rookie mistake of telling her what I was cooking) panic set in. I tried to pour milk out through a strainer but I'd made it in such a big bowl that I was losing as much of the breadcrumbs and cheese as milk. So, after using a ladle to rid myself of some of the excess milk, I decided that time was pressing too much and that I needed to get it in the oven pronto.

Grandma's Cheese Pudding is in the oven. Twenty minutes tick by. Wife arrives home. It smells nice (check!). We sit down and I position myself in a chair so that I can surreptitiously keep an eye on the dish in the oven; only to see that it is growing at a not inconsiderable rate. The mixture is rising like a cumulus nimbus cloud. I'm not sure it's meant to do this. I keep my wife's attention focused in the opposite direction. It's really starting to get big now. I begin to worry it will grow too big for the oven at its current rate of growth. The story of the magic porridge pot stirred uncomfortably at the back of my mind...

But then, with a ping, it was ready. I breathed a small sigh of relief and went to get it out.

Only for the cumulus nimbus to slowly deflate, leaving behind a yellowish mixture that I discovered wobbled like a jelly. Feeling fairly certain this was not meant to be the case, I made my excuses and slipped it back in the oven for another ten minutes. At which point it was browning quite a bit at the edges but still wobbling like a jelly in the middle. Well, it's as near as dammit, I thought and prepared to serve it up for dinner.

Which was the point that I discovered that, instead of cooking Grandma's Cheese Pudding (which sounds impressive, you must admit) I had actually spent all afternoon - and nearly an hour of cooking time - creating an oven omelette.

Too much milk, too little breadcrumbs = an oven cheese omelette, and not a particularly good omelette at that (although I'd never before considered the possibility of cooking an omelette in the oven). So, after all my slaving and panicking, I served my wife two slices of birthday omelette and swore that I would never, ever, be so foolish as to think I can cook again...

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Job No. 87 - Staff Captain

For the briefest of moments today I considered taking up Booz Allen Hamilton's frighteningly interesting offer of being a Nuclear Survivability Analyst.

But, upon more careful consideration, I realised that this was a career that could expose me to terrible dangers. I mean, do they think I'm stupid? Do they not realise I have read The Incredible Hulk? One minute you're a Nuclear Survivability Analyst, shoved out on the test range to be exposed to a top secret Gamma Bomb, the next you're bursting out of your clothes (apart from in the rude places, which is rather handy) and transforming into a large, rather angry, green man. And since I have too few clothes as it is in my wardrobe, I decided to give Nuclear Survivability a wide berth...

Instead, I decided that perhaps, after a life trying to deny the fact, a sailor's life was for me...

You see, V. Hospitality were looking for a Staff Captain to serve on one of their European Cruise Liners. Admittedly, they were looking for a German speaking Staff Captain but I figured that I could always brush up my German skills (gained while I was 14, studying German for a year and missing at least half the classes) between now and the interview. I'll simply re-watch a few old WWII films and, before you know it, I'll be 'Schweinhund'-ing and 'Gott in Himmler'-ing with the best of them...

With the language barrier smoothly dealt with, I was pleased to see that, while previous passenger vessel experience was appreciated it was by no means essential. Now all that remained was to find out exactly what a Staff Captain does...

After a bit of googling, I stumbled across this interview with a Staff Captain which confirmed to me that - not only do you get to wear a natty uniform - but that being a Staff Captain is a ridiculously easy job; at sea, the Staff Captain is responsible for making sure that "the ship is going the right speed in the right direction..."

I once had a go with a remote controlled speed boat, and there was one time that I rowed a boat (although, saying that, we did lose one of the oars and spend most of our allotted time rowing in circles trying to get it back). Surely keeping a 60,000 ton cruise liner pointed in the right direction was going to be pretty much the same (as long as they didn't try to baffle me with all this port and starboard nonsense)?

Confident in my abilities, I was ready to fire off an application letter that extolled my, numerous, virtues - only to find that the application process was handled through a series of online forms. Surely, I thought to myself, such a sterile, mechanical process couldn't serve to distinguish the flotsam from the jetsam - so, I decided I needed to make sure that my application stood out. Fortunately, it was possible to include a photo of oneself on your job profile so - with a bit of the digital wizardry that so nearly got me job as a photo editor - I spruced myself up maritime-styley and, before you could say, "Iceberg, right ahead!" I was ready to set sail as a Staff Captain...

So, I think it's only a matter of time before I'll be saying Auf Weidersehen to you land lubbers and setting sail to live the wild life of a sailor. Arr matey!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Job No.86 - Associate Designer, Men's Bottoms

A vague perusal of the jobs available at New Scientist turned up the not entirely interesting, yet certainly lucrative, role of Ice Sheet Research Scientist which is paid up to $140,000 (in Australian dollars). As far as I could ascertain, the Ice Sheet Research Scientist spends his, or her, time watching the 'dynamic processes in the Antarctic Ice Sheet' - which seems to me to be the scientific equivalent of watching paint dry. I tried to imagine how my journal would look:

Day 1. Went out and looked at the ice. It wasn't doing much today.
Day 2. Ice still there. Quite cold. Looks pretty much the same as yesterday.
Day 3. Ice hasn't really changed. The ice sheet not quite as dynamic as I had hoped.
Day 4. You'll never guess what I looked at today. That's right. Ice.
Day 5. I spy with my little eye, something beginning with I...

I decided that, by Day 6, I would already be inventing mysteriously appearing chasms and alien corpses entombed in the ice sheet - basically, anything to relieve the endless monotony of staring at a big chunk of unmoving ice. Which was enough to convince me that I was probably not cut out for life in the Antarctic wilderness...

Thankfully, Phillips-Van Heusen (owners of a gazillion brands including Calvin Klein) had a rearly interesting position available - Associate Designer, Men's Bottoms. Now this, I thought to myself, was something I could really sink my teeth into.

With my extensive game design experience, I was certain that it would not be a huge leap to the business of designing bottoms (at the very least, I was sure that I wouldn't make a complete arse of myself); the same core principles would undoubtedly apply whether you're designing the perfect first-person shooter or the perfect posterior...

Understanding your audience is, I think, key - there's no point designing a range of athletic, taut buttocks (capable of cracking a walnut with ease) if your audience is largely composed of elderly males whose sedentary lifestyle is likely to require an altogether more padded and ergonomically designed bottom.

I also think it's important to try and think out of the box and try to innovate - to think where the combination of technology and man-made buttocks could take us. So, taking a leaf out of the manufacturers of La-Z-Boy recliners, I thought it might be useful to consider a range of innovations (taking bottoms to the next level, so to speak) such as built-in massage functionality, heating systems (for those cold mornings sat on a leather couch) and even - perhaps through clever use of motion sensing sensors - the use of buttocks as a wireless control device (moving your bottom acts to move the cursor on the screen, twitch the left buttock to left click, etc.). I was certain PVH would be intrigued by my fresh approach:

Dear Sir/Madam

I wish to apply for the position of Associate Designer - Men's Bottoms, as advertised within the New York Times.

I have an extensive background in design - and am thoroughly versed in software such as Adobe Photoshop. I also believe that I could bring a fresh approach to the designing of men's bottoms.

My previous experience has taught me the value of understanding your customer and of ensuring that you innovate - and I have a number of cutting-edge design ideas that are all about the interface of modern technology and men's bottoms.

I think that I could help you produce something rearly special...



Now I just have to sit and wait, hoping my application won't become the butt of jokes and that PVH will write back to invite me to join them in men's bottoms...

Friday, January 08, 2010

Job No. 85 - Centre Chair

While sifting the job related wheat from the chaff this morning, I was pleased to find that the trend of employing soulless automatons (see Job No. 80) is not one that has permeated all areas of the business world. Alstom Power Inc. have clearly decided to buck the trend and are looking to adopt a more touchy-feely approach with their advert for a Tender Manager.

Tenderness is, I feel, very much an underrated management style; too often managers are expected to be hard-edged, dynamic and generally authoritarian. Alstom have obviously realised that there is also room for the more caring, empathic manager in the power industry.

I can just imagine this in action...

Bob comes into my office to tell me that the Wind Turbine needed to supply power to a small city isn't finished because he's been too busy updating his facebook page. No worries Bob, I say, you take your time - and why not take the rest of the day off while you're at it? After all, it must have quite stressful to have to come and tell me this...

I think I would make an excellent Tender Manager. And that is, perhaps, why I veered away from it today; frankly, I think I'm just a little bit too suitable.

Instead, I decided upon on altogether more sedentary occupation, in the shape of Centre Chair with Marriage Care. While never having previously considered applying to be a piece of furniture, after having eaten far too much over Christmas I feel that I am likely almost as comfy as a Chesterfield at this moment in time...

I have to say, I think this is an inspired idea on the part of Marriage Care, I am certain led by the current economic climate. After all, if everyone were to employ people as chairs then I am sure that the world's unemployment problems would be solved quite quickly.

The only aspect of the job that I was slightly troubled by was the fact that I have to "support couples". I think this is a bit unfair (not to mention a possible violation of Health and Safety) and so I wanted to broach this subject in my application letter:

Dear Mary

I am writing in order to apply for the position of Centre Chair, as advertised on the Guardian Jobs website.

While not formally experienced in the area, I believe that this something I am naturally suited for and I would not only bring boundless enthusiasm for the role, but also be capable of providing appropriate levels of comfort.

I was curious as to your position on the issue of supporting couples; I tend to believe that it is generally safer to deal with each individual in turn (although this depends upon the size of the problem).

I look forward to hearing from you soon.



So, if you're currently experiencing marital problems, don't worry - I could be supporting you very soon (cushions not inclusive and provided at an extra charge).