24 Feb 2013 – To keep abreast of time… I’m now doing quite a bit of short fiction. You’ll find all the Zach tales here. I hope you enjoy them as much as I’ve enjoyed writing them! Do please leave a comment or two if you so feel… that way I’ll get some idea of how the stories are going down. Thanks.
04 Oct 2012 – I’ve almost forgotten about this page. Only something happening a day or so ago prompted me to retell how job hunting almost became an obsession when I was out of work. Then I recalled this bit of writing… sort of sums it up… how the folk feel who have to suffer the indignation of hunting for the next job…
Pray tell …
What are you looking for…? NO, you don’t seem to understand… I have read the job spec …
A multi-skilled… highly talented… academic, multi-language linguist… yes, most of all… don’t forget the bag full of PhD’s certs and diploma’s… over achieving… almost geriatric multi-tasking superman… and… I don’t really believe you… still in their sprightly twenties?
Well… by my calculations that’s more or less what you’re asking for in this job spec.
May I ask then… when you don’t find that demigod would you possibly consider a mere mortal like myself?
Why all this sh*te… you may well ask? Do you really want to know? Let me try and enlighten you …
I usually end the call with a polite inquiry as too would it be of any use for me to send on a CV …
The reply seems always to be the same …
Send it on… it can do no harm …
As if the thing is diseased ridden and must pass through the sterilizing void of cyber space before it could possible be looked at… I get the distinct impression that the delete button is hit as soon as it appears in the hapless recipient’s inbox …
I’ve now taken to adding a short snippets on every mail attached to the CV… sometimes using a few keywords… other times a bit of humour… to no avail…
Attached please find a copy of my CV for your perusal. I would be interested to chat if you think I could be of use to you for the above and other roles. We are resident in Ireland but I’m willing to do contract/permanent work in Europe/North Africa/ Middle East… I have a valid passport and believe I have sufficient skills and experience, including military aviation, to be able to successfully tackle roles similar to what you have advertised.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
Thanks and regards
Few jobs in Europe… even less in Ireland… many men… many ladies… many ladies… many men. I know, I understand… I don’t want many jobs… all I ask is that you bother to read my CV… BUT… we have a bit of a problem with your CV… sir… where and when did you get your degree? NO DEGREE!! You’ve got to be joking… Only South African credentials… South Africa is not on our accepted candidate list… Why… I don’t know… company policy, I suppose… you know, the EU and all that kind of stuff…
NO, I don’t know… you have to be messing with me… what about the experience and skills… not to mention the variety of the experience?
NO sir, you’re not listening… African credentials’ are of very little worth…
WHAT? Where do I go to get someone who will listen to me for a change?
Frustrated silence… OK, thanks for your ear… I’ll not send on a CV… your agency seems to be slow on picking up on anything that’s slightly out of the norm… another bridge burnt!
Another day another listing … some days I send off up to ten CV’s. Each with a tweaked short few lines, after all, my CV is long enough. I don’t still want to bore them with lengthy cover sheets. OK… I’ll modify my CV to only include my European training and experience… throw away half of my life, I will… to suit you at the agency… I often wonder what the client sees …
Sometimes I try my luck… don’t meet all the requirements… can’t speak the language… still, I try
Attached please find a copy of my CV for your perusal. I cannot speak Portuguese… blah… blah… blah. We are resident in Ireland but I’m willing to do contract/permanent work in Europe/ Africa/ Middle East… I have a valid passport and believe I have sufficient skills and experience to be able to successfully tackle roles similar to what you have advertised.
Sounds familiar… by now you think you have heard it all …
Light bulb moment… target specific sectors of the market… how about the green energy segment… wind turbine manufacturers… sell yourself son… be positive son… add value son. Dammit… I’m past fifty… why should I single-handedly try and re-invent the bloody rotating propulsion mechanism so often spoken of?
Attached please find a copy of my CV for your perusal. I believe I will be able to bring a positive influence and maybe some fresh ideas to your company. I have developed some blade design concepts over the years and have always loved aerodynamics and rotor theory, something that I cannot really convey in my CV. This, coupled with my years of mechanical rotary equipment experience should allow me to add value to your company. As you can see from my CV, I have acquired project/ commissioning/ facilities management skills that can also be of value to your organization.
Some of my aerofoil ideas may potentially result in an improvement in blade efficiency. I believe that wind energy is the future and I would love to be part of that future and maybe even leave a small legacy for the next generation. Your company offers me that opportunity!
I look forward to hearing from you.
Yes… that’s how the mind works these days. The more desperate the situation becomes, the more creative the results. That’s where the inspiration for this bit of observation originates… the ridiculous demands put on the job seeker by the client and the infernal agents!
Supply and demand… there’s now a glut of over educated, over enthusiastic, over sexed, over what-ever’ed mass of social welfare cases looking for Shangri-La. The effing workplace has become the new religion. We worship the prospect of that grand new job. SHIT! I’m desperate… shit… shit! Even Afghanistan will do at this stage …
Ah… stuff the desert, how about the sunny Caribbean. That would be special. Maybe a bit of cricket in the sunshine could creep into the mundane routine of island life… what a pleasure! Dolly up the CV… embellish the cover sheet …
I believe I’m a versatile, flexible, honest, trustworthy, hard-working, fun type individual with many varied interests. Some of these include art, photography and outdoor living… I enjoy preparing and cooking ‘sunshine’ food… on the BBQ! Golf, cricket and the odd bit of fishing would be the main sports of interest pursued by my family. The odd bicycle ride on the dangerous roads in our vicinity is also ventured on.
My varied work experience will testify that I am willing to put my hand to things others may shy away from… now, in these tight economic times, I am using my time constructively and am working on a book project… as well as the odd short story and essay. The paint brushes have come out of hiding… not too much acclaim though!
I love challenges! The prospect of exciting horizons never stops getting me excited!
Dream on… get back to reality… as they say in the classics… calm down to a cup final! You’re not going to the sunny seas… no, don’t even bother with the cruise ships. The better half will have nothing of that. The floating Emporia of carnal, decadent temptation… no chance of me getting on to any of those hedonistic pleasure places… back to the search in less palatable areas of the globe… Ah… Afghanistan… here we go again.
I find a good-looking prospect on a SA website… after some too and fro correspondence the CV is again modified for this role… now I again include the SA details. (PS: I know it makes sense to adapt the CV for every different application… when you’ve sent off hundreds it’s no longer a chore… it’s a vocation!)
Thanks for your feedback and willingness to try and get something going for me… trust me when I say I appreciate your help… there is absolutely nothing happening here in Ireland! The AA thing was one of the reasons why we left SA. Now, after all these years here in Ireland I’m going through much of the same type of thing… I’m not local; my CV seems to get to the bottom of every pile! That’s why I started looking at SA companies again…
I have done a job on the CV as you suggested. My main problem is I don’t really have any proof of completed courses… we lost a lot of documentation in our moves from SA and also here in Ireland. What I do have however, are many names of references in Ireland that can vouch for my honesty and ability in the roles reflected in my CV. I could also try to get hold of SA names but it may take a short while as I’ve more or less lost contact with all my old SAAF mates and bosses!! I have my flying log books as proof of all courses completed and ratings achieved.
I have put as much of my training details on the leader page… I hope it is of use to you (and me) I am confident that I will make a success of the role… I am a proud Saffer and would not like to be an embarrassment to you and your company if you place me!
Further correspondence follows… something vaguely positive in the inbox for a change… at least it seems as if the modified CV has found a potential fan… the CV has been forwarded on to the client’s contact… now all I can do is wait… nervously, excitedly… who would have thought a year or so ago I would have looked forward to setting off to Afghanistan?
Brings to mind the old quip about the art of diplomacy… to have the ability to send someone off to hell and having them looking forward to going!
I asked AJV to revise his CV this morning and he’s sent it back with the covering letter below – great job!! To cut it shorter would not do justice to him and his background.
Nothing for weeks on end… a desperate call to SA… no, sorry, we were not successful… there are many more qualified, younger, more desperate sods that the client can choose from… ah well, we tried…
What next… let’s try and rebuild some of the bridges previously burnt… why not… if you send on one of your new CV versions he may well not recognise who you were…
Please accept my apologies for being so bold as to think that you may even read this mail. I’ve heard via the grapevine that you have helped a good friend of my with a short-term contract in Limerick. I’m taking the liberty of attaching an updated CV if you should possibly feel inclined to have a look. I understand you may be reluctant to even contemplate assisting me as you would rightfully feel I previously wasted your time. I was acting under a little duress at that stage and hope you will consider again having me on your books.
Thanks and regards,
All we can do is hope… and pray… and wish… and keep sending on CV’s until the luck changes… after all… to quote myself…
WE SHALL ENDEAVOUR TO ENDEAVOUR… at all times!
AJ V May 2010
06 May 2012 – As mentioned a little while ago, I’ve been sitting on bits of older writing. The joy I discovered while writing will stay with me for the rest of my life. My writing took its first few tentative steps while I was still working. But… it really got going during the two odd years we were faced with the dilemma of unemployment.
Those were dark days, yet… also happy, joyful times. I was privileged to step out of bed at about 6 or 7 every morning… take a few steps and be at my little desk… writing. Then the reply from the publisher… would I care to send on a full soft copy of the novel? Damn, drat… I was only on about chapter ten…
Four weeks later I sent off the completed manuscript. I had just typed in excess of 60K words in less than a month. I was hooked when the challenge was set the buzz took over. However, there were days when the novel sat still… exhausted. I felt guilty then… I was not producing anything. In other words, I was pulling a blinder on myself. Dossing off… loafing… being lazy, unproductive. Slowly other bits started evolving.
One of the early pieces, totally autobiographical, landed on my solicitor’s desk… that’s how frustrated I’d become because of a business deal gone sour. I’m not ready, yet, to place that essay here… but, I’ll have to start somewhere… so, here I go!
PS – before I go any further… I’ve not yet managed to make a cent from my writing. I live in hope… yet, the therapeutic effect and the absolute thrill of the recognition of my blog buddies and the request to contribute to a few local hard copy editions is almost enough! 😉 God bless, thanks for taking a look!
Paint on Canvas … or Words on Paper??
Believe you me… I can’t paint… believe me some more… I’ve tried… a bit. No brush wants to conform with my irrational muscle spasms. Blending palettes correctly? Funny… colour clashes… no flow, no rhythm… no nothing! Most of all… no effing talent!
Alas… too many restrictions. Or should that be constrictions in my life… my wrist is incapable of holding the brush long enough. Sounds grand… or not so grand… as if the conductor in me cannot get the orchestra off to a mildly workable preamble… life, bloody life!
Mind you… I think I can occasionally sketch something… most often time the limited success occurs within that subliminal zone between the third and fifth pint… of cider that is… don’t do the dark stuff. Yep, you think I’m talking copious amounts of Noddy poo-poo now… don’t you. I am, I promise!
That’s part of the plan, you see… to demonstrate that the written word gives me an outlet… I need one, seeing as the brush has fallen in the gutter. The word gives me strength… better than most of the deft strokes of the masters… you think me mad? Think on… the word can be reproduced… distributed around the world… in dialects unknown to me… and yet, my brush is still in the gutter!
The beauty of the greats is unique, special, priceless… but perishable. Now, do you get the picture? Yes you do… the simple word will outlast the brush’s paint… even the statues will crumble… what of the word though? Reproduced, replicated, multiplied… still the original letters… sentence for sentence… para and chapter… what a marvellous idea!
The word is more profound than the picture!! More cataclysmic than the bomb… more insightful than the bullet… yes… the simple poem disturbs and touches more than the mighty storm! The Book of all books is more alive than ever… yet man has not ever got more than thirty conflicts going at any one time… globally, that is! Even fewer people in space… the word is great… won’t you say?
Where are my paint brushes… the one’s that didn’t make it into gutter? Forgotten… or, more appropriately, exchanged for the keyboard. No… the brushes are still about… some even hidden below the keyboard. They remind me of my failings as a would be Picasso… better still, Van Gogh. He is my man… I think I’ve got a bit of that madness in me… suicidal may be a bit strong though. He was the man! Yet, there are only a finite amounts of his paintings around but still the words about him are spoken and written endlessly… the word is mighty!
I cannot paint but my attempts at doing word pictures may somehow succeed… the mind is such a wonderful thing… conjuring up images of the bearded fellow chopping off his own ear… blood everywhere… the crimson spurts running down his neck… mingling with his already ruddy hair and skin… the startled, wounded look of slightly deranged angst… pain, hurt… anger, depression… genius. Alive… those eyes! They still stare out at us, they still have that madness etched forever in the image… burning their intensity into our souls. Van the Man!
Alliteration, synonym, juxtaposition… lyric, prose, demonstrative adjectives… colloquialisms, irony, hyperbole… there’s magic in the word! Oh yes… when men tire of slaughtering each other the written word tends to settle the differences. Why could these men not have reverted to the word first? Written each other complimentary letters… postal fisticuffs… that way the population would continue it’s unabated expansion in a more harmonious environment! Imagine… the antagonists eventually smothered by a pile of post… simple… no more antagonism!
Images… mental landscapes and portraits… peace and war… all without a single shot being fired! The word is the ultimate stimulus of the mind… gentle flowing streams beneath massive, overhanging wood oaks, beaches, willows and other riverine vegetation. The bluebells glowing almost iridescently in the softened sunlight… there’s a nettle free patch for the man with the easel… or the mischievous lovers intent on the exploration of nature… the anatomy of each other, to be more exact.
No, young lads fishing at the weir… restful casts into the tranquil pool… trout rising… chasing may-fly. I can’t paint these scenes… I can sure try and describe them. My mind races… I’m getting excited at my own ramblings… oh, for that quiet pool… oh, for the peace of it… hope the lovers behind the lane aren’t too noisy… that would bring a little colour to the cheeks…
I sometimes think of the worry and unease, the general malaise of unemployment… the melancholy mood as my rough parallel to the angst of the Van Man… I can’t express my inner turmoil as well as he seemed to on the many canvases he left to the world. My word pictures are my feeble attempt at extricating my inner demons… the peace of that pool beckons strongly… oh, let’s just drift away on the tranquil cloud of words!
DD 17 Jan 2010
13 May 2012 – As my thought turn to a birthday back in SA tomorrow I am again reminded of something I wrote more than 2 years ago. The death of ET… as he was know back in the old country, was one of those strange occasions where varying levels of guilt or relief, anguish or joy… mixed sentiments and emotions were the result…
The man himself was a paradox… he was revered, or hated… depending on who’s opinion you asked. He did a prison term which seemed to have softened his view on things. I do hope he went to his Maker with his supposed reconciliation with reality in tact. So… here’s what his death stirred in me…
Cry… for the Beloved Country
ET is Dead
I can’t help the line ‘Cry the Beloved Country’ going around in my head… well, actually the line has been slightly adapted over time. My version seems to always come out as ‘Cry FOR the Beloved Country!’ I must confess… I never read the Alan Paton classic but we were made acutely aware of the story. After all, growing up in the sixties and seventies in South Africa, a little insignificant white boy from poor and humble roots soon came in contact with the teaching of the day. Make no mistake… I can never place myself on the same elevated platform as Paton but we do have something in common. Like Paton, I grew up strictly religious.
My family moved to the Cape Town area in the early seventies. We belonged to a charismatic multi-national American church that preached respect and equality for all men… what I’m trying to say is that not all white Saffers grew up as racial haters. There were many like us… we could not get the whole apartheid thing. The problem as we saw it was that the opposition political parties were too small and ineffective to stop the practices of the past. I must also point out that many of these policies of segregation were a legacy of colonial era and merely carried on by the Nationalists when they took the country back from the Brits in 1948… that’s the history lesson in a paragraph or two. Just to set the background mood music, so to speak. I’ll get back to what I really have on my mind today…
One of the lead stories on RTE 1 radio news on this Easter Sunday related to the killing of Eugene Terre’Blanche on his farm in rural South Africa. The news reader seemed to stress the following few words… white supremacist leader… somehow this term always seems to crop up. Yes, ET, as we called him, was one of the small minority of people who could not come to grips with change. They wanted to live in their ‘whites only Utopian world’ where the only peace to be had was amongst themselves. Mis-guided and antiquated ideas I agree. You must remember… our forefathers paid for the land with their blood!
What I cannot understand is the prejudice I am faced with in this country. I too am tagged as a white supremacist… just because I am a South African. Yet, the people who label me as such have NEVER set foot in South Africa. They have never lived with the endemic crime, violence and racial hatred propagated by the followers of the current ruling classes.
The fun song amongst a vast portion of the population is ‘one bullet, one farmer!’ I never hear the outside media condemn that line… I never hear the outside media tell of the ongoing farm murders! Maybe the death of this higher profile, rather sad fellow who went by the name of ET may have some positive impact on the same Western community that condemned apartheid so vehemently. I’m hoping his death would not be in vain. I’m hoping it will draw attention to the almost daily slaughter of innocents in that beautiful country.
I’m often asked why we ever left the sunshine and came to Ireland in the first place. I’ll usually say… ‘When opportunity knocks… grasp it with both hands!’ However, the real reason was to get away from the constant fear of violence. There seems little or no future in Africa for the likes of us, the descendants of European ancestry. Why should I subject my family to the never-ending worry of getting mugged, raped, or simply just battered into a pulp by the perpetrators of non-stop hate!
That is what happened to ET on this Easter Sunday… on the same day that the Irish practiced their God-given right to celebrate the 1916 Easter Rising on the steps of the GPO. Remember… the white South Africans are frowned upon when they try and celebrate any of their past achievements. All ET wanted to do was to cling to some of these perceived past ‘glories’… as wrong as they might have been. He and his small band of followers were laughed at by the masses in SA; both black and white… his kind of thinking was generally looked upon with dismay and dismissed as inconsequential. Yet, he believed that the blood of our forefathers paid the price for the land!
Now, if you tell any ethnic grouping on earth that they are wrong to fight for their self-determination you would be stepping on very sensitive toes! It would be like me telling the Republicans in the North to drop their ongoing passion of ridding themselves of the dreaded Union Jack. Much pain and violence has been condoned in the name of that cause. Yet in both cases these are the minority groups within the vast sea of pacifist uniformity.
Is being a white supremacist not much like being a republican antagonist? Are they not both philosophies that should have an ‘Out of Order’ sign hung on them? Can we as humans not learn to move on and forgive? Should one form of suppression be allowed to be superimposed on the previous form as is happening in current South Africa? Racism, in reverse, has been blamed for more atrocities in the last number of years than in the time of the misguided pre-1994 Nationalist era. More murders, rapes, corruption, muggings and theft has been going on in the recent years but somehow the world has turned it’s back on the plight of those victims.
Why was it that everyone on earth condemned the previous regime yet no one bothers to report on the evils of the current administration? While I’m at it… why is Mad Bob allowed to carry on his evil in Zim and the world merely goes ‘tut, tut…such a bad lad!’
Let me tell you how I see it. The nations of the western world were up in arms only when they could not get their hands freely onto the vast natural wealth of Southern Africa… now they have achieved that, by getting rid of the previous masters, by allowing the economies to deteriorate to such an extent that the almost limitless bounty has become dirt cheap and at their easy disposal.
Now the West cares little for the ongoing bloodshed. Black on black… black on white, white on white… call it what you want to.
We can only hope that the killing of ET will help focus the world’s attention on the plight of the thousands of innocent individuals who are butchered each year in the name of the new democracy. At the current rate of extermination in SA there will be no land grab after twenty years like what happened in Zimbabwe. There will be very few farmers left on the land and the ones who have not been killed will have been scared into the nearest towns. The once productive land will then become of little value… no one with any sense will want to be part of this ongoing cycle of violence. This is how the current corrupt regime is dealing with land redistribution… take by force and intimidation that which may not be theirs to take!
Let’s hope the world sits up and takes note of the plight of the South Africans of all races. Turn the farms into dust bowls and the West will have to feed the dependents of another African banana republic! Why will the UN not place embargo’s and sanctions on the murderous so-called democracies of Africa? These same governments that get all these votes to stay in power could surly decree against crime as well… I live in a dream, don’t I?
Is it too much to ask that the West take notice? Has the land not been drenched in enough blood? Must more people die? Of starvation or crime… surely they will die if we do not unite in condemnation of the ongoing misguided philosophies of death! Can the never-ending cycle be broken? Can the death of this somewhat comic figure help to galvanize the attention to the plight of the others who will surely die if we don’t speak up now!
Cry… for the Beloved Country… paradise gone wrong! Here’s to the hope that the same Western pressure that stopped apartheid can stop this violence! Let’s pray that the blood soaked earth will one day welcome the healing and reconciliation that is so long overdue…
DD 04 Apr 10
So long… until next time!