Friday, 11 February 2011

Signing on...

Just an old photograph, but I can’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be today. I’d love to walk along that beach, sand between my toes, just as the sun was setting again.

Antigua – another great holiday from far too long ago.

I signed on this morning. First time in my life. The JobCentre was a much nicer place than I’d expected – open plan, light, airy, very clean, quiet. The woman that saw to me was very helpful and professional; guiding me through the mass of paperwork I needed to sign; ensuring that I was aware of the contract I was making with them. ‘Are you actively looking for work?’ ‘Have you a CV?’ ‘You realise that you need to keep a record of your job applications and bring this along with you every fortnight.’ Fair enough. It’s no hardship to do these things and they aren’t asking for anything unreasonable.

Meanwhile only a few hours away the sea laps at the white sand of a palm strewn beach and the sun beats down on an azure blue sea.

Back in my car, parked in the grey, drizzled, side road, I look at the form detailing my attendance arrangements - Box 5 / 1st floor / cycle D, every Wednesday at 9.25. No worries, I quite enjoy routine - and it won’t be for long.

I love the feel of the warm water around my feet as I walk along the edge of the gently breaking waves. Small fish dart amongst the coral beneath the crystal clear water – red, blue, orange, yellow. A local man in a snorkel emerges from the sea with a harpoon. Large colourful, silver- red, fish hang from a rope belt tied around his waist. He smiles and asks if I want to buy some fish. Of course I do and pick two. Red Snapper. ‘Just grill them in a pan with some butter and garlic man. There’s no better taste to be had on the island.’

He was right, the fish tasted good. Fresh and firm and flavoured with the garlic and butter.

I wonder what fish he caught today?

Every two weeks.

I'm lucky.


  1. Colin Tickle commented on Facebook.

    "Glad you had a positive experience. I only had one time where the bad side of jobcentre came out... some guy who they had said they weren't going to pay, you know the stereotype? He was it. Shouting screaming, escorted to the door and threatening the staff that he had a meat cleaver in his sock. Thankfully it went no further and the police had a word further down the street. As you say, signing on and keeping records of your applications is no big deal and be glad you're finally getting a little of your tax back. P.S. stop reminiscing about old holidays and get a new one booked... somewhere far away and hot."

  2. In reality if you appear a responsible adult willing to work you just need to tell them what you have done. It cuts down on the time you spend at their desk. I found them very pleasant. Luckily I only went about three times. But it won't be the last time. Come the school summer holidays...

  3. Well done AKH, keep a positive outlook and it will all soon be behind you.
    BTW congrats to you Colin; how's it going Ian?

  4. Tricia Kitt commented on Facebook
    "I hated it - signed on out of principle, but couldn't bear it after only a few visits and gave up..."

  5. Phil Morgan commented on Facebook:
    Another post I can connect to.