Rich Girl

You’re a rich girl, and you’ve gone too far

‘Cause you know it don’t matter anyway

You can rely on the old man’s money

You can rely on the old man’s money

It’s a bitch, girl, but it’s gone too far

‘Cause you know it don’t matter anyway

Say money, money won’t get you too far

Get you too far

Had this song in my head all day. What a bop. Keep humming it to myself as I eat porridge oats and stare at my monstrously low bank balance on my laptop. I got another job rejection today – another! There have been many. It’s a garbage market for writers at the moment. Silicon Valley dorks have artificially intelligenced my sector into submission, and now for every job there’s minimum 300 applicants. Nuts!

I’ve had loads of interviews recently. Not been successful yet, but I’ve done myself proud regardless. Well – mostly. I interviewed for a company that made apps for care homes a couple of weeks ago. They gave me a mammoth task, in which I had to create a whole-ass marketing strategy for their company. I spent a solid week on it, tinkering away at it in between regular English lessons. I shunned food, I shunned sleep. I’m a hard worker these days. Who’d have thunk! My high school art teacher would be aghast.

I went so far as to pop an ADHD pill one day in the hopes of blitzing it all. I don’t take them anymore because my local GP won’t let me get them cheap on the NHS (some red tape thing, I dunno), so I need to pay £90 a month for my little ‘work harder’ tablets and well, fuck that. Robbing Peter to pay Paul. I have four pills left in a little container on my desk, and I told myself I’d save them for a concentration emergency – such as this.

Here’s the thing about drugs though: you get a tolerance to them, and when you stop taking them for a month, that tolerance disappears. My emergency tablets are higher strength than you’re meant to start on; I’d slowly worked my way up the dosage. So, naturally, when I took the damn thing it sent me west like a missile. Not been that mashed since my days stumbling around Berlin dancefloors.

I lost a whole day to being off my tits and gurning around my house like a nutter. I got no work done beyond a few insane ramblings typed aggressively into a Google Doc:

 branding??? Marketize (check if real word). Prepare present – work good (definite choice). Reality – social media! Entrepreneur 🙂

Even then, I didn’t give up: I slept (eventually) and woke up the next day, maybe a little comedown-y but basically fine, and I cracked on again – and whoosh, three days of graft later and I’d slammed together the best presentation I’ve made in my whole damn life. My brother Charlie helped me design it, it looked fucking dope (I’ve decided to start saying dope).

The morning of the big interview came. The salary was twice – twice! – any salary I’ve ever had before, and I was nervous, quietly confident and prepped to the eyeballs. I was forensic with it: I ate precisely five spoonfuls of porridge for breakfast, washed down with one medium-sized coffee. I had my outfit washed and ironed and laid out waiting for me. Crisp white shirt. Aftershave (three sprays). Shoes buffed. Beard trimmed back and allowed to grow out for one day so as to appear fresh but not too fresh. Four A4 pages of notes jotted out in a pad. Fully inked pen. Upbeat Spotify playlist. I’m telling you now: I could not have been more ready.

The interview was 10am, the place was a 30 minute train ride away across London. I set off at 8.20am, giving myself a bonus hour, just in case. And then – ah, cock it all, and then.

I got stuck behind a slow lady with a hemorrhoid gait walking up the stairs to the train platform. I could have hopped around her, but I didn’t want to jostle her and appear rude. Instead I plodded up after her, painfully slowly, making it out onto the platform just in time to see my train closing its doors and shooting off.

Fifteen minutes to the next one: okay, fine. I had time.

I stood and listened to music and tried to maintain the feeling of momentum I’d left the house with ten minutes ago.

You’re a rich girl, and you’ve gone too far

‘Cause you know it don’t matter anyway

The next train arrived, at last, and by now the empty platform had filled back up with commuters clad in grey. The train doors opened to reveal a great sweaty mass of suited and skirted asses – wall to wall human misery. A few seasoned Londoners on the platform were faster than me: without a pause they wrestled their way onto the packed train, slithering in among the forest of limbs and suitcases, rendering it even more horrifyingly dense. I just stood and stared, appalled. There would have been no way on without shoving someone, pressing my nose right up in an old man’s armpit. I’m not a city boy, alright! I like big fields, man. Big fields! I like to breathe air that hasn’t come straight out of other people’s mouths!

I hesitated, and it cost me: the train closed its doors and moved off, leaving me alone once again on the platform.

I coughed an angry cough, put my sunglasses on, and leant against a plant pot. Fifteen minutes passed. I text my family, venting my frustration. But it would be fine: plenty of time still. I’d allowed for these sorts of shenanigans.

The train arrived, and this time I’d positioned myself right at the far end of the platform, where the crowds were likely to be thinner. It was busy, I couldn’t get a seat (or even a rail to hold on to) but I got on. Okay, I thought – here goes.

You can rely on the old man’s money

You can rely on the old man’s money!

We made it two stops to Elephant and Castle, and then the train stopped dead. They do this sometimes; it’s fine. They have to wait for other trains to get out of the way and whatnot. But ten minutes passed, then twenty, and we still hadn’t moved. I checked the remaining journey time on my phone. If the train began moving now, right now, I could make it on time. Then ‘now’ passed, and finally ‘now’ was ten minutes ago. I messaged my family group chat incoherently:

fukcin train not moving what the bocloks is happening why always me Christ furious london can SUCK IT why why why

I’m not certain – nobody aboard the train had an ECG – but I’m reasonably sure I experienced several successive heart attacks during this period. I’d actually felt quite cool when I first got on: black denim jacket, sunglasses, notepad. I imagined myself looking rather dashing; businesslike, but not burned out and stressed like everyone else. A dapper young man going places – a capable youth, a creative maverick. Well, shit. By the time the train pulled into Blackfriars I was ready to stress-cry and punt the nearest animal and/or small child into the Thames.

I powerwalked across the station to the Underground – you know that walk you do when you’re desperately late but really don’t want to run, and after thirty seconds it burns your calves and it would literally be less arduous just to break into a jog, but you doggedly refuse because it’s somehow more dignified to march in howling lactic-acid po-faced muscle agony – and boarded the District Line one stop to the west.

I got off – can’t remember where – and checked the map. I had one kilometre to walk, the meeting was due to start in nine minutes, and I was, according to Google, 17 minutes away. I powerwalked a bit more and managed to cut a minute off the time, but then I got stopped by a red light. If cartoons were real and it was possible for a man’s ears to emit steam, the other commuters around me wouldn’t have been able to see a thing for fog.

I realised there was only one thing for it: I was going to have to run. An Arctic Monkeys song came on in my headphones at this point: The View From the Afternoon. And at this point I just need to say: what do you want from me, universe? Why cock up my intricately planned Big Meeting, which is objectively very mean, but then give me a super cool running song to motivate me? What is this love-hate relationship we have? Can you just chill?

So yes, I ran through central London at 9:55am. I had to duck under umbrellas, weave through rich-man business cohorts, and leap through the gaps between newspaper stands. It didn’t help that I’d chosen to wear heavy Timberland boots for the interview; that’s what I get for trying to look cool. With each foot weighed down by a solid kilo of expensive boot, I huffed across roads and alleys, screeching to a halt to avoid slamming into the side of cars with tinted windows. While checking my phone for a time update, I saw my friend Sam had messaged me:

Good luck today mate! 👍

Maintaining my pace and dodging prams and zimmerframes, I fired him a voice note back:

“It’s (wheezing, thudding footsteps) not going (car horn, screeching tyres) particularly (distant furious cries of ‘wanker’) well.”

I made it into the building at 10:02am, red as a beet, sweat beading on my forehead and trickling down into my eyes.

I blurted ‘hello’ at the girl on reception, and she led me to the lifts and pressed the button for me. The lift took its sweet old time to descend, and at 10:06am I was seated in a dark, hot board room with two men I’d never seen before, plus a giant projected face of a woman I’d never seen before working remotely from somewhere in the world.

“Morning Dan. So – let’s crack on with your presentation then.”

It actually went surprisingly well, all things considered, until they’d exhausted all their questions and it came to my turn to ask a few. I went through the normal things – what’s the team structure, what’s onboarding like, what’s the current strategy etc – and then I asked my final question:

“Do you have any concerns about my application? If so, I’d like to address them while I’m here in the room with you.”


The boss man leant back in his chair and looked at me.

“To be honest Dan, I’ve been thinking recently that all this writing stuff, articles, blogs, all of that, might not be the best way to advertise our company. I’d like to move more into video, or maybe podcasts. What do you think?”

Well, arse.

Bearing in mind that I’m a writer and the job was advertised as a writing job for a writer who writes, this was a bit of a wet fish to the face. I answered as best I could – explained that yes, I suppose I could do filmmaking, and yes, I had a little experience with editing podcast scripts – but blegh. There are some questions you simply cannot prepare for.

I left the interview feeling exhausted and, if I’m honest, a little bit cheated. But on the way home I walked along the Thames, a bit of blue showing through the clouds, sunbeams glinting off skyscrapers, black cabs swishing past, statues standing in green parks, and I thought: ah, this isn’t so bad. It’s not easy at the moment, but for some reason I don’t feel too down about it. I just have this sense that good things are coming – though what form they’re gonna take, I can’t say. All I know is that I’ve got a family and a friendship group who love me and are rooting for me. That really helps.

I’m gonna finish my book and I’m gonna keep teaching, and I’m going to build something remarkable, little by little. Just you watch.

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