Sunday, 28 June 2009

The Manual

There's this bit on The KLF's seminal 1987 book, The Manual, about (as I remember it) how every band, every pop group, has the opportunity to be the biggest act in the world, the most successful band ever, to have a number one. It's up to the manager to make this happen, the band is only as successful as the manager has enabled them to be.

Imagine Michael Jackson without Berry Gordy... it wouldn't have happened.

This half-remembered glimmer of an ideology has been a heavy millstone round my neck for years, decades even. In Glasgow trying my damnedest to get people to love the bands I managed, to make it happen, and knowing that if it failed, that was due to me as the manager, not polishing the turd enough. (Here, this video is from when we beat Glasvegas, who are almost topping the bill at Glastonbury now)

The net result is this huge guilt I feel for failures that are beyond my control. I didn't try hard enough, I did something wrong, I made some mistake. Its my fault.

In a couple of blogs this weekend has been opinion on the Telegraph's piece about benefits payments now being greater than income tax receipts

I am one of the great mass of unemployed people, claiming benefits. I was made redundant at the start of December. It wasn't long before I was persuaded to believe that after a decade or so of paying National Insurance, that claiming benefits, was just claiming back my own money, not in anyway being a parasite, but in the same way that when I crash my car, my insurance policy which I've paid for for months, will pay for repairs.

But that was six months ago, and I'm still unemployed now.

I'm looking for work. Sometimes I get really stressed about it, it gets to 4am on a Sunday night and I'm still plugging away on, the JCP website, Charity Jobs, Monster, Morgan Hunt, Office Angels and a dozen other websites.

I'm doing something wrong, not trying hard enough, I've made some mistake, somewhere.

I have a degree, 4 A-levels and 12 GCSEs (B and above), I can pick up foreign languages quickly, I've got French and Russian, I can just about program in Python, and write PHP and SQL and set up MySQL servers, and know all about web-analytics, I have a natural ability with computer creativity and productivity software, Word, Excel, OpenOffice, Photoshop, Indesign, Premier, Audition, I'm great at drawing and knitting, and driving and cooking, and typing and I have a really high threshold for boredom, I can run 10k in less than an hour, I know first aid, I can swim, and canoe and this one time I walked 40 miles in a day, I can deliver speeches to hundreds of people, I love drawing graphs and spreadsheets, I've been to well over four hundred gigs and concerts, my hearing is so finely tuned I can tell if your supertweeter is out of phase and I know how to fix it. I can stand on stage and play guitar. I'm willing to commute or relocate for work.

But somehow I'm unemployable. I am responsible for the UK's benefits payments now being greater than income tax receipts.

I can see reasons. We're in the middle of a recession where hundreds of people are losing their jobs, being made redundant. As I've shown previously, there aren't as many job vacancies now as there were last year or the year before, back since I finished university, and what jobs there are are going straight to people more employable. For every job I apply for I can imagine that the other CVs on the pile are folk with actual qualifications and experience or better experience in that job than me.

It all feels like whinging, like that bit in American Psycho where Patrick Bateman finds the tramp in an alleyway.


I've tracked down the paragraph in The Manual
Only YOU can make each decision along the way. Don’t look for others to make them for you. If something goes wrong remember you are the only one who is ultimately responsible.
Damn, I think I read too much into it.


  1. If it makes you feel any better I'm unemployed as well - and for longer.

    I left London a couple of months back and returned to my native New Zealand.

    I can say being unemployed in London is definitely sexier than being unemployed in Auckland.

    At least we have the net in this recession. What people did all day before about 1995 when they were unemployed I don't know.

    You will also be able to tell your grandkids when they are doing school projects that you were laid off in the '2008 Great Depression'. It will be something to talk about.

  2. Scroll down to 13th May. At least someone likes one of the bands you managed.