Thursday 21st August

I’m sure things are going to turn out OK whatever happens, but the thing is I don’t know what they’re going to look like. I want to know exactly where I will be in January, and I can’t possibly know. I don’t suppose I am the only person who wants to know, everyone has been talking about it in the office all week. We are really in a strange position, all of us in the department, being made to wait for answers like this. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of resentment at the mass redundancy, in fact most people seem to want to be set free, they’re just waiting for December when the fact is that most of us will be out of a job by then.

I am ambivalent at the moment. On Monday I was infuriated by it all: I thought I’d made a mistake in putting myself up for one of the new jobs, when I could have taken the redundancy money and run. Now I am not sure what the best outcome will be. If I get made redundant I can go to France and spend a month immersing myself in the language and culture, however I will have to come back in February and put myself through the job hunt again. If I get one of the new jobs then I won’t be able to live the dream in France for a month, but I’ll have a secure permanent job again and it won’t be anything like the previous job.

The weekend provided a brief distraction when P brought me to a free local jazz festival. It was pretty amazing; thousands of people had gathered in what used to be a derelict wasteland and I couldn’t stop thinking about what it would have been like on a Saturday night in the 80’s. Cold, dark, lifeless, probably quite dangerous. In 2014 it appears to have been designated as the home of culture in this part of London. For a few hours we danced to motown hits from a 60’s and 70’s cover band who had the talent thing nailed. I hadn’t expected to have so much fun, especially two days before my unwanted return to work. Coming home there was a distinct end of holidays feeling to it all, though, which was probably inevitable. Like when you’re ten and you’re coming back from the beach on a Sunday afternoon with buckets and spades in hand, miserable because in a few hours mum will be getting you up to go to school. Everyone on the train looks sad, even the ticket inspector. The sun’s going down and you can’t help but think about how the next time you see it you’ll be back to normality.

I can’t complain about having to go back to work because it’s paying for me to do all these wonderful things with my life. But I do wish it weren’t so easy to predict what I was going back to. All week I have been fighting to clear a backlog of crap that inevitably built up while I was away. Now that I know I’ll only be doing it for a few more months it’s almost worse because they are finally solving the problem by moving it to Eastern Europe, where they can employ more people to deal with it, years after they should have solved it. All this time I’ve spent fighting this never-ending backlog of crap, not knowing what the point is, and now the end is in sight and all I can think about is how badly I want it to be December. Forget embracing the moment, I just want to race ahead to Christmas now. I can’t wait any longer. All of which of course makes it harder to do the job in hand. If the end weren’t in sight I’d just be carrying on like a robot, but as it is I know it’s almost over and I can’t help counting the minutes, none of us can.

I guess I enjoyed my job for the first year or so, when I seemed to know what I was doing and why I was doing it for the first time in my life. I was acquiring some useful knowledge and I was helping people. For the past four years there is no denying I’ve been growing slowly sick of it. Sick of the thanklessness, sick of the invisibility. You have to admit it’s an odd position for someone to be in. I am currently about as sick of my job as anyone can be, and now it’s ending, thank fuck, this couldn’t have happened at a better time. Whether I like it or not I’m going to have be ready for change in 2015, and I’m almost certain that I am ready now.

I mean who’d have ever thought it would be possible for me to spend a month in France? Who’d have thought I wouldn’t feel overcome with panic at the thought of leaving my job? Sure, when I first found out the news on holiday there were a few moments of terror, that’s the natural reaction to news like this I guess. This week I think I’m at peace with the idea of being out of work at the beginning of next year, not just because I’ll have a nice redundancy payoff to support me if it does happen, but because I will have freedom to essentially do whatever I want. That’s the thing about life today, I have many choices that I didn’t use to have. Aren’t I lucky?

*****

I was certainly lucky last night, when I was visited at 11.30pm by the handsome manager of my local gay pub. We had been surreptitiously exchanging dirty pictures on whatsapp all week – I’d been doing a rather fine job of concealing my phone at work, I have to say – and getting so excited by it all that a meeting was surely inevitable. Getting in the way of me feeling 100% confident about the meeting was the fact that I’d had a huge crush on this guy all year. Even up to the point where he was standing outside my door, I couldn’t entirely believe that he was interested in me. The moments leading up to his arrival outside were almost frantic. I had to tidy my room, pretty myself up and make myself smell nice – I couldn’t bear to be a disappointment. I was as terrified of the thought of penetrative sex and of being expected to orgasm as I’ve ever been, yet I wanted the guy so bad I was willing to ignore those possibilities and open the door to him. I simply couldn’t turn my nose up at such an opportunity. For the first time I saw that life was for the living, and so I threw myself into the moment, even in spite of the profound fears that were threatening to overwhelm me.

I’d had to wait up for him because he couldn’t get away from the pub until after closing time. It’s clearly going to be an obstacle if I end up seeing him again. Last night I was more than happy to wait up, probably because it was the first time and I was incapable of going to sleep anyway, I felt as if I was in a weird waking dream as the hours went on. When I opened the door he looked as gorgeous as always, and here he was following me up the stairs, coming into my room, sitting on my bed, letting me take his clothes off. What made it endearing was how shy he clearly was: he could hardly speak. I gathered I wasn’t the only one who rarely did this sort of thing. He wanted me to turn the light off and I obliged, disappointed for only a few seconds until I realised that it was going to be even more exciting and playful in the dark.

For two hours I came alive; it was quite beautiful. I couldn’t really see his face but, thanks to my imagination, I didn’t need to. I knew I was with the most stunningly gorgeous man I’d ever spent the night with. His body was not one bit disappointing. We remained sensible and didn’t go all the way last night, which is probably a good thing. At 1am we were finished; with some effort I managed to climax, something I’m never sure if I will or not, well thank God I did because it was getting late and I knew he wanted to and I also knew that he would want me to reciprocate it. All men do. I’ve been with very few men who’ve been willing to let me get away with not showing that I enjoyed myself. In bed, with a man there is really only one way to prove that you enjoyed yourself. Saying it isn’t enough: you have to emit bodily fluid at the very least. I did it, and I think I could only do it because I was still so in awe of him and I wasn’t tired at all. When he was gone I laid down and tried to get to sleep, knowing I only had five hours before I had to be up for work, and I couldn’t sleep. I was up replaying the night’s event’s until 3am.

Today to begin with I was still riding on the crest of a wave of excitement about it all. As the hours passed, a small nagging voice in me grew louder, reminding me that I hadn’t had a text message from him thanking me for last night. At 10am I became sick of the anticipation and the growing sadness and so I messaged him, thanking him. Did I need to do it? Probably not. As I was writing the message I knew there was a possibility that I might ruin the dream of what had happened. And what had happened was so wonderful it probably couldn’t be repeated – it was like a glorious film that you only get to see once, never again because the charm is in the novelty and the newness of it – it didn’t need to be repeated. It was clear to me before we even met that we were not going to start dating, that this was not going to be a relationship of the type I’ve been trying to have with J. Which is why I didn’t feel guilty about it – there was always a strong chance I’d never see this guy again and for once I could definitely live with that. I had an amazing time, and I needed to savour those precious moments when I was laying in his arms, and I did.

He replied quickly, agreeing that he’d also had a great time. Phew, I thought. When he left at 1am I had no idea if he’d liked it as much as I did. Apparently he liked it so much he was willing to arrange another meeting, though of course he doesn’t know when it will be possible because of the pub.

I still don’t feel guilty. J and I continue to date without a contract, and even if we had committed to exclusivity I still don’t think I’d feel bad about giving myself to someone else. It’s not that I want to be a slut, I simply can’t bring myself to experience negative feelings over this experience. There’s nothing negative there. It was wonderful, and that’s all there is to it. I am a fully grown sexual being, capable of attracting men that I want to be with – ten years ago I’d have killed to be able to say such a thing. The best thing is that I’m not weeping over the possibility of not seeing – again. If it doesn’t happen again with him it will happen with someone else. And I’m still seeing J. This isn’t me being big headed, I’m just basking in the knowledge that I don’t have to be a dried up celibate old crust any more.

Monday 18th August

Home sweet home! With so much to think about mid last week I was significantly less upset about being home from holiday than I normally am. Even though the weather was awful here when I got back, I was sort of glad to be back in familiar surroundings, where I’d be able to get a proper night’s sleep. With nothing planned for the remainder of my summer break at home, I simply sat down, went to Netflix and began enjoying back to back episodes of RuPaul’s Drag Race. It had been recommended to me by numerous friends, and now felt like the perfect time to sit back and relish in the campy fabulousness. I ended up doing almost nothing else all weekend. It felt fucking amazing.

On Friday J seemed keen to meet up, so I journeyed over to his place for the very first time. He’d tidied up for my benefit. We had some Chinese takeaway and watched Mrs Doubtfire, before settling into a night of fumbling and kissing. I won’t say it wasn’t lovely, but I don’t know, it just felt like there was something missing. Like I wasn’t really that into him any more. I think it’s that thing where you’ve got used to somebody and the magic spark isn’t quite the same as it was on the first date. I gave the night my best shot anyway, because I like J’s personality and I really don’t want to be the type of person who quits things any more.

I can’t help feeling bad about it, I mean I liked him so much before and I put so much effort into not fucking this up, didn’t I? And all that time I spent worrying and obsessing over him in the beginning – when’s he going to text me? tell me now! – what was that for?

Whilst I’ve been continuing with J I have been somewhat naughty, engaging in heavy Grindr flirting with the manager of the local gay pub who I’ve fancied for AGES. His name is – and every time I’ve seen him I have felt like swooning. He is gorgeous – utterly, utterly my type. He seems very keen, I must say. Dirty pictures have been exchanged, along with numerous saucy messages that can only lead me to conclude that a hot time will be had at some point in the near future.

I don’t see myself as cheating on J just yet, because we haven’t declared ourselves as exclusive yet (and it doesn’t look like J is going to be ready to say anything on the matter for a long while.) What I’m officially doing is keeping my options open. I’ve fancied this new guy for months and I don’t see the harm in having a bit of fun with him. I am not expecting it to develop into a serious relationship. For the first time in maybe years, I can know what I’m getting myself into and not want anything more out of it.

If J at some point opens his mouth and actually tells me that he likes me then maybe I’ll give up Grindr and all its hotties. I won’t need to keep my options open anymore then, will I, because he’ll have finally done what I’ve been waiting months for him to do. Is it spiteful of me to tacitly play the field in the meantime, act as if he means nothing to me? I don’t bloody know. I’m so unused to all the attention, I can hardly say no to any of it.

*****

Back to work today, where a number of very interesting conversations were to be had. I must admit I was looking forward to finding out how everyone else felt about the redundancy news. Like me, most of my colleagues were experiencing a mixture of emotions on the subject. Some want to leave now, some are sad, some are angry, some are delighted. R was predictably magnanimous about the whole thing, saying this will give him the opportunity do move on and do what he wants in life. Someone said they might take some time off and use the redundancy pay out to go on a big fuck off cruise. It got me thinking. I don’t exactly want to jump on a cruise, but I could technically go to Paris for a month, and come back with change to spare.

The more I thought about it, the more it seemed like a brilliant idea. Which is why when I got home this evening I put it through a sense check by speaking to P and J, two friends who I knew would have lots of counter-arguments to the idea. I try not to just go on my instincts any more, and I think it was a good idea to speak to them.

Sure, if I am made redundant then I will be able to afford to jump on a train on the 1st January 2015 and spend a month or two in France. But what will I do when I get back? I’ll be jobless and running out of money, fast. I’ll only have a few months left before I’ve spent all of my redundancy pay and I have to go back home to live with mum. It seems a long time, but you can be sure it will go quickly once it comes around.

J seemed even more against the idea than P. I get the impression he doesn’t like Paris much. He’s always saying how unsafe and over-expensive it’s become. I tried to take his caution on board, but tonight I just can’t. The idea is too wildly exciting to just dismiss. Come on, what if I actually get to spend a month in Paris? Wouldn’t be a strange and wonderful adventure? Challenging yes, but, having spent some time in Paris, I think I know a little about the place and I think I could get by. I’ll come back with better language skills, exactly the thing I want, and I’ll be able to say I’ve had the experience.

Am I mad to be thinking about this? Or would I be mad not to do it? Since I’ve never known which instincts to trust and which to avoid like the plague, it’s a quandary I can’t quite wrap my head around at the moment. Luckily I have just over four months to think about it and decide. Of course, if S offers me one of the new department jobs then the decision will be made for me. I’ll be starting a new job in London on the 1st January and I won’t be getting any redundancy money. In a way, it almost makes me wish I hadn’t expressed any interest in that job now. It’s starting to feel as if redundancy could be the blessing in disguise I’ve been waiting for. Now I can’t believe I’m actually saying that. What the hell has happened to me?

Wednesday 13th August

This morning, as we were about to fly home, I had some bad news. I was informed that a company restructure had been announced and that all of my team’s jobs are at risk of redundancy. I have to say it didn’t come as a huge surprise. A few weeks ago in an informal chat with my line manager we sort of guessed that this was going to happen. It makes complete sense from a financial and business point of view for the company to streamline and restructure. From our point of view, it’s a shame that people are going to lose their jobs. It’s also a shame I had to find out on holiday (though I know I would rather have been told as soon as possible.)

I have the option of applying for a job elsewhere in the company, otherwise I have to take redundancy. Though there are no guarantees, I’ve decided I’m going to apply for a role. Having already been through the application process recently in another department, I realise I have nothing to lose. This position will be a big and challenging expansion on what I currently do. I’m sure I could do it, it’s just a question of who I’m up against and whether they decides to give me a chance.

Honestly I’d love to get it – it would be an exciting new challenge, I’d get to stay where I am and put all the experience I’ve got to some good use at last. At the same time I’ll be losing a lot of colleagues, some of whom I’ve considered dear friends for a long time. There’s bound to be competition for the position and I’d be stupid not to expect to be up against some other very competent candidates.

I’ve made it no secret that I hate my current role and that I’m desperate to do something else. But at the moment I just can’t be sure that that something else is within this company. I hope I do get given a chance but I have to be realistic and accept there’s a good chance I’ll be unemployed in the New Year.

Fortunately the bad news has been softened with the promise of a redundancy package. If I am made redundant I will have enough to live on for a few months. That gives me quite a bit of time before I have to start really worrying about finding a new job. If I’m sensible I’ll start looking in soon – and of course I will, I’m not intending to spend a penny of that payout if I can avoid it. But it’s good to know I have nearly a year to consider my options and sort my career out. Many millions of others who’ve been made redundant during the recession in this country didn’t have that long.

There’ve been a mixture of emotions all day. It has in fact been very surreal. At first there was the obvious shock. I’ve been on the verge of tears at several points. There’s the sadness at the certainty I will never see some people again. Then there’s relief at the certainty I will only have to do my current job, which I’ve loathed for quite some time, for only a short while longer. Not long from now I’ll be free of all the things I hate about it forever.

Underneath it all is the surety that this was meant to happen, because I needed a change. It’s painful because it’s happening a lot earlier than I expected it to. But, let’s face it, I knew I’d have to go sooner or later. Nothing can last forever.

With the real chance that I will be unemployed again in the new year, I’m facing a great uncertainty that no one wants to face. Through this I’ve simply got to be strong and use all those lessons I learnt in AA. I’ve faced many challenges in my sobriety, some of them big ones that I never thought I could survive. This could be the biggest yet. I can’t know exactly what will happen or how I’ll cope with it, but something tells me everything will be OK. I can feel it.

*****

Along with most of the rest of the world I was saddened by the news of Robin Williams’ death this week. Mrs Doubtfire was one of my favourite films as a kid and I’ll probably have to watch it again soon for nostalgia’s sake. I wish I didn’t know anything of what he must have gone through, but I do. I’ve experienced darkness so heavy it felt like I had no other options except to kill myself. I have faced the bleakness of a future that is obscure and unknowable, the tormented uncertainty around whether I am truly loved and valued by anyone. Having no power over any of these things is a burden that no heart should ever have to bear, yet so many of us bear it daily, silently, because the world still doesn’t understand it and doesn’t want to talk about it. I mean, what’s someone supposed to do? I only decided not to attempt suicide a third time because something told me I shouldn’t, some deep mysterious knowledge that things had to get better for me, they just had to. To this day I don’t know where that knowledge came from.

Obviously not everyone is able to see through the fog of sadness and realise that it’s always worth living, that the only thing stopping us from living is our feelings. Millions of us are simply too sensitive to the sharpness of reality, and until the world properly acknowledges and starts to deal with that, the suicides will continue.

Today I face a great uncertainty about my future. I will either sink or I will swim. I can hardly imagine what I will be doing this time next year. At this moment in time all I can do is take the next right step, and the next one after that, and the next one, and the next one.

Tuesday 12th August

Recently I’ve been taking health and fitness to the next level. I decided to follow the trend and downloaded a couple of apps to measure my sleeping quality and level of exercise. I started using them last week and I’m enjoying the novelty at the moment. I’m hoping the short term boost to my engagement with fitness will last into the long term. I have a desire to be a fit and healthy grown man, I understand the benefits of endorphins and a more active lifestyle. It seems everyone is doing it at the moment. Will have to watch this space to see how it goes.

*****

I’ve been abroad since Thursday and it’s been wonderful. The weather has been consistently glorious; the mediterranean resort where we’re staying has lost none of the charms that I fell for the last time I went.

Sadly we come home tomorrow. I’m not as sad about it yet as I normally would be. I guess it’s hard to be sad when you’re in paradise. P knew about this little cove a few miles down the coast from where we’re staying and we walked here today, and as promised it is absolutely idyllic. The sea is of the most gorgeous turquoise, it’s warm and the waves caress the shore continuously. You go in and the water holds you, so you never want to get out. Around me there are dozens of beautiful men, most of them as naked as the day they were born, flaunting everything in the beating sun. For me, time has stopped today; right now I have no idea what the time or the date is. It feels like I’m in an early colour film, where the picture has acquired a sultry golden hue with age. The world outside of this beach doesn’t matter. It could be a thousand years in the past or in the future; the sun and the lovely male bodies and the warm water and the sand are all that matter here.

When I go home tomorrow time will start again; with it the cares and worries of daily life will return and I will have to begin managing it all whilst suffering from my anxiety disorder again. Until then I am trying really hard to savour these precious moments, for that’s what they are. These moments are more precious to me than gold, than all the money in the world. Oh God, I needed this holiday. It’s enough to make me grateful forever. If I close my eyes, the sea and the sand and the beautiful men will still be there when I open them again. It’s really not a dream. I think I understand why sick people in Victorian times were often sent to the seaside to convalesce. It works.

The weather was a bit cloudy this morning and several times I had to stop myself from looking to the horizon where the clouds were coming from, to see where the end of the grey weather was. I kept studying every break in the cloud cover, examining the chances of it clearing and becoming sunny. Later on after the clouds had cleared, I still found myself looking to the horizon every now and then, making sure they weren’t going to return.

It seems almost impossible but I know I must force myself not to look at the horizon any more. I have zero control over the weather: if it gets cloudy again there’s nothing I can do about it, and it won’t mean anything anyway because it will still be warm. I’ll still be able to enjoy the timelessness of the sea and the naked bodies. Every time I look to see whether it’s going to cloud over again I am worrying about the future unnecessarily. I’m removing myself from the present and fretting over something that may or may not happen and which I can’t control. In the same way, I leave the present all the time at home to worry needlessly about the possibility of bad things happening. At home and at work on a daily basis I am mentally studying the horizon for any signs of bad news. It doesn’t matter if something brilliant is happening in the present, I’m never fully there because my mind can’t leave the future alone. It needs to know exactly what’s around the corner, all the time.

Today I tried to help myself by tearing my eyes away from the distant sky and focusing on my immediate surroundings, the things that I was really there to enjoy: the sea, the men, the waves, P’s company. I had to do it countless times, like a child learning to walk; my attention would get distracted for a minute and my eyes would drift to the sky again, until I caught myself and brought them back to the task in hand. It’s been tough and annoying but I think somewhere in this there is a valuable lesson so I’m persevering with it.

Sunday 3rd August

Just back from my first mini break of the summer. It was a good trip. The weather was poor, but all in all we had a nice time up North. Yesterday we took a train out of the city where we were staying to spend a pleasant afternoon in the nearby quaint little village close to where I did a creative retreat five years ago. It was good to be back: the place felt very spiritual to me. There I grew as a person, that week in 2009. We met some of P’s friends who live nearby and had a decent pub lunch while it rained outside. For a few hours we chatted about business and money and politics. Not the most exciting discussion I’ve ever participated in but fun nonetheless.

In the evening we visited the local gay scene. At first the bar we’d chosen was good fun. A wise cracking drag queen played non-stop dance and chart hits, and I had a good little boogie whilst checking messages on Grindr every five minutes. After midnight the hen parties started invading the place, followed by gangs of drooling straight men. By 1am we may as well have been in a straight bar. P was still enjoying himself but I wasn’t, and I made it plain that I wanted to go back to the hotel. I realised I was too tired to try and accommodate the change in atmosphere. It was pretty horrible.

Last night I had a bad dream in which I was back at school again. The details were mostly the same as ever, except my mum was there and she kept shouting at me for some reason. I don’t know what she was saying. I woke in a cold sweat and this morning I felt a bit off as a result. I couldn’t chat to P normally; by 10am I was slipping into a right stinker of a mood.

Luckily we were on the train home by 11 and I could put my headphones in. I think it’s possible that the mood swings have started because I’m weaning myself off the meds now. I don’t want to be on medication forever, I’m in counselling now and so I know this is necessary. I just wish…no, there’s point in wishing, it’s done me no good in all the years I’ve clung to it. I was going to say I wish I didn’t have a disease that made everything seem like shit all the time. But I have this disease, and it looks like there’s nothing to be done about it. I can’t stay on meds forever, the doctors won’t let me and I don’t want to take a pill every day for the rest of my life. I want to be cured. I want to wake up in the morning feeling normal, with no drugs in my system. I want to be sociable at all times, in all environments. I want to be myself without fear and isolation.

I think I’ve silently fallen out with J, who isn’t messaging me very much any more. I’ve stopped replying to all his messages quickly, because I’m fed up of waiting for him to commit to something. Whenever he messages me now he’s talking about how many hours he’s working and how much money he’s making. I just don’t want to know. I’d tell him that I don’t want to know, but I don’t feel like being rude just yet. I still want to be his boyfriend. I probably ought to say something about my feelings, but I already did that before and it made no difference. If anything was going to happen surely he’d have made some sort of move by now? I can’t deal with this any more. It’s over.

Thursday 31st July

I didn’t get the job. Not that I was expecting to. For the past couple of days I’ve thought about little except the points on which I failed in the interview. I was put on the spot and tested on my creativity, something I’ve always seen as one of my strengths, and I couldn’t deliver. So rightly the job has gone to someone else. My main feeling right now? Relief, to be honest. I won’t have to leave my comfort zone and join a department full of people I don’t relate to, I’ll be able to stay with my friends and do what I’m really good at (admin, customer service, time management, writing.)

Oh, it’s not the greatest news I’ve ever had. I can’t avoid the fact that I still need a challenge. But at least S took me aside this afternoon to explain why this wouldn’t be the right challenge for me. I’m no closer to knowing what the hell I am meant to do with my life, but I’ve finally discovered that it won’t be in this company. In a year or two’s time, when it’s the right time, I’ll be gone.

This evening had to go and see mum for dinner; it would be the last chance before my holidays. On my way out of the flat after dinner I stumbled across a worrying looking letter that she’d half hidden under a pile in the kitchen. It was from the loan shark company she went to for help years ago. Apparently she still owes them money and they want to discuss an Individual Voluntary Arrangement. In other words, a strict repayment plan that is one step away from bankruptcy.

For a few hours I was plunged into the old panic, thinking she was in trouble and that everything was going to fall apart. When I got home I’d calmed down a little, but it still isn’t nice to know that after all these years she still hasn’t paid that bloody loan off. She only took it out to help me. Ten years on, I’m doing all right financially while she continues to bear the burden. She doesn’t seem unhappy or anxious about anything – she’s either good at keeping her problems a secret or she really doesn’t know how bad things are. An IVA may seem attractive but it’s not good to get to that stage, not good at all. Her credit rating must be pretty poor. I obviously wasn’t meant to see that letter – I wish to God now I hadn’t. Thanks to my curiosity I’ve had a miserable evening and tomorrow, when I’m supposed to be starting my holidays, I’ll probably be miserable again.

Tuesday 29th July

Today I had my first job interview in nearly five years. The big question whenever you go for an interview is how you sell yourself. How do I sell myself when I don’t really believe in myself? I’ve never been good at faking confidence. Believe me I’ve tried. Although I already knew the person who was interviewing me in a professional capacity, it was still exactly like any job interview. What must it be like to be the interviewer? To have that power over somebody? He could have changed my life today.

Some bits of the interview were good. Some were bad. I was pleased with the passion I managed to display; not so pleased with the inability to show innovation. He asked me what I’d do if I was tasked with designing a brand new product. I couldn’t think of anything; I still can’t. I tried (really badly) to bluff, saying I thought that the product range we already had was good enough. I could see it wasn’t going to wash in his eyes. Damn.

Times like this you realise that life really isn’t like the films and TV shows. The serendipity experienced by favourite characters such as Peggy Olsen is reserved purely for fiction, so it seems. In life there is no lighted path to success; favours and coincidence don’t conspire to land you in the dream role. Today I was forced to make my own luck. There was no benevolent scriptwriter on hand to nudge me in the right direction.

Before and during the interview my constant worries over money probably didn’t help me to focus. I’ve overspent my budget for the month yet again, and now I don’t even have any savings left to tide me over until payday. I’ll be living hand to mouth for the next few days. I’ve literally got about £3 left to live on. It might not be so bad if I hadn’t been through this before. It might seem like an adventure if I hadn’t already spent half my adult life living on a shoestring, trying to balance the budget with a healthy engaged lifestyle.

I thought all this should have ended years ago when I paid off all my debts and started saving for the first time. Somehow something’s gone wrong and I’m almost back to where I started. Luckily I can’t get a loan or a credit card thanks to my blotchy credit history, so I can’t quite go all the way back to the bottom again. Still I’m feeling that lump in my throat tonight, that same mild desperation that kept me awake most nights between the ages of 18 and 27.

I had a good counselling session tonight. As I voice the problems I seem to understand them more. So I guess you cay say it’s working. We talked about my stress levels and I realised they’re far higher at work than in any other environment. What a surprise, you might say sardonically. Well, I knew they were high at work but it hadn’t occurred to me that a lot of my fears and anxieties are totally centred around my job.