I’m fifty – back in the job-market, qualifications out-of-date and up against my sons.
Female? Yes. Fine? Perhaps. Just thought I’d pop out from behind my fridge – take time off from my cleaning – to let you know how I am.
In human terms I am a domestically-challenged mother, volunteer, part-time worker, job-juggler, and unreliable feminist … a ‘five-a-day’ woman, well-stretched and on the brink.
To put it in more positive terms and with a gadget spin – I’m a retro-model from the 1960s based on a face-to-face operating system. My memory needs upgrading and my download speeds need to be improved, but I am confident that I should increase in value with a little technical attention.
My employment prospects? Who knows. That’s the problem. A job market swirling with young flesh and old soldiers is not a comfortable place to be. I feel a bit like Eeyore trying to qualify for the Grand National. Clearly there’s a bit of cantering around to do but if Diana Nyad can swim through sharks and jelly-fish from Cuba to Florida in 53 hours the rest of us females over-50 can’t just Eeyore out of it.
That’s the problem with being a woman – our role models are made of super bionic brilliance. They’re iron ladies, superlative ladies like: Florence Nightingale; Mother Teresa; Margaret Thatcher; Angela Merkel; Hillary Clinton; Serena Williams; J K Rowling … incredible women but how on earth do we get to there?
It’s disheartening enough to know that a few months before I was born Lieutenant Valentina Tereshkova, 26, had already orbited the Earth in a Russian spaceship. Half a century later I’ve done hundreds of thousands of miles in Japanese cars but even 60,000 circumnavigating the M25 in the capsule of a Toyota iQ is not quite the same.
The reality is that I fell off the learning curve, into the pit of self-discovery, at around the time my astonishing sons were born. Self-discovery – by that I mean collapse of ego, sleep, and all ‘best-practice’ aspirations – was a journey of extremes far beyond the formal workplace. Flexibility, low standards, imaginative time-keeping and a way with baked beans became second nature but, as I now discover, none of these attributes is a natural stepping stone back into the calm, well-organised, high-salaried environment I’m sure is out there somewhere.
That leaves me about where you find me – clinging to the lowest rungs of several part-time, work-from-home jobs. To lower my prospects further – I’m not even an Etonian.
Looking at it like that it could all be a bit glum but then there’s hope – the irrational, life-affirming gift that is polished by children, is always worth investing in and is rarely, if ever, found behind the fridge.
If Ukip still fancy their chances then surely there’s no reason for the rest of us to give up.