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If you were a biscuit, ' which one would you be? was one of the questions'.

Byline: MIKE LOCKLEY

THE 'situations vacant' ad was bold and eye-catching. In a heavy font that dominated the page it teased: "Our rapidly expanding haulage company is looking for a self-motivated, dynamic individual capable of working under pressure..

"...TO MAKE TEA." "They want a bloody degree," I howled before flinging the newspaper back at my son, a young man feeling the crushing weight of the credit crunch. He is officially unemployed.

The 21-year-old has left the 24-hour Pot Noodle-fuelled party that is university, having garnered a degree in something called sports science. I have never met a sports scientist. Perhaps they're exactly the same as normal boffins but run farther.

The point is - and here's the rub - I've never encountered a 'sports scientist' ad, which concerns me.

"There was one once," protested my son. "It said, 'We're looking for a self-motivated, dynamic individual capable of working under pressure to make tea'."

I'm incredibly lucky. I work for a company that realises I'm incompetent, knows I'm neither self-motivated, dynamic or capable of working under pressure.

The office first aider came to my rescue when the Twix bar I'd paid for failed to fall from its shelf on the vending machine.

Accountants have calculated it's more cost-effective to wait for me to die than pay out the shedload of redundancy accrued during 21 years in the job.

I know this because I once walked into a meeting between my boss and an HR bod.

"Even if he died here," she said in an animated stage whisper, a devilish glint in her eye, "and it was our fault, we'd end up paying less. All it takes is one dodgy pasty at lunchtime..."

They suddenly felt my presence, sat bolt upright and adopted starched smiles.

"Mike," grinned my editor, wiping sweat from his brow. "We were just talking about you."

I dreamed of working from home and, to a degree, I've achieved that. Since my wife threw me out, I sleep in the office.

My son will probably never know such security. He is one of the lost generation engaged in a heartbreaking search for employment.

Touched by his plight, I signed up for a march to hammer home the message that young people today are not idle. It is not that they 'can't be bothered', more that there are no jobs out there.

But when the day came, I couldn't be bothered, frankly.

My son scratched his head as he pondered the bizarre questions on a written pre-interview test - the first hurdle to overcome before being grilled by the panel seeking a new lifeguard at our leisure centre. Bizarrely, 'Can you swim?' was not one of the 15 questions. Neither was, 'Are you on the sex offenders' register?'.

"If you were a biscuit, which one would you be?" did appear, however.

"I know it, I know it!" he shouted excitedly.

"The answer they're looking for is Jammy Dodger - hard on the outside, soft on the inside."

I'm more a dark chocolate digestive. Pretty bitter and prone to disintegrate when in hot water.

"Do you possess a singular skill others do not?" probed question number seven.

"Yes," scribbled my son. "I can read my handwriting."

"I really envy you, dad," moaned the fruit of my loins, "having a well-paid job."

"Don't!" I warned darkly. "Working in an office is a bit like Christmas. You do all the work and a fat bloke in a ludicrous suit gets the credit."

In a desperate attempt to earn pin money, the lad signed up to a mail order business hand-painting porcelain figurines. The ad boasted: "You can earn pounds 35,000 a year from home."

It's a lie, but legally sound. Small print states the company is not claiming you can make pounds 35,000 painting porcelain figurines.

But the job's proved a godsend for prostitutes and crack cocaine dealers during those tiresome lean periods.

My son soon lost interest and gave 30 Cinderella figures an all-over green finish that would've made Prince Charming think twice.

Rather than scrap the batch, I think the company simply threw more clay at the project and flogged them as Incredible Hulks.

"I will never find a job," lamented my son. "There's just nothing out there. My mate from university has got one as a historian."

"Where the future in that?" I grimaced.

Yesterday he blew yet another interview, this time at a fast food establishment. "I almost got it," he huffed. "The manager said the salary was pounds 220 a week but after six months it goes up to pounds 270."

"What did you tell him?" I asked. He put his head in his hands and mouthed: "I said 'Alright then, I'll come back in six months'."

YOU'VE GOTTA LAUGH! I used to be a teacher, but I got sacked for having sex with the ugliest member of staff... Gross Miss Conduct
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Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Jun 17, 2012
Words:812
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