Week 4: letters written, 20. Replies received, four. Interviews, one.

We have a local paper here called Jobs and Careers, which claims to have "hundreds" of vacancies. It is published weekly; I bought it for the first two weeks, the two editions were practically identical. Is there an industry producing pages of fake jobs and selling them for 90p a time? Perhaps I ought to start a magazine called the Big Tissue which lies about how many jobs there are available. A magazine for the jobless rather than the homeless.

I've signed on with all the local employment agencies and filled in their identical forms. I will need to go into regressive therapy before I can remember all the things I have done since I was 16. Are people really interested in how many O-levels I took 30 years ago?

At last, light relief: I went to see a Welsh National Opera production of Cosi fan tutte - a birthday present from my wife booked long ago in wealthier times. The two tenors - pretending to be Albanians - were singing barefoot. Unfortunately, after a spell in the wings, one of them came back on stage wearing a pair of fluffy bedroom slippers that he had forgotten to remove. By far the funniest part of the opera.

As part of my new jobs offensive I put an ad in the situation wanted column of my local palper. Cost: pounds 10, response: nil. Meet a redundant 51-year-old chartered accountant at a party. He's been out of work for a year and written 300 letters without success. I feel like an amateur compared to him.

Do all personnel departments use the same programme for their rejection letters? They invariably say: thank you for your application, very difficult decision for us, unfortunately other candidates more closely matched our requirements, thank you for the interest you have shown in our company, we wish you well for the future. This is code for, "You are a complete deadbeat. What made you suspect that we might be even remotely interested in you?"

In a fit of depression I contemplate investing a fiver in the National Lottery. Trouble is, I'd probably win and then my life would be totally ruined by people ringing up the tabloids to tell them - for a consideration - what a complete bastard I had been to them at school, at work or in a relationship. Or all three.


The author lives in Hereford. He worked as a factory production manager before being made redundant. His diary appears every Thursday.