Writer, photographer, "rapper" and general technophobe takes on the internet in what could be a very, very messy fight. But it's alright: she's harder than she looks, and she's wearing every single ring she could get her hands on.


Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Game Plan

"So," my friend said last night, sitting down abruptly and patting the chair next to her. "What's the game plan?"
"Eh?" I replied succinctly.
"Game plan," she repeated. "You know. When you're playing Monopoly, you have to decide whether you're going to build lots of hotels fast on the cheap areas, or invest in a few of the expensive ones in the hope that you can bankrupt your enemies in one sitting, or go for all the Utilities, which is the lazy option but tends to work. You always have a game plan. So, what's the game plan for this job thing?"

I stared at her for a few seconds. When I play Monopoly, I just buy anything that comes up and then get sent to jail for the rest of the game.

"Umm," I said eventually. "Being myself?"
My friend closed her eyes briefly.
"Is that Being Yourself at your best, with full makeup and the right answers to questions, Holly, or is that Being Yourself in your pyjamas with your hair sticking up and crap anecdotes about swans?"
There was a short pause.
"The swan one," I admitted eventually.
My friend shook her head. "I haven't been on holiday for ages, Smale," she said sadly. "Can't you at least try to be someone else for a while? Anyone else will do."

But I can't, you see. The Self - like his younger brother, Will (ahahah, that was a great one) - is a wiley fellow, and he pops up even when you don't expect him to. Down, you say to it crossly. The BBC are here, you say: can you please avoid humiliating yourself? But it makes no difference: it pops back up again when you least expect it.

"Have you hurt your arm?" I said in concern to one of the British candidates on Sunday night in front of a film crew, pointing at a white band around his arm: "or [it begins to dawn]... oh God, is that fashion? Sorry." [Film crew starts laughing, I hide under table.]

No matter where you go or what you do, The Self Will Out (has Will Self written a book called that, yet? He needs to). And it's incredibly depressing. Imagine: in a normal job interview, you go in, you do your bit, you lie through your teeth ("You see, I'd say my problem is that I'm just too punctual and an inherent perfectionist. Oh, and did I mention that I take my expenses home with me every night and type them up on the computer to make them easier to read?") and then you go home again. But three weeks of being watched from afar? Of tests and writing and God Only Knows what else? You can't hide the Real You: it's impossible. You cock up, you swear, you cry, you show inconsistencies, you prove that you really don't know how to scuba dive at all. There's no getting away from it.

Only the world's most disingenuous person could come across well for an entire three weeks: only a person who knows exactly what to say and when to say it, and can hide the Real Self completely. And would that be interesting? Would that be interesting for six months? Would I read a blog written by someone who always says the right thing? Probably not. It would be dull as hell.

Would I give it to someone who is so inept at hiding it, though? No. I probably wouldn't do that, either. They'd accidentally accuse other candidates of being dull as hell in a Blog, which could be read by other candidates.

To be honest, I think it's all a big mistake. They shouldn't be testing us and giving us psychometric tests and watching us from afar. They should just get a massive Monopoly board, give us a few rounds of shots and get us all to play. See what we do. See who takes the expensive spots and then just sits there; see who buys up all the pink and brown areas and then hoards their paper money for the rest of the game (touching it fondly now and then). See how quickly they grab the money from their opponents: how many narrowed eyes there are. Who gets up to 'go to the toilet' and 'accidentally' knocks over the board so that nobody's quite sure where their hotels were in the first place.

At least then - when I'm sitting in jail with my hotels all repossessed and a ten pound note that somebody has lent me out of pity - I'll be out of harm's way, and I won't be able to blog about it.