Music Features

The Culture Bunker #6

In what could be the last ever Culture Bunker, Peter Mattinson sends out a warning to all soon-to-be graduates out there. Those with a misjudged sense of confidence about their immediate post-Higher Education future may not want to read on. For tales of humiliation, unemployment, and wasting time in municipal buildings, please read on...


No Ripcord is apparently stuttering on the edge of entering the .com world. It's only taken us over four and a half years and when it all comes down nothing has really changed in that time. People are still arseholes, Governments still kill and major record labels whine on about piracy and release a lot of shite music.

Also, this time of year sees another batch of graduates preparing themselves to stumble into the world full of idealism and ambition. I'm guessing some of them might be reading this: after all, you've still plenty of time on your hands after the excessive sleeping, masturbation, drug consumption and TV watching - what else are you going to be doing? Worrying about life on the outside?

Maybe you should because in these dark days of the 21st Century, the world is getting itself cosy to shit right onto you (I'm mainly talk to potential BA students here) and I'm sure if you ask anyone who was in your place a year ago, they'll know exactly what we're talking about here. Indeed, one of my closest friends is in the latter group and is currently going through the "Signing On Experience".

What is a first a particularly humiliating and (you hope) temporary situation soon becomes an accepted part of your one afternoon a fortnight (or if you're really unlucky, mornings). Your first few trips will be made with a cautious look around before entering the building - after all, you don't want people you went to school with thinking you've fucked up your life more then they have - and you will inevitably flood the desk clerk with the huge number of jobs you've applied for. With a weary smile, he/she will hand you a pen to sign after which your £85 awaits you. But as the months roll on, a sort of immunity to the whole process develops. You frankly don't give a fuck anymore. That list of job applications becomes one, maybe two tops.

Luckily for me, the Job Centre lies next to the town Library, so after my fortnightly ritual I can jaunt across for my dose of culture. To liven up this particular experience I've invented a game I call "Cultural Juxtaposition". The name of the game is to take out two items of such massive high/low culture discrepancies that the eyebrow of the librarian will shoot through the roof. Just before Christmas I smugly expected a winner on my hands when I handed over a collection of Will Self's writings along with Roy Keane's autobiography (which in terms of writing style is about as low as you can get). Unfortunately, it would seem Will Self holds little kudos in this backwater and the books were stamped and handed over in normal fashion.

I'm not giving up though. I'm sure I got a reaction last week when I rented out The Seventh Seal along with some god-awful looking Penelope Cruz film I couldn't even bring myself to watch.

Back on the subject at hand - you can be sure they will try to humiliate you as much as possible. You will be made to feel like a parasite on the nation, and will be treated with all the contempt possible to muster. The plan is to make you feel so bad, that you'll accept that job flipping burgers just to get out of the situation. Manage to last six months and they will send you on a course designed to ease any faith you had in life out your system.

The solution? Well, attractive readers may wish to fuck their way into gainful employment. For the rest of us though, I'll get back to when I work it out.

(Editors note: Shortly after writing this article in early December, I received a phone call from Peter, apparently at Knutsford Service Station on the M6. After complaining about the price of a pack of Chewits, he mentioned something about having to board a National Express coach to Inverness before hanging up. No Ripcord has heard no word from him since.)