My Life As a Bum

The aftermath of quitting your job to go travelling.

Week 1 & 2:

The Mornings
My girlfriend berates me each day before she leaves for work, ‘You’re a bum, get a job!’ I throw the pillows at her and tell her to get off my back… ‘I wanna be a human rights activist!’ ‘Go out and get a design job!’ ‘But I wanna be a photo journalist in the Middle East.’ ‘You’re a Graphic Designer, go and design stuff!’ ‘Ok, you want design, design this…! (I then make an offensive gesture. She then runs out in tears).

She is getting annoyed. Yesterday I demanded a cut from her salary for all the design advice I gave her during Uni. She refused, so I said I won’t be giving any more design advice until I receive payment. I also stated my intention to start charging for sex, effective August 1.

My favourite time of day is in the morning, after my girlfriend has finished berating me and gone to work, and I have the place to myself. The daily news is fresh and the coffee is at its best. It’s also the time time of day when no time has yet been wasted. By midday the mood has mellowed a bit. By 3 it’s a lost cause and I go to the gym to avoid the peak crowds.

The ‘To Do’ List
I have a great ‘To Do’ list. I often spend more time on my to do list than doing the things on the To Do list. I like my To Do list, I just don’t like doing it. It’s good though… “Call agents/studios/producers, update website, edit travel photos, submit work to relevant sites, cycle to Scotland, write stage 2 of manifesto, read Das Kapital” etc etc. If you read my list you’d say, ‘Wow, that kid’s going places’. The only place I go is to the supermarket for some cheap snacks. I’m still going to Tesco, soon I’ll be going to the Pound Store with the other bums. My ‘To Do’ list is quite advanced, I’ve imported it into the notes section of my iPad, and also the calendar. It’s convinent because as another day goes by without me doing anything on my list, I can very easily move it to the next day, as opposed to my written list, where I have to keep crossing out Monday and replacing it with Tuesday, then Wednesday etc.

The Distractions
I get sidetracked very easily. Today I was sidetracked by a spider. I don’t kill spiders, I try and capture them so they can start a new life outside instead. I couldn’t catch him so we had a bit of a stalemate. Then I made myself some lunch.

Some days I play with the idea of going to the Pub with a copy of the newspaper for an afternoon pint of Ale. If I had a Dog I would. He could sit with me while I read the news, it’d be great. I usually conclude that it’s dangerous territory for a bum to start drinking during weekdays.

The Cat
I may not have a dog, but I have a neighbourhood cat. Being a bum has given me the chance to restore my relationship with the neighbourhood Cat. She wasn’t happy that I left for 2 months, now she’s beginning to work out I’m home each day and has started paying me regular visits. I tell her about the cats I met on my travels, as well as the dogs. I tell her that she’d actually like some of the dogs I met, like the Olkhon Island dogs, because they were proud, like her. ‘Y’know, when it’s all broken down, Cats and Dogs are quite similar, but instead of being united, you’re divided by politics. Centuries of conflict means your relationship is now broken, reduced to strained tolerance rather than acceptance, and that’s a real shame kid, coz you guys could really form something together, an alliance of sorts’. After paying very little attention, she usually licks herself and walks away. Sometimes this makes me angry… ‘See, that’s your problem, you’re arrogant. You never take anything I say seriously. If you were a dog you’d be listening’. This is met with an aggressive ‘Reow! Hiss!’, as to suggest..’Don’t you ever compare me to a Dog!’ ‘Why don’t you just loosen up? If you’re not obsessively staring at the bush in the garden, you’re cleaning yourself like a compulsive maniac. All you ever do is clean yourself, you’re already clean damn you!’ She’ll usually then give a timid meow, forcing me to back off. ‘Ok, I agree, hygiene is important, don’t forget I spent a month in China, I understand its importance! But it’s an obsession with you, it dominates your life. Look, all I’m saying is to loosen up a bit, that’s all, you’re a good cat.’

The Highlights
I love the weekends, because then I can not work and not feel guilty. I feel like I’m part of society again. I even go into Soho to have drinks with my former colleagues, like a real worker. They tell me about their week, and I tell them about mine, but I don’t really have anything sane to say.

Despite how it may sound, there is progress, and there is excitement. Progress: in my first week back from travelling I never knew what day it was. I’d often ask, ‘What day is it? Sunday? Shit, I thought it was thursday’. Last week I always knew what day it was, that’s progress. Excitement: One day I locked myself out in my slippers (my slippers are my new shoes). I went to the neighbours’ house and told them of my dilemma, asking if I could climb their back fence. The guy said he was happy for me to climb the fence, but he doubted my ability to make it over, ‘It looks like a tough fence to climb’. I’ve always been a very good climber so I was confident of making it. I did it with ease and thanked him when I was on the other side. Then I cleaned my slippers and went and had a lie down to rest. Another day I let the Preachers in. Being in Brixton, we have a lot of English/Caribbean preachers who love Jesus very much. They came in and we spoke about God and such. I said I’m unemployed and he told me things will pick up soon. He said he’d pray for me. I’m hoping it pays off.

The Mum
Being a bum gives me more time to speak to my Mum. She asks ‘How are you Adrian?’ I say, ‘ I’m unemployed. I don’t work. At all. I’m living off my savings. I’m a bum.’ ‘Oh Adrian’ she says. She’s praying for me too.

The Schemes
Sometimes I wonder how far I can push being a bum. Like if I only shop at the pound store. Or if I skip a meal each day. Or if I invent schemes to make money. I often think of money making schemes.

My girlfriend comes home, and I’m either occupied with a Spider, talking to a Cat or sorting through my list, and I’ll say something like.. ‘Oh, and that reminds me, those gifts I bought you from my travels, ah, they weren’t free. I’m ganna require payment for those now. I spoke to a girl at the pub today who’s interested in that chinese jewellery box.’ She usually walks straight back out the door, allowing me to get back to catching the spider.


I hope you’re enjoying the new segment. I’ll continue providing updates of my life as a bum, including an RSS feed and Twitter page. Stay tuned.
Bye for now. 

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