Once in a while, Twitter throws up something that grabs my attention. Take Stephanie Flanders for instance, BBC economics editor. "A 501,000 rise in employment in 2 yrs when the economy is supposed to have not grown at all. What on earth is going on?"
Well, Stephanie, I'd be delighted to be of assistance. I'm what's going on - or rather me and people like me: the notworking people that haven't signed on but haven't got jobs as most people understand it. As far as the stats go, I am, indeed, employed. I'm the sole director and employee of Geoffrey Wadhurst Coaching Ltd. I like to think of myself as a start-up but my wife Sandra says "stop-down" is closer to the truth. On occasions, I've described myself as a SME but the reality is it's just ME.
I think you'll find, Stephanie, that the employment numbers are swollen by the coaches, social media gurus and network marketing foot-soldiers that exchange business cards and email newsletters with each other but aren't really working, hence the lack of corresponding increase in GDP. I think of us as the "notworking" and I've been blogging about my part in it for a year.
What does a typical notworking day look like? As it's noon I can only offer half a day, so here's my morning. Welcome, as they say, to my world:
0600: Turn up for my B2B Networking Club fortnightly breakfast at the Red Lion Inn in St Albans. We exchange business cards. Saul from Rickmansworth delivers a presentation on his utility network marketing opportunity. I decline the offer of cheaper broadband and energy and also pass on the offer to be one of his distributors.
0830: I return to my home office and find my son Ollie, 16, is still in bed. My wife, Sandra is getting ready for ladies' social tennis at the Marshallswick Lawn Tennis Club. I turn on my computer and await with anticipation the flurry of work-related emails. Sadly, the sole message is a follow-up message from Saul with an 8Mb distributor e-brochure attached.
0900: I fill up the seed-feeder in the garden and am briefly distracted by the arrival of a nuthatch.
1000: I get Skyped by Derek, my cynical and genuinely unemployed friend who still hasn't heard back about the interim job he interviewed for before the Olympics. Twenty years ago, all notworkers would have been like Derek and in the numbers. I deliver some pro bono coaching aphorisms that do little to uplift the unshaven figure I see on-screen.
1045: A Parcelforce delivery man rings the doorbell and asks me to take in a parcel for Mrs. Forbes across the road.
1053: Mrs. Forbes rings for her parcel and engages me in a 45-minute conversation about her new hip.
1100: Sandra returns and nags me about trimming the hedge by our front door that threatens to obscure our house number. Since I let our gardener go as a cost-cutting measure, this falls on my shoulders. Ollie, now awake and playing an urban car-jacking game on his games console refuses to help. Reluctantly, I don gardening gloves and plug in the electric hedge trimmer bought from Clive, my fellow NBI member and owner of a garden centre in Chiswell Green.
1103: A loud bang and a flash tell me I've cut through the power lead of my hedge trimmer.
1105: Irritably, I return to my inbox to find that the sole email is an urgent exhortation from our NBI regional director to bring more referrals to our breakfast meeting tomorrow.
1107: I write out a pink referral slip for Clive for tomorrow's meeting. "Hedge-trimmer," I write in capitals. "Preferably petrol."
Follow Geoffrey Wadhurst on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@gwadhurst