I wish I had some news to report about what my Next Big Thing is going to be.
However, last night I got to experience the full force of my newly unemployed status. I was on the phone to the bank trying to set up a joint bank account with my husband (so that I can steal his money when I run out of my own). The lady on the phone was going through my personal details.
Bank Lady: "Occupation? It says here that you're self employed. Is that correct?"
Me: Mulls this over.... "Actually, technically I'm not. I did have a business and I sold it. And now I'm trying to figure out what to do next. I might get a job. Or I might start another business. Which would then make me self employed again. But I'm not too sure what that's going to be yet. It's really hard trying to figure it out you know. So no, I'm not really self employed any more. But I might get employed by someone else but I don't know in which career that is going to be yet. Which makes me sound a bit pathetic doesn't it? Gosh, I'm not really too sure how to answer that question."
Long suffering Bank Lady: "Shall we say 'House Person'?"
Me: "A what?"
Bank Lady: "A House Person. You know, someone who stays at home."
Me: "Er... yes, I guess that's exactly what I am."
How crushing. A House Person. Not even a House Wife or Mother. It would be politically incorrect to make either of those assumptions but they at least indicate that you might be helping to make the lives of some other people easier. Just a House Person. I guess that is better than being a Homeless Person. And I do like Houses. My pre-occupation with Right Move is testimony to that.
But House Person doesn't sound terrifically glamorous does it?
Luckily, as I've recently discovered in a marvellous book called Watching the English by Kate Fox, it is rude to ask what someone does for a living (unless you're a bank lady setting up a bank account). In a section titled The Guessing-Game Rule, Kate says: "It is not considered entirely polite, for example, to ask someone directly 'What do you do?'.....The guessing game, which is played at almost every middle-class social gathering where people are meeting each other for the first time, involves attempting to guess a person's occupation from 'clues' in remarks made about other matters."
So in a dinner party situation where a high achieving individual is trying to winkle out what I do, I could quite legitimately say, "I'm a House Person". And according to Kate, "when two or three possible occupations are indicated, it is polite to name the highest-status one as a first guess". So their response would have to be something like: "A House Person. Fascinating - do you invest in property then? No. You're a property search consultant or an interior designer perhaps? Please don't tell me you're an estate agent?" (Kate has an entire chapter on why the English hate estate agents).
And I can just laugh and say, "Of course I'm not an estate agent!" and whisk off leaving them none the wiser that I actually spend my days loafing about trying to figure out what I want to be when I'm big.