Cabin bags.  That was to be my original subject of choice for this week and, believe me, it is a grower!  Not merely an unremarkable piece of hand luggage, its presence is a bona fide dipstick in terms of social fluidity.  In short, Thursday in Edinburgh heralds the invasion of the cabin bag.  Meantime, in Newcastle?  It’s like searching for intelligent life!  The migratory habits of the cabin bag – a subject worthy of research for the future, methinks.  Well, in light of the existence of David Beckham Studies, anything is possible.
Somehow the cabin bag was superceded by the cover letter, something which has provoked debate in our house in recent weeks.  Together with the age-old curriculum vitae, the cover letter seems to have adopted a life of its own; its own persona.   Why should I be surprised?  The level of importance now afforded to both serves only to enable increased anonymity in a world in which social interaction has become dependent on the microchip.  Does that person behind that cv or impressive cover letter really exist?  There is scope for so much exaggeration; so many untruths too time-consuming to question.  At the same time, there is ample scope for the authentic to slip between the lines. 
Remember that piece of homework one couldn’t do at school, or that essay on Bert & Russell (in joke, sorry!) that was proving too time-consuming at uni?  Cue that more diligent, responsible friend always willing to save the day.  Now, there is a plethora of professionals only too willing to take one’s money in exchange for turning one’s cv into that worthy of a future Nobel Prize winner; there is a wealth of material available providing the invaluable pointers necessary for that winning cover letter but … what happens if that person in print is called upon to make a personal appearance?  All too easy to be fluent in five languages – on paper – but, when faced with a multi-national interview panel, Google Translate is just not going to cut it!
On the other side of the spectrum, there may be those with a conscience whose qualifications actually pertain to them; whose employment history is not a work of fiction.  Those who struggle to blow their own trumpet yet are more than worthy and capable.  For every student who performs well under exam conditions, there will be one whose nerves get the better of him/her belying both his/her intelligence and hard work.  It doesn’t seem fair but, then, life is anything but fair.  Sadly, I fear the job application process seems to favour ambition and self-promotion over honesty.  The credence afforded the increasingly elaborate curriculum vitae and lengthy cover letter only lends itself to the very same.  Survival of the fittest, it is no wonder bullying in the workplace is rife. 
Can one glean character or personality from a cv or cover letter?  Is the actual person of any relevance any more?  Perhaps not.  Perhaps that would explain the urgency to develop robots capable of performing every task known to man.  Who needs a doctor with a bedside manner?  Should it be enough that he/she endured years of study and successfully acquired the relevant qualifications whilst, in reality, he/she is a bookworm devoid of any compassion for the patient? 
I have met several.  No matter that the successful applicant for that HR position has a glowing cv but, in actual fact, is socially inept and incapable of working in a team.  That in print affords a hiding place; a certain degree of anonymity.  It cannot, or never should take precedence over the person; living, breathing and a product of his/her upbringing, the palette is multi-hued.  Words on paper are black and white.
There is a common theme inherent in my posts; a once three-dimensional world now devoid of colour.  The individual is, by definition, non-conformist but to conform, now, is everything; all consuming.  Jobs are secured, more or less, on paper and the actual person is all but irrelevant.  I should know.  Never career driven, I was happy to be at home with my children and do not regret that decision for one minute – merely the fact that I didn’t check, in advance, that my husband shared the same moral code!  Suffice to say, I am left with a significant gap in my employment history and would never claim to be computer literate.  My advocate famously referred to me as being, on paper, a ‘woman in her fifties with no skills’! I do, however, have a brain and a wealth of life experience ensuring people skills in abundance, the ability to learn and, above all, common sense.  Can the same be said of a robot – or many of the successful job applicants of today who boast IT skills as opposed to those required – and many learnt – in nurturing the next generation?
While Becca’s cover letters may be pages long expanding, in detail, on her curriculum vitae, they are in stark contrast to mine – a couple of paragraphs covering the reasons for my application, believed suitability for the post and attaching my cv.  In other words, sufficient information to warrant an interview – or not.  That’s how it used to be; that’s how it should be.  There is so much more to be gleaned between the lines.  Nobody deserves to be reduced to the shorthand of a curriculum vitae and the accompanying cover letter.  Perhaps, however, a lack of time – and human understanding – now prohibits any redress?  More’s the pity.
Exhaustion and the advancing hour lead me to leave you with a totally unrelated quote from Toff in the latest episode of Made in Chelsea.  Just happening to be in the room whilst Becca was watching it – engrossed in some literary work – it made me smile.  Might just use it in the future to wriggle out of some unwelcome invitation!
‘Sorry, I can’t make it.  I am tortoise sitting for a neighbour.’
The updated version of  ‘I’m washing my hair.’  Thank God for that.  I was running out of shampoo!
This is Trish, signing off.