Nearly five years ago I was made redundant. This was after 30 years working in Financial Services. I have experience in Retail and Business Lending, Insurance, Financial Planning, and Superannuation. Despite this experience – and about 1,200 job applications – I’ve found it impossible to find full time work.

I’ve lost count of the interviews and Assessment Centres I’ve attended – I can only say that nothing I do seems to improve my chances of getting work. The reasons for rejections are nearly always vague – ‘other clients more closely met the requirements of the position’, ‘our recruitment software deemed you unsuccessful in obtaining an interview’ or ‘management decided to go another way’.

I’ve had my resume reviewed by experts. I’ve had my interviewing technique examined. I’ve attended coaching clinics and workshops. Yet nothing has improved my ability to get a job.

So, what is the problem?

Friends and family have suggested that my age is an issue. While employers are unlikely to say that this is a drawback, I’ve attended Assessment Centres where I’m twice the age of everyone else. A potential employer is unlikely not to notice this, and perhaps doubt my ability to work at the same capacity as a younger person.

Could it be my weight? My thinning hair? My sexual orientation (at least one employer has asked me this question)? Could it be my interest in poetry, Bob Dylan, or Buffy the Vampire Slayer?

Whatever the reason(s), after nearly five years of unemployment, I have reached a stage beyond desperation. I can imagine a future living in the wreck of my car.

Please note that I write this entry not in search of sympathy, but as an indication of the difficulty that older people face in obtaining regular work. Despite policies to the contrary, there is obviously discrimination when it comes to employing over 50’s.


The end of NAUSEA

My blog NAUSEA was initiated in 2006 to contain music and movie reviews, poetry, comic articles and musings on the human condition.

I resurrected the blog in 2012, but due to health issues and changing personal concerns, the resurrection was short-lived.

This archive contains all the articles posted in 2006 and 2012. A new, more visually oriented blog will take NAUSEA’s place at the old address www.grahamcatt.com

Thank you for any interest or support you have shown in the past. I’m hoping the new blog will be a more colourful, interesting and stimulating experience.


Through the Tunnel

Through the Tunnel is the title of the second poetry anthology by Adelaide’s Hills Poets. It was launched by renowned SA poet, Graham Rowlands, at the Box Factory on Friday 26 April.

The collection was edited by Jill Gower, and features selections from 17 poets, including Elaine Barker, Belinda Broughton, Jules Leigh Koch and Valerie Volk.

The Hills Poets group meets each month at the Crafers Inn and has been doing so for over ten years.

Copies of Through the Tunnel and the group’s first collection Frost & Fire can be purchased from the publisher, Ginninderra Press.

Tunnel (Front)

Thinking can kill you

The mind is its own place, and in it self
Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven.

John Milton


I am always baffled by reactions of anger to news of a suicide. I can recall a work colleague once hurling books and papers around her desk when she’d heard that a friend’s friend’s uncle had killed himself. She didn’t even know him.

As someone who has experienced such desperation, my own reaction is one of deep sadness and empathy. It’s not hard for me to imagine what the person might have been going through, and why he or she might have taken such steps.

To be trapped in your own negative thoughts and emotions is indescribably painful. Unlike a bad physical experience, you can’t walk out of your own mind. The bad experience is happening inside you, and there doesn’t seem to be a way out.

Not that long ago, I found myself awake at 3.00am worrying about a mysterious stomach ailment I’ve acquired and its affect upon my life. After an hour or so of hideous, grinding ‘thought’ I suddenly ‘came to’, as if from a dream, and realised that my thoughts had been dragging me deeper and deeper into a mental, and physical, quagmire.

‘You’re no good, you’re pathetic, you’re weak, you’re not normal…etc’

This cycle of ugly self-criticism was like a coil, pulling my mind and body tighter into itself. I could feel the negative emotional energy in my chest, my neck, my limbs – a heavy, dark static.

Becoming aware of these thoughts and sensations is the key to overcoming them, but it isn’t always so easy to do – and it’s certainly not easy to remove yourself from them when they have become your ‘reality’.

The origins of depressive thoughts are many and varied – rejection, divorce, death of a ‘loved one’, disablement, sickness, losing a job, financial mismanagement, an accident. Sometimes there may not even seem to be a specific reason for being depressed.

Over time, these depressive thoughts acquire an emotional force, and together they form a bundle of negativity that lives inside you, and emerges as though a dark cloud when triggered by the ‘right’ situation or sensation. This ‘trigger’ could be anything – a memory, the actions of a partner or work colleague, or something you saw on television.

This negative force can even seem to arise without provocation – suddenly, you’re overcome by feelings of self-loathing or anger or deep sadness! Where did it come from?

During my 3.00am ordeal, I’d started worrying about a stomach sickness, and within an hour, had turned the situation into a fully-fledged assault on my self-worth. What sort of day would I have had if I hadn’t realised what was going on?

Realising that you can step back and observe your own thoughts is a revelation, but it’s only the first step to finding your way out of the void of negative body-mind experiences.



Port of Morrow – a Review

It might just be me, but the start of 2012 has seemed dismally short of great pop albums.

Thankfully, The Shins have helped remedy this with their first lp for five years – and the first on Mercer’s own label, Aural Apothecary – and it’s full of hooks, great melodies and memorable tunes. Since Wincing the Night Away in 2007, the band has seen an almost complete change in line-up, with James Mercer, now the only original member.

The new album – Port of Morrow – is possibly less guitar, more keyboards oriented than previous lps, but there is no great change in sound. This is not surprising, given that The Shins have always been almost a solo project for Mercer. On this album, his voice dominates, the intelligent, clever pop lyrics front and centre.

The album opens with one of its highlights, Rifle’s Spiral. Flickering guitars, bobbing bass, and bubbling synths provide the backing to a cryptic portrait – ‘viscera unfurls as you rise from your burning Fiat’ and ‘you were always to be a dagger floating straight to their heart’.

Second track, Simple Song, the first single, is, as the title suggests, a more straightforward love song. The song builds up nicely through the first verse and bridge, with backing harmonies and layers of guitar, then falls away beautifully in the chorus, leaving Mercer’s voice and a simple keyboard line to carry the gorgeous melody.

My life is an upturned boat, marooned on a cliff, you brought me a great big flood, and you gave me a lift, girl what a gift, and you tell me with your tongue, and your breath goes in my lungs, and we float over the rift.

It’s Only Life and September are both slower in tempo, both echoing the songs of Neil Finn (this is a good thing). Bait and Switch, on the other hand, is 70s power pop – jerky rhythms, electronic burps and an urgent, manic chorus backdrop a tale of temptation and betrayal – how she got in, I’m not sure that I know, two weeks on and my spine was in traction, my eyes in a basket.

Another album highlight – No Way Down – sounds almost celebratory in tone, while its lyrics describe crooked politics and America’s economic troubles. It’s a curious combination, but the tune is fabulous.

A tiny few are having all the fun, apologies to the sick and the young, get used to their dust in your lungs.

The second half of the album is filled with slower tracks; For A Fool – with its twanging guitar and delicious swoon of a chorus, Fall of ’82 – another portrait, complete with 70’s horns, and 40 Mark Strasse – a song of unrequited love: You play in the street at night, blown like a broken kite, my girl you’re giving up the night, are you gonna let these Americans, put another dent in your life.

The title track finishes the album with more cryptic lyrics – a glimpse of the apocalypse perhaps: Life is death is life, I saw a photograph; Cologne in ’27, and then a postcard, after the bombs in ’45, must have been a world of evil clowns that let it happen, but now I recognise dear listeners, that you were there and so was I.

The Shins are not groundbreakers or experimenters. In fact, their sounds and style are pure 60’s/70’s pop. In fact, on Port of Morrow they sound most like Crowded House, hardly cutting edge, but an indication of the songwriting strength.

The Shins do what they do extremely well, and I’m happy for them to keep on doing it.