We’ve all been there. You’re back home from college for a family gathering when you get cornered by some busybody relative. She’s a retired accountant, her kids are all doctors or astronauts or something and here she comes with that dreaded question – ‘So Arts, what sort of job will you get with that?’

The way she says ‘Arts’ just drips with contempt, like to her you’re getting a Masters degree in scamming the dole and smoking hash. Whatever stock reply you give her  will never be good enough so why not put that state funded English degree to good use and hit her back with one of these vaguely witty retorts.


  1. ‘I’m just working on my novel…’

Look, this lady already thinks you’re a waster so why not own it, be it. What better response can there be than announcing to your family that you’re working on the next ‘Ulysses’ in your shitty, mould-covered flat? At least now when your poor mother has listen to how many of your cousins are already on 40k a year with company cars she can reply, ‘well my darling child wouldn’t be interested in that you see, they’re an artist.’

Bonus points if you can come up with a properly ridiculous plot, like ‘a John McGahern homage, except set in the Star Wars extended universe’, or ‘Brooklyn, except she gets deported for visa violations and her boat sinks and she ends up living on an island populated by dinosaurs’, or ‘an obnoxious reality tv star runs as a joke but then ends up becoming president of America.’ Wait.



  1. ‘World domination is the short term goal…’

A handy one that doesn’t allow for many follow up questions. Your family may think you’re joking, but people probably thought Hitler was joking about the Sudetenland and look how far he went. And he didn’t even have an Arts degree!



  1. ‘I’m defecting to North Korea.’

Yes, what we in the business call pulling a John Halligan. Under pressure at home because people think you’re a time waster who’ll never accomplish anything you set out to? Well, what better time to pack your bags and head off to the glorious socialist paradise of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea? With a name that insistent it’s got to be good! Sure, there might be a few auld nuclear storm clouds on the horizon, but what country is there on earth that can’t be straightened out by a bit of that famous Irish charm? The current Glorious Leader’s father was an avowed Hennessy drinker, so bring Kim Jong Un a bottle of the amber stuff to make a good impression.



  1. ‘I’m just gonna sell myself down the docks for the time being.’

You might call this the nuclear option, particularly if your granny’s in the room. But it’s a handy way to end these awkward conversations quickly, although it might set off a few more in its wake.



  1. ‘Well I’m thinking of a career in academia…’

This one’s sure to get a laugh. At least option 4 offers a living wage and reliable employment from day one.

And if all else fails, just belt out a rendition of the Arts graduate’s national anthem;




Oisín O’Driscoll