3 November 2011


Thanks to a conversation in a chat room on the subject of "work" I'm tempted to think more about how the workplace was a place of boredome and stress in the past and how it curtailed productivity and was sometimes a cause of illness.

This is not some fantasy, as I worked as a teacher for several years and one way of getting every airborne bug known is to be in an overcrowded, overheated space in winter with a group. I tend to keep the temperature in our house quite cool, mostly because the much praised insulation systems now available are not installed and I'm not in a hurry to spend a lot more money just to save putting on an extra jumper. Also, heat breeds bugs.

Of course I was very pleased to be offered work in the past, as it meant survival. But when I look at life today compared with all the activity spent placating taskmasters and equally bored employers I wonder I did it for so long.

This is at odds with the experience of many of my generation. People who are approaching retirement are, to my surprise, apprehensive of change and wonder how to fill time. Also, those who have reached a position where status is quite high are faced with a sense of loss. I had a feeling that I would just wait round for my friends to retire as well and things would go on as before. However, our lives have taken such different directions that I find that the boredome of the workplace, though absent in reality, seems to come along with some of them, like a shadow they cannot shake off.

I remember laughing when Charles Lamb admitted that he spent so long at his desk the wood had entered into his soul. It seems less amusing now.

Writing for money is a chore, but a good training. Writing for pleasure is so much more fun.

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