Thursday, August 19, 2004

Lost in Vocation

You know that (as usual) exaggerated comment about the lowest lows towards the end of the last blog posting? Well, fuck all that. It’s not that interesting. Suffice to say, in the week and a bit off I had before my new job, I didn’t achieve nearly as much as I wanted to, and the anxiety of impending parenthood is affecting Mrs. AKA and I in unusual ways. I like to think of it as karmic rebalancing after the glorious three days I had before. Now, enough of that. There are more important matters to discuss.

Well, I’ve been at my new job for two days, and I’ve got a full clip of observations to unload on you. Let’s start with the short bit: the pros of the new job. After fifteen months at Feeble Business Evisceration plc, and being treated like the Office Bukkake Bitch, closing my eyes and opening my mouth to the showered offerings of my employers and co-workers, a few things are strangely pleasant. More cash, more holiday entitlement, they are offering to pay my full salary as paternity pay for two weeks (a big plus in their favour, seeing as they don’t know me from a hole in their ass), loads of training, they took me out for a swanky lunch on my first day…so far, I’m quietly impressed at the way they treat their staff. Ask me again in a week, though.

Here’s the down side. Shirt and tie. Every day. Dammit.

Never had to do this before. I pointed out that some elements of my job would require me to get a bit filthy. Their response? If I anticipate that that might happen, wear a polo shirt. Polo shirt! Why don’t I crack out the jodhpurs whilst I’m at it? Shiteaters! Do I look like Chris Eubank?

What else? No casual internet browsing, no checking online e-mail accounts, mobile phones must be turned off in the office. They may as well cut off one of my hands. Yes, I know this is not uncommon company policy in a lot of places, but I’m getting the distinct impression that these guys mean it.

Another discomforting oddity. I thought the office was deathly quiet in the last place I worked. That was fucking Mardi Gras every day compared to this morgue. I don’t even have the luxury of plugging in a CD and zoning out.

All the men talk in clipped middle England word-perfect BBC diction. All the women are shapeless blonde lumps squeezed into too small clothes with screechingly loud voices, fresh off the shelf from the Denise Van Outen clone factory, with a mid-90s Essex vintage.

You can take the boy out of London, and they seem to be trying their hardest to take the London out of the boy too. Will they succeed? They can suck on my balls. They will fail. Although it does feel a little weird to me. I’ve worked in London, and not lived there. I’ve lived in London, and not worked there. Most of the time, I’ve done both. This is the first time in my entire life that I’ve done neither. It’s almost as if I’m having a long-distance relationship with one of my deepest loves…

I’m not knocking the area. It’s the beautiful and sleepy village of Gerrards Cross. I don’t do sleepy too well. I need that ragged edge of anxiety, frustration and simmering anger to keep me going. It makes me feel alive. Walking through GX (as the locals are wont to call it) is like floating through the day without drinking enough coffee. It’s all too slow and gentle and green. I don’t want to be able to see the sky. I want the sky obscured by towering edifices, and crowded with pollution.

Now, beautiful, on the other hand. I can do beautiful. But beautiful to me is a bitterly cold night walking on the South Bank, the chill wind off the Thames cutting into my face, a busker playing Blue Moon on the sax, whilst the lights of my city dance on the black water. Beautiful to me is standing outside a Soho pub, watching the eyes of a complete stranger crinkle and smile in a private, conspiratorial, fleeting moment of connection, as a motorcycle courier gets knocked over by a cab reversing too quickly. Beautiful is sitting in the Empire, Leicester Square on a Tuesday afternoon, as the pin-prick lights on the ceiling twinkle, twinkle in the darkness briefly just as the curtains open, and a new adventure unfurls across the screen. Beautiful is the feeling that you know nothing, anything can happen, there are no certainties, and any minute now, you could be in the greatest moment of your life.

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