The London Paper – 19 May 2008
‘Work is the curse of the drinking classes’ – of that, there can be no doubt. I was sitting chez moi with a few Cityboys watching ‘The Apprentice’ last week over a few glasses of shampoo when we all had a collective realization that the programme’s premise was utterly ridiculous. It seemed farcical to us that the ‘prize’ for ‘winning’ is to have to work your arse off for some midget tyrant for an entire year …and for a measly £100K! I mean, most of us would pay a hundred grand not to do that and none of us would get out of bed unless we knew our bonus alone was at least triple that!
Indeed, under tight old Sir Alan’s watch you probably wouldn’t even be allowed to spend most of your ‘working hours’ eating Michelin-starred nosh or watching Eastern European ladies disrobe. The whole ‘reward’ for winning looks about as appealing as two rainy weeks in a Bognor Regis caravan with the in-laws. I mean, what’s second prize … having your legs cut off and being forced to crawl over broken glass?
After my pals drunkenly wondered off into the balmy night I cracked open a bottle of 1993 Mouton Rothschild and got to thinking about this whole ‘work/life balance’ thing. There were four main conclusions that registered in my befuddled little brain:
Life is short
It’s not a dress rehearsal
You could get run over by a bus tomorrow
No-one on their death bed wished they’d worked harder
Taking these basic truths to be self-evident I wondered why anyone who could afford to, wouldn’t leave their soul-destroying job when we must surely ‘gather ye rosebuds while ye may’. Perhaps, I thought, it was just me that found my job so repellent. But a glance at the glum faces around me on the tube every day tells a different story. Indeed, the advice given to the Masai warriors who recently participated in the marathon that ‘many Londoners work in offices, in jobs they don’t enjoy, so they don’t smile as much as they should’ confirms my worst fears.
I then thought that perhaps people take some strange comfort from the time-consuming routine that a job naturally entails but a recent poll of those notoriously diligent yanks contradicts this: 68% of respondents stated that their number-one priority (above children, marriage, career, wealth and religion!) was ‘having enough free time to do the things you want’. It seems freedom actually is appreciated.
There’s a big world out there and we don’t have much time to enjoy it. If we can afford to cut the corporate chains and suck the marrow out of life what are we doing still donning that hangman’s noose of a tie every day? Life’s a beach and then you die. My excuses for staying on in this stultifying career are running out real fast.