Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Jamie Oliver Syndrome...

Strike up the band. Send telegrams to your loved ones. Sing it from your rooftops.

I officially have a Life.

So why do I find it slightly disconcerting that a small part of me craves to be an unemployed bum again? (possibly because I thought about it while I was sat at my new desk battling with formulas in Excel) I admit right now and off-the-bat, the month off however desperately needed and thoroughly enjoyed it was, did get a bit boring and frustrating near the end. It did raise an interesting question however - if money was no object and if society didn't pressure us into doing it, would we be happy not working?

I have visions of aliens looking down at us from outer space. Witnessing probably what we see on those Wildlife on One specials about ants or wasps. Watching us mindless going about our day like drones systematically performing repetitive daily tasks without question. Our little honeycomb lives. I admit, it's a tad profound for my quirky blog but it's high time I go a bit Alain De Botton on you, just so you realise I'm more than a pretty face.

Scaling it up a bit and being a tad more BBC FOUR than BBC TWO about this subject - money is good to have. Of course it is. If that was no exception and we were all 'Ladies who Lunch' would we be happier? For me personally I like to have goals. A few years ago, the social aspect of a work environment was huge part of why I enjoyed 'going to work'. As time moves on and priorities change, I'd now like control my own life schedule and not so adamant about social intercourse at work as I once was. I admit this is probably an age thing rather than a philosophical question but there is something a tad deeper to consider. There is a crisis many find ourselves in today, due to an onslaught of technology that has allowed mass communication to permeate into our lives on a scale which has never been experienced before. The internet, mobiles, blackberries and our modern, ultra-efficient lifestyles means we have access to anything and everyone, wherever and whenever we want. It also means however, we can be accessed by our work 24/7. This in itself is a terrifying thought to comprehend for many like myself who try to adhere, and quite rightly so, the need to draw a line between 'work' and 'play'. This new era of the never-ending work ethic and the constant pressure to perform and deliver is an investment which I and others feel reaps very little in return and which also never ever seems to be enough for those who demand it. This can also partly come from our own expectations. As a result we feel as though have failed in some way. I mean this in terms of quality of life rather than financial, although current economic climates have even made this even more poignant to how much we have 'failed'. Anyone who lives in a big city like London will have heard of the common complaint many of my friends have regarding their quality of life. It was one of the reasons I had to leave London myself. Not as I was tired of hearing the same familiar conversation but because I too wanted to address the imbalance in my own life. It is disparaging to work hard and receive little recognition for it and it has made us more envious of those who can seemingly 'not work for a living' or work less but have better lives than we do.

Is this the modern generation being lazy and not appreciating what the modern age allows us to achieve? Have we forgotten how to live while we obsessed over integrating unachievable work ethics and new technology into our lives or is there a genuine concern we should be addressing and seeking a cure for the 'Modern Work Malaise'.

There are great books on this by the way if you're interested that touch on these subjects. Status Anxiety and Affluenza are fascinating reads (which is a more in depth examination to what every thirtysomething asks what it means to be successful and why we are still unhappy yet 30 years ago we had less but were more happier, or as I describe it as "Why am I not Jamie Oliver yet?" referring to his seemingly perfect life, career and family - recent Sainsbury wranglings to one side)

Perhaps the Modern Work Malaise should be called 'The Jamie Oliver Syndrome'. I have my suspicions however even he might doubt his level of personal success sometimes.

I suppose what I'm trying to say, insights and world ruminations aside, is that there are questions regarding what I want to do with the rest of my life. Work seems endless wherever I am but is necessarily to survive and stimulate the old grey matter. Do I go on with what I'm doing now? I'm sure this question rears it head throughout anyone's life. I'd like to write more. Perhaps do some freelance writing again, like the film reviews I once did but perhaps this time with some social commentary. If only I could convince Charlie Brooker to let me cover him when he next takes a holiday from his Guardian article.

Am I carving out a whole new career in the making or is this trappings of a lifestyle that has even more pros and cons to the one I have now? Who knows what intellectual trepidations that might bring.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Beyond Useless...

"Hi there, how's Australia treating you?"

"Umm, er, it's treating me fine I suppose. Thank you for seeing me."

"So, you've come to Australia to look for work? How exciting. Now, just to let you know the job advertisement you responded to isn't available now."

"The entertainment marketing job?"

"Yes, that's the one. Don't worry, after that ruse I'm sure we can find you something."


"I know. You're qualifications were perfect for that job, weren't they? We don't have anything at the moment, but it's great that we finally get the chance to meet so I get to waste more of your time."

"Right, so I filled in this application form for nothing? Why does it ask for bank details by the way and what's with the question 'If you were a brand what would you be?' is this you trying to be hip and relevant or something?"

"Oh you don't need to worry about that. So, tell me a little bit about yourself while I think about what I'm going to have for lunch today."

"Well, I've had a varied career as Art Director, Marketing Manager and Account Manager. I've had extensive experience in the field of creative, marketing and advertising and now specialise in entertainment design but not exclusively... excuse me, are you just nodding at me politely?"

"Yes... a low fat salad is what I'll have. Now, I will be phoning my 'contacts' to see if I can drum up some interest in you. I'm also going to say a lot of big, exciting company names to you now and make it sound as I know every one of them personally, when in fact, I only know the HR manager who only reluctantly takes my calls as I constantly hound them. Does that sound like something convincing?"

"Well, a job working for a successful company sounds great, but..."

"Fantastic! Now, do you see yourself as more a creative than a strategic person, would you consider working agency side perhaps? I only ask this just to make me sound as though I know something about your job. I just don't want you to know I'm actually listening for several unrelated keywords from which I will feebly attempt to match you against a highly inappropriate job spec."

Umm, well I'm a trained creative person but have had strategic..."

"That's great, that's all I needed to hear. I see you also have a working holiday visa?"

"Yes, I... Why did you just pull that face?"

"Have you seen any other recruitment agencies or gone for any interviews so far? Be careful now, I know I look anodyne and false but I will shaft your potential career prospects if I find out you're not just using me. And if there's any chance I can put another candidate against you for a job, I will do it."

"Umm...NO? You're the first person I've seen actually."

"Great. I'll be as useless as the next agency you see anyway."

"Fine. I'm just slowly getting disillusioned about job hunting, you might as well kill the last ounce of hope I have left. If you continue to annoy me I'll just remind you that your only other career options were probably lawyer or estate agent. Is there anything else you need to know? Do you need to scribble any more doodles of flowers and swirly patterns on my CV or is that it?"

"No, I have everything. Just to let you know, I won't be calling you for a few weeks, if that's okay with you? Do keep in touch though and let me know how the job hunting is going your end. Just so I can field your calls and say 'Nothing has come in yet'. I'll eventually return one of your calls and suggest some crappy job spec we've had lying round the office for some time, hoping it may distract from how unhelpful I've been. By then, you'll get an idea of how we operate."

"Well, thanks for speaking at me. It's been pure joy. Perhaps I should have spent it more productively figuring how many of your business cards I could fit in your mouth?"

"It's been great to finally meet you too. Hopefully we can get you the job that fits you perfectly Robert."

"It's Richard."