Out Of The Way

I tuned out, I dropped in. I'm a naive, wide-eyed sell-out

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Man at work

As a prelude to my grand opus, Living in the South, I thought i'd just write about why I'm here.

Like many young upwardly mobile people I moved to London because I couldn't face the prospect of returning home after university and i thought the capital was, of course, cool.
I also wanted to be a film reviewer, and London is simply where all of the big magazines are based and all the screenings held.

You have to understand, though, this was the shoddy thinking of a young foolish man (not the shoddy thinking of an older young man, which this Blog is).

So, I came for cool, I stayed for work, but I often pine for home in the north west.

As a bit of back history, I didn't become a famous journalist but i did become someone who made a living from journalism which is an achievement in itself.

Now, I'm not strictly a journalist, but I do do vaguely creative things - the latest of which has prompted me to write this.

Here's going against the grain: I love my work at the moment. We're producing and editing World Cup goals and highlights for one of the big telcos. It's a big team of producers, editors and commentators, all of who are completely focused, committed and driven by the work.

I know it doesn't sound like much, but last night I sat at the editing desk with a packet of crisps, poised with me magic editing pen waiting for another goal and i thought "This is great. I am happy". Haven't felt like that at work for many years. And it's a sad fact of our world, but to be happy at work is to be blessed.

Yes, it'll end soon, I'll return to being a mediocre boss with a team who have finessed their "what are you talking about granddad?" looks, and having next to nil chances of promotion (I'm going to write about the strange experience of being a "boss" later).

But for the time-being, I am happy.

Yes, I am here in the south to work and work is good.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Fat Trot makes me write long explanatory post

So, briefly, I can’t remember what I’d said to deserve the label, I can only remember where I was standing in the admin department of Britain’s leading daily Socialist newspaper when a fat bearded Trotskyite (many thought him a spook) called me a libertarian humanist.
Actually I wasn’t even standing I was half-sitting on the edge of the desk, so for the briefest of moments the fat Trot was slightly above me. It took me a few seconds for me to realize that I wasn’t actually a libertarian humanist, but it was about a milli-second to realize he was belittling me. This was six or seven years ago, and as you have no doubt gathered, it still bothers me.
I’m going to work out why.

On a simple level, the Fat Bearded Trot (FBT from hereon in) was a self-satisfied patronizing twonk, who would often offer lifts home to the younger office staff and journos so that he could groom them with Trot prop or pump them for ideological tittle-tattle. I got in his car once and vowed never to do it again. Apart from anything else he was fat, it was summer and he sweated. FBT had already incurred my wrath by scoffing at me for not knowing what focaccia was (I’m from the north and had at that point only encountered three types of bread – white, brown and French). Bah! So I was in no mood for his smugness.
Mainly, though, I think that denouncing someone for believing in positive things is lousey, cynical and pompous. Smile, shake your head and say “Idealist” by all means, but don’t sneer, guffaw and denounce. That’s just bad.
So, yep, liberty is great. And the line of thought that says that people have significant intrinsic value – that’s good, it really is. To be a libertarian humanist would be a fine thing, so my last point is horrible. I’m not one.
Why not a libertarian? I think there’s too many necessary compromises to make to make life at least bearable and, at best, good. I always thought that the credo of the conscientious anarchist was pretty pointless: “Freedom to do anything, as long as it doesn’t infringe the freedom of anyone else”. That rules out almost everything except walking round with a anarchist badge on your satchel – but best be careful where you walk, and how fast (you wouldn’t want to hold anyone up)(but then again if you walked too fast you might bump into someone). Turn your music down, don’t put your feet on the seat, you need the window open? you’d better ask me, stop swearing, you want service then stand in line, wait till you’re asked, get off your mobile, who asked you?... and on and on. There’s so many little checks and balances, rules and manners which make life slide along that little bit more easily, I could never give them up. Respect for other people is an easy thing to say but it means a thousand different things. Nope, not a libertarian.
Humanist? Hmm. Kurt Vonnegut said that the saddest thing to admit is that the world would be a better place if a load of people had never been born. And I think he’s right. That’s why people call Vonnegut a moralist not a humanist. But good old Kurt would never make the leap to say that once that terrible birth has happened that it should be reversed. The really sad thing is, I would. It’s not a fact I’m proud of and I don’t, like a lot of people I’ve known, say it with swagger. Nor do believe in any authority that I’d trust enough to make these decisions – I can only say that there are people who do not deserve to breathe another breath because of the misery they mete out and there are many more who should not be made to endure any more misery.
In short I think life is mainly sad and doesn’t have any inherent value – we have to add that.
So not being a humanist is basically to be depressed.
But hey, don’t worry, we can make things better. Because I’m not a libertarian means that I’ve got impeccable manners, always willing to help and will do my best not to annoy you (except Reidski who enjoys being annoyed by me).
Because I’m not a humanist means that I’m always struggling to give stuff meaning and value, that I worry that you might not be having a good time and that life isn’t enough in itself – you have to live a good one and bring happiness to people’s lives.
Hey I might have banished some demons there. Excellent.
So great, I’m not a libertarian humanist, and if you call me one don’t scoff (or be a FBT).
Next time: living in the south or Mark E Smith?