Balancing the worthwhile with the monotony: A Laza-whinge. (Or “why I may not be a bundle of laughs at Glasto next week.”

19 06 2010

The video above is a short for a film competition to raise awareness for the Robin Hood Tax ( ) I only learnt of this on Tuesday, when the original deadline for entries was yesterday (although for some reason that deadline has been extended for a month now.)

Suggested by my erstwhile accomplice Emma I took up this challenge, even though I’ve never made a film before and have no training in film editing, or flash animation. Never the less this is the sort of thing I want to be doing with my life, something  difficult and out of comfort zone (to use corporate-speak) but which I feel genuinely motivated to do and I can do with pleasure rather than under coercion.

I was aided in my project by my ever eloquent and fiery fellow revolutionary, Ben “Chubbywordsmith” Francis who wrote and recorded a fine piece of prose to illustrate what a good idea the Robin Hood Tax is. There were numerous hurdles to jump, both technical and creative but after two days of solid graft I spliced Ben’s vocals into a set of images then encoded the whole thing from a .swf file into a format suitable for YouYube (which for all you non-techies out there is no mean feat.)

Yes, it was hard and tiring but because this was something I wanted to do and work which I have a drive for. Something deep within me kept me going even after setbacks. Instead of giving up I made a cup of tea and then came back to it from a different direction to solve the problem and it didn’t feel like the life was being sucked from me for do so. For so long in my working life I’ve had little passion or commitment, rotting away in one mindlessly banal office environment to the next but in doing this little video I felt a pride and an accomplishment which I have never felt in earlier occupations.

I’ve worked in Finance, Insurance and Retail despite having no inclination to do so. Necessity had forced me into those ill-fitting roles, bills needed to be paid so rather than take the risk and do something I want to do, something which I would take joy in doing and so devote my full energies to without thinking about it I’ve ended up stuck in one rut to another.

To be pretentious for a moment the Existentialists believed that the root of malaise in the human soul is to live a life without purpose, to not believe in the things that you do. I can wholeheartedly agree with this view,having being trapped in office monotony for so long I’ve felt the life from me drain slowly away. I’ve had to bend and contort myself into something I am not comfortable being, an artificial personality to earn a pittance, prostitute my soul just to earn a little above minimum wage and then pretend this is what I wanted to be just to please some performance review or “1-2-1”

Before I moved down to London to chase dreams I was up in Leeds. The last year of that experience was, to be honest a complete waste of my life. Career wise it was a total dead end. I was in a position I took on a temporay basis which turned into a full time commitment of myself just to pay the bills. Stuck in a nine to five with my heart somewhere else the mindless drudgery of the role just drained me of all hope and ambition.

It just wasn’t where I wanted to be in my life but finances and being infected with a general lack of self worth as a side effect of being in that environment with meant I stagnated. Like so many around me I was under the illusion my little grief pit was comfortable, it was safe. I had half convinced myself that this was the best I could ever hope to achieve, any creative work I wanted to do on the side never materialised as by the time I had dragged myself home from 9-10 hours of commuting and work I just wanted to sleep.

I ended up on anti-depressants,started to loose sight of the vague goals I have in life, I started to forget who I was.

But I escaped.

The months since have been good. I’ve felt no need to take anti-depressants, every day I do something creative and fulfilling, whether it’s this blog, a more general piece of writing, creating illustrations, being part of news event on twitter, going to protests, making a stand or just entertaining people with my sideways look on life and my terrible/beautiful fantasies but whatever it is I’ve never felt it was a pain or burden like so much of my life in that last year in Leeds was.

I do these things because they come naturally to me, it is part of who I am and because of this once in a while somebody compliments me, tells me I’ve done a good job or that I’ve brightened up their day. If we lived in a post scarcity utopia where all our basic needs were catered for like in Star Trek then this validation would be all I needed to give my life purpose and beat that existential funk which seems to dog so much of my adult life.

Sadly the things I do which make me and others happy don’t pay the bills. Now I’ve not been under any illusion that they would put food on the table, I have been earning some coin here and there which has until recently been enough for me to get by without much complaint. But right now those coins aren’t coming in and I am in desperate times.

I have one or two unpaid bills hovering over me and my one holiday this year (Glastonbury next week) is going to be a very limited affair as I have no money for food and supplies. This could even cast quite a dark cloud over what should be a joyous time, my brow will be furrowed with worry when I should be gliding around with the calm contented smile of a hippy at one with his world.

For the first time in my life I’ve had to sign on which for those of you who have had the misfortune will know is a gut-wrenching experience, almost an admission of failure and lack of self worth. I don’t like hand-outs or charity, I would rather have the pride of standing on my own feet but necessity , as always has turned my hand.

For the past few weeks I’ve fired off a number of job applications for positions which have the potential to ruin me like the past year in Leeds almost did. Trifling, monotonous vacancies which barely utilise any of my natural talents but sadly are the ones I’ve have experience for in my lamentable “career.” I can handle a part time job, hell the stability would be of some considerable comfort to me. I could even tolerate a temp position for a week  so long as I don’t get sucked into worlds I have no interest in and no inclination for.

But that is my fear, that I may fall into another rut and that the activities which validate me and hopeful amuse, educate and embiggen others will fail to materialise again as instead I just move numbers from one spreadsheet to another, shuffle bits of paper for reasons I can not even pretend to care about, listen to dullard conversations and be forced to keep quiet lest I be seen as “wacky” or “not one of them” and suffer because of it.

I might be lucky, down in the Capital I could find a nice little earner that would pay the few bills I have now and still leave me time and energy to do the things I want to do. Experience tells me this might not be the case though.

So yeah, Glasto mates. If I don’t seem myself or not particulary fun all the time next week then this is why. Just a heads up, y’all!



4 responses

19 06 2010
Gail Something-Else

Ace blog! I’d feed you beans if I was gonna be there..which is a faded maybe..pretty certain that I’ve got a pass but can’t afford to get there at the mo..
Great vid too..but check typos!! xx

19 06 2010

your post reminded me of this image:

i’d say you, like the rest of us at our age are at the ‘idealism’ stage!

19 06 2010

Lol, quite apt but it looks like I have “Effort, Failure and rejection” to look forward to before “Compromise” and a billion years of more work. This ain’t helpin’!

1 07 2010

Just read this wish id done so about 10 days ago.

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