Tough times throughout at the moment. Some bad vibes on a personal employment level, and the continuing global vibes of impending disaster in every sphere.

Still, another moment to reflect on how much more crushingly disappointing it would all feel if I were still drinking alcohol.

 

Holding the manager’s gaze with a serious expression, he placed a forefinger between his lips and began to wobble it up and down while emitting a low tone.

Exit interview strategy #23

A tough week comes to a welcome conclusion, as unexpected developments at work lead you to reconsider career goals. The full moon shines a harsh light on processes of all kinds. With so many to-do lists to create, it might feel like it’s impossible to know where to get started. Yet start you must! 23 and quinoa for luck.

Yeah, and Brexit as well. When forced to sit through a shit show, what better excuse could there be to head to the shop, purchase the nicest bottle of gin on the shelf and get it finished in the interval?

[beat]

Reader, I did not. Solid though the urge was, I ignored it, and the smaller aftershocks of bottles of wine, single bottle, couple of ales, a pint… They all spun about a bit and then back in to their deep space orbits.

Looking at the forthcoming schedule, I think a clear head is the least I can do for myself.

Obviously “Monday motivation” is a thing, but I was surprised to discover that the same thing exists at the other end of the week.

Beyond the TGI Friday notion of the weekend starts here, I mean. When I worked in bars,  Friday was always when work really started anyway. The motivation for that seemed at times to come from being in a kind of oppositional role. You were not like one of the norms coming in from work on a Friday. Different calendar, different clock. You’d see the punters get leathered, then do the close down, then enjoy a massive lock-in til late on. Back in the next day, either opening up or doing the same thing in the evening.

Out of the service industry, I worked on the TGIF circuit in London for a bit. The habit of concluding work around 18.00 and walking into the nearest pub was an enjoyable one, especially as I was at a company where the boss was a work hard play hard type prone to showing off and purchasing loyalty with lavish rounds, usually including shots. I have the scars to show for ill-advised cycles home to Brixton and Brockley, full of lager, tequila and submerged loathing.

All that is well disappeared now, though – 10 years of austerity coinciding with attaining A Certain Age and disposition, progressing through various stages of home drinking on Friday being the new going out on Friday. Three-for-£10 wine from Iceland, two-for-£10 out the supermarket, craft ales, craft ciders, craft cocktails (kitchen mixology)… one really good bottle of wine that will need a supplement later so might as well just get a cheaper one as well and have that first… Taking us through to ales on a Saturday afternoon for recovery, more wine and into Sunday, etc.

Kids introduced a curb on all this, and working as a teacher has brought things like marking on Saturday or Sundays. This makes Friday once again something that is maybe more a conceptual catatonia than a calendrical certainty.

I was looking round to see if “Friday motivation” was indeed a thing. I felt in need of it a bit this evening, hitting the weekend like the top of my head off an unexpected low beam.

Somewhat to my surprise, it was, and not in the way I expected. (Click through 45 images to find out how!) Some careers website had a scroll-down list of motivational quotes for EVERY DAY of the week, including the weekend, for the sweet love of god. They suggested:

Friday: Conquer Your Fears

It’s Friday, which means it’s the end of the work week. As you move into your weekend, remember not to let your fears hold you back—in your career or your life! These quotes will urge you to leave your worries at the door and walk confidently toward the future.

Quite apposite, as it happens. Just what I needed. YET… the motivated response it prompted came from a realisation of the fact that ending the working week in a state of anxiety seems to be a common, global occurrence. Perhaps, even, an anticipated, planned-in phenomenon!

Which is fucking terrible!

So, that all perked me up a bit.

Having long used the phrase “I’d read the back of a cereal box” to illustrate my keen logophilia, I am gladdened and unsurprised to discover that it is not just me. There is a Facebook group – so it’s official – called “Reading off of cereal boxes”, with five thousand or so people that also “like” to feed their minds while they feed their faces.

When I were studying (he offered his credentials as they peered into a suitcase that was filled with bottles of snake oil), classes in lit. theory suggested this kind of activity was essential. Cereal boxes, drinks adverts, pop videos could, as well as novels, poems and newspapers, be read as having equally profound importance. Everything is a “text”. The words of the prophets are written on the subway walls. Religion is the smile on a dog.

With all this in mind, let us draw our attention to the back of a detergent product container, a box of soapy un-delights that transfixed us with horror this morning. It sat squat on the sideboard, its malignant duck egg blues, baby imagery and fake handwritten verse dragging us to hell as we read:

soft-soap-shadow

‘I’m a little toddler
short, not stout

feel my jumper,
soft, no doubt…

When I get
all dirty,

hear me shout:

“get the box
of liquitabs
out!”‘

The copywriters of Procter and Gamble, household goods conglomerate, display an open contempt for poetry, sense and decency. A burlesque of the touching traditional nursery rhyme “I’m a little teapot”, their doggerel spits in my face, sticks in my craw, deposits jobbies in my smalls drawer. A familiar and trusted rhythm, explicitly linking the joys of laundry with the joys of parenting, the joys of singing catchy songs with trips-off-the-tongue brand loyalty.

“…and pour me out”. Dum dum dum dum. Emphatic. Tea time! “…of liquitabs out!”. Dum dumdumdum dum. Limping. Shoehorn still sticking out the back of the baby booties.

And “liquitabs”! A ghastly and ungainly neologism, a dark demon summoned from the dread realms of Copyright, the sort of tyrannical monster word a diminutive TM or R might hover around, fawning. Across the chamber I stand frozen in horror, one hand scrabbling at the door, the other pointing a trembling finger as I shriek: IT DOES NOT SCAN.

If they called it what it is – a sachet, a capsule – it would scan. Two syllables. Bish, bosh. Lunchy. They could have high fived each other round the flipchart. It would still be awful, yet it would at least fit properly. But NO! They soiled the soft jumper of all that is harmonious and true. “Get the box of ravening lions out!” calls Caesar Augustus, appalled patron of the arts.

P&G’s open contempt for poetry, sense and decency continues, should you be rash enough to check out softeningyourworld.com. Perhaps the clue is in the URL. Here you are, being flannelled into a mindset, a mode of living. The sort of thinking that would be glad to see your toddler pulling a box of Fairy detergent out from under the sink with muddy fingers and a knowing expression, as you all start to hum the “Box of Liquitabs” song. Softening Your World. You want but the fey magic of FAIRY to waft its wand o’er you and your brood.

I don’t think I’m making too much of this. In fact, if a word-loving dad were not already apoplectic about a bit of advertising fluff, the Procter and Gamble-supporting deals and magazine website supersavvyme, linked to from softeningyourworld, might just burst his pipes.

supersavvyme

supersavvysods
“Little wins for you, mum.”
“Hi, dad here! … What, nothing? No little wins for me? But… how am I supposed to recreate the catwalk looks? Is my inner wow not worth freeing? I see. What about my ability to land the perfect on-trend hair colour? …well, I find this very hard to believe. What’s that? “Treat your man to an irresistible shave.” Right, a link to some razors. Not talking to me though, are you? Are you really suggesting that the single male you could find to mention on your 1950s timewarp website is SEAN BEAN? One does not simply walk into a society constructed on gender stereotyping and consumer isolation! Oh, one does. Sorry! Carry on.”

And I back out of the wesbites, the focus groups, the chat rooms, stepping aside to avoid this avalanche of wrongheadedness. Rural-dwelling people, extolling the virtues of Febreze to blot out the smell of earthworms and mud. Really, seriously, though. What are we doing? We are letting these people – with ears of brightly-laundered cloth and the sweet smell of simulated countryside insinuating itself along their spindly fingers and close-shaven armpits – run our lives, persuade us that we are impure beings in need of stuff to clean us, de-hair us, buff us, scent us, that the lumpen, clumping, unlovely words we read should be on-trend, on message, on their forums.

Perhaps needless to add, our little toddler and we shall not be joining in this corporate chorus.

One might even, were one so inclined, go as far as to suggest that Procter and Gamble, and all their little wizards of the dark word arts, can get fucked.

Having had to go back to work for money, consequently feeling like The Man tweaked my earlobes and personally sneered in my face, I don’t have much to add today. Here are some trailers for upcoming treats that are being completed piecemeal:

Diamonds Are Forever article, in production since forever, part of the Ten Minutes Hate-Mortal Bath James Bond novel retrospective.
This wheels on fire: York Cyclism.
A brand new, top secret, fiction production.

And a mehry evening to one and all.