peterbirks: (Default)
An interesting comment from the ever-entertaining Lucy Kellaway in this morning's FT: Ostensibly it was about the way that work impinges on your holiday time. I'll admit that I got a certain pleasure from reading that she was on a rainy cold beach in Cornwall. Serves her right for going to the worst county in England, I say. It always rains there in August and the Cornish are the whingiest, most unwelcoming, insular people in the UK. As far as they are concerned, people who are not Cornish have but one function in life, to put money into the pockets of the Cornish. So, any media report that Cornwall is wet and miserable (like, in fact, the Cornish) gets two hip-hurrahs from me.

But, I digress. This was the intersting quote. Last week a hygiene visitor to the FT looked at Kellaway's desk. He reported that the keyboard was virtually a death trap (while the rest of the desk was a nuclear hazard, at best). Lucy observed that:

The man with his silly bag of swabs did prove something to me, though not what he set out to prove. He showed me how our work selves and our home selves are quite different. It would never occur to me to go away for two weeks with dishes unwashed in my kitchen sink. At home I do not leave piles of newspapers and junk mail over every surface. At home I do not drink Diet Coke or coffee. In the two worlds I dress differently, eat differently, behave differently and have different attitudes to such basic things as hygiene.

Well, Lucy might be a completely different person when she leaves the office (and, indeed, a lot of women are), but I think she is way wrong to attribute this attitude to the entire office-working race. I drink coffee at work and I drink coffee at home. Both my home and office desks are tidy. And, believe it or not, I don't dress that differently.

So, why is this? I've always felt a certain affinity with Kellaway. She's a bit younger than me, but we seem to think alike, write similarly, and have a generally consistent "world view". And then I discover that she's one of those bloody people who have a spotless home and a messy workdesk.

I guess that I have a "consistency mode" which is incapable of being two separate people, one when I am in the office, one when I am not. I am me. And I can't help but remain me. I've bought a book called "Watching The English". I did so in a moment of mad optimism that owning this book would help me with all those social niceties at which I am utterly hopeless, like how one should talk about nothing.

August 2017

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