My partner excels at romantic gestures. This year he bought me a book, wrapped in the prettiest red paper, with the magical word ‘Love’ in the title. Now I know what you’re thinking. Is it ‘Love in the Time of Cholera’ by Gabriel Garcia Marquez? Is it ‘Love’ by Toni Morrison? Well no, it isn’t either of these. Great works of literary fiction only claim to change your life; my partner has bigger ambitions. His gift was a self-help book that will change my life for real. A book called ‘How to Get A Job You’ll Love’.
You see, for a long time now, I’ve been worrying that all this pissing about raising my kids is below me. How I’ve longed for a book that will help me get off my fat lazy stay-at-home-mummy ass (covered as it is in great oozing bedsores from sitting down reading stories to my kids) into the world of REAL work.
Even as I write, there are tears of gratitude welling up in my eyes, blurring my vision. I'm so moved by his gesture that I feel compelled to share with you the list I’ve compiled in response to one of the book’s first exercises; a ‘cathartic’ list of all the things I have disliked about work in the past, which is meant to help me move forwards.
So here goes:
1. I don't like meetings. For a start, no one listens to me. My partner reckons it’s because I speak at a pitch that is audible only to whales, elephants, or supernatural beings blessed with powers of super-hearing, i.e Superman/ Wolverine/God. I’m not so sure. On the rare occasion I do say something interesting, it’s really odd and funny how one or other of my colleagues (usually a male) will make EXACTLY the same observation a few minutes later. As if by magic. Lately, I’ve been secretly thinking (although it’s not in the book) that the only way forward for me is to attend any meetings equipped with a massive strap-on cock and shout my ideas really loudly into a fucking megaphone. See if that works.
Alternatively I could get my tits out. Which brings me to the second point…
2. Recently I have read reviews of a very bad and naughty book by sociologist Catherine Hakim called ‘Erotic Capital’, in which she argues that women should be using sex appeal to get ahead in the boardroom. My feeling is that Catherine Hakim’s strategies might work fine until you’re 30. Taken to extremes, you might even find that fellating your (married) boss on the boardroom table gets you a mini-promotion (although never ever his job). By the time you reach 40, however, you will have realised that wearing a short skirt into the office is more likely to provoke violent gag reflexes. Suddenly you realise you’ve been misled. Suddenly you have to man up, draw on other skills, like the ability to assert yourself. And it’s bloody hard. So Catherine Hakim. Listen with mother. I know I sound a little crazy, a little emotional, a little irrational, even hormonal - but what I think I’m trying to say is this: shut the fuck up, you tedious reactionary.
3. I don’t like inflexibility in the workplace. For instance, I drop my kids off at school at nine o’clock in the morning. This is what I do. I like to give them a kiss and a cuddle, and see them off into the world. I'm such a wet. Just because YOU want me to be in the office by nine o'clock in the morning for no other reason than because someone in the US in the 1950s said that business hours constituted 9 a.m until 5 p.m (rather than 9.15 until 5.15, or 10.00 until 6.00), it doesn’t mean it should automatically be that way forever and ever. Does it? Listen, I would be there if there were a meeting, or something important, but I just don’t get why I have to be there at 9.00am just so that I don’t miss the critical life-or-death moment when the kettle boils and everyone makes their morning tea and stands around for absolutely aeons discussing what they did the previous evening. PS: I’m not lazy. I never take a lunch hour. Look, boss, if we could just talk about it for a minute in the boardroom, ALONE, I’m sure we could come to some agreement…*brings out Catherine Hakim’s book*…
4. I don’t like leaving my kids in the care of other people for longer than a few hours. Something to do with me giving birth to them and feeling responsible for them. Fucking crazy stuff.
Anyway, as you can plainly see, I’m making progress. I’m thinking positively. I’m talking myself into a good place. I’m all psyched up. I’m supposed to write approximately ten points before I move on to the second exercise in the book, then I’m supposed to read the whole book, but hell, I think I’m ready! I’m growing huge balls as I write. I’m manning up. I’m crushing up all the maternal bones in my body and making cocaine from them. I’m even thinking I should share this blog post with my contacts on Linkedin? What do’ya think? What d'ya think! Fuck, I’m even thinking I’m going to burn that soppy po-faced Oliver James’s book ‘How Not to F**k Them Up' this very minute, and phone a childminder, or preferably, the child-catcher in 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang', see if he's got spaces...
It’s gonna be great.