The other day my wife and I were chatting about work and the enormous impact it has on our lives. Where we live for example. The house we are in now is the first we ever bought without location being dictated by my job.
Going back much further, my family has links with Derby stretching back to the nineteenth century when two of my great grandfathers moved there to work on the railway. One was a teacher from Ireland. Presumably the railways offered better prospects for an educated man.
It isn’t just where we live though, the greater impact is on our lives. Making the best of holidays, scrambling to get things done at the weekend, wondering if a career change would be worthwhile, scraping ice of the car windscreen every winter, office politics, meetings, training courses, job vacancies to fill, presentations to sort out, reports to write.
Even the most routine work must have an endlessly complex and sometimes malign impact on the most productive years of our lives, on who we are and how we react to the outside world. Even our habits of thought. Work uses up our energies and talents, squeezes the best years out of our system into the unimaginably vast pool of things we do for money.
Much of it isn’t malign of course. We all learn about life simply because we learn about people and institutions, the limits of freedom and the need to do something with all those years of productive life.
I have few regrets in spite of my generally negative take on modern bureaucracy. I had it easy though. I’m not one of those destined to work for fifty years or more before a pension becomes payable. Payable to the survivors that is - a number of my erstwhile colleagues wouldn’t have made it.
So where next with the world of work?