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Friday, 24 October 2014

Work till you drop?

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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? 

4 comments:

Sackerson said...

The big lie: hard work never killed anybody.

Demetrius said...

Your teacher Gt Grandad, if my dating is correct would have been working before teacher pensions were introduced. Also, religion would have weighed heavily upon him. On the railway time was the faith and in some white collar jobs pensions possible. Work is curse of the drinking classes.

Roger said...

"Most men lead lives of quiet desperation - and go to their graves with their song unsung".

As for the future of work - it is machines. Perhaps Derby Council can see there will be little need for new homes, no-one will be able to afford them. The unskilled and the Joe-Averages will live in the cardboard boxes and packing cases the machines came in. On this basis Tory and Labour pols have for once got their policies aligned with economic reality - build no houses, it will only cause trouble.

But there again, building houses is a vote-loser, best do it very very slowly, no hurry, knock off early and meet again in 6 months....

A K Haart said...

Sackers - yes, it actually killed millions.

Demetrius - I don't know the details because to his later regret, my father never asked. I suspect there was a religious motive though.

Roger - there seems to be a great divide between those who thing the machines will take over and those who think something will turn up.