Wednesday, April 12, 2006

The restorative power of Doing Real Stuff

Labour of love
Originally uploaded by joellaflickr.

I cried in the toilets at work today. I haven't done that since they took my kneely chair away. I cried because I had a big headache brought on by an all day meeting under the bright lights, which additionally incorporated some fairly relentless haranguing right at the end. Eventually I said 'OK, OK, whatever' (to what I am now not quite sure as my head was thumping too much to write it down). Then I went to the far end of the building, and by a toilet where no one would know me I sat down and wept.

A little later I came home, mostly on foot, which helped, and decided what I was going to do about it. Medium term, I need to get out of a building which makes me miserable. Short term, I need to get a bit more hardline with the facilities people who don't want to change the lightbulbs because that makes it looks like it was their fault for putting them in. I made plans for both of these. I took some big drugs. I felt better.

A little later still I got out my emery paper and carried on filing the visible solder off the present I am making for my parents to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Completing this task is about as feasible as getting all the Marmite out of the jar, and even more time consuming, but it's kind of therapeutic. Eventually I decided that one section was ready, then I buffed it up with steel wool and sealed it with clear nail varnish. Unsurprisingly, this was not the sealant recommended by any of the men who have offered me advice on this project, but it seems to be doing the job okay, and hey, if it doesn't I know how to get it off.

And after I got a little high on whatever it is in nail varnish that Smells So Good, I made some chocolate cornflake crispy cakes in an Easter stylee. Think Green & Black's 70% dark chocolate, think golden syrup, think butter, think mini eggs. See them here.

Basically, think making things. Making things is good. If you can make things, you can likely also mend things. If you can mend things, you are getting somewhere. You may not be part of the corporate bullshit universe. You may not have to stay in a bad place where they don't care how you are.*


*I know there are lots of people who care how I am. I am talking here of the Man**
** Who need not be Male, but a) Working for the Person doesn't have quite the same malevolent ring to it and b) I can quote the stats which say he usually is.


Anonymous Charlie said...

I thought a kindly maintenance person moved the lightbulbs? And did you ever get your chair back? I don't want to come over like some ostentatious high roller but I'm putting £7.50 a month into Oxfam coffers and all I have to do to cancel it is walk to the bank. And stand in line for half an hour, because I have to go at lunchtime. Oh, and then remember three other standing orders or direct debits, including payment dates and amounts, before they'll accept that I am who I say I am. And my shoes pinch a bit so I try not to go out at lunchtime if I don't have to.

Frankly Oxfam can do what they like to you. They know I can never get out.

9:31 am  
Blogger Jo said...

I took my chair home. Miles Doubleday Software has a less fascistic approach to health and safety.

What the kindly maintenance person did was *move* the light from directly over my desk to sort of behind the desk and to the right. That's all he could do without authorisation. Changing / removing lightbulbs falls into 'changing the spec of the building', and that a) costs money (as you need to bring in a special lighting company to do this) and b) casts aspersions on those who agreed the spec of the building.

So you could kind of argue that they are being cost effective. But I am not sure paying me to go home with a headache is a good long term use of your £7.50 a month.

Equally, I fail to see why they didn't build a building with light switches so I could just turn the fucking things off.

Bizarrely, they rang me up while I was off sick to thank me for my support and oh, would I like to make a regular donation? I laughed hollowly. You're taking my health and happiness, I said, what more do you want, blood? (Actually I didn't say that, that would be Unfair to the person sitting under the same bright lights who has to make calls like that all day).

And you know, some great work is done. Honest. If I didn't believe that, I really wouldn't still be there.

10:36 am  
Blogger Tim said...

Green and Blacks makes the world go round.

9:30 pm  
Anonymous finfan said...

Hey - you have comments now. That's great. And I bet they are more civilised comments boxes than some others I have played in.

As for making things - what can I say - intellectually convincing but still the only thing I can make well is a mess of it all.

Unscrew the lightbulbs and bring in an anglepoise you like. And then tell maintenance they did a fantastic job. In my experience if you don't tell the maintenance people you have work for them they don't come looking for it.


3:41 pm  
Anonymous tomato said...

Aww Joella, I'm sorry to hear you are still having to jump through flaming hoops over the bloody lights!!

My suggestion is to open a satellite office in ex-student accommodation, complete with woodchip wallpaper, no hot water, and windows that talk when the wind blows.

There may still be asbestos in the walls (the warning sign told me so), but I do prefer the creaky office here to your big overlit barn - - so I'm sending all my condolences (and belated outrage about the kneely chair...bastards!).

1:08 pm  

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