Friday, January 30, 2009

Blogger's commentary / preview of coming attractions

Work, as Oscar Wilde inimitably put it, is the curse of the drinking classes. It’s also a necessary evil for those of us who have a mortgage.

Mid last year, I jumped ship from a firm that was going rapidly downhill and, through an agency, landed a temp-to-perm position with a salary that would have cured my financials worries. At the end of the four weeks’ temp part of it – and just a week before my wedding – they decided the role wouldn’t go permanent after all and I was left with my you-know-what hanging in the wind.

Six months of temp positions followed, mostly data entry; repetitive, boring as hell. The last position was a reception/admin gig at a grim industrial unit. The firm provided training services to a rag-tag clientele including individuals referred over by the Probation service.

On the plus side, I was left alone in the office for most of the time and I had full internet access. Blogging a-go-go! On the minus side, there was insufficient training, no support and no security and I felt more than a little vulnerable.

Just under three weeks ago, when I was threatened with physical violence, I figured that an hourly rate less than 50 pence above minimum wage didn’t cover that kind of shit, and walked out.

Result: a week and a half without work. Pros: getting up late; lounging around the house; blogging a-go-go. Cons: no income; necessity of signing on. I’d just steeled myself to register a benefits claim when the temp agency I was registered with called me: an admin job, immediate start, decent rate of pay, placement until end March at least.

That was Monday afternoon. I’ve spent the rest of this week integrating myself into the new job (and, I must admit, quite enjoying it). Evenings have been spent working on the novel, which currently stands at 33,000 words (closing in on the halfway mark).

But The Agitation of the Mind has not been forgotten. In the last fortnight, I’ve seen ‘The Reader’ and ‘The Baader Meinhof Complex’ on the big screen. The latter got me thinking about how German cinema has developed a muscular and fearless capacity to re-examine its own dark history; and the latter has convinced me that mainstream cinema has identified this movement and decided to jump on the bandwagon.

Accordingly, February on The Agitation of the Mind is going to kick off with a German mini-season (including two personal faves), ending with an overview of how ‘The Reader’ exemplifies the current mainstream US/UK fascination with the holocaust. It won’t all be heavy sturm-und-drang film-making, as I’ll be throwing inspired high-concept satire ‘Good Bye Lenin!’ into the mix.

And once I’ve got the whole German thing out of my system, finished off the Becks Vier and got back to drinking Batemans and Newkie Brown, and ousted the bratwurst in favour of the Full English, I’ll be hosting a six-film Hitchcock-fest including another personal fave. Crop-dusting planes, mistaken identities, Mount Rushmore and Bernard Herrmann’s most memorable score will be high on the agenda.

Give me a week to finish getting to grips with the job and immerse myself in the DVD collection, and it’ll be business as usual.

See you next month.


Meeg said...

Congrats on the job! I'm also interested in hearing about the novel you're working on.

Neil Fulwood said...

Thanks. The job's working out nicely, despite the snow problems on Thursday!

The novel is a satire on what the Tony Blair government might have become had the lapdog of Bush remained in power any longer. I see it as '1984' by way of Monty Python. I don't know if the offbeat and sarcastic humour, melded to the bleak vision of the not-too-distant future will turn editors or publishers off, but I'm having a ball writing it.

Who knows, if it doesn't get published I might serialise it on the blog.