Monday, 3 December 2007
Episode One: In Which People Don't Work
'Good evening, happy people. OK, this is my first podcast-audioblog-thingy. I was totally unsure about what to say here and so I've been putting it off for ever and ever and ever. My girlfriend keeps looking at my blog and going "Empty!" at me. So I've decided I have to stop being pathetic and actually say something. It's really odd looking at the computer which is recording my voice all the time. And the process of doing this is ridiculous. But since I'm too lazy to actually write anything, I thought I would talk instead.
'So here I am. And actually, out of all the subjects and topics that I could have talked about today, I've decided that I would talk about what actually a lot of people that I know from cyberspace and online don't know much about, which is what I more-or-less do for a living, without the getting any money part - which is the theatre. So I'm - bizarrely, even though I'm working a full-time job at the moment - doing a lot of work in the theatre. I've got several projects on the go, including one incredibly complex bit of producing/assistant directing that's going to be going on for a show that's opening in April. It's all good and well apart from that I feel like I'm the only one who's on this project. I get the director calling me and e-mailing me at least once a day saying "Why don't we have this?" and "Why don't we have that?" And the more I get that, the more I decide that I can't be bothered to actually do anything on it, and the more I procrastinate, which is bad. But the list of things that I've done - it's amazing how when you're not looking for people you actually find them. I was searching forever for a person who does marketing type stuff because our marketing manager-coordinator quite typically just buggered off as soon as we started the project - he clearly decided it was all too much for him, and he couldn't be arsed, which is such a prevalent thing that you get in the theatre, and he said "Sorry, can't do." So we're left once again with me and the director and nobody else. And so I've become everything to all people. So I've been trying to find a marketing person, nowhere to be found, when I tried a couple of my theatre contacts, and then talking to a friend about something completely different, she said "Oh yeah, I've got a friend who might want to get involved in this - she does some marketing and some producing." And I said "Oh, that's amazing, wonderful." So now I seem to have one, or I will do as soon as I can be bothered to meet her. And the problem is that it's getting nearer and nearer Christmas, and I know it sounds bizarre to be worrying about the fact that Christmas is coming when actually the show's not til April, but with the grandiose plans that the director has for this show - For example, she thought she was going to have a budget of ten thousand pounds. She's currently got a budget of fifteen hundred pounds because that's the grant that she managed to get from a particular charitable foundation. So the first thing that's on her book of plans is me writing a letter to Richard Branson to say "Hello, Mr Branson. I'd like you to give us money because we are well worth having money for this theatre show that has nothing to do with you but I'm going to pretend for the moment that it does." So, yes, I've got to do that. In order to do that we've got to have a logo. In order to have a logo I've got to find somebody to make us a logo. In order to find somebody to make us a logo I've got to find one of my friends who will very kindly do it for no money. So if anybody out there knows anyone who would be willing to design quite a good professional-looking logo for nothing, then please let me know because I'd be very interested in getting them. But of course, Richard Branson and all those big people are not going to take a very small amount of time to get things to us, like money, so we really want to be doing this stuff before Christmas, because we're hoping that these philanthropists are going to have a lot of Christmas cheer and feel like giving out a lot of money to people. So I'm trying to do all of that, as well as trying to come up with a couple of devised pieces, getting hold of colleagues who say they want to meet me and think about projects and then it never happens... And this is exactly what I find in the theatre all the time. It's not profound. It's not all that interesting. But if anybody works in the theatre or anybody works in the arts you'll know this - that people are notoriously crap at doing what they say they're going to do. They're unreliable, they disappear just when you need them - and this is all across the board, this is producers, this is directors, this actors - especially actors, by the way - and everybody who works in the theatre. It's just this laissez-faire attitude of "Oh, it'll happen if it happens, darling" which is why nothing ever happens. And you arrange to - you talk to somebody on the phone who says "Yeah yeah yeah, we should do this project - we should totally meet up and discuss this project and do this project." And then instead of saying "Right, I'll open my diary. When should we do it?" you end up with this "Oh, OK, well I'll talk to you soon - we must meet up." And then three months go by, and you're like "Oh... We must meet up!" And you call them again and say "Yes yes yes, we must meet up, it's all so exciting." And years can go by like this. I've got at least three projects that were raring to go, because the theatre's full of really good ideas and absolutely no oomph.
'But I don't think that's only confined to the theatre. I mean, I'm temping at the moment - thrillingly - and you get this as well. I was given three weeks' worth of work to do, apparently - they hired me for three weeks to clear their backlog crap, and I managed to do it in a grand total of two days. I came back to my boss and I said "OK, well what's the next thing you wanted me to do?" He looked at me blankly and said "Um - there wasn't a next thing." "OK, well what do you want me to do for the next two-and-a-half weeks?" He said, "Well, I'm sure I could find you stuff to do." I said "OK, look, you really don't have to pay me for the amount of time that I would be sitting around at my desk doing bugger all." And he said "Oh, but we've got the budget for it, and we've been approved, if we're going to have someone in for three weeks it may as well be you..." So there's no - in this kind of very Communist* idea of 'you're going to get paid whether you work or not,' of course temps, or people like me, or anybody else in fact, has no motivation whatsoever. So I could easily have spent three weeks doing this work, which would have involved me spending six hours playing on the internet and one hour of work, and then yes, it would have taken me three weeks. And I think that's kind of become the standard. I don't know if it's something to do with the work ethic in this country.** I don't actually know if the work ethic is different anywhere else - anybody who's outside the UK might want to let me know. But it seems like people's standards are really really low. I feel bad trumpeting my own trumpet here, 'cause I don't think I'm the best worker in the world - as I've just said, I'm the queen of procrastination when I want to be. But it's something about the fact that leaving something unfinished, like a bit of work or something, when it's clearly sitting there in front of me, just irritates me. It really does. And I can't understand why, especially if you're getting paid for something, why you wouldn't do it. Now some of my friends have heard me say this many many times before. But again it comes from working in the theatre, that you're - you spend hours and hours, maybe 50, 60 hours a week, working on a show for nothing, and nobody in the theatre gets any money, which of course goes right back to why people are unreliable, and don't do the work that they should do, because they're not getting paid for it, so why would they? Which - after that, and coming from that background, as soon as I am getting paid I'm going "Oh my God, I'm getting paid, I must do something, I must work my hardest, because otherwise why am I getting paid?" And I've got this idea that my work is being valued because I'm getting paid for it. So yes, I'm worth that £10 an hour, and I'd better be worth that £10 an hour, otherwise why would people be paying me?
'Right. So. That's the theatre. Kind of. Actually this turned out to be more about work than the theatre, but I'll tell you about the theatre another time. And that's my first blog post. I very much hope people will comment on it. This is going to be transcribed by my very wonderful, gorgeous girlfriend who has said that she will, but she's going to seriously regret this.*** And until later, then - byeee!'
*Transcriber's note: must explain the actual theory of socialism to my girlfriend.
**Transcriber's note #2: must explain to my girlfriend that we are a nation of perfectly hard workers thank you very much. Possibly not in offices or the theatre, though.
***Transcriber's note #3: flattery will get you everywhere. Doing unbelievably long audioblog posts will not.