I was driving down the M1 to visit my mother. We had stopped at one of the services when my phone rang. The conversation was a bit garbled, the reception not very good, but it seemed to be somebody offering me a job. That’s how it sounded. It was 10.30 and I said I would call her back at 4.30 when we got back from my mother’s.
Obviously I didn’t plan any of this, it just seemed a sensible thing to do rather than continuing a garbled conversation while at the service station but what it meant was that I had the best part of a whole day to think about how I felt about working in some way yet to be determined. If you’ve read my blog to work or not to work you will know that this retirement business has somewhat screwed up my normally rational powers of thought. But thinking of some kind would need to happen during the day.
Truth be told, and I’m not proud of this, I can’t believe that people haven’t been beating a path to my door practically insisting that I come and work for them – they haven’t. Anyway, now this appeared to be happening and with some kind of delicious irony and don’t tell me this stuff is random, God or who the hell (yes, more likely) arranges these things, had given me quite a lot of time to think about how this felt. OK, I had a few other things to think about during the day – driving, mother, dogs, shopping and so I’d forget about the apparent offer and then I’d remember the phone call. When I did, and here again I’m ashamed to write this, cowardice I have called it elsewhere, I felt, yes, I did, can’t deny it, a frisson of pleasure. Somebody seemed to want me and what’s more I seemed to want them. OMG. Of course I would say, is this what you really want? Get a hold of yourself man. You’d pretty much convinced yourself you didn’t need work to support your self-esteem. And here you are all jelly like again. OMG.
Oh this work business. What’s it all about? ‘Work makes you free’ it is said, a phrase popular with the Nazis and the Daily Mail, now there’s a nice juxtaposition if ever there was one. According to Wikipedia, the expression comes from the title of a novel by German philologist Lorenz Diefenbach, Arbeit macht frei: Erzählung von Lorenz Diefenbach (1873), so it, at least, had an honourable origin before being abducted by scumbags. Too strong? Well, maybe, I hear the Nazis were kind to children. But I digress. I seem still to be under the illusion that I need work to ‘set me free’. And here was this phone call promising to do just that, or is it?
It would be nice to report that this story had a ‘happy’ ending. Whatever ‘happy’ means in this confused context. I made the 4.30 phone call and gradually, as I talked to the woman, it dawned on me that, far from wanting to buy my services, they were trying to sell me theirs. They wanted me to pay a minimum, a minimum mind, from what I could understand on later reading of their ‘brochure’, of £8,600 to rent a stall or do a talk at The Academies Show, next April in London. The idea being this was an opportunity to publicise my organisation and of course, by so doing, reap the financial benefits. Ha. April Fool sure enough.
So, no classic, happy ending, just a classic opportunity to test my resolve and not for the first time in my life, it was found wanting. Again, I’m not proud.
But as one door shuts another one closes. Hold the front page because I have another cunning plan to set myself free of my negative judgements of self, to restore a sense of purpose to my life. Watch these pages for more adventures in retirement land.