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Careering out of control… 22, October 2006

Posted by babychaos in careers, General Wittering, Work.
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Spurred on by an exchange of comments by Mrs Metaphor I thought I’d write a bit about careers. I’ve been thinking about them a lot recently so whether it was coincidence, or Mrs M’s pointy brain I don’t know. I doubt I’m the only person around who feels the way I do, in fact I suspect people who don’t are in the minority. I think that’s an interesting factor, in itself, so once again, my motives are to demonstrate what I believe is the great conundrum of humanity – that we’re all different and yet the same.

When I was a kid, I wanted to be famous even though I knew it would be scary. I wanted to be decent and honest and true in a very public way. A way that would influence those who admired my work enough to emulate me to do the same. Deep down, I suspect it a lot of it was because I thought being famous would make some of the things I found difficult easy. You see, I’m outgoing, very outgoing but don’t confuse that with confidence. I like who I am these days and I couldn’t be anyone else even if I wanted to but for all of that, I’m shy. I always thought that if I was famous it would be easier to make friends. I’d lay bets that’s not the case, mainly because what you forget, when you are thinking about these things is that everyone else is shy too. So if you’re famous they’ll be even more scared of you than you are of everyone else… then there’s the other technicality. If you want to be famous, you have to have something to be famous FOR.

In my heart of 5 year old hearts, I knew I was going to be in a band. Ok so I can’t carry a tune without heavy lifting equipment and although I’m supposed to have “relative pitch” I can only assume they are very distant relatives but even so. I was sure somehow, somewhere I’d get past that. Why? I sing with the same horrible breathy squeakiness as the woman on that “White Horses” song which every bloke who grew up in the 70s has as a desert island disk – along with Two Little Boys, by Rolf Harris and The Girl From Ipanema by the way but I digress…

I suppose my rationale for choosing fame was that I’d already had a taste of what it was like. I grew up in a school. It’s a big place on top of a hill, chock full with kids and teachers who all live on site. Everyone there knew my dad and mum so, by default, everyone there knew me. On the other hand. In most instances, I didn’t know them.

Often people I couldn’t ever remember meeting would come up to me and chat away as if they’d known me for years. They had, of course. Half by sight and half by proxy, through my Dad. Because they knew about me, they’d often assume that I knew about them. Odds were I did, the difficulty was putting a face to the name. I’d usually heard my parents describing friends, people who worked at the school, other teachers and pupil’s parents often enough to hazard an educated guess. I HAD to get it right though. Not to know who they were was unkind and insulting so I’d need to ask them the kind of PERTINENT QUESTIONS which would reveal enough for me to guess with confidence.

When I was sure I would ask them about something that showed I recognised EXACTLY who they are – preferably a thing that meant something; their hobbies, pets, families etc. This is tough in some respects, especially if you’re a bit shy and crap at conversation although you get used to it when you grow up with it – which I did – and if you’re really stuck you can always turn it into a set, you know just say funny stuff and make them laugh until the ice breaks or it’s time for them to go away.

Now I always reckoned fame is a bit like this (I recently read an interview with one of my many pop idols which has confirmed my suspicions). Except that when I was a kid, if I got fed up with my goldfish bowl of a life I could walk down the hill, off the site and become anonymous. If you’re famous you can’t do that so easily.

Perhaps that’s why Paul McCartney used to don a blonde wig and wander round the streets of London in the 60s enjoying his anonymity or why, when asked, all four Beatles agreed that what they missed most about their pre-fame days was the faceless stuff that everyone does – like going on a bus. I suspect you’d get the same routine with strangers, too. Except of course they really would be strangers if you were famous, they’d be in love with the idea of you, the brand of you but they wouldn’t know the real thing at all. I bet they’d be just as hurt if you didn’t act like you were best mates, though, because they’d feel they knew you so well and I could also see them getting irate if you pointed out why not.

Who am I kidding? Fame would be crap. Going off on a tangent (again) I have nearly gone up to two people who looked familiar, said I reckoned they must have been taught by my dad and asked them where I knew them from. Luckily Mr BC was there to explain that the first one was Kevin Keegan and… well I managed to recognise Ronnie Corbett on my own. My dad, however, spent about 20 minutes talking to Ian Hislop at Glyndebourne once, asking all the PERTINENT QUESTIONS and trying to work out what year he recognised him from, whether he’d been in his house at the school or whether he’d taught him and what he was doing now before giving up and returning to my Mum’s side, perplexed. Both my parents are masters at the PERTINENT QUESTIONS and nearly always work it out eventually.

“What on earth did you have to talk about to Ian Hislop for 20 minutes?” She asked him.

“Oh bugger! Is that who it was?” Said Dad. “I thought he was one of the boys!” (It was a boys school to start with although it went co-ed – I got to attend in the 6th form).

Then there’s the awful occasion when I was a receptionist and Neil Kinnock rang the office. I thought he was my brother taking the piss, which he does endlessly – my brother, obviously, not Neil Kinnock I don’t know him from Adam, as I went on to ably demonstrate.

“Fuck off G_____ that’s a crap Welsh accent!” I told him and put the phone down.

Two minutes later the phone rang again but I was dealing with another enquiry so one of my colleagues picked it up. After she finished the call she explained that her partner was driving Neil Kinnock and Ben Elton around in a car that day and that she’d just spoken to both of them.

“Oh dear.” I thought.

My brother swears I didn’t tell him to fuck off, which means, by process of elimination that rather than him it was probably Neil Kinnock, doing a bad impression of himself, to whom I gave the bum’s rush.

Oops.

For all that. I suspect I’d still enjoy being famous, in parts. I still have this barking notion that by being genuine, not caring about all the crappy trappings, by just doing whatever it is I’d be famous for doing, being myself and not trying to be somebody I was not, I could be a really cool role model and make the world a better place. This, I appreciate, is fanciful cobblers and most people grow out of it by the time they’re about 13. I guess I just didn’t. Anyway, it’s not going to work. That’s that kind of attitude Neil Diamond has and look how hip he is.

Back to careers. I suppose I feel that I do have something to give but it’s rather light and fluffy. I’m a very happy person at the moment and I’d like to share it somehow. You see what I’m really good at, is being me. Me is inherently funny, whether I want it to be or not, I’ve long since given up trying to get people to take me seriously because they don’t. They will laugh whatever I do – and heaven help me when I get angry – so the trick is well, there are two tricks, to make the humour look deliberate and to bear in mind that humour used skilfully is about the most powerful tool in the box to make people think….

So my challenge is to find a career that allows – or even better requires – me to be myself, with a vengeance, in pursuance of my duties. I can be funny but not quite funny enough for stand up. I can be funnier sitting down but I don’t write quite well enough to do it for a living or get a book published – my efforts may also be hampered by my inability to come up with a coherent and believable plot but we won’t go into that here.

For a while there I did have a job that fitted the bill and a job that I really did feel I was put on earth to do. I wasn’t, of course but it seemed like that at the time. It was bloody brilliant and I am bloody lucky – who gets to feel that way about a job in their life, ever? Not many people I bet.

I was a pillar of the establishment (in a big fuck off multinational) and I was doing a high flying job the kind of job I’d worked my way up to – I could never have got a job like that at interview in a million years. Before long my immediate boss left and I was doing his high flying job too. I loved being part of the establishment, as rebels often do – after all rebellion is always that little bit more outrageous when it comes from the inside. Perhaps that makes me a protagonist, more, of organised chaos or even a constrained anarchist. I don’t know. Whatever it is, it usually gets me fired but for some strange reason, in that job it got me noticed, even liked. I was younger and greener and further down the pile than everyone I had to work with so the only way I could gain their cooperation was by making it fun to work with me. That was the aspect of the job I really loved, getting results out of people, getting their help with nothing to back me up. And I learned stuff. Stacks and stacks of stuff about being human and more importantly I learned to like who I am…. or at least accept it, even the bits that are supremely unlikeable.

I got made redundant – as you do – and when I came to look for another job I realised that it wasn’t going to happen here. Then there’s my marriage, which is a very happy one and I intend to keep it that way. Career-wise, Mr BC is a mile ahead of me. Even at the height of my multi-national high flying I wasn’t earning half what he pays in tax. The gap is too wide now. I’d have to go back in as plankton and he sits on a number of company boards. When he gets a slot for a holiday he needs to be able to drop everything and just go… I need the kind of job that will allow me to drop everything, without warning and go with him. The only manager I’ve ever known who’d put up with that is myself… so I guess I have to work for me.

That means I have to do the kind of job I’m good at, rather than whatever’s available in the first company prepared to employ and put up with me.

Which is how I’ve come back to fame. Because it’s brought me round in a circle to looking at my natural talents, such as they are and the arduous task of finding a way of using them to earn. A way which fits in with Mr BC’s work, so I can support him and help him when it’s stressy – which it often is – but which satisfies me cerebrally, oh yes and not forgetting my naked ambition. And to be successful at the things I’m looking at now involves my name, or my work, becoming publically known – albeit in a small way. Hmm…

So I can write, I can make people laugh and I can draw. Ideally I’d do a job like my old one where I had to make people laugh to get information and then write about it. However, while I’m good at writing and making people laugh, good enough at them to establish a sympathetic relationship with my bosses and write corporate puff for a corporate behemoth, I don’t have the talent, the luck or the connections to do that in a media arena.

The other thing I can do, is draw. Drawing is the thing I’m far and away best at. It doesn’t cost the way writing does, I can draw with the radio on. I can draw, in a certain style, like ringing a bell and I like the results. I can do drawings I like so much that I think they can’t possibly be my work and should, by rights, have been drawn by somebody else. I love drawing but it isn’t quite enough. It doesn’t make a sound and it doesn’t tell a story…. not on it’s own. My drawing is utterly commercial. I can’t really see how it could fail if I can work out what, exactly, to do with it. It’s just that I can’t. And that’s almost worse than not being able to draw at all!

I’ve made a start but I know I haven’t quite cracked it yet. Maybe that’s why it’s never been enough. It’s obvious what to do with a talent to write and be funny but not so obvious what you’re supposed to do with a talent for the kind of drawings I draw. No. It’s not high art. Imagine cartoons without the witty caption or caricatures of people which don’t look like them – yes I’m a crap caricaturist and the lack of witty captions is why I never made it in stand up… oh yes and because my fear of touring northern working men’s clubs outweighed my desperation for attention.

However, while I might wish my principal talent lay in other directions I am aware that I am lucky to have one and that until now, I have left it firmly under a bushel! It’s time to use it.

So I’m trying a different combo; writing and drawing. I have decided to try to earn a living as an artist because that fits in with my marriage, it fits in with any children I might have, it fits in with a different way of life. To earn the real money though, I write corporate puff on a freelance basis. I wish I was writing novels but while I look at my pictures and am so pleased with them I think they must have been drawn by somebody else, I tend to wish my novels had been written by somebody else – the elusive “fuck me this is good! It can’t possibly be mine” is yet to be applied honestly to my written endeavours.

So here we are back at one of the original functions of this blog was to talk about my efforts to be an artist and let you know how I get on! Another generic facet of being alive. One farty little human trying to make its way in the world. More on that story…. later.

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Comments»

1. mrsmetaphor - 24, October 2006

You could always sell Mary Kay Cosmetics…

you see? I AM obsessed…

2. babychaos - 24, October 2006

I can see why though! There are so many sites out there, Mary Kay Sucks is conistently in the WordPress fastest growing blogs or top 10. We don’t have this over here at all although I think Amway is similar. What is so interesting is the complete obsession of both the adherants and the detractors… so, so odd.

Doubtless it’s indicative of the human condition and how empty many people’s lives are these days… I have a theory that every human NEEDs to believe passionately in something – it seems to be hotwired into our brains… but sometimes I think we get incredibly up tight about things that really aren’t important because we live lives that are too comfortable and our principles aren’t tested enough.

For example…. worrying about the implications of getting your art work known or why you haven’t grown out of wanting to be famous!

Cheers

BC

3. Mrs Metaphor - 25, October 2006

I haven’t grown out of wanting to be famous either…I still imagine myself interviewed on television! LOL

I started painting this year though…pretty sure THAT will never get me the fame I ponder….except maybe as a “what NOT to do” segment somewhere.

I think you are right on target with your theory. It’s difficult to actually change the world when our own world, comprised of our well fitted neuroses, cushions us so adequately.

4. babychaos - 25, October 2006

Ah never mind, you probably paint the way I sing ;-)! We have a programme here called Desert Island Disks, famous people choose 8 records they’d take with them to a Desert Islnd, including one luxury item.

That’s what I imagine myself being intereviewed on!

Then again, when I read your reasons why you have a blog we’ve definitely one in common, that is, in some ways we are wise but we don’t really know what to do with our wisdom or how to get it “out there” so we’re here, with our blogs!

Cheers

BC

5. mrsmetaphor - 26, October 2006

Oh, someday they will ALL see the genius of Mrs Metaphor and Baby Chaos! (insert maniacal evil laugh here)

Until then, it’s the mutual admiration society for us…lol

6. babychaos - 26, October 2006

You mean like this? Mwa ha ha ha haaaaaaargh!

😉

Cheers

BC

7. Mrs. Nicklebee - 28, October 2006

BC, what kind of drawings do you do? I’d love to see them. Do they resemble any of your blog posts?

I often get an immense kick out of your writing. I don’t know how much your British-ness comes into play but you definitely have a very interesting way with words. (Is “blimey” a cuss word? Do I need to have my mouth washed out with soap for typing “blimey”? Twice?) You have a refreshing, witty and down to earth way of talking about every day life, not unlike the late, great Erma Bombeck. I’m still chuckling about the snorkeling with goggles adventure! You definitely have appeal for the average person, of whom there are many. Keep on blogging, baby girl! Someday someone’s going to notice.

8. babychaos - 28, October 2006

Ah now the drawings… well I’ll post one in a moment…. I suppose they are like my writing in that they are um… quirky. Thanks so much for leaving such a splendid, encouraging comment for me, too. All I can say is. Ditto re yourself. We are all nosey at heart and I, for one, am hugely intrigued by the day to day intricacies of other people’s lives! ‘Fraid we’re not going to Michigan it’s Texas and then Southern Utah/Northern Arizona to look at the Canyons

Cheers

BC


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