I’m not adverse to change. Actually I’m quite keen on embracing it. Up to a point, anyway. But sometimes, it just sends chills through my body.
At work today, Nick asked if I wanted a change from the Art Project. I was suddenly transported back to Telewest and Cowabunga.
I’d been very happily working on the TV platform, testing games, ads, other bits and pieces, porn…I was very happy. I actually enjoyed going to work. It was partly the people but I actively enjoyed my work. Each day it was a joy to go to work. And then came the latest reorganisation.
Most reorgs had left us more or less untouched but this one was to do with a merger with our rivals in the cable business. I had a visit from the mysterious Cowabunga who claimed I should join his testing team as part of the general amalgamation of the two companies.
My world fell apart. I was suddenly flung into a world of contract testers, sitting around like robots, earplugs cutting them off from the rest of the world. It was like an awful nightmare.
I was sat beside Cowabunga, two floors up and miles away from the pleasures of the past. If it was right that we shouldn’t enjoy our employment, I was now in the right place. I hated it.
That’s one of the reasons why I took voluntary redundancy. I’d been spoiled and now job satisfaction had flown out the window like a frightened canary. It was like Revelations where the world falls apart and the angels of the lord will come down and exact revenge on the sinners.
The horrors of hades surrounded me.
This is part of a tryptich from Hamburg, painted around 1380 as an altarpiece. It was created in a time when most people were illiterate. In order for the church to let the layman know what lay ahead for the sinner, these sorts of images would be used to illustrate the stories of the bible.
OK, I might be exaggerating a little bit. The change in my employment circumstances wasn’t really the same as the end of the world through divine disapproval. Just.
Mind you, Cowabunga did me a bit of a favour in terms of my university studies. I could suddenly work full time on them, making essays and study a lot easier. And this led to me being able to do my Masters full time. I guess that illustrates how change can be a good thing.
My whole direction changed. I had (possibly) grown complacent, my brain in a sort of stasis. But then, maybe that’s what apocalypse really is. A change from one thing to another.
It makes me wonder about people who are born into doing exactly what their father or mother did their entire life. I would rather have change than be stuck working in the building trade for my entire life! But then, I look at something like the Symmachi panel and realise how much beauty can be achieved by someone at the top of their employment tree.
This dates from around 400AD and is one part of two leaves that represents two Roman families. It is very finely carved ivory, exquisite in its detail. It’s about the size of the cover of a hardback book and remarkably thin. It’s the sort of thing you look at in utter disbelief. The detail is astounding. Actually, the fact that it has survived for over 1600 years, moving from place to place, owner to owner, avoiding wars, is probably just as remarkable.
I could stare at objects like this for ages, admiring the smallest of detail, the finest of touch. But even a volunteer’s lunchtime has a time limit, and I returned to Nick and his chilling question about the Art Project.
I needn’t have worried (to be fair, I didn’t). He was merely asking to make sure I wasn’t bored. They are still very happy with the job I’m doing and actually want me to keep going with it. I think they are more worried about me changing!
Just before I go…this photo is the entrance to the V&A from the opposite direction to the one I took before. The balcony you can see above the information desk is where I was standing last time. I thought it would be nice to take one from below.