Thursday, 15 May 2008


Why should I let the toad work
Squat on my life?
Can’t I use my wit as a pitchfork
And drive the brute off?

Sometimes I really despise the things I have to do to make money. However, sometimes the things I have to do to make money bring me into contact with other things – things which other people have to do to make money – which actually make me feel incredibly grateful for my lot. I’ve written a lot of incredibly dull tosh for financial websites for example, and if there’s one thing that really curdles my soul, it’s finance.

I also regularly do proofreading work. Now, if the material’s any good, proofreading can be a delight, money for old rope - let's face it, it's basically reading, which obviously, is one of life’s great joys. Sometimes however, it’s an enormous, spirit-sapping trial. This week for example, I was given an emergency proofing job by an Arab financier who pays me half-decent money to make sense of this garbage:

The “value-glamour effect” makes another overreaction manifestation. Here the focus has moved away from the first past return to the accounting ratios. Considering then for instance the book-to-market ratio (B/M), i.e. relationship with companies own resources versus market capitalization. A company with an high B/M ratio (“value”) has most probably encountered the difficulties in recent past, and therefore penalized as consequence by the investors....

And so on for 300 pages. If I may borrow a phrase from the great poet, Tracy Lauren Marrow, this kind of work throws me headfirst into the very bowels of a 'capitalist migraine'.

So yes, whilst the lovely Barbara Ellen gets to turn off her mind and squat over her laptop, this is how I spend my days. I would genuinely rather lick the sweat from a dead dog’s balls. Genuinely. Find me a job doing exactly that and watch me go. I'd be all over it like a man with six mouths. But no. It's not to be. Dead dogs' balls, like Observer columns, must remain the stuff of dreams...

Speaking of the perils of work, I’m slightly concerned that Keith has been swallowed whole by his own giant toad. I know he’s doing an ad at the moment and that can mean working 16-plus hours a day, but it’s not like him to ignore voice-mails. I’m concerned for two reasons: the last conversation we had was about the possibility of me moving into his flat, and I worry that he might be having second thoughts; and also, I know he was due to get the results from his brain scan this week. I’m sure everything’s fine, but of course... I’m not.

Right. Break over. I have another 50 pages of incomprehensible guff to get through by the end of the day.

Aaaaaaah, work.

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patroclus said...

If it's any comfort, you're not alone.

Misssy M said...

For every Barbara Ellen with a nice wee column there's a hundred writers out there paying the bills by writing the stuff that no-one wants to read or write but is there to make the world go round.

You think finance is soul sapping then try my current gig- writing the online safety courses for Arab oil refineries and oil rigs. Exciting stuff.

(Dull as they are, probably more exciting and certainly better researched than 80% of the stuff in the Observer Sunday Supplement!)

Wisewebwoman said...

And try unclenching enormous garbage bags of someone else's itty bitty expense chits and making sense of it for The Tax (Wo)Man.

Unknown said...

I have 2 degrees but I've spent the last year chopping up used pallets for 8 euros an hour.
Things can always get worse Stan!

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with the post, I was just wondering- shouldn't you change your intro?

"Oh, and for all you ladies out there, if appearances are genuinely not that important to you, I AM single... "

You're not single anymore, right?

Ms Baroque said...

Well, you're not alone - Deliberative Public engagement, anyone? But I do want to know how you can edit 50pp of text in that condition in one day...

savannah said...

this post reminded me how lucky i am to have my job! thanks, sugar, i was beginning to despair! xox

Anonymous said...

God love ya - the money had better be very very good.

Anonymous said...

is that picture real? I think i love that mouse. In a non sexual way, of course.

La Bête said...

Patroclus :: That’s excellent. Thank you.

Misssy M :: Make them all watch Breaking the Waves twelve times in a row. I’m not sure why really, or what that might achieve, but you should definitely do it.

WWW :: You’re right, that’s worse. I once had a little temper tantrum doing my receipts and tore a few fistfuls of them into pieces. That was one of the most stupid things I have ever done.

Michael :: Yes, I’m beginning to see that. Although I think there’s a lot to be said for chopping up pallets. I spent a couple of years on and off of building sites, up scaffolding in winter and digging gardens in poor footwear, and at the time it was hideous and depressing, but at least I got a bit of fresh air and exercise. If the money was decent, then that kind of thing doesn’t seem so bad. Still hideous though.

Selena :: Done! It felt a bit funny doing that.

Ms Baroque :: I couldn’t. I did about 30 and then lay in a hot bath for three quarters of an hour and wept.

Savannah :: Rejoice!

Conortje :: It really isn’t enough actually. And with that in mind, I am going to ask for more. Good idea.

PJB :: Isn’t it great? I read somewhere that the picture was taken in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina and that the toad is saving the mouse, like in one of Aesop’s Fables. But that's probably a lie.

Vulgar Wizard said...

Bowel Movement ratio?

Sorry, I couldn't help it!