PEOPLE are often looking for a new diet and so here is a suggestion. This one calls for stress and beer. What you have to do is work somewhere for a very long time and then discover that your job is about to disappear in a septic puff of company reorganisation.
While you are trying to absorb this development, concerned friends and former colleagues invite you out for a drink. That’s the beer part. And the stress just comes with the rocky territory, especially when the news has come out of the blue and, from bombshell to “there’s the door”, the whole procedure takes only a month.
More brutal versions of this diet are available, when the company wishing to lose weight tells their employee to leave the desk that minute and never return. Man On Ledge cannot confirm the efficacy of that variant.
Anyway I easily lost half a stone on the Stress and Beer Diet. I might have been palely anxious, I might have felt like a man who stepped into a lift only to find the lift wasn’t there, but I did lose weight. Result!
One month on, and the weight has crept back. That’s the trouble with diets. Apart from the stress and anxiety, I felt good without that weight, but now the slight wodge is back. Hello old friend, but I can’t say it’s good to see you again.
Perhaps I am getting used to not working, although I can’t get too used to it, as the money will run out soon enough. A couple of freelance opportunities have arisen, so that’s encouraging, and assorted jobs have been applied for. Thousands of words have been written (more than 16,000 in this blog alone) and the first draft of the new thriller has gone beyond the 100,000 word notch.
Yesterday there was a lunch with the features team from the newspaper where I used to work, a small but lovely bunch of people. We met in a Thai restaurant in Walmgate and it was good to see everyone again. When you have to leave a long-held job, I guess one option is to cut yourself off from the past and your old friends, but that isn’t for me. The departed person does feel slightly dislocated, still connected to the office gossip but at a remove. But connections are important, especially when you spend too long sitting typing and getting a stiff neck in the study at home. Other lunches have been suggested so my stiff neck should have further outings.
Afterwards everyone went back to the place where I used to work, and I wandered off in the sunshine, cycled home, had an illicit doze, and then started typing again.
Political footnote: Yesterday Man On Ledge found himself agreeing with a former political adviser to David Cameron. This sort of thing does not happen often, and close scrutiny will be necessary to keep check on further outbreaks.
Steve Hilton is the slightly whacky former Downing Street guru who brought out David Cameron’s compassionate/green/cuddly-honestly side, qualities long since ditched. Known for his bare feet and a weird hippie variant of Conservatism, Hilton believes that companies should pay the living wage of £7.85 an hour. His basic argument is a sensible one: it’s madness for the government to pay benefits to workers in low-paid jobs when this lets employers, especially big corporations, pay people low wages. This state support for low-paid workers is, in effect, a sideways subsidy to big firms. Hilton said it was “the biggest loaded of BS” for companies to claim they could not afford to pay the living wage.
The pre-Budget stories are already being floated (inheritance tax cut, darky hinted at welfare cuts and so on) so we can expect more BS next week.