For the Easter weekend, Currer’s corporate mole reveals the secrets to happiness in the office
Miss Anthropic is NOT The Currer Ball
Health and well-being at work. Companies and employers can’t get enough of it. To show that they care. It’s much like their universal boast of the ‘calibre of our people’. Take a look any company website – they all say it! The boss man’s equivalent of lying on your CV.
My company takes health and well-being so seriously that we had a training day on it. They paid someone to come and tell us how we should take the issues as seriously as our cuddly, benevolent employer does.
I was sceptical. Hard to believe, I know. It started off with dos and don’ts. How much is too much alcohol, caffeine, and cocaine. McDonalds: bad; taking the stairs: good. Smoking: bad; fresh air: good. Earth-shattering stuff. I was settling in for another day of sugar-sprinkled business BS.
Oh, me of little faith. Because my whole perspective on working life was about to change forever, thanks to our very own Corporate Doctor in Chief.
This Dr of In-No-Sense-Dubious-Qualifications told us about our ‘circadian rhythm’. That’s the thing that makes us feel more or less awake at various points during the day. Did you know, for example, that after lunch, your productivity halves? Since it’s your productivity that’s halving, I suppose, like me, you did realise that. But I foolishly chug a coffee and get on with it. Big mistake. Following the advice of our good doctor, whenever I feel a little drowsy after lunch, I’m just going to take a nap!
Great plan, doc! It’s a mystery to me how more people haven’t cottoned on to this. It’s not like we have work, managers, or deadlines. Normally, I do actually have a meeting from 2-3, where I present updates for the first part of it, and take minutes for the second part, but the other 20 people on the team won’t mind re-arranging it if it interferes with my circadian rhythm, will they?
But for those unable to sleep at their desk (maybe your half-broken seat doesn’t recline far enough), there’s an alternative: desktop meditation. It allows you to ‘refocus cognitively’. Other advantages of the meditation option include that you won’t look like a dick or a nutter.
The pearls of wisdom kept coming. ‘Who here worries about things?’, asked our corporate doc. The sense of anticipation was filling the room. She’d already healed us of our mid-afternoon boredom masquerading as tiredness – what next!?
No hands. Worried that the silent standoff might get embarrassing, a few of us volunteered ourselves. Our amenability was rewarded with a medically-scientific silver bullet to cure us of our paralysing anxiety. Want me to share it with you? Brace yourself – it’s that good…
‘So, for all of you worriers’, said our friendly doctor, ‘have you ever thought, why don’t I just stop worrying? Instead of worrying, just don’t worry!! Give yourself a few minutes to worry, and then just stop! Then you won’t be worrying!’
The sound of stunned silence was quite overpowering. Then, slowly but surely, increasingly hysterical exclamations were heard throughout the room as the freed worriers saw the world with new eyes.
And with those new eyes, we all looked at our Blackberries, complete with raving messages from deserted managers. And went back to the office to royally fuck over our circadian rhythms.
Oh, Damien… You silly boy. Except, you’re no boy any more, are you? Pushing the big 5-0, you’ve become part of the art establishment that you once sought to rage against. It’s time for something fresh: an alternative platform to showcase what’s most daring and edgy about modern art in 21st century multicultural, multisexual Britain…
Step forward, the inaugural Currer curated I ♥ Modern Art Prize.
Listed below are the 4 nominees. I’m sure you’ll agree that their exhibits are both moving and challenging, and not remotely intellectually bankrupt.
So, browse the best of British art, be inspired, and vote for your favourite.
The winner will be announced at a cocktail party in a location to be confirmed somewhere in Shoreditch on 14 July, Bastille Day. Vive la révolution artistique!
Artist: Eugene Greene
Exhibit: My Genital Romance
A ceramic penis, mounted behind a mic, a golden Stratocaster strapped ‘round the triumphant tip; a ceramic left testical, sagging on a drum stool behind a Pearl kit, pubes made from pipe cleaners clinging to 2 drum sticks; a right testical (you’ve guessed it: ceramic), perched on another stool, a double bass resting against its chewy flesh.
Greene says: ‘I wanted to capture society’s dual-obsession with sex and celebrity – and nothing communicates those cultural ubiquities more arrestingly than the rock cock. People say to me, “Eugene, couldn’t you have just painted a picture of Bono instead?” But to those critics, I say, “Fine art painting wasn’t impactful enough for what I wanted to achieve here. Plus, you need technical ability to paint.” My favourite element of the piece? The drum-playing left testical: the way she hangs with presence on her stool, like the effortlessly charismatic rock ‘n’ roll performer – a testicular Steve Gadd, if you will. And that, of course, symbolises the evil of sex trafficking.’
G2 says: ‘Greene’s creation is at once both intimate and audacious . . . This exhibit sang to me . . . Phalliconic.’
A fire extinguisher, lying on its side, blocking a doorway; smoke machines built into the doorframe release oppressive plumes; a fire alarm flashes on the adjacent wall, synchronised to sound its piercing, tyrannical siren at 8 minute intervals.
Polio says: ‘I’m an interactive artist. I want my audience to engage with the piece, to inhabit the experiential dimension; to not only imagine, but live and breathe the claustrophobic symbolism of the exhibit. The smoke and siren combine to intensify the artistic ambience. The subject standing inside the cell of the doorframe shouldn’t only sense foreboding, but endure utter helplessness. It’s a dark piece. My aim? To parody the ‘elf and safety bashing rabble. I came into art to create and to comment – but also to save lives.’
The New Statesman says: ‘The allusion to the gas chambers? Breathtaking – which is tragically ironic . . . A star is born. You heard the name here first: Polio.’
Artist: Jake E
Exhibit: The Beheading Of Oscar
E says: ‘It’s all about the juxtaposition between the ordinarily opulent, and my trademark clinical treatment. For me, the mission of the artist isn’t to show what the world might be like; it’s to prove how the world is. The motif of the decapitated Oscar was born back in ’03. I recall staying up through the night, 6 and-a-half hours into the Academy Awards’ ceremony, when it suddenly struck me how unhealthily fanatical the West has become about the material sphere, and especially the accolades awarded by the rich and famous to the rich and famous – the mystifying acme of that material sphere. Then came my deliberative critique of the concepts of self-triumphalism, judgement, and status – in fact, you might call it a Webberian awakening. I want the audience to journey forth along the subverted red carpet, intrepid yet uneasy, to glimpse that blood-red box, and think only about one word: Rwanda.’
Colin Firth says: ‘A remarkable achievement . . . It deserves to win all the awards.’
Exhibit: Polish Waiters’ Question Time
A family living-room in Middle England: couch, armchair, nest of coffee tables, all arranged ‘round the television, where an extra-special edition of Question Time, the BBC’s flagship politics series, streams. The twist? All members of the studio audience are British-based Polish waiters. The chairperson: as always, David Dimbleby. The panel: Jeremy Hunt, Conservative MP and Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport; Diane Abbott, Labour MP and Shadow Health Minister; Ed Davey, Liberal Democrat MP and Minister for Innovation, Business and Skills (IBS); Douglas Murray, the Neo-Conservative and Director of the Centre for Social Cohesion; and Will Young.
Choi says: ‘What is art if not self-reflection, the cathartic process of holding up a mirror to one’s self to expose ugly truths? And nothing realises that raison d’être more vividly than the subversion of a British broadcasting institution. The substitution of all the familiar anti-eastern European prejudices vocalised by the indigenous Anglo-Saxon community with the observations of Polish hospitality staff towards the British bar and restaurant clientele: our rudeness, poverty of table manners, violent drunkenness, miserliness, etc. It’s observational art at its most vital. I pose the question, “How do we like it?” By toppling the tyranny of the majority, by empowering the minority to not only discuss the majority, but victimise them, I intend to start a national conversation.’
The Independent says: ‘More than simply a return to form – a career-defining masterpiece . . . The campaign to integrate Choi’s exhibit into the school curriculum starts here.’
Currer’s corporate mole reveals how to survive the Hobbesian state of nature of blue chip Britain
Miss Anthropic is NOT The Currer Ball
This week, my Consultant’s Survival Guide. I can’t guarantee that it’ll help you swoop that big promotion, or get you any closer to the green light; but if, like me, you measure success by making it from one day to the next, I can vouch for its effectiveness – so far.
- Leverage informational transmissions
No one likes bad news – especially your manager. Lucky for you, nor do managers like reading fiddling things like sentences. So, if you’ve got bad news, bury it deep inside an email. It’ll be very unlikely to be found, masked as it will be by words, grammar, and other things that take more than 3 seconds to understand. When the inevitable ‘why on earth didn’t you tell me about this?!’ conversation arises, you can precociously re-forward your original email in a ‘were these words too complicated for you?’ kind of way.
- Strategically optimise scheduling of meetings
You’ve got to be careful here, but if you get it right, you can leave work pretty early, but late enough so there’s no point in going back to work after the meeting. Check the diaries of the people you’re meeting with and arrange it so that they’ve no flexibility for the meeting to run over. This will be the most reliable ‘home time’ you ever get. Make the most of it! If you aren’t in the pub by 5, try harder.
- Verbalise idiocy
It’s good to say things out loud, right? I find it particularly helpful when you’ve just been told to do something that’s obviously ridiculous. The simple exercise of getting verbal confirmation subtly (depending on your delivery) highlights the task in all its ludicrous glory. You’ll usually find that your brief will magically transform into something a little more rational.
- Blitz expenses
It’s rubbish being sent on a project away from home. That lovely flat you spend all your salary on sits there unoccupied while you take up residency in a cookie-cutter hotel in a nondescript part of the country. Make sure you use the full length of the silver lining. Whatever your daily allowance is, spend it. If you don’t need it for your daily expenses, increase your daily expenses. You ought to be able to get whatever you want to eat and drink at the weekend blurred into your weekly entitlement; and, in fairness, is that really unreasonable? If your job wasn’t so ridiculous, you wouldn’t feel compelled to be 5 G&T’s down by Friday dinner time. Surely your company should pay for the damage it’s done?
- Constructively channel your frustration
Options include alcoholism, writing bitchy blogs (a combination thereof being optimal), or winding up colleagues. That third option’s a lower effort and more discrete, and thus a wiser choice. We have an internal instant messaging system which provides the ideal forum. Messages automatically pop up on screen, so if you pick a junior person, the chances of their manager being with them at their desk are relatively high. Messages along the lines of ‘are you still drunk?’ or ‘has your manager find out yet?’ are always particularly well received.
- Embrace technological opportunities
Email systems, phones, and instant messaging systems are often integrated these days. Can be dangerous, can be brilliant. People check your availability on your email calendar, and then see if you’re online to chat. Chatting, of course, means giving you work. ‘Are you available? Oh, you are?’ Rookie. Every diary should be well populated with meetings. People don’t see what they are, only that they exist. I’m a busy bee. I’ve got calls, meetings, networking, designated time for particular tasks, and so on. Devastatingly, this does mean that I’m unlikely to appear to be free for ‘could you quickly help me with this enormous arse up I’ve made?’-type requests. So gutted.
- Deliver client value
Point 4 only applies insofar as it’s materially beneficial. There’s times when you might have other priorities, particularly when it comes to the weekly round of realpolitik regarding the touchy issue of Going Home. Earlier trains are cheaper trains. Even when they aren’t, at the very least they could’ve been. We’re always told to take the initiative in delivering value to the clients. So I do. I book an early enough train home so to miss the peak rates, and save the client a shed load of money. It might mean I leave a couple of hours earlier than the grownups would’ve planned, but all that value I’m delivering comes at a cost. Getting whisked away on an early (and therefore less crowded) train at the end of the week with the Hendrick’s purchased on expenses isn’t an unpleasant way to end what will have almost certainly have been an unpleasant week.
- Once you’ve left for the day, never ever, ever go back to the office
Even if you left your baby and your puppy and even your iPhone. Don’t return. Once you’re back, you need to go through the whole ordeal of leaving all over again. It could take hours. All manner of things could go wrong in the time it takes to get the lift back downstairs. The danger of getting sucked into doing more work is both real and terrifying. Never return to the scene of a crime. At least not ‘til the next day.
Lord Tebbit supports gay marriage after being told to
Drew Colgate is The Currer Ball destined for bumper sticker stardom
No time for witty intros tonight, because we’re going live to Tory HQ stat, where a Twitter-assembled angry-mob threatens the integrity of the building. But this ain’t no happy-slapping youf riot or public sector anti-cuts protest; no, it’s the wrath of grass-roots Conservatives, demonstrating against David Cameron’s latest strategy to detoxify the Tory brand: the modernisation of Norman Tebbit.
Cables obtained and immediately broadcast to the world by News 25 revealed Downing Street’s Stalinist 5-Year Plan to Gok Wan Lord Tebbit of Chingford.
Pippa Hobhouse, 69, with her ‘DAVID CAMERON DIE’ placard in one hand, and a bottle of sloe gin in the other, captured the collective bewilderment of the brawl: ‘Number 10’s taking the piss, so it is. I’ve even heard that annus horribilis 3 of this immoral 5-Year Plan involves burning Norman’s trademark double-breasted pin-striped suits, replacing them with H&M V-necked pullovers, and forcing him to support gay marriage. It’s nothing short of the prostitution of a national treasure. We demand a public inquiry.’
Pippa proceeded to swig her sloe, before assaulting our camera man.
Meanwhile, Tim Montgomerie, Editor of ConservativeHome, spoke for every true Tory in the land, as he tends to do. ‘It’s modernisation gone mad’, cogitated Monty. ‘To botox Lord Tebbit’s jowly cheeks against the octogenarian’s will, that’s the cosmetic equivalent of waterboarding. Worse still, I hear that Cameron wants Norm to confess to homosexual experimentation during his wild teenage days. Visit our site and sign our petition to take this daft idea to the European Court of Human Rights. Alternatively, visit our site and sign our other petition to ban the European Court of Human Rights.’
And the stubbly sage wasn’t finished there: ‘This morning I tabled an FIO request and to my disgust it confirmed that a squadron of SpAds are planning to strap down Norman, superglue a pair of tortoiseshell designer frames to his improbably huge ears and nose, wrap skinny jeans ‘round his gaunt, arthritic legs, and tattoo ‘Choose Life’ on his chest. It’s the NHS reform debacle all over again.’
To see more episodes of News 25, click here.
Society takes the piss out of religion for its attitude to sex, but shouldn’t we remove the planks from our own eyes first? Currer and Alain de Botton, luminaries of blogging and philosophy, think so
Joe Blogger is The Currer Ball
Media people tell us how ‘obsessed’ religions are about sex. I’m inclined to think that churches and religious leaders appear obsessed because media people are always asking them about sex. But let’s say, for argument, that they are indeed ‘obsessed’, however tendentious that word is.
Alain de Botton offers another, far more interesting perspective. His gist: that only religions are obsessed about sex enough, given its power to control, distort, and destroy. De Botton cites 3 friends, all reforming internet porn addicts. If that sounds rather extreme, consider that 60% of British men are estimated to be similarly addicted. Shouldn’t something with such potency, so says de Botton, worry us? Shouldn’t we take the concerns of religions about sex seriously, not mockingly?
I’ve just finished Winston Fletcher’s History of British Advertising. I’d recommend it for its potted post-war social history, not for Fletcher’s remarkably lax attitude to sexualisation and advertising. Hardly surprising from an ad man, here’s what he had to say:
‘There is almost no sex in advertising. There are mildly sexy advertisements for perfumes and cosmetics, for fashion and lingerie – all products where a little eroticism hardly goes amiss. Before the rules were tightened up in the 1970s, alcohol advertisers sometimes implied drinking enhances sex, but there has been none of that for more than 30 years. There are advertisements with sexy overtones for a few other products: Cadbury’s Flake, Club Med… but there aren’t many. When an ice cream (Haagen-Dazs) had the temerity to use playful but innocuous sexy images the attendant flurry of nudge-nudge, wink-wink publicity beggared belief. This could not have happened if raunchy advertising was common as much. It would be astonishing if sex were entirely absent from advertising. But sexy advertisements for supermarkets, for household cleaners, for electronic equipment, for medicines, for financial services? Hardly.’
So let’s put Fletcher’s laissez-faire attitude to advertising to the sex-test. A while ago, Currer ambled along Kensington High Street during lunch. For just 15 minutes, I documented every sexual image and reference that featured in an ad, magazine cover, or shop window. My fact-finding mission was against the backdrop of the Government talking tough, but doing very little, about the problem of premature sexualisation. From memory, the Coalition’s response was to phase out the sale of padded bras and ban sexual ads nearby schools.
But as long as society at large remains as sexualised as it is, children will be prematurely sexualised. For adult society, there’s a choice: to continue to irresponsibly-enact our freedom of sexual expression, or to exercise the awful virtues that were good enough for Adam Smith. Alas! While we claim to care about the second, we merrily press on with the first – as the following 15 minutes of shame exposed:
- 14.28, news stand: sexual reference after sexual reference after sexual reference, with a side portion of sexual reference; it’s GQ that catches my eye (that might’ve had something to do with the cover girl and her airborne legs);
- 14.05, man sitting outside coffee shop, ‘reading’ The Sun: actually, he’s surreptitiously admiring Page3, something I surreptitiously observe him doing; I couldn’t see the model’s face, nor her ‘News in Briefs’ thought for the day, but her breasts were perky;
- 13.40, FOX WATCH: it’s Megan’s omnipresent Armani-clad 10’ by 15’ poster, decorating the side of the 49 bus;
- 13.19, Cosmo poster: 5 references to sex, including ‘CELEB MEN STRIP NAKED!’, ‘SUPER-SEXY SHOES’ (I didn’t know that ‘super-sexy shoes’ existed; I suspect that most women didn’t either before Cosmo planted the seed . . . ‘Shit, maybe my shoes aren’t sexy enough! Better buy some more!’), and the humanity-affirming, ‘SECRETS TO WHY MEN & WOMEN CHEAT’;
- 13.09, Esquire poster: an invitation to ‘get into bed with a superwag’ (again, I’d always assumed that the prefix ‘super’ would never apply to wags; silly me);
- 12.03, another bus advert, this time for Tunisia: it features a woman enjoying a sensuous back massage – because sexual relaxation’s exactly what I think of when I hear the word ‘Tunisia’;
- 11.35, Ann Summers window display: there’s a sale on! The strap line? ‘If we took any more off, it would be obscene’, atop a faded image of a woman ostensibly mid-orgasm;
- 11.22, Accessorize window display: photos of 12 bikinied models (suddenly, window shopping sounds like fun);
- 10.28, La Senza window display: a model (admittedly, beautiful) shows aesthetically-inadequate women how the ‘No. 1 selling boost bra’ should be worn;
- 09.53, ALDO window display: a young model’s ass-high dress really accentuates her slip-on shoes;
- 08.46, FOX WATCH: another opportunity to familiarise myself with Megan’s thighs and torso;
- 07.27, Russell & Bromley window display: let’s just say, I wasn’t looking at the model’s ballet pumps;
- 06.49, Stannard & Slingsby (a hair salon, I think) poster: a woman with a new haircut that’s so good, it’s propelled her into orgasm;
- 05.42, Holland & Barrett window display: a bikinied blonde advertises, I kid you not, ‘tanning tablets’;
- 04.30, fancy dress store: I didn’t catch the shop name – perhaps I was distracted by the ‘Hotties and Hunks’ range, featuring old favourites like nurses uniforms and Catwoman suits;
- 04.03: Sainsbury’s van: on its side, a picture of a woman zipping up (or down?) her lilac summer dress; but here’s what I want to know: what the hell’s that got to do with Sainsbury’s, the supermarket chain?;
- 03.16: another bus advert, this time for men’s underwear: I didn’t catch the brand name, but the briefs were so tight, I could almost make out the model’s religion;
- 02.44, Tiffany & Co bus stop poster: a silver locket hangs over a wet, bulbous bosom;
- 02.39, Tiffany & Co bust stop poster: in case I’d forgotten, 3 seconds later, I’m treated to the same wet, bulbous bosom;
- 01.53, news stand: a magazine front cover describes a car as ‘sexy’ (it’s indicative of the ubiquity of that adjective, how it’s come to apply to anything; I mean, if Currer described zucchini as a ‘sexy vegetable’, you probably wouldn’t bat an eyelid; and note, 20 years ago, no journalist would’ve called a dodgy war dossier ‘sexed up’);
- 00.33, FOX WATCH: I’m starting to wonder if Megan’s got short legs – why else wouldn’t Armani’s photographer snap the Hollywood’s superstar’s full ‘perfect’ bod? (When I get home, I type ‘megan fox short’ into Google, and after ‘hair’, ‘fingers’, ‘thumb’, ‘white dress’, and ‘skirt’, it comes up ‘legs’; but by now I’ve lost interest, and wondering what the hell a short thumb looks like);
- 00.09, Keeping up with the Kardashians bus stop poster (appropriately located, I thought): sexy stilettos all ‘round for the girls; and let’s not forget that Kim, the show’s star, isn’t famous for nothing: specifically, a sex tape.
Fletcher’s kidding himself. Like de Botton instructs, we ought to ‘reduce the unchecked flow’ of sexual imagery in society. To make for less sexualised children – and better adults too.
A change of government. Currer ain’t kidding. Here’s what our PM said back in March 2010, after Stephen ‘Cab for Hire’ Byres was caught selling his services and soul by The Daily Telegraph:
‘I think what it shows is a party that has been in power for far too long and has lost touch with what it’s meant to be doing.’
After less than 2 years in Downing Street, that’s quite an admission from David Cameron. It’s just a pity that et tu Ed Miliband won’t be able to pull it out at PMQs on Wednesday. Since it reminds everyone that Labour were just as bad. What was it that J S Mill said about no choice equalling no liberty?