I miss being unemployed. Don’t get me wrong - obviously I enjoy having a roof over my head, as well as the intense middle-class self-loathing that lances through me whenever I talk to my cleaner. But at least when I was feckless and jobless I used my BRAIN.
Now, my working day generally starts at 6am and takes in a full-time job, several freelance contracts and a wholly unanticipated gym habit - and I’m genuinely worried that it’s affecting my wosscalled. Intelligence.
I don’t have time to read dense prose anymore, so I just read quick snippets of things on the train (generally Reddit). Instead of the oppressive films where French couples shrug at each other until one of them stabs the other (you know the sort), my televisual habits almost exclusively involve falling asleep in front of awful 90s action movies on Channel 5.
This is because a) after a day of editing phrases like “synergy diversification uplift”, I am not much up for Truffaut; and b) the TV remote is all the way over THERE.
In case you think I’m exaggerating, here are six books, films and cultural events that I avoided, was grumpy about, or just plain didn’t get last year because I decided that they were intellectually beyond me:
1. The rain room at the Barbican
An indoor installation in which a shower of rain seems to respond to your presence. Inevitably, I was put off by the two-hour wait, and the fact that it was raining on the day I wanted to go.
2. 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami
Drawn in by the two moons, the air chrysalis and the alternate universes. Put off by the endless bloody stretching exercises and sushi preparation. Gave up when one character literally looked up at the sky, saw two moons, then promptly had a quick stretch and put together a California roll.
3. The Life of Pi
While people watched the film version and wondered “does this prove the existence of God?”, I just kept thinking “BUT WHERE DOES THE TIGER POO?”
4. The Hobbit
Maybe if everyone stopped singing about washing up and doing everything in slow-motion this film would have be shorter and I wouldn’t have had to go to the loo and miss the ONE GOOD BIT.
5. The National Theatre’s production of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Genuine thought (worrying bit is in asterisks): “How are they going to do the boy? **Is it puppets?**” (Honestly, I have a degree and everything)
6. Death: A self-portrait, the Richard Harris Collection
The iconography of death and our complex and contradicatory attitudes towards it are all well and good, but I could be at home watching Breaking Bad in my leopard-print onesie right now.
So how do I get out of my culture rut? By listening to audiobooks at the gym, getting more sleep, and exploring the wonderful Brain Pickings weekly email? Or by just going to bed with a pizza and all of 24?
Jesus, it’s like Sophie’s Choice. It’s exactly like that. Sophie’s Choice was basically about overworked insomniac philistines, right?
Tell Robyn she's not a philistine @orbyn.