Work, Rest, and Play
I’d spent an ill advised few weeks in Australia before moving to London, and if I was to pay back the now frightening couple of grand debt I was in I’d have to be somewhere I could work. My first London job, making replica food was minimum wage, so that was hardly going to cut it, even staying for free at my dad’s. So when a friend hooked me up with a decent run of real prop making gigs for west end theatre I worked hard to become debt free. The big push came when I started working backstage at Les Mis. I’d do my ten hours prop making and get into town for the evening’s show, and prop making was free lance so flexible enough for matinees too. The only thing was that this was a six week stint of total work, and by the end of it I was very unhappy. By the end of it, though, I coasted into a period of working only in the evenings, and by ‘working’ I really only mean missing evening television.
I remember having an evening off during that busy time, and getting very drunk, falling over on the bus home, and being frogmarched up the road with a split lip wailing loudly “I’m unhappy, I’m unhappy”. This was a long time before the phrase ‘work-life balance’ had been invented, and was also long before becoming chronically ill had become my full time occupation.
I was musing about all this during my morning bath, here, on holiday. We only have two days to go of our week long vacation, and it feels like a particularly jewel like length of time. Long enough to establish small routines – walk to the Belgian boulangerie for baguettes in the morning, have breakfast and a sunbathe, go into the local small town for coffee and a mooch around, come home for lunch, more sunbathing and reading, then perhaps a little jaunt to the local beach before dinner and early to bed the better to battle the nightly mosquitos. Not long enough, however, to feel obligated to ‘do’ things, to feel that existential drive to feel that day trips will make something of an achievement of the holiday.
I’ve read a book while I’ve been here, which is achievement enough, and I’ve often forgotten to take medication, so well have I been. We don’t have wifi, to the relief of all, so I am writing this in advance and posting in a cafe. I can’t work out how to upload photos, but I have taken some for you, so you will get a glut of them on my return. The book, fyi, is Music for Torching by A. M. Homes. It’s like a mixture between Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf and The Revolutionary Road but brought up to date. Good reading.