Many centuries ago I worked in a factory.
It was a large dirty and dark place, packed with people, noise and conveyer belts. It was a great place to work and the craic was mighty. I loved it.
We manufactured television sets which naturally contained loads of components and circuit boards. Each blank circuit board would start its journey down the conveyor, passing gaggles of women who each had their boxes of components which they would drop into the board before passing it on to the next person. It was tedious and repetitious but it was a job and the women loved it. I don’t know how many were employed in that factory but it was a lot.
Of course along came automation, where little robots took over all the little tedious tasks. They rarely made mistakes, never took lunch or tea breaks and didn’t even demand to go home to their families or to sleep. The bosses cried out that the workers were free from tedious tasks and the world was going to be a better place. Stuff will be so much cheaper when it’s mass produced, they proclaimed. The future will be a time of leisure and freedom.
Of course it didn’t work out like that. Kids left school and found that there weren’t any manufacturing jobs any more. Stuff that used to be assembled by a hundred people was now being produced by machines. A hundred acre crop could be harvested by one man in one day instead of a large team. So where were the kids to go when they leave school?
At the same time as they were producing robots, they were also producing computers, so there was a demand for people to sit at those computers analysing the crap out of everything and producing vast piles of statistics. I once had a demand from the Finance Director of RTE [a pig ignorant cunt, if ever there was one] who wanted a report itemising every single item, down to the last screw, piece of paper and paintbrush that had been used by every television programme in the previous year. I refused on the simple grounds that the printout would require dozens of crates of printout and that someone would have to be on standby for about 36 hours just feeding fresh paper into the printers. The report would have been useless as there was just too much information and no one could possibly read it all. But this was the future – management had discovered number crunching.
So we now have a large workforce whose sole occupation is producing reports, analysis and statistics. Accountants are having a field day as they can now quantify and cost every single nut and bolt in life. With the power of the computer they could cross reference statistics from different areas and thus epidemiology became the new craze. Want a job? Become an analyst, an accountant or, God forbid, a researcher.
I am no Luddite, but those computers have a lot to answer for.
Another notch on the milepost of life.
The years are passing so quickly that it really is quite scary.
It seems like no time ago since I left full time work, but that was well over fourteen years ago.
And as far as my old employer is concerned I have been a pensioner now for seven years. Fuck!
How many times have I seen a report in the papers where some codger was involved in an accident, where his age was given as 67 and my immediate thought is that the fucker was too old to drive anyway?
I’m not 67. I’m not sure quite what I am, but it’s somewhere in my thirties. No older than that anyway.
It really is time I decided what I really want to be when I grow up?
I like mice.
As a nipper I used to keep pet white ones in a little cage. One of my weekly chores was to walk down to the local butcher who used to give me a large bag of sawdust from the sacks he kept to spread on the floor. It’s a long time since I saw sawdust on a floor…
Anyhows, we have a new pet. Or two. Or maybe more.
I first came across one when I went to make a cuppa, and found him sitting, bold as brass, behind the tea caddy. He looked at me and I look at him, before he scuttled away under the gas fire. He was a lovely little fella [I assume it was a he as I’m no expert at sexing mice at a distance]. The main thing that struck me was his size – he was tiny. I would guess about an inch and a half not counting the tail.
Mein Führer unfortunately got to hear about my new friend and demanded that I put down a trap. Herself can be quite cruel sometimes, as I can personally testify. So orders is orders and I set a trap.
I caught him that night. He was unharmed as the snap part had gone clean over his head and had caught the end of his tail. He was unhurt by the looks of him, but a bit pissed off at having a fucking trap attached to him. I let him loose in the garden.
Yesterday Penny got all curious. She started staring at a corner of the room but was too lazy of course to actually get up and go over to investigate. I went instead and there was another mouse under the radiator. This one was even smaller at around an inch. Without personal introductions [he wasn’t very talkative] I can only assume he’s a field mouse.
Penny has been on duty ever since. She lies on the couch keeping a keen eye out for movement and has even dragged herself to her feet once or twice. To encourage more exercise and activity I have promoted her to Mousewatcher-in-Chief, but she has strict instructions not to harm.
I have seen him a couple of times this morning just out of the corner of my eye. He’s more like a fleeting silent shadow than a mouse and he’s doing me no harm so long may he live. There are no signs of incontinence or damage to food so why should I hold a grudge?
I haven’t told Herself.
This is one little friendship I’m keeping to myself.