Fair to say that within the bounds of my head, the term ‘working’ has taken a bit of a hit of late.
Twelve months ago, had someone asked me to briefly outline the criteria of the aforementioned term, I probably would have lowered my voice to its guttural pinnacle and uttered something wildly pretentious like, “Well, if it’s not causing perspiration to cascade from your brow or tearing chunks of skin from your hands, then it’s just not working, is it?” Yeah. I think 12-month-ago Tim should have worried less about delivery and more about paying attention to what was being asked.
The thing is, in my head, working has always involved hardship; blood, sweat, and some of the time, tears. Yes, I do realise that with the rise of technology, metrosexuality, and the desire to eliminate from life anything the least bit challenging; also the downfall of School Certificate, bulrush, and ‘walking barefoot to school in six inches of snow going uphill both ways’, this perception would now be considered archaic, even draconian, but that’s me, I’m old school. I was born with calloused hands for splitting wood and shovelling shit; reckon I’ll die gripping a block splitter with one hand and a wide mouth shovel with the other.
The term ‘working’ has become an idiom of sorts. Back in the day, work was defined by hard slog. Now, anything that generates income is considered work…
I surprised myself the other morning when in the throes of my daily chores – cutting my grass with a 1950’s style push mower, trimming my hedges with a set of well loved pruning shears, cutting back my roses with secateurs and without gloves – I downed tools to run inside and answer the phone. That’s a little surprising, admittedly, but not the truly surprising thing. It was my father calling. Again, not overly surprising. It was when, aware that I had a writing deadline to meet and not wanting to interrupt me in progress, he abruptly, if not sheepishly, asked me, “Started your work yet?”
Here I am, outside, doing my chores, slaving my arse off and yes, despite the ambient temperature having barely broken into the positives, with perspiration cascading; on account of the roses, there is a fair bit of blood around, too.
Yet when my father poses a query regarding the commencement of my writing project, but when he refers to it as ‘your work’, my response, despite the very presence of blood, sweat, and no tears – practically all the constituents of my very own definition of ‘work’ – is a simple, “No, not yet.”
That’s the kind of shit that makes our forefathers turn in their graves.
Article by Tim Walker
Edited by Soff Cox
Photography by I T La Douche