film film and film and OH MY GOD, THE DAY JOB

I’ve been watching a lot of films and have not even got time to review them. Partly my ‘day job’ as a lecturer has got in the way, marking endless (I mean ENDLESS student essays and dissertations) ARGH…

i did write this review for Candid Magazine, do read it 😉

I went to the Safar film festival of Arab film at the ICA and also to a few films at the London FF – some fascinating insights into modern Egyptian cinema which I do p[promise to write about here ONCE I FINISH F***ING GRADING

Grading, the dark side of lecturing, the inexorable beast that will be fed.

Beckett said “You must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on,”

AND SO IT PROVES. I don’t have a problem with the kind of student papers where they’ve actually made some form of an effort, read a book, allowed the information to process all through the squashy and nobbly bits of their brains, and come out the other end with at least some insight, not necessarily even ideas, not necessarily anything profound, just some kind of core basic understanding. I like to see evidence that the people undertaking higher education are not simply Paramecia. However, this evidence is not always forthcoming. The casually accessed blog put forward as research, references citing,, Wikipedia, and so on. The total inability and unwillingness to actually read the assignment brief and guidelines. Attending classes and not taking in the slightest bit of information about what this assignment involves. Not attending classes, then being bewildered and upset when they don’t understand a single thing which the course offered. Yes, this is indeed the dark side of the day job.

On the other hand, why on earth should I think that lecturing would be somehow better than any other day job? I’ve had day jobs. I have worked for major advertising organizations. I have worked for major media companies. ‘Those who will not be named’, who pay well, have fabulous facilities and for the most part interesting and pleasant people as colleagues. And yet a great deal of what ends up being made and done is utter soul destroying drivel. I have production managed the most beautiful and complex special effects for cretinous, puerile films and advertisements. I have written Copy which has been dumbed down so that even the proverbial Paramecium would retch with insult at the phrasing. I’ve worked with superb cinematographers while we filmed interviews with  waxy, bleary-eyed, oleaginous oil company executives – all that marvelous DP talent gone to waste, because that’s the day job. I have sold my soul to satan to promote the worst excesses of the modern age.

I’ve had other day jobs: I made training videos and contributed material to multimedia training manuals for major corporations. While I can appreciate the necessity of this kind of work, it has always amazed at how those in charge of devising the training manage to suck every shred and possibility of life, every miniscule spore of energy, out of making the training interesting to those of us making the training materials and those poor saps who have to engage in doing the training.

Best job I ever had was probably after my first year at college. I worked in an auto wreckers yard. Unfortunately, it was a really small yard so we never had that fantastic machine that you use to crush cars. This, by the way, is my dream job, and that always wanted to do. I would love to run the car crushing machine. Instead, my job was to sit, with my friend, in the office, where we drank tea and read Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers comics until a customer came in and would say things like ‘I got an old beater outside you want to buy it?’. My job was to go out to the backyard where the guys hung out, and interrupt their cola drinking fag smoking reverie to say ‘hey guys, here’s a guy with an old beater do we want to buy it?’  The blokes would assess the car and if we did want to buy it, I would write up the bill of sale do the paperwork and then go back to the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Sometimes it was even more interesting. Someone would say ‘I need a transmission’. Now, I don’t even drive and I definitely don’t know what a transmission is, so I would go into the back yard and say to the guys. ‘Hey guy here wants to get a transmission – got any?’ They would convene and the transmission would be brought ceremoniously into the office and I would write up the bill of sale. Then I would go back to the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers. Actually, that’s not really true, sometimes we would play we would play Rummy and occasionally poker.
Needless to say, I didn’t get paid very much, but I was sharing a semi-derelict flat two doors away, in which I wallpapered my room with black plastic and put up tons of heavy metal posters, and we had a really huge stereo with enormous speakers. Because most the other neighbors were auto wrecker yards, we could play the music as loud as we wanted. It was bliss. But it only lasted the summer. After the summer, I had to go back to my parents and go back to college and get my degree, but despite all of that, all the degrees and all the adventures and all the jobs and all the money, I’ve never had such an amazingly satisfying job since