A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace. CONFUCIUS

Wednesday, 28 January 2009

You Can Bank On It

Now, my children, my darling son and daughter, do come and sit on daddy's knee for a few moments, because I want to give you some career advice. It's never too early for career advice. Myself, I never received any career advice - so it's hardly surprising, the mess I'm in now! More than 50 years old and I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up. Careers advice at school consisted of a bored Modern Languages teacher occasionally rifling through a dusty drawer full of out-of-date leaflets about safe, pensionable jobs with the council or the magic of accountancy - hardly the stuff of inspiration for a head-in-the-clouds, poetically inclined schoolboy. And at university in the 70s you just never mentioned the word "career" - it was almost an obscenity - students studied for the intellectual purity of it (which I rather liked). Nor did any positive career suggestions come from my father, though he did give plenty of negative ones (for God's sake don't become a teacher, or a journalist, don't go into the armed forces, estate agents are all sharks, plumbers are corrupt, rock musicians immoral, artists spongers on society and possibly criminal etc.)
Yes, my naive and innocent daughter and son, I don't want you to make the mistakes I've made, so please take careful note of the advice I'm just about to give you. Forget the law, the church, the teaching profession. Don't be swayed by the enticements of IT and the blandishments of bureaucratic local government. Ignore the soft sell of the carpet salesman and the arousingly oil-flecked overalls of the muscly car mechanic. What you both must be, without a shadow of a doubt... are bankers! Just think about it. People give you freely and willingly all their hard-earned cash. Which you can play around with, speculate with, gamble with and generally enjoy. And this will generate for you lots more cash to play around with, speculate with etc! And if it all goes wrong, and you screw up big time, and you somehow lose all this money, then the government (or rather that's the people again, as the government's money is our money raised by taxes) will reward you by giving you even more cash to bail you out, money which you can play around with, speculate with and so on and so forth! So my advice is: choose banking as a career. It's a win-win situation. You know it makes sense.

20 comments:

Raph G. Neckmann said...

SW, the one bit of career advice my father gave me, (negative) was - "Whatever you do don't work in the ****** bank!"

He had. It didn't make him happy ...

forest wisdom said...

Brilliant! You are in great form on this one SW! :)

Val said...

: )

Timecheck said...

I think your pilgrim's calm and peace of mind is fading. Time for another long walk!

The Weaver of Grass said...

Hear!Hear!

The Solitary Walker said...

Are you saying "Hear! Hear!" to the whole ironic post, Weaver, or "Hear! Hear!" to "Time for another long walk!"

Another long walk... Mmmm... Now that's an intriguing idea...

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Suck it up, Solitary. You're just in the throes of cabin fever.

Bankers, bakers, bullfighters…these are only jobs. Yes, the banker can fiddle with other people's money; the baker can toil and enjoy a high-carb diet for free; and the bullfighter, well he can wear fancy tights, prance around in front of a crowd, and get a horn up his…okay, never mind.

As I was saying, what you need to instruct you offspring to aim for—which obviously you and I were not smart enough to consider (blame it on bad advice and counsel)—was the giddy world of politics.

Think about it! Politicians can work or not (yes, they refer to what they do as work) as the mood strikes. They eat on the cuff, and eat well. Every expense known to mankind and their tax preparer can be written off. If not, they simply have their office reimburse them. They travel for free (free to them, not to us) to the best places. And for eleven and a half months per year. They have access to piles and piles of cash, public, private, the government's, ours, possibly that of foreign nations. Opportunities, in a word, abound.

Should they decide to behave badly with drugs, strong drink, or members of whichever sex they prefer (not necessarily being limited to humans only) they will be given media time for free in order to cry, beg, and otherwise beseech us for forgiveness. And here's the kicker—we'll likely allow them to return to their office.

After decades of graft, err, work, they can haul their pile of cash off to that horse farm or beach resort or penthouse they bought with the sweat of their brows and a few kickbacks, and live out their remaining days like Arab oil princes. We'll get them a great send-off and probably name a bridge or aircraft carrier after them.

How, my friend, can you beat this? As a caring and considerate father, you simply cannot fail to guide your precious offspring down this shining path.

Now, go take a walk. :—)

Mister Roy said...

My Dr-Spock-inspired parents encouraged me to do my own thing while I could - ie until free higher education ran out - then suddenly expected me to get a job. It was too late by then - as I thought - 4 years at art school had programmed me to be a bohemian waster and 'sponger on society'. 'Work is the salt that preserves mummified souls!' I would quote gleefully on my way to the dole office (Baudelaire I believe.) Then I accidentally got a job and like any fiendish addiction it took hold almost immediately. Now here I am slumped behind a desk in a grey suit wondering where it all went wrong. A series of foolish decisions mean it isn't in a bank so I don't enjoy the advantages you mention. Long walks all round might be needed.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks everyone for such terrific comments!

Grizzled, that was more a convincing polemical essay than a comment! Fantastic. I'm now just about convinced the kids should take the political path. Trouble is, I'm afraid I took some poetic licence for the purposes of my own polemic - the "kids" are actually 26 and 29 years old. So it's too late now - one will be soon be training to be a social worker, and the other is an EFL teacher. So it's goodbye to the big bucks! (how do you do an ironic emoticon?)

Roy, how wise you didn't embrace the banking life and lose the heart and soul you bare with such wit, wisdom and intelligence in your blog.

Bella said...

This hits a nerve with me too...I have often pondered the lack of direction or discussion of career as a child or even any of the usual expectations of getting married etc...the total freedom to define my life and choose a path has left me "waiting for Godot", so to speak. In my late 20s my older brother gave me his copy of Thoreau, saying "be very careful of this book, it is dangerous". After reading it my pathless journey went deeper. I grabbed onto his belief that you should be defined by who you are, not what you do....all these philosophical musings didn't help me with my confusion of "what I should do".

I agree with Grizzled...politicians have it good and I would add lawyers too.

LOL - love the comment from Mr Roy.

Bella

Jay said...

Yes, I believe it was our Latin teacher who did the careers advice ... she didn't have a clue. It was either the military, or 'be a secretary, my girl'.

Still, speaking personally, I don't want to be a banker, either!

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

My Lord, man…they're ruined for politics. Real jobs. Geeze, too bad.

You can still take your walk, though.

The Solitary Walker said...

You are right, Grizzled. I must take a walk very soon - and blog about it. Dammit, I'm almost in danger of "false pretences" (to quote a lawyer's term, Bella!) - weeks of introspective, philosophical, bookish musings and nary a "solitary walk" anywhere. What kind of fraud is this - a blog that's called "The Solitary Walker" and the furthest he's walked this year is to the village newsagent to buy the "Sunday Times" so that he can read about the latest nefarious doings of bankers, politicians, the military and suchlike, and also peruse the jobs' section...

"Who you are, not what you do" sounds good to me - though not highly bankable dosh-wise, 'tis true.

Jay - so did you end up as a Latin teacher?

Bella said...

:)

aha, you are guilty of false pretences but you do have good intentions!

Only supposition, but you will be compelled to return to walking and nature after reading the nefarious doings of a society that has lost its moral compass!! :)

Your blog encourages me to keep walking, even if only in the Botanical Gardens. I hope you go for a walk soon, even a small walk!

The Solitary Walker said...

:) Walking is a lifeline, a joy, an escape, a necessity, an adventure, a physical pleasure (though damn those aching feet), a simple, free but enormously rewarding act, a philosophy, a defiance, an art, an existential affirmation, a spiritual odyssey... and at times a trial and a tribulation (damn those aching feet again!).

May the Botanical Gardens ever feel the soft imprint of your feet, and may your compass ever be a moral one - or at least point in the right direction!

Val said...

Will I still be allowed to read/comment if I tell you I'm trying to get into law school and (this is the kicker) I'll be running for City Council next term?

After reading this I'm afraid I may have just lost all my blogosphere friends.

; )

Dominic Rivron said...

I too had a rather idealistic university career. I ended up doing whatever I could find: social work. I think teaching has a lot to be said for it, but I think it can be a mistake to do it straight after full time education. The best career advice I ever had was "work to live, don't live to work". A recipe for happiness as opposed to wealth.

The Solitary Walker said...

On the contrary, Val, I am very impressed! It is I who may now be unworthy of blogfriends in high places! ;)

"Work to live, don't live to work" - that gets the emphasis right, Dominic.

Rachel Fox said...

Your Dad sounds/sounded like a barrel of laughs.
x

The Solitary Walker said...

Yes, it's true, I must say he was not a barrel of laughs. At times he was frighteningly severe and stubbornly dogmatic. I had a complex and difficult relationship with him. It was not easy.