Warning: I may be repeating myself
Today I find myself particularly struck by an old piece of music with which I am very familiar, and a relatively new (March 1995) piece of writing which I had never seen before.
In 1999 I was on the dole, feebly attempting to mop up the last few subjects, the stragglers of my degree. I had had a little work fixing laptops for an acquaintance of a friend. I had some more work for a nasty little criminal of a man whose name I will not mention here. (The low character of these two people should not be taken as any reflection on my friend. She would, I am sure, testify to their foulness; she didn’t choose to run into them either…). But I wasn’t really trying to get work. Thus, it came as somewhat of a surprise therefore, when I accidentally got myself hired into a ravening bloodthirsty beast of a dot-com startup. My experiences with Verve, and later with Versata, and finally (the horror!) with Microlistics, came as something of a culture-shock. I suspect these experiences will always form a part of my appreciation and understanding of the workplace, the realities of economics, and the so-called captains of industry at every level of it.
There were two Pink Floyd songs which seemed to express it all particularly well at the time:
First, Learning to Fly was the essence of it (and that fact that it flows smoothly into Dogs of war); the terrifying, glorious surge of uncontrollable acceleration as I found myself flown out to the USA for emergency consulting work in my first year on the job. The brutal disorientation: Welfare-pauper uni student one day, suited international business consultant the next. The exultation: That code there that processes a hundred million dollars every day: I wrote that. I wrote that today and a team of hardened veterans thanked me for it and took me out for lunch.
Second though, as Verve sickened into Versata and died, and I found myself at Microlistics, it was suddenly all about Dogs, quite possibly my favourite track of all time.
You gotta be crazy, you gotta have a real need
You gotta sleep on your toes, and when you’re on the street
You gotta be able to pick out the easy meat with your eyes closed
And then moving in silently, down wind and out of sight
You gotta strike when the moment is right without thinking.
And after a while, you can work on points for style
Like the club tie, and the firm handshake
A certain look in the eye, and an easy smile
You have to be trusted by the people that you lie to
So that when they turn their backs on you
You’ll get the chance to put the knife in.
<mesmerizing musical interlude>
You gotta keep one eye looking over your shoulder
You know it’s going to get harder, and harder, and harder as you get older
And in the end you’ll pack up, fly down south
Hide your head in the sand
Just another sad old man
All alone and dying of cancer.
<another mesmerizing musical interlude starring Mr Gilmour’s guitar>
And when you loose control, you’ll reap the harvest that you’ve sown
And as the fear grows, the bad blood slows and turns to stone
And it’s too late to loose the weight you used to need to throw around
So have a good drown, as you go down, alone
Dragged down by the stone.
<Yet another mesmerizing musical interlude, with synthesizers this time>
I gotta admit that I’m a little bit confused
Sometimes it seems to me as if I’m just being used
Gotta stay awake, gotta try and shake off this creeping malaise
If I don’t stand my own ground, how can I find my way out of this maze?
Deaf, dumb, and blind, you just keep on pretending
That everyone’s expendable and no-one has a real friend
And it seems to you the thing to do would be to isolate the winner
And everythings done under the sun
And you believe at heart, everyone’s a killer.
<one last mesmerizing musical interlude>
Who was born in a house full of pain
Who was trained not to spit in the fan
Who was told what to do by the man
Who was broken by trained personnel
Who was fitted with collar and chain
Who was given a pat on the back
Who was breaking away from the pack
Who was only a stranger at home
Who was ground down in the end
Who was found dead on the phone
Who was dragged down by the stone.
Who was dragged down by the stone.
Today, as I listened to this song again in an interlude between crises, reflecting on what a depressive wanker I was (and what a stunningly good song this still is) I read something that evoked a similar sense of fascination: Hunter S Thompson’s Song of the Sausage Creature.
Like everything he wrote, it’s a fascinating place to visit, but nowhere you would want to live. It’s all about my newest hobby; motorcycling. Thanks again Hunter for a fascinating glimpse of something I want no part of.
Being shot out of a cannon will always be better than being squeezed out of a tube. That is why God made fast motorcycles, Bubba….
And he was, in the end.