I DON'T know about this worklife balance thing. Doesn't it just mean that we'll all end up watching more television? Or doing the ironing ? I say, stay in the office if at all possible. This life thing is very over-rated. The people who really have it sussed are the ones who love their jobs. They don't dream of climbing Everest, or building their own yacht, they just get on with the matter in hand.
Naturally, I speak from a position of total weakness. Uncharitable friends have commented that if you wanted to eradicate every journalist in the country all you'd have to do is organise a dawn raid on their houses at, ooh, about half past nine in the morning. At the very least you'd find the journalists in their pyjamas, and maybe some of the younger ones in someone else's pyjamas. Happy days.
But of course you can't say this sort of thing nowadays, when even the advertising people have given up long lunches.
Actually, it looks like advertising people have given up advertising. Where the hell are they all these days? Someone should do an investigative article on the advertising profession, and how it has become more invisible than Brian Cowen. Not me though, I'm too busy.
In the past, if your job involved a lot of staring out the window and trying to do the crossword you were either in a profession that fondly considered itself to be creative, or in the civil service. Either way you were lucky to have a job.
Now, everyone has to pretend to be working so hard. Why should that be? I do know journalists who are at their desks at six o'clock in the morning, in the dark, with absolutely no one to chat to. Strangely enough, all these early birds are women with children. The few male journalists who get up at that ungodly hour are all in gym, trying to eradicate years of easy living. They get to hear a dozen news bulletins a day . . . that's how committed they are.
Most work-related activity isn't work at all, of course. It's gossip, it's going for coffee, it's office politics, it's organising the corporate golf outings, it's all good clean fun which has to disguise itself as work. I don't care if you are one of our much-vaunted entrepreneurs . . . have you heard that ad for Entrepreneur of the Year on the radio, by the way ? What a laugh . . . or a brain surgeon in one of our deserted hospitals, being at work is the easiest part of the day for most people. The office is a creche for adults, where you are not really held accountable for anything. Home is where the real labour and the real responsibility lie. Let's not go there, right?
But, just as doing nothing has fallen into disrepute, leisure has mushroomed, and in its huge shadow we all run round trying to make our lives meaningful. It is hard to understand why gazing into space for long periods of time is frowned upon, while taking an aromatherapy course is somehow regarded as making you a better person. I mean, I'm as fond of reflexology as the next woman, but how many holistic massages can one nation take? These days, you can only gaze into space if you put on coordinated leisure wear and call it meditation. Leisure costs money. You have to have the right accessories for it, otherwise you look like a loser. It's a lot easier to stay at work.
Leisure brings with it the burden of enjoying yourself, and nothing could be guaranteed to add less to the sum of human happiness. That's why you always fight with your loved ones at Christmas, Easter and on summer holidays. God just didn't mean for us to have all this time on our hands.
The advent of electricity has given us too many hours in the day. And we're living much longer. It takes heroic idleness to counteract the pernicious side effects of these social developments. We did quite well for a while, with the intelligent use of mass unemployment. But now even that has been taken from us, and we're left straining for the Shangri-La of leisure time.
Not everyone is stupid enough to believe in leisure, or 'life' as we have come to call it.
I was trying to arrange a meeting with a Chinese woman recently . . . a work-related meeting, I am proud to say. Perhaps we could meet at the weekend, I suggested.
"Oh, " she said "Asians don't really do weekends." Naturally, I had to lie down.