The curse of the drinking classes
What a ghastly quandrary. To take up gainful employment or to take Hollywood's vile shilling - I have no idea which way I'd turn in such circumstances.
Having said that, I've a couple of short commissions with US companies on the CV and can honestly say they were experiences I'd rather forget. One place made me sit through a day-long workshop on what constituted actionably inappropriate behaviour with my PA. (There's nothing like teaching your granny to suck eggs).
There was a fifty-five minute long video that went into such toe-curling detail about exactly when and where a backrub could be engaged in that I genuinely considered self-immolation. That was until I remembered the two-day workshop on smoking in the workplace that I'd suffered the previous week.
I think I mainly took issue with the famous American work ethic. I ended up with a staff of thirty-five brain-numb wage slaves who left their jackets on the backs of their chairs when they went home at night, worked loudly through lunch, proudly announced at tediously regular intervals that they hadn't seen their families in weeks, were taking home their own weight in work and had grotesquely distended bladders from being far too conscientious to take a pee on company time.
I got sod-all real work out of any of them in the six months before I bailed.
I have a suspicion where this culture of 'Busyness' comes from. I'm convinced people (and sadly it's not just the Americans any more) are so driven by the competitive ethic that they can only validate themselves by how full they can make their diary look. Having said that, any decision that is actually made carries an inherent possibility of failure that is too terrifying to contemplate. The ideal situation, therefore, is to have a diary entirely full of back-to-back meetings in which nothing is ever moved forward.
This explains, for me, the bizarrely Kafkaish face of modern business where everyone works like a galley slave and lies awake at night in a muck sweat of self-loathing at their own worthlessness.
On the one rare occasion I remained a member of a gymnasium for more than a week I used to attend one in Covent Garden. It was full of dancers and thesps and smelt, naturally, of sweat - Not, in an odd way, that unpleasant. On one occasion I attended another branch of the same gym in the City. The changing rooms, chock to the rafters with traders and lawyers had the rank, feral smell of terror. I swear to God the place smelt like a warm evening in Scutari Hospital.
Which thought brings me to the recollection of my time in San Francisco where I worked, for a while, in the Financial District. There, the local papers reported, workers suffered from epidemic YETSS - Young Executive Tight Sphincter Syndrome - Yuppies with high stress lifestyles, grabbing junkfood meals at their desks would develop chronic constipation, producing abnormally large, hard and intractable stools. Once a week, fuelled by the morning gasper and a doppio espresso they would deliver the package with resultant - and here I quote - "anal fissuring".
Each day, I dutifully attend to my morning offices, as gentleman should, in the medically approved, leisurely manner, with the added stimulus of the newspaper. This would take, on average, the recommended fifteen minutes.
During this agreable reverie, half a dozen or so of my American colleagues would enter adjacent cubicles like Bramah Bulls going through a gate. They would apply their hideous behinds to the appliance like someone trying to force a lard filled duvet into a small bucket and grunt and scream as if in the throes of childbirth. There would be a splash worthy of Barnes Wallis then a concentrated miasma that smelt for all the world as if they'd just passed a decomposing badger they'd been storing in their colon for three months.
Without pausing for self congratulation they'd be up and back at their desks within the minute.
It was rumoured that the company kept a fellow who's job was to break up the stubborn detritus with a pickaxe handle but I never actuually met him.
Judging from their strangled cries, some of the stall occupants needed strong men and heavy-duty tools to snap off the stalactite.
Christ alive. Surely they can't pay people enough for that sort of thing. It's not even as if we're doing anything important most of the time. Most people I work around waste years of their lives, destroy their relationships and their health and prop themselves up with stimulants in order to increase market share of own-brand dog biscuits or to leverage absorbency technology to enhance the bathroom cleanliness experience and thus exceed customer expectations in the personal paper products sector.
Come to think of it, if I were you, Old Mate, I'd follow my muse and bugger the consequences.
Remember the old joke " I hate hospitals, they're full of sick people"...
...Well I hate jobs - they're full of idiots working.
Hang in there.
PS. By the way, your reference to duelling sent me scuttling to my library whence I unearthed the following... the old Irish Code Duello. Darcy would have wanted us to have it.