Saturday, December 19, 2009

snow and other things falling from the sky

winter has arrived a few days before the calendar officially dictates. yes, snow! cold, crunchy, drier than rain and maybe slightly more preferable...above is a photo of norwich snipped from bbc norfolk.

[just noticed that i caught my cursor in the screen shot---the finger of god!! it has always interested me that the word 'cursor' comes from the latin word for 'something/one that runs'; wikipedia agrees. why do you think that computer use is never relaxing? we're the actual cursors trying very hard to follow a virtual one, which has the advantage of being able to run at the speed of light!]

for the past week, on bbc radio 4, a surprisingly poignant book was read for their 'book of the week' broadcast. [unfortunately, i don't think that americans can access the bbc iplayer] 'dear granny smith' by roy mayall, a pen name punning on 'royal mail', was written by a mailman, who are called 'posties' here. 'granny smith' is the slang nickname that 'posties' give to their archetypal customers, like you and me, but especially to the socio-economically marginalized older women, for whom the postal service is a lifeline. [a bit like 'john or jane q. public' in america] the author writes as a worker on the receiving end of managerial policies of 'modernization', 'flexibility', 'change', 'efficiency' and all the rest of late-capitalist-business-school-speak. in other words: different ways to squeeze more work out of fewer, less secure, more disgruntled employees for less money---the way of all jobs on the bottom of the totem pole.

why poignant? as i listened to the readings, i felt moved by the heart and mind of a philosopher! that is to say, in writing intelligently about the economic dynamics in play which are changing the royal mail for the worse from the perspective of the worker as well as the customer, roy mayall says something very valuable about the state of the world as a whole. by touching a quite specific node of experience incisively, he reflects the big picture and raises big questions in a meaningful manner---a function usually reserved for literature or poetry.

in other words, the royal mail illustrates the template of what is happening to companies within our broader 'globalized', privatized, corporate economy; and we are all 'granny smith'. in a london review of books blog post, roy mayall recounts a meeting between royal mail management and staff: after hearing about new policies which would adversely affect service, an old-time postie asked management, 'what about granny smith?'

the reply? 'granny smith isn't important...granny smith doesn't matter anymore...' and we are all granny smith...

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