Call it coincidence, a sign of the times, whatever. But in the past week or so, there has been a spate of articles centred around so-called ‘bullshit jobs”. When the words of people like David Graeber reach my eyes and ears, they are actually preaching to the converted. In fact, I’ve been banging on about invented jobs for years. I know about such things. I have form. At least two posts I held whilst working in an academic institution, were literally made up for me, by senior managers, on the hoof. Or should I say, on the back foot? How can we honour his permanent contract without paying him too much? Graeber would have recognised them, instantly, as “bullshit jobs”. He has much to say on the matter, in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Here’s a flavour: “Support staff no longer mainly exist to support the faculty. In fact, not only are many of these newly created jobs in academic administration classic bullshit jobs, but it is the proliferation of these pointless jobs that is responsible for the bullshitization of real work — real work, here, defined not only as teaching and scholarship but also as actually useful administrative work in support of either.”
So when I hear that 70 tonnes of sand is going to be dumped outside the Southampton Guildhall, to recreate a 480 square metre beach in the city centre, guess what I’m thinking. Yes, what kind of starved imagination dreams up a menu of beach soccer, foot volley, sumo wrestling, tug of war, art workshops and sand castle competitions to be played out in the city’s ‘Cultural Quarter’?
According to the Daily Echo, “…a “deckchair trail” around the city will offer the chance for sunny selfies leading to the giant beach.”
Look, I’m not a party pooper, honest I’m not. It’s just that, HELLO, Southampton is a port on the south coast, and there’s a lot of easily accessible where-the-land-meets-the-sea. Plenty of places where you can enjoy a paddle, seashells, salt water, wildlife, and a temporary escape from bullshit, while you’re demolishing a Mr Whippy.