I sometimes threaten go on strike. It’s then that my boss points out that, as I’m a poet, it basically makes no difference anyway.
‘What’s the difference between a striking worker and a poet?’ he asks me.
I jokingly reply that strikers tend to get more done than poets and, even though they’re striking, have a higher earning capacity.
‘Ha, ha, ha! LOL. Amiright?’ I add, in case he thinks I’m being serious. But, no, apparently it is actually the right answer.
‘I can see your life hasn’t been entirely wasted,’ he says. ‘At least you’ve learned one more thing than how to write iambic sodding pentameter. Fair play, I suppose.’
I can’t really complain about my working conditions as a poet. My ‘garret’ is a four-bedroom detached house on the Worcestershire-Birmingham border, I have easy access to notebooks, and more pencils than you can shake a stick at. But striking’s all about the money, really, isn’t it?
It’s reached the stage now that whenever I bring up the subject of a raise, my boss walks over to the cupboard, takes out the bicarb, and says, in that deadpan tone he’s spent the last five years trying to perfect, ‘That’s a close as you’re likely to get, Mr So-Called Poet.’
I point out that, as a so-called ‘So-Called Poet’, I’m the one who’s supposed to be handing out the metaphors.
And then I usually threaten to go on strike again and we find ourselves caught in an infinite loop from which there is no escape.