August pace

Having engaged in this solo work pursuit for a while now, I’m confident that the holiday months of August and December usually turn out to be the hardest going: a complete reverse on childhood, when they’re the months which fly by.  In adult December you at least have distractions of seeing family and re-living every other largely tepid Christmas in living memory.  From the middle to latter third of December it’s more of a blanket holiday, less guilt is forthcoming about not doing very much.

August is different though.  In August if you don’t go away anywhere – or even if you do, you tend to try to work, or feel obliged to work, to sit at a desk in front of a screen, anticipating.  It’s where, as a lone worker, it’s probably healthier to just cut yourself some slack, sensibly reduce the hours and not beat yourself up too badly about it.  Take those long languid lunches with books and coffee, idle around town, go for a run, visit the gym or cinema, take photographs, occupy yourself any which way.

Yet still there remains the aggravating force-field of routine, which must be obeyed at all times.  Still you will be at your desk by at least 9am, probably until at least 11, then from at least 3 until at least 6.  Even if you’re not doing anything even vaguely productive: just pin-balling around the internet, making sour judgements about how interesting or funny people are on Twitter.  (It’s a bit iffy to say such things – because they are tantamount to racism I suppose, but I remain disappointed by the blank magnolia plainness of the Welsh.  Not unlikable, just charmless.  Could just be me.  Probably is).

People working in real offices for big organisations likely think less of frittering away hours, possibly by chatting in real life – I know I didn’t; and being able to squander ‘core hours’ in such a way might even be considered attractive.  But day after day, particularly in the months of August and December – times when you might also be looking for something, *ANYTHING* different and new to occupy yourself – this gets substantially tougher.

“I don’t think I could do that,” people often say to me when I explain what I do and allude to my general day-to-day working environment.  Occasionally there’s an edge of respect or admiration in their tone, occasionally there’s disapproval or disbelief.

“Why?  What would happen if you did?” I want to ask in reply, but never do.

Of course some people might be better equipped to do it than others; there are people who clearly do need to be around other people for major portions of the day and you fear for them if they’re not, like they might hyperactively spin out of control and shatter against a wall.  I’d already achieved a level of independence and confidence in my independence by the time I’d started this work two years ago.  I’d lived alone for a while, and even when I technically hadn’t it felt like I was.  Equally, my pursuit within the organisations I worked was mine and mine alone.  Playing football gave my only sense of teams, camaraderie, banter; which was perhaps why I enjoyed and was so committed to it.

Humans are social creatures who, by and large, need other humans.  Otherwise strange things can happen and they’re considered strangely, or with caution, even if they don’t.  And I’m no different.  This is why, added to general cruddy Augustness, being let down by sporadically disappointing friends, has irked.

I tried the running club thing last week.  It was different.  I don’t know if I’ll go back.  But it seems years ago, last Thursday.  It’s not enough and will likely just irritate me.

As the weather is too.  While most of the country seems to be basking in bright sunshine to complement the soaring temperatures, in Wales we’ve been largely cowed under the same dense sheets of grey cloud which hang there most of the year.  This irks me.

Still, things should happen soon.  August isn’t a total void.  There’s a family wedding, a brief foreign sojourn for a friend’s party, work might pick-up; the football season is finally (FINALLY!) upon us; and I might decide to do a spontaneous road-trip somewhere if I can find decently priced accommodation.

I was reminded of that sense of peace, the almost spiritual soul-food given when driving up through Welsh mountains on Sunday, listening to perfectly appropriate folk music – then climbing a mountain, listening to podcasts and seeing for miles, despite the dogged grey overhead.  Welsh landscapes are certainly not charmless and the other ramblers on them appeared more human and friendly too, perhaps as a result: the vast majority giving a cheerful nod or a greeting as we passed.  I could handle more of that; it’s sustenance of a kind.


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