Why should I let the toad work / Squat on my life? – Philip Larkin, Toads, 1954

It was Adbusters’ Go Slow Week a couple of weeks ago: The Imp missed it; how fitting. But the lovely people at The Idler eventually jogged the faerie memory. Adbusters are a creative bunch of smart guys who want to change how we live – by making you think and laugh. Go see.

This particular Imp has been trying to slow right down for almost six months: it is not easy to rid oneself of the Ogre Over the Shoulder. Is it school that gives us the internal policeman? Or is it just The Imp’s weak character?

Larkin was working as a librarian in Yorkshire when he wrote this. He stayed working there ‘til he died in 1985. What is it about the day-to-day routine? Too often, people say, “you’re so lucky” when The Imp’s off exploring or painting for the day, and they mean it.

And it’s kind of fair: it’s an extremely fortunate situation to be in. But it is – sorry for the lack of sympathy – an unthinking thing to say if you have a skill that people will pay for (unless you have dependents, I suspect: there are no Implets).

It’s not about Luck; it’s about having made a conscious decision. The Imp is self-employed, cancels holidays if the work comes in, has very little pension savings, and rents. There’s no mortgage-envy; I’m happy! But it’s easier to call other people’s lives luck than to acknowledge that you could take the same decisions…

“Ah, were I courageous enough
To shout Stuff your pension!
But I know, all too well, that’s the stuff
That dreams are made on:

For something sufficiently toad-like
Squats in me, too…”

Let’s be more fun & physical. The Imp’s lover’s stubble has made its skin turn more purple than usual and fall off. Why are these skin atoms attempting such fissure? And in the next post, we should have some mischief and jiggery-pokery.

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