Sunday, 9 April 2017


Image result for jimmy reed

Its years, decades probably since I was bored, as defined by; lacking in variety; tediously unvarying; having very little inflection; limited to a narrow pitch range. I was extremely lucky in my career choice, as one of the characters in my novel Parallel Lines is given to say, ‘I learned something new every day’. Even now in retirement I am more or less never bored.

The Ft published some results from a survey, balanced it must be acknowledged to the Finance Sector which showed levels of boredom as high as 91% in some areas of banking:

Middle-grade banking roles hover around 80% but I suspect that middle-grade roles in almost any industry are probably roughly the same. The most interesting work is in R&D at 45%, followed by Education [50%] and Technology on 56%. Legal Professionals at 81% are surprisingly unmotivated; respondents said the work tended to be boring and repetitive. The best results in the Financial Sector were Asset Managers at 68% where although the job was challenging, it took forever to see any results from your efforts. This was also the main complaint of Architects.

I guess you can be bored by anything. My wife’s cousin flew Jumbo jets for years: the whole bit, across the Atlantic, to Japan and Singapore; the Middle East. As soon as he became of pensionable age he packed it in. The machines had taken over, he said. People say they find the deserts of New Mexico tedious but we found them so interesting that we have returned there four times: the changing light is completely fascinating. So one’s individual threshold must play a part but who wants continual go-go excitement?

There is on the other hand, a lot to be said for monotony. Many people find World Music ‘tediously unvarying’. Chug-a-chug, chug-a-chug one chord stuff played on some ancient one-stringed instrument. But try Tinarawin [hope the link works!] yes, more chug a chug but then they vary it just enough. I can listen to it for hours. Chicago Blues player Jimmy Reed is almost a study in monotony in himself. He had twenty hits in a row playing more or less the same tune, just changing the words. Its more chug a chug a chug . . . try . . . but it is unique and completely original and if you keep listening you will hear him vary it, and like the Tinarawins, just enough. Jimmy Reed understood the magic of repetition; of monotony, transforming itself to become this sort of hypnotic trancelike sound. It’s actually an amazing study in restraint, in my opinion.

I’m not, you know, evangelising for monotony. Just sayin’ . . . it has its place.


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