Diary of an old cheeser

Hi there! Like other blogs, this is my chance to wax lyrical (some might say talk utter cr*p) about a) what's happening in my life b) all of my pet obsessions in particular music, tv, movies, books and other generally connected things, quite often of the retro, old and "cheesy" variety. Hence the title of my blog. Feel free to leave a comment if the mood takes you. There's nothing like a good chinwag about one's favourite topics and besides I love to meet new people! Cheers, Simon

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Office politics

I work in an office, which can sometimes be a rather frustrating environment. Most of the people there I get on with fine - it's a fairly youngish crowd of people with similar interests and we share a good laugh, which definitely makes it a more pleasant place to be, especially when the work itself isn't always that rivetting. However, it's the deadlines and targets that are imposed on me by managers and those "above" which I find hard to bear. Sometimes there are just too many demands and expectations. And the way some individuals go about imposing these expectations and rules doesn't always make them my favourite people...

Right, I will stop right there. No names have been mentioned of course. Far be it from me to start badmouthing my workmates. And things could be a lot worse. I could be working for Runway magazine and have a boss like Miranda Priestly....

Yep, at the moment I am currently reading "The Devil Wears Prada" by Lauren Weisberger and rather enjoying it. Of course most of you will have found it hard to avoid, owing to the current film adaptation starring Method, sorry, Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway, and those striking advertisements for the film depicting a red stillitoe shoe, the heel of which ends in a devil's trident. Perhaps not a very practical design for high heels. However I have heard that the film isn't as good as the book. And, although a little "samey" in style at times, the novel is a scathing, scarily accurate depiction of the high-powered world of fashion magazines, the office hierachy and above all, the fast-paced, stressful, so-rude-you-can't-believe-it environment of New York City (where the novel is set).

The novel's main protagonist, Andrea Sachs, lands the "dream" job of personal assistant to Miranda Priestly, the editor of acclaimed "Runway" magazine, a job she is repeatedly told "a million girls like you would die for". Her real ambition is to be a journalist and she hopes if she sticks this job out long enough, she'll get there. However her goal starts to seem frighteningly far from reach. As personal assistant to Miranda, Andrea is basically her badly-treated lackey, forced to do the most menial of jobs, like making several daily trips out of the office to fetch Miranda's lunch and coffee, being dispatched on a variety of other mindless errands, personally delivering materials to Miranda's apartment late at night, and working all the hours god sends.

And Miranda herself is nothing less than an all round bitch. She barely acknowledges Andrea's existence. She phones Andrea during the most unsociable hours to demand that she carries out some ridiculous task, such as ensuring that the brand new "Harry Potter" novel is sent to her children overseas before it even hits the shelves in book stores. She makes Andrea go and fetch her another latte if the one she has is cold. In short, Miranda treats Andrea like sh*t.

The whole office environment is seen to be a cuthroat one as well, with everyone out for themselves, wanting to get ahead and not really caring about their work "mate", Miranda's senior assistant Emily being a case in point.

If all of this sounds like a nightmare to read, it's not. Ironically, the nightmarish aspects of the story - e.g. Miranda's breath-taking hardness and cruelty, the constant demands made on poor Andrea, the superficial chit-chat of the fashion world and the stresses of city life - actually combine to make a darkly entertaining tale; a black comedy no less. My favourite scenes so far have been the ones involving Andrea and Eduardo, one of the security men in the building where she works. Virtually every time Andrea enters reception, Eduardo forces her to go through a routine where she must join him singing some well known pop song, like "Material Girl", or he won't buzz her through the turnstile so she can get inside the building properly. This usually happens when she is rushing to get something done on time for Miranda, thus adding further to her stress. In Andrea's last encounter with Eduardo he forced her to sing "I Think We're Alone Now" by Tiffany, annoying her to the extreme. Priceless.

As for the rest of the novel, I'm eagerly awaiting the conclusion to see if bitch-face Miranda gets her come-uppance but I strongly suspect that's not going to happen. Unfortunately. That's the stuff of fairy tales isn't it? However if Andrea sees the light and hands in her notice, that will be a good enough ending for me. Now I bet some of you would just love to do that in real life...


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