'Libraries gave us power, then work came and made us free' - opined James Dean Bradfield of working class hero rockers Manic Street Preachers. Now, as a recent convert to the virtues of the written word in forms other than sensationalist newspapers and glossy magazines (24 years as a confirmed book hater - wasted years I know) I will conform to the opening part of this statement. I contest however that work 'made us free' - in my eyes and the eyes of those dearest to me, work merely opens up the door of consumer choice and expectations which, ironically, shackle us to our workstations with a truer conviction than ever before.
In the glorious days of serfdom you knew where you were, you worked a back-breaking 16 hour day for a patch of mud and a horse-shit sandwich - not entirely pleasant I know but you knew where you were and you worked to live, not to compete with the Joneses, the Johnsons or the Paterson-Todds.
Education and the freemarket economy have simply opened up too many doors, the 38 inch state-of-the-art widescreen TV with built in DVD player and stacastic capabilities is just one extra bonus payment away - and that semi with a car port on the 'good estate' can be bought for the price of a couple of years brown nosing and backstabbing. Choice is the demon that drives us to spend the best part of our waking lives flogging our guts out in an office with bad air conditioning, arsey colleagues and terrible coffee.
Call me lazy (for you have every right) but the sooner the sun sets on my unfortunate tenure within the ranks of the materialistic, downtrodden and brainwashed and I can dribble happily into my tartan blanket and mumble incoherently at a collection of care assistants in my 5 star nursing home in the 'good part' of Eastbourne, the better.