Earlier readers of this blog may recall the confessions of our lever-arched kleptomania. So when Matt Harvey (the stand up poet) read out his amazing poem Works Perks I couldn’t believe how bang on the nail it was. It’s all about the dangers of getting a little carried away when you’re in the stationery cupboard…
But his poem’s not just about pens and pritt sticks. Something bigger underpins it which is a little haunting… for those days when you wonder if your life is drifting away in the monotony of office life, which Joshua Ferris also explores in ‘Then we came to the end’. I just love the bit ‘I take these reams… you take my dreams’. ‘ You take the best part of my month. I take this hole punch.’ Brilliant. It’s a bit like the literary equivalent of Martha Tilston’s Artificial.
It’s not printed in his brilliant book ‘The Hole in the Sum of my Parts’, but happily he sent it to me, so I’m reproducing it at the end of this blog.
Other Edinburgh highlights were the dance group Circa at the Assembly Rooms. I never really get that excited by Circus shows, but this is really contemporary dance blended with circus skills with a very sensual, poetic feel that leaves you uplifted but melancholy at the same time. Truly the most captivating dance show I’ve ever seen, and the standing ovation suggested everyone in the room felt the same. Circa are from Australia but if they’re ever in the UK again I can’t stress enough how you have to go and see them.
Also I have to mention the unendingly surreal Mr Paul Foot. There is no other comedian on the circuit like him – he’s mad, surprising (in a spontaneously dry-humping a giant teddy bear kind of way), and he thrives on audience awkwardness. Among his many shows in Edinburgh this year was his meanderingly hilarious Bed Time Story, which took place at 2pm in the Pink Bus – an eclectic double decker stuffed with art and nostalgia (above). He’s definitely an acquired taste, and as such Paul Foot doesn’t have fans, he has connoisseurs. Check him out here.
And now back to a less bonkers type of comedy, with a subtle (and I wonder if intentional) tribute to adland in the last line.
‘Works perks’… by Matt Harvey
…it’s just a little thing,
I wouldn’t call it pilfering
Or petty theft. I took one, yes
But look – there are so many left.
I’m in on time. I smile, work hard.
Why should my conscience twitch or flinch?
Each working week you take a yard,
So why begrudge me my half-inch?
You take the best hours of my day
What do you give me? Take-home pay.
I’m so tired I can hardly speak
You take the best days of my week.
You take the best weeks of my month
I take some paper, this hole-punch.
You take the best months of my year
I take this swivel-chair. Oh dear.
You take the best years of my life…
… a laminator for the wife
So now please look the other way –
I need my little takeaway
To give myself a token raise
To supplement my take-home praise
Some get to meet celebrities
Or go on junkets overseas
I’m simply taking some of these –
Some paper clips, some folder files
A pritt stick, stapler, carpet tiles
Some tippex, a waste-paper bin
This thing for putting thingies in
This ream. Okay this box of reams
…well, you take my dreams
How did ever come to this?
My perky chirpy perquisites
Have been turned into exhibits –
These trinkets I gave house-room to:
Exhibits ‘A’ to ‘W’
Don’t ask what reason or what rhyme
Drove pretty me to petty crime
I guess it built up over time
Because I’m worth it