Black Dog at bay

I have some plumbing!

Yes, the bathroom’s done, sort of. No shower screen or extra hardware like a towel rail yet, but it’s amazing how one small improvement – i.e. having a working toilet – can add knock-on positives to other aspects of life. Plus it’s the first day it feels like summer. The Black Dog is back in its kennel, for now.

(I won’t go into details of how I’ve coped without plumbing the last few weeks, but let’s just say the editor of the Sunday Times wouldn’t be too pleased at how I’ve been treating his publication. Hey, I spent a week on a tiny boat floating up the Nile last year; it’s not as if I see plumbed-in porcelain as part of life’s essential componentry.)

But as to life itself, that Cocktail Waitress song from the 80s keeps playing inside my head: everything has been so easy. If you’re reasonably intelligent, creative, and personable – and lucky enough to be born a citizen of a first world economy – it’s just a little to easy to coast through life ‘doing ok’. I’ve been ‘doing ok’ much of my life, and it dulls the incentive to work harder, takes the edge off your ambition. Why work hard when life’s so comfortable? It’s the reason so many rich men started out as penniless immigrants: for them coasting isn’t an option.

Having a reasonably agile mind can be a curse. I can’t remember the last time I broke sweat on a business problem, or had to work ‘hard’ according to most people’s definition. I write marketing campaigns and CRM programmes, which can look arcane on paper. But however complex a marketing strategy is, it’s ultimately just a set of interconnected goals and tasks relating to various business propositions and audiences, and once you’ve broken it down into bits, writing stuff to deliver those goals can be laughably easy.

What this means is that life is boring me fucking shitless. And the other stuff – triathlon, cinema, my entertainingly disastrous love life – isn’t changing things at all.

So I feel I have two choices:

a) Sell up, drop out, and wander this world for the rest of my days, preaching my personal philosophy… or

b) Do something completely out of character.

Out of character, for me, would involve going back to school… and the idea of doing an MBA came to me in a particularly dark moment last week. (Option ‘a’ isn’t actually something anyone would be surprised to see me doing. Not sure I’d look good in the loincloth though.)

So I took a sample GMAT-style literacy test (GMAT is the qualifying exam for most MBA programmes) and aced it (38 out of 39). Which was no surprise given I’ve been a professional copywriter for a decade plus, but still a relief. A maths section was harder, but since I haven’t solved quadratic equations for decades I don’t think 70% was too bad for a first attempt. Especially since I didn’t notice the rider ‘Calculators are strongly recommended’ until after I’d finished. (You can’t use a calc on actual GMAT tests, which will put me at a strong advantage.)

So I’ve decided to book in for a formal GMAT and at least open up some options; it’ll be amusing. And amusement is what I need right now.

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