Bella Figura

With chapter headings like “how to eat and not put on weight” and “how to celebrate being a woman,” it’s probably fair to say I’m not the target audience for Kamin Mohammadi’s Bella Figura but I liked it anyway. So what?

I enjoyed Kamin’s story of escape from a high-pressure London job as a fashion magazine editor and into the inexpensive good life of Florence, Italy.

It’s full of remarks about indulging in colour and taste and sensation; tactile, mammalian experiences. She successfully bottles the sense familiar to Escapologists of the anxieties (I would add exhilarations) of setting out anew, the going back-and-forth on whether escape is a sensible idea or not.

Here’s a passage concerning the first days of her escape:

I had no idea how long my redundancy money would last. With no savings and a mountain of credit cards that needed paying off, I took the irresponsible (according to my mother) decision to use the money to come to Florence instead of sinking it into my debts and starting again with another job. I had calculated that I could make it last a few months if I lived carefully, perhaps a whole year if I lived very frugally. It would be a challenge — my salary had regularly petered out before I reached the end of the month, spent at first on the designer labels my job demanded, and then on expensive diet plans, personal trainers and sessions with health gurus. I had no firm plans for Florence; the agreement with [my host] had been for me to stay for the winter and then we would see. I had bought a small notebook in which to assiduously write down every penny I spent, determined to get a grip on the art of budgeting while I was here. But anger and bitterness raged inside me alongside defeat and self-pity, the voice in my head repeatedly telling me I had achieved nothing and would now fail too at being a writer.

Target audience or not, I relate to every word of that.

Well, except for the fear of failing as a writer. That’s ridiculous.

Note the part about how a salary is too often be gobbled up by job-related expenses. Even without the need to wear high-fashion brands and the likes, there’s always train and taxi fares, lunches, drinks after work, the cost of cheer-yourself-up gifts that come from work-related unhappiness. A job can be expensive when one is not vigilant. Luckily, Kamin’s easy technique of recording expenses in a notebook saves the day every time.

A Redundancy-funded escape to Florence is seldom a bad plan. You can always come back.

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Chips With Everything

Thanks to long-time reader Percival for drawing our attention to this story. At last! Workers are being chipped! Just what the world needs!

The TUC is worried that staff could be coerced into being microchipped. Its general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “We know workers are already concerned that some employers are using tech to control and micromanage, whittling away their staff’s right to privacy.

“Microchipping would give bosses even more power and control over their workers. There are obvious risks involved, and employers must not brush them aside, or pressure staff into being chipped.”

Given the invasive forms of control already deployed in some workplaces, I can see a lot of people accepting this as inevitable.

It barely surprises us that some workers have already been chipped does it? Isn’t that weird?

“Hey, have you heard they’re putting chips in people now?”

“Yeah, that figures.”

I wonder how an employer could convince themselves that this is okay. You might be able to Bad Faith yourself into believing you’re a force for good in the world by employing people [on minimum wage], but it must be hard to keep the old self delusion going when you’re signing off on putting chips in people. Oh wait, I know how:

“It’s just the way things are going,” they’ll say, “All the new light switches and vending machines need us to have chips.”

That really is what they’ll say isn’t it? It won’t be any one person’s fault that we’re suddenly sitting around with our colleagues in the office canteen waiting to have a chip put in. It’ll feel like the day we all got ‘flu jabs, except now we’re having chips put in so that we can enjoy the privilege of opening doors without the incapacitating gas being released. It won’t be anyone’s fault. It’ll just be the new way.

Hey, you want to be able to switch the lights on don’t you?

Please support New Escapologist enterprises on Patreon. Doing so grants access to six new (and six old) essays and the promise of more to come.

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