Saturday was largely spent in Edinburgh, watching Andrew Wilson and Hannu Rajaniemi from the Edinburgh equivalent of my own writer's circle read from and generally launch two chapbooks at a radical book fair just off Leith Walk. It was enjoyable, partly because I like their stuff, partly because we got to enjoy the unseasonally mild and even summery weather, and partly because it was fun being somewhere other than lying on my back in my living room which, as you know I never fail to remind you, is where I spent my entire summer. What was also cool was coming across books I might never have been aware of browsing through the 'usual suspect' bookselling monoliths.
Over the past couple of days, I've been exploring options for returning to work. I dropped into the old employer and it took him about three minutes to suggest I might be able to do some more of the usual freelance for him. I'm still not entirely sure if I will; the current designer - my replacement - was sitting on the usual, crappy, bad-for-you ripped-fabric stool better suited to some windy church hall rather than a daily working environment.
I looked at him and thought, in a couple of years, your back is going to be so scragged.
And that's the thing that bugs me; in a lot of print and design places, the attitude seems to be that designers are a necessary evil. I suspect this may in large part be because the people who usually open up these places are either people trained in running printing presses, or businessmen with an eye on opportunity; an awareness or understanding of the necessity of good design is not their priority. I've worked for a publisher, for instance, who very nearly attempted to put out a magazine by typing up the articles, justified, single column, in Microsoft Word with no pictures and a single font because they couldn't bear to pay someone to make it look less, well, shit. Sanity - or perhaps the horrified reaction of the advertisers paying to be in the magazine - prevailed. It's an extreme example of a common phenomenon.
And of course the corollary to all this is that even if they do realise they have to actually hire people to make their stuff look purty, they skimp enormously on desks and chairs, getting the most inadequate stuff possible. The desk in the old work is hammered together out of what could well once have been a door. Any designer in a place like that can expect to spend several hours, five days a week, sitting there and working. Anything less than fully adequate seating and desk arrangement is frankly criminal, in my mind.
So I'm thinking very seriously, when my next chunk of money comes in, of buying an Aeron chair off Ebay. I've never heard less than incredible reports about these chairs, but they ain't cheap - they start at about £900 and up; but I've seen them going for less than half that on the auction sites. Mind you, even then, that isn't cheap either. But since I got this cheap (though so far perfectly adequate) executive-style chair out of Staples, I've realised just how much time I spend sitting in this thing. Enough to make me think an investment in an Aeron could be an investment in my health as well.