Friday 1 March 2024

Mid-Life Crisis Songs #108: Hello Goodbye

A couple of weekends back, Louise and I went to see Stewart Lee at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. He's long been my favourite comedian - Louise isn't quite as big a fan, but she did admit he was "quite good" this time.

As usual, his routines are meticulously crafted, self-aware, and full of meta-commentary on the art of stand up comedy itself... though they appear random and ramshackle, like Lee himself. The climax of this show was a long bit in which Lee pretended to go through an average week, making "Hello and goodbye" small-talk to a colleagues in a workplace environment. I'm not going to try and replicate it, but it was full of clichéd conversation such as...

"Morning... yes... good weekend? Do anything nice? No, not really... took the dog out."

"Seeya! Have a good evening... doing anything nice tonight? Oh, lovely. Well, enjoy!" 

I found this painfully funny. Painful and funny. The dull repetition of banalities seemed a metaphor for our treadmill existences... well, you can probably see why I approved. 

The show's being filmed for Netflix, I think. I won't recommend it, because comedy is even more subjective than music, but it did make me laugh. A lot. And then cry myself to sleep that night...

There are many songs which include both Hello and Goodbye in the title. Beyond the obvious one by That Scouse Band. Gilbert O'Sullivan wrote one too, although it's about him trying to seduce a lady and her telling him to do one. Like a lot of Gilbert's songs, it sounds vaguely creepy nowadays. 

Here's another one of those, though it fits perfectly with our Mid-Life Crisis theme, as it's about an older man worrying he can't keep up with a younger woman. Which we dismissed last time as a non-starter. There are some great lines in it though, regarding the passing of time... and all its sickening crimes...

And I'm not getting any younger
Gone are those days when school reports were all I feared
Now for the first time in my life
I'm seeing something I don't like
And am powerless to prevent from happening
One day you'll find out for yourself just what I mean

The irony is, I'm sure that when I retire, I'll miss those casual day-to-day exchanges that Stewart Lee mocked. Because I largely like the people I work with. And always have, thinking back, in every job I've had. Not management, obviously. I have had some good bosses, but they were mostly line managers. The bigger bosses were largely tossers - both in radio and Further Education. Only in my current job can I look all the way up to the head teacher and find people I generally respect and get along with.

Of course, there's always a few people in every workforce who are complete tools. There's only one particularly big eejit in my current setting... you all know the type, the sort of person who as soon as you see them in the corridor, the first word that pops into your head is "knob", or your own equivalent of choice. (Side note: I just blew up Google by asking for a synonym of synonym.) Interestingly, all my immediate colleagues find this one individual just as loathsome as I do... which makes me wonder, what must it be like to go through life either:

a) blissfully unaware that everyone you work with thinks you're an arsehole?


b) aware, but completely happy with it?


  1. An excellent read, Rol, I nearly choked on my lunch from laughter at various points, especially the last section.

    In my experience, these people also seem to unerringly elevate to positions of middle/upper management through sheer force of their incompetence. When the axe inevitably falls, it’s rarely dismissal but “gardening leave”, followed by payout or redundancy. Shortly after, they’ve popped up in a similar management role at a partner/rival organisation like a shit you just can’t flush away.

    It’s one of the few reasons I believe/hope in karma!

    1. Yes, I've seen quite a few of them go on Gardening Leave, which appears to be code for "even though you've fucked up, we'll keep paying you until you've found a better job somewhere else".


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