My book club buddy Jane has a keen crush on the author Alain de Botton, but I’d never really understood what it was about his big bald forehead and boring jumpers that she found so attractive.
Well, now I have to agree with her – if nothing else the man is delightful to listen to. He’s on a worldwide tour to promote his latest book ‘The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work‘ and he conducted a free talk and discussion with noted cartoonist Michael Leunig at RMIT.
But first, let me give you my impression of the interior of Storey Hall. What a monstrosity. The walls were tessellated into lime kindergarten puzzle shapes, juxtaposed against camo-brown padded asylum walls or flying into an angry flourescent pink background above the stage. Jutting out from one side was something like the opaque roof of a green and white spaceship. At ground level, classical columns supported a carved balustrade, all painted mint green. I don’t know whether the designers were trying to evoke rainforests, gumtrees or what, but I hated it.
Alain de Botton made up for the ugly surroundings. The topic of his book is particularly pertinent for me right now because I’m currently conducting my job search with a back-to-basics view – I need a job which pays a wage so that I can live. The job doesn’t have to be the perfect, I don’t have to adore what I’m doing and it’s certainly not going to define me or be my source of self-worth. He spoke eloquently and amusingly about his reasons for writing about the topic of work and some interesting findings arising from his research – I won’t give too much away except to say that it really encouraged me to read the book. I could have listened to his mellifluous English accent for the full hour, but after about 20 minutes we got some slightly shambolic comments from Michael Leunig and then Q&A from the audience.