Working From Home: Which Literary Character Are You?

Tom Hodgkinson, author of The Idler once wrote: ‘The art of living is the art of bringing dreams and reality together.’

And never has this been more true than now, if by ‘dreams’ you mean a recurring nightmare about seeing Michael Gove dancing in a techno club in Aberdeen – and if by making living into an art form you mean making it ineligible for any furlough scheme.

But while it’s true that isolation has had some effects after a whole year-and-whatever of working from home, when it comes to #silverlinings, many of us have felt like we’ve been able to drop some of the formality of office life, and just be ourselves. Who hasn’t at some point given in to the temptation to wear pyjamas all day, roam the house at night laughing and ripping up wedding veils, or perhaps answer the door to the postman as a famous Belgian detective with meticulous tailoring and impressively groomed facial hair? Nobody.

So, time to bring a fresh vibe to the annual audit! Bring some blue sky thinking to the virtual team away day! Lean in, let fly, let it all hang out in a ballgown you ordered from Ebay and live your authentic, work from home life as a famous and entirely fictional character. Here are my top 6 suggestions:

Captain James Hook

Trying to write a novel during the pandemic? Looking for your ‘hook’? Is it on the end of your arm? Are you trying to write while homeschooling and also descending from your box room ceiling on a rope dressed as Captain James Hook of The Jolly Roger?  YES. Congratulations on teaching your children some important lockdown lessons, like how to threaten Mr Baswell with a cutlass over Microsoft Teams, and also that if there’s one thing we need, it’s more big-haired Etonians being publicly eaten by amphibians.

Meet all your deadlines! By smashing every clock in the house with your hook so you don’t have to acknowledge the unstoppable passage of time and the inevitability of death! Good form!

Gif of Dustin Hoffman as Captain Hook looking quizzical.

At Least One And Possibly All Three Of The Musketeers

Take it from someone who knows – nothing says ‘webinar host’ like large hats, sexual incontinence and a commission from the military household of the King of France.

Resolve conflict in assigned breakout rooms with active listening, or by repeatedly slapping the camera with a glove and demanding satisfaction*.

Make sure the laptop is angled so that you can be clearly seen backing into the room on a horse, and shouting FIGHT ME YOU COWARDS.

*Survey results: 85% satisfaction rate

Gif of a man dressed as a musketeer in front of a red velvet curtain taking a bow.

Miss Havisham

Spent a lot of time in the house? Don’t feel noticed at work? Demonstrate your Great Expectations by spending the next year asking for a promotion but ONLY as Dickensian spinster crone single mum boss lady Miss Havisham.

LIST YOUR STRENGTHS;

  • Coping well with wedding delays
  • Sustainable fashion trailblazer
  • Relaxed parenting style
  • Working in bed = influencer
  • Literally 36 years old
  • Focused, in your lane
  • Cake permanently available

#goals

Gif of a heart-shaped cooking with pink icing as the word 'spinster' is being piped onto it.

Catherine Earnshaw

I’m just going to ask you this: should Josh from marketing manage the company social media accounts? Or should YOU –  brand positioning consultant, Windows expert and recently deceased metaphor for the untamed soul: Catherine Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights? Linton in the streets, Cathy in the tweets, nobody does Kate Bush gifs like you, and your Isolated Moorland Farmhouse Insta grid has generated a lot of Airbnb enquiries. Remember when you once bought a Victorian nightie by accident from Toast and floated outside your problematic ex boyfriend’s house for 10 years? Live Laugh Love!

Gif of Kate Bush dancing in the Wuthering Heights music video wearing a flowing white dress.

Satan

Attending the Friday office Teams quiz in your human form:

  • Predictable
  • Safe
  • Work space is room temperature

Attending the office Teams quiz as Lucifer, lord of Tartarus and antagonist of Milton’s seventeenth century poem Paradise Lost:

  • A flex
  • Strong on detail
  • Atmospheric spare room office
  • 93 feet tall
  • White wine spritzer
  • Eye make up really popping
Gif of a cartoon devil standing on a rocky platform amongst flames and lightning bolts. Speech bubble says: lol.

Professor Moriarty

It’s not easy to engage your base during a global pandemic. But ask yourself: is this because you have not yet identified your target audience? Or is this because you have not yet identified as 19th century criminal genius, waterfall aficionado and master of the screen share function Professor James Moriarty

Bring the element of surprise to your World Domination focus group by remembering to unmute yourself. Now is the time to unveil your plan to destabilise nascent European democracies by undertaking a series of strategic assassinations – now! Before the kids get home and play 16 simultaneous games of Minecraft and the wifi connection gets glitchy! Assert dominance over average mortals by changing your Zoom ID to ‘ARCH NEMESIS’. We’re pivoting to video you FOOLS! Yes I will SEE YOU at the next PTA MEETING.

Gif of Andrew Scott as Moriarty (in BBC's Sherlock) saying "I will burn the heart out of you" with a vicious expression.

Emma Kernahan

Emma Kernahan

Emma Kernahan lives in Stroud in Gloucestershire with a number of children and animals. She’s a support worker and a writer and she also spends far too much time on Twitter @crappyliving
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