What we've been reading: Festivals, Japan and bees

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Welcome to What We've Been Reading, the AccountingWEB editors’ weekly round up of the stories that have caught their attention.

It's Friday! There's no better way to celebrate the end of another week than a roundup of the articles, books and media that have caught our attention this week. 

As always let us know below what you've enjoyed this week. We'd love to know. Joining me to chew over the media we've enjoyed this week is our Spanish superstar Valme Claro. 

Richard: Skiddle turns accountancy office into festival

Festivals have never appealed to me. I don’t like music. I don’t like people. And I don’t like flags. I especially don’t like people singing while waving their stupid flags.

I’ve tried feigning interest. I've mindlessly nodded whenever people have relentlessly banged on about how life-changing their festival experience was. But I just don't get it. 

What’s the point of festivals anyway? From the stories, a festival can be summarised as defecating in a ditch while the ant-sized Arctic Monkeys play in the distance– and then it rains.

I’m not sure how I’d react then if I worked at Manchester-based accountancy firm Sedulo. Inspired by recent research that found 52% of festival goers booked their tickets while at work, a creative social content agency replaced the firm’s usual office life for a slice of festival life, including portaloos, food stalls and live music from rapper Big Narstie. Although there’s no word about other festival hallmarks such as traffic, the wrong lyrics being shouted in your ear or someone puking on your shoe.

Jokes aside, festival stunt sounds like a nice surprise and something different from the normal 9-5 and client meetings. Judging by the surprise on the firm’s staff members, it looked like all had a smashing time. Maybe I should give it a go someday. Better still: it didn’t rain.

Valme: Japan's 'evaporated people'

That our culture shapes our view of the world is something we all know. And yet, it is easy to forget that the whole world doesn’t work by the same rules.  

The story of the johatsu, or “evaporated people” of Japan reminds us of a society where thousands of people kill themselves every year because of the feeling of guilt caused by circumstances such as having debt or going through a failed marriage. Even something as simple as failing an exam can be too shameful in a society where dignity and honour are the most important values of a person, a society where the feeling of guilt as a control tool to maintain social order has been reinforced for centuries.

Although honour suicides are still common in Japan, it seems that thousands of Japanese citizens have resorted to a less radical option in the last few years. Thus, the johatsu perform a kind of self-imposed ostracism consisting of leaving behind their identities and seeking refuge in an off-the-grid world – cities where an ID is not necessary and where it is easy to find jobs that pay in cash. This PRI article is a brief story of those who choose to disappear, never to be seen again.

Richard: The Bees by Laline Paull

‘Accept. Obey. Serve’ Oh no, that is not the latest practice growth mantra (Accept all clients. Obey client service. Serve Clients – no?) but a harsh reminder of the hierarchy bees must abide. The lowest class in the hive, the sanitation workers, know their place – you must sacrifice everything for the queen.

There has been a lot of buzz around Laline Paull’s 2014 debut novel The Bees. While I bumbled through the opening chapters, as I tried grasping hive-live, once you get to the nectar of the story, it does bring the honey. [Editor – Enough with the bee puns, please].

Our hero is the lowly sanitation worker, Flora 717. I’m sure, dear reader, you can empathise with Flora’s plight from some your own career – although working at the bottom of hive society, she is destined for (non-hive conforming) things beyond the forager role she ascends. But she comes up against the sacred law enforced by the hive’s sisters.

Reading the book on my work commute earlier this week, I was confronted by a one of the book’s brethren. What I’ve found is that the book has instilled a new appreciation for our winged friends. Rather than my normal reaction of reaching for a rolled up Metro, I stopped and appreciated the little pollen-gatherer. The pages flew by and the book has a sting in the tail… [Editor Enough!]

About Richard Hattersley

Richard Hattersley

Richard is AccountingWEB's practice correspondent. If you have any comments or suggestions for us get in touch.

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