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  • Writer's pictureCarrumba

Coffee Shop Sermon (Bohemian living and Universal Basic Income)

Recommended listening: 'Sale of the Century' Sleeper

According to Bard AI, you can lead a Bohemian lifestyle and raise kids comfortably - what would your alternative career be? Are you ready to drop out of the rat race? Let's have an unreasonable discission...

As Andrew Garfield declared, "This is the life, bo-bo-bo-bo-boh Bohemia!" and something most of us can only dream about. Not to be confused with the historical territory of Bohemia, the ex-spiderman was actually warbling about Bohemiainism but, that is a much more difficult word to write a song about. It's also very BoHo to associate yourself with a region of the world rather than an 'ism'.

Modern Western bohemianism, it could be argued, is rooted in the starving artist movement of 19th century Paris and the term 'bohemian' tends to be a catch-all term for any group that rejects and subverts the establishment, with (usually self-proclaimed) intellect and style. To be a true follower of Bohemianism you would have to 'cock a snook' at established material society, live on a diet of grappa and lentils and be prepared to accept the fact you'll piss yourself in public and die largely unappreciated. Possibly swept up with the other street trash on a Monday morning and forgotten, until some future aspiring Bohemian finds your creative endeavour fifty years later and makes a publisher/art dealer rich, invigorating the tune in and drop out trend of the time.

Andrew Gardfiled singing in 'Tick Tick Boom' wearing a white shirt and braces,  with a drink in hand, to a flat full of friends
A happy, starving, Bohemian

As I type this it is rapidly becoming clear that the only time I have come close to living in the spirit of Bohemianism was as a student with my pound-a-pint, Cornish pastie diet, dodging irate and underpaid landlords (a lifestyle that undermined the 'intellectual' goals very successfully). As a family man, the strains of work and the network of financial responsibilities built around me mean Bohemianism is entirely improbable. But Bomeianism-lite would be nice - the current discussions about Universal Basic Income are interesting to read and give some hope that my dream might be available to future generations.

Earning more and more money is always nice as it gives access to new things and new experiences. Working also brings you into contact with other people and, depending on your job, those from other walks of life with experiences you wouldn't ordinarily encounter. It gives you options and allows you to travel - you can invest in yourself and those around you. The downside, of course, is that our society is constructed in such a way as to tap you for that money at every opportunity. Renting or buying a place to live, affording access to food, heat, water and healthcare, accessing the digital world - the list goes on - and if you don't have that job, the current Social Security system in the UK is ever more fragile and opaque. Ever since the Industrial Revolution took hold, the time and existence of people has evolved into a spreadsheet formula pretty much without challenge. Bohemian groups constantly crop up - modernists, hippies, punks, goths to give refuge to those not satisfied with the grind, but they all end up symbolised by those that make it out the other side and usually quite rich with it. They rather ironically, but predictably, become a marketing trend 25 years later to keep the global network of sweatshops and trade routes churning.

Will Universal Basic Income allow Bohemianism-lite? I hope so. The idea that everyone gets a basic income (currently being trialled in some regions of England) that allows them to pay for a place to live, food, heat, water and health care (admittedly, the last through the NHS which is in the process of being dismantled by the idealism of the current Tory government) feels like a necessary step in the evolution of modern society with AI seemingly ready to change the current Capitalist model in a dramatic way. A lot of jobs that add little value to society other than ensuring people have money to spend will be replaced - how do you give those displaced people meaning? As a state, how do you deal with millions of people becoming dissatisfied with their standard of living and fully aware that they are very much worse off than their parents and grandparents were? The UK is at the start of that particular storm, which is why the Universal Basic Income trial stood out as a surprising anomaly in the current governments' ideology.

You'll never find me supporting a Tory government, my politics are very much based left of centre, but I have also come to realise that no one ideology has the answer - never trust a party that refuse to deal with the 'opposition' and promise to cure all. Now, with that context established, I *think* I can see what the current UK government ideology is driving at. They're raising the drawbridge (Brexit, hatred of refugees) to try and control population numbers and limit focus and choices to within their borders. They have started to attack University education to limit aspirations of future generations and make those understaffed fields and restaurants appealing. They are legislating to reduce worker rights and maximise corporate profits - in the pursuit of free market ideology, they need to have a population that is moulded in such a way as to work where they can and stick at it till they are 70, paying the taxes they won't ask the corporations to pay. The UK needs to be attractive to big corporations but someone has to pay taxes in order to cover the wages of the politicians. The UK as a corporation, rather than a state, seems to be their ideal future. This makes the UBI trial all the more intriguing and, probably, a tick box exercise doomed to being shelved as it doesn't immediately fit in with their ideology.... I think. I can't quite wrap my head around it and feel I am missing something.

So what did Bard Ai suggest was the key to leading a Bohemian life while raising kids?

  • Choose a creative career. If you want to be able to support yourself and your family while living a bohemian lifestyle, it's important to choose a career that allows you to express your creativity. This could be anything from being an artist or musician to being a writer or teacher.

  • Live simply. Bohemians are often not materialistic, so they don't need a lot of money to live comfortably. They can often find affordable housing in creative communities or in rural areas. They may also choose to live in a smaller home or apartment, or to share a space with other people.

  • Be resourceful. Bohemians are often very resourceful, and they know how to make do with what they have. They may barter for goods and services, or they may learn how to do things themselves. For example, they may learn how to sew their own clothes, grow their own food, or build their own furniture.

  • Be open to new experiences. Bohemians are often open to new experiences and cultures. They may travel frequently, or they may host people from different cultures in their home. This can help their children to learn about different ways of life and to appreciate the diversity of the world.

  • Embrace your children's individuality. Bohemians value individuality, so they encourage their children to be themselves. They don't try to force their children to conform to society's expectations. Instead, they help their children to develop their own unique talents and interests.

Shit. I *am* creative but as the mountains of sketch pads, paints and pencils with half finished writings on my computer will prove, I am very much in the 'potentially making money for someone else after I die' category. I love computers. They are never simple to buy and broadband hasn't become a right yet, at least not at the speed that will let me stream me playing games badly. I can be resourceful, but am also a bit too laid-back to not take the easiest solution. Living with people who are not my family? Urgh - people! Hmm. Bohemian-lite it is.

Wannabe Bohemian-lite lovers, we can dream! With UBI we can take some small steps towards the United Federation of Planets ideal of money being a worthless concept (unless you're a Ferengi...or any of the other myriad of gold-pressed latnum lovers) and we will be free to become what we always wanted (Lycra jumpsuits optional). Myself? I am taking a three-day course in silver and sea-glass jewellery making next month so, when I finally lose the plot with my current job, I can spend my days hastening arthritis in my keyboard and mouse ravaged hands, hunched over pliers and a tiny hammer. I'll tour craft-fairs, sitting reading books while people look at my handiwork admiringly before buying it cheaper from China via Etsy. I'll never be able to afford another holiday and my kids will never be without jewellery again (Birthday, Christmas, any occasion really) which they will receive with fixed grins, wondering how the hell they are going to afford a mortgage with a bracelet and earring set. They'll be thankful that their mother is a stone-cold lover of Capitlism and hopefully still tolerating their Dad. This is the life, Bo-bo-bo-bo-boh.

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