Donald MacInnes: Think-tank makes me want to watch Brad Pitt blow something up

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The Independent Online

Being as I am (with a nod to AA Milne) a bear of the very littlest brain, the words "think-tank" suggest nothing more to me than my current military-fixated state of mind.

This is, of course, purely down to my anticipation of the new Brad Pitt movie, Fury. Not that Pitt the elder makes me particularly question my marriage vows or anything, but I do love a war movie. And one about a US tank crew blowing stuff up during the Second World War has me doing cartwheels (I am, of course, making that up; I haven't been able to finish a cartwheel since the 26th of November 1983. Now Wagon Wheels... they're another story altogether).

Of course, other than describing my mood, "think-tank" is more often used to describe those shadowy cadres, staffed by suity men called Graham, which lob out press releases about this and that on what seems like an hourly basis.

In the past, when we had proper political parties with actual opposing viewpoints, think-tanks tended to be either left or right-leaning. But in today's homogenised political paintball game, they tend to occupy a sort of weedy no-man's land between "Socially Concerned" and "Screw the lot of you: I'm off to Scotland to shoot quail."

The latest think-tank proclamation suggests that the body from which it originated lies firmly in the former category. The Resolution Foundation (which, let's be honest, sounds a lot like a marginal 1970s funk band) has announced that a record 5 million workers in Britain find themselves in low-paid jobs. That means that they take home less than £7.69 an hour. The statutory minimum wage is, of course, £6.50 an hour.

Now, I am not qualified (or interested enough) to pass comment on either the validity of the Foundation's research or the conclusion to be drawn from its findings, but it didn't half remind me of the worst job I ever had. And before Derek & Clive enthusiasts kick down my door, I should clarify that the reason it was the worst job I ever had was not because it was the lowest I have ever been paid. Far from it. I definitely earned less when I was a grocery clerk at Safeway when I was 17, but that job was brilliant. I still sometimes secretly wear a green apron and bow tie under my regulation Independent overalls.

No, the job to which I refer was awful in a myriad of ways, only one of them being that it paid £50 a week. And that's not even in old money. The misery took place in a magazine office and involved my cold-calling businesses throughout Scotland, trying to make appointments for the sales manager to go and fail to sell them advertising space.

And so dreadful was this gig (way worse than anything involving Jayne Mansfield and lobsters – Google it) that it's going to take me a full week to work up the courage to describe it to you.

Twitter: @DonaldAMacInnes

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