All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work by Joanna Biggs - review by Robert Colls

Robert Colls

Making it Pay

All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work


Serpent’s Tail 320pp £14.99 order from our bookshop

For this book Joanna Biggs carried out thirty-one studies of workplaces in Britain in 2013 and 2014. Some of her subjects are acquaintances, others are activists; some are transients, others are British born and bred; some are capable of speaking for themselves (and Biggs lets them), others less so. Just to get the feel of modern Britain there’s a banker and a barista, a rabbi and a robot, a spad and a giggle doctor. Nobody works in a school or on a building site. There are no office workers, factory workers or social workers; no white-van men, civil servants or girls on the till. The hereditary lord and the crofter, you feel, are there for old time’s sake, but if so, where’s the steelworker and the seamstress? Nor is there any reference to the sudden transformation in how Britain earns its keep. Biggs takes contextual glances this way and that, but her historical references are sparse. You wonder how she came to make her selection.

The average full-time worker in Britain works 39.2 hours a week and earns about £27,000 a year. The top earner in Biggs’s list is Ashley Westwood, 25, an Aston Villa midfielder, who makes well over a million a year and who works about four hours a day. Second is Susan

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