Monday, 17 October 2011

Office duties

On my 21st Birthday after many months of completing applications and medicals I joined the RAF. After 3 weeks I’d left. I had been mistaken in my judgement of what the experience would entail. When the first week had past and the Harley Davidson and leather jacket hadn’t materialised and the only thing I had to show for the whole debacle was a shaven head, I had made my mind up that I wanted to go.

Of course, this left me back in Manchester, with a crew cut and no job. After a week of feeling sorry for myself I lumbered into the local recruitment branch and after conducting a test of my technology skills I was immediately sent for an interview at a new contact centre for IT training that was to open in Stockport. I attended, was successful and told to turn up Monday for induction. Little did I know that the job I was about to undertake would be the equivalent of living my life in a sitcom for the next three years.

I started with Mark and a woman called Julie. We were collected from reception and immediately taken on the office tour by the receptionist, Leslie. We all squeezed into the lift to start the tour on the 9th Floor. Julie was a thick set lady to be polite. If I was being rude I would describe her as a giant walking amoeba. Leslie herself had a cell block H look going on with short spiky hair and a rather offensive stubble. She was attempting to describe one of the team leaders. “You’ll be working for Helen, team leader on Pathway. She’s a bit of a big lady.” There was a pregnant pause for what felt like a good ten seconds before Leslie looked Julie up and down then directly in the eye, a woman she met less than 10 minutes ago. “Yes, big woman, bit like you.” Myself and Mark looked at each other containing our grin before looking away to avoid the impending giggles. This was a microcosm of the things to come.

After settling in for a week, Mark and I had become good friends and were getting to grips with the systems and processes. However, there was one thing bugging us. One of the four team leaders was a girl called Lisa. Bright red hair, white fluffy face plastered with make up. She had the appearance of a puffer fish made up like Ronald McDonald. Ironically, her body looked like someone had force fed a donkey with Happy meals, dressed it in clothes from New Look and taught it to walk upright. Of course, I’m not nasty to everyone who I find repulsive or I wouldn’t find enough time in the day but she was intent on being a complete bitch with both of us. Drunk on power from her first job as a supervisor, she was constantly picking us up on little things. This made her public enemy number one and the constant butt of all our private jokes.

We eventually decided on her nickname to be Fred Elliot, due to the water balloon of a double chin that resided on her fat fucking face. We let someone else in on the joke one lunchtime. Big mistake. Half an hour later myself and Mark were sat one desk apart when a giant voice boomed out to us.

“What’s this nickname then?” I turned round to be confronted a small crowd. At the front stood the behemoth herself, hands on hips, face like she’s just took a swig of vinegar. It became evident that she knew we had a nickname for her, but didn’t know what it was. I paused for a second then did what any real man in those circumstances would have done.

“Mark said it”

“No I dint”

We both sat red faced as the crowd dispersed and she backed down. In hindsight I probably should have turned round and told her straight faced “We said you look like Fred Elliot from Coronation Street, the fat butcher with a head like a bollock” but you can’t have regrets. We won in the end.

Rob, or ‘Bert’ as he become affectionately known, was the office clown. He had the appearance of an adult baby and the bowels of Beelzebub himself. One day he had imparted one of these clouds of awfulness. As I came back from the toilets I walked through the aroma and was mistaken as to its source. I should have known by the fact people were marching out like a fire had started. “Mmmmm, who’s had a sausage barm?” I asked. At that point a chinese guy, Wanny, could bare the smell no longer and grabbed a bottle of fake Calvin Klein aftershave and began covering the surrounding area like he was using a pepper spray. Just at the point when the chaos was dying down, we heard a low wheezing noise, like a dog slowly chewing a squeaky toy. We realised at this point that Fred Elliot was lying face up within one of the cubicles having a rather severe Asthma attack. Because of this incident she had to have three weeks off and went back on strong steroids. Bert’s arse -1 Asthmatic Fat Girl – 0.

As the team developed the back desks of the office became a real barometer to how your day would pan out. Get one of them, and no one could look over your shoulder. It’d be Tetris and pornography all day. Fail, and you would actually have to take calls. Myself and Mark nearly came to blows one Friday when I’d been sitting at the back left station all week and he sneaked in and pinched it. We had to be separated. Genuinely facing off against each other because of the prospect that we’d actually have to earn our money that day.

As the months went by we had managed to assemble a rag tag bunch of misfits within the office to form a fairly close knit group. Most lunch times we would pile round to a house or a car park and smoke skunk. I don’t think any of us really realised then but looking back now they were really happy times. However, this plain sailing was about to hit some bad weather provided by the biggest scandal during my time there, the persecution of the Pathway nine.

At that time, the internet was a new shiny invention. No one knew how traceable it was. Every page you visited, every email you sent was watched by another pair of eyes. We had sleepwalked into a pornography trap, or a “flap” if you like. A dirty, seedy semen web of pornography browsing that none of us knew the repercussions that were to come.

We heard a rumour go round and everyone emptied their emails and browsing history but it was too late. They had us. We were summoned to the board room whilst the one eyed Managing Director informed us of our suspension. We were handed an A4 envelope each then escorted off the premises. Panic ensued. We immediately all piled round to one of the lads houses as he was at home on holiday. Seven of the nine of us sat on Gavin’s double bed smoking resin discussed what the outcome would be. In times like this you see how people react in a crisis. Some were calm and resigned, some collapsed. I like to think I was somewhere in the middle. Inside I was stressing but I maintained the rule I’d followed throughout my life, no grassing.

The days of the disciplinary hearings arrived and we were ushered in one after the other like lambs to the slaughter. Seven of us got final written warning, two went down. The deciding factor being whether you’d sent the emails as well as received them. The enduring memory of the whole episode will be when they pushed the evidence file across to me in the meeting and asked if I recognised some of the images. The top picture was a vagina dressed as “the predator” from the Arnold Swarzenegger movie, complete with dripping spunk as saliva. It was the one and only picture I looked at before answering, “yes”.

Another memory I often recall comes from when I’d moved out of the call centre into the IT department. Let me tell you now, anyone who worked in IT in the early millennia and tells you they worked hard are talking shit. Maybe now, as the industry is becoming more understood so these departments get scrutinised more thoroughly then I can believe it, but back then we did absolutely and completely fuck all, all day, every day, every month. People knew fuck all about what you did so we milked it for all it was worth. It was like IT was the new rock and roll and we were the Who. My time there was and still is without a doubt the best job I’ve ever had.

One dreary October afternoon, one guy, who I will refer to as the Mantis due to the severity of the act that took place, was bragging about his air rifle. Myself and James coerced him to bring it in from the car. On this particular day the boss was off so he unsheathed it (his rifle) in the bosses office on the 9th floor. We started pelting him with questions. How far can it fire? Would it kill someone? Eventually this led to us pressuring him into firing a shot out of the window. What I witnessed was one of the dodgiest things I’ve ever seen, and I grew up in Wythenshawe. Without even a breath, he drew the loaded rifle up and aimed at the bus stop outside the office block. Not an empty bus stop, oh no. At least 8 or 9 people were mulling about it. Pop, reload, pop.

The atmosphere of the room changed immediately as all three of us instantly realised what had just occurred was severely on top. We scattered back to our desks and sat in silence as the Mantis dismantled the rifle like a trained assassin and scampered to the car with his “snooker cue” to get the evidence off site.

Pranks were often the order of the day, either within the group or to outsiders. On one occasion James and I were off for some breakfast. There were some decorators around site who seemed a little hostile towards us. So, in their absence as we entered the lift I changed the “Caution Decorators” sign to “Caution BO” due to the pungent scent they were leaving about. We discussed it over breakfast then at next break James decided he wanted to write something as well. He changed their new sign to “Caution, nobhead decorators”. Just as the doors of the lift were closing, a workmans boot planted in the gap. “Nobhead decoraters yeah?”. A bald headed workman type began berating James and myself. Despite being caught with the pen in his hand, James to his credit completely denied any wrongdoing. He’s got some front I’ll give him that. They complained to our Managing director so we ended up bribing the security guard to bin the tapes. Close call.

If we could do it in work, believe me, in the IT department we did it. Sleeping on the job, tunes blaring out of each persons desk all day every day, reading other employees emails for recreation, lots of weed smoking, some cocaine, even some fingering, though gladly not with each other. The hi-jinx knew no bounds. It was an amazing time and felt like it was never going to end.

Alas, it did. When you have a company with so many people doing so little, eventually it will implode. And it did so with a fizzle rather than a pop. After 2 or 3 weeks of rumours of it’s demise people began stealing. I think it was partially because they knew they weren’t going to get paid in full and partly because they were thieving fucking cunts. Either way, in the last months it would be commonplace to see people walking down stairwells with base units or monitors under their arm. By the end it was a free for all as the rats deserted the sinking ship. I remember walking downstairs once seeing one of these animals coming out of the first floor toilets with two base units under their arms. I shook my head disapprovingly until I realised it was my reflection in the glass.

I watched Steve Jobs speech recently from Stanford and he mentions about joining up the dots in life and how it’s impossible to join the dots looking forward, but when you look back everything makes sense. That’s how I feel about this job and the impact it had on my life. James, Bert and I formed a house night where we DJ’d together in Manchester for over 5 years. Without going clubbing with these lads I would never have met my partner who I now have a child with. I lived with Simon in Edgeley for three years and in many ways he profoundly changed my approach to life. I’m still close friends with Neil, who on every occasion I see him never fails to make me laugh. And Mark, with whom I walked into that office for the first time together 12 years ago, now runs a successful magazine alongside Neil. And finally Lisa, the team leader with the sagging third breast on her face, who made me finally realise in my early twenties that there is a level I wouldn’t go below for a fuck.

Nowadays the dots join.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Peter's Story

I arrived back from the states this week after a holiday but even the insular news coverage over the pond shown some of the footage of the recent riots. My sister ran in the room at one point and proclaimed “They’ve burnt Selfridges down”. “Fuckin hell”, I thought, “this must be serious”. Turned out to be Miss Selfridge. Despite her error in the scale of the destruction, the evidence was there for the world to see, Britain is in turmoil. Before I go any further, these riots are a disgrace and I am in no way condoning what these idiots have done. The majority of these acts committed were mindless and simply an extended form of consumerism. Young scally’s jumping on anarchy as a shortcut to obtaining the things many of us work hard for or simply do without. However, upon landing back on terra firma in old Blighty, I found out a guy who works for me had received a sentence of 8 months for looting and I saw things from a different perspective.

To give you an insight, I work running an on site recruitment agency for a major manufacturing company. Last year we began recruiting via a back to work initiative from the job centre, meaning the incentive for taking individuals who hadn’t worked for 18 months was a backhander from the government to ourselves for £500. Another fluffy labour policy that juggled the unemployment figures to give the impression the country was in growth. My company, like many others the country over, forced us to take all our staff from the job centre via these back to work agencies to take advantage of this free money the Job Centre were handing out. And we did, as ashamed as I am to admit it. We would recruit these individuals despite there being no genuine regular shifts for them to undertake and claim the money, then simply leave them hanging despite their benefits being stopped as they were now “in work”. Sure, they might get two or three shifts a week, but full time work it wasn’t.

For the sake of this article I’m going to call the guy in question Peter. He started in a group of six of these individuals from Job Centre. He was always polite and courteous and wanted to do well. Like most young working class British lads I’ve had during my time there, sometimes he needed a rocket up his arse but he wasn’t on his own in this department. For the first year, I managed to keep him mainly in work. He was late pretty much everyday, but I turned a blind eye as I felt a guilt in my stomach that I had taken this guy off regular benefits and wanted to try and do right by him. However, this year the recession has really landed and the work is drying up. For the last eight or nine weeks I would be surprised if he has got one shift per week. Not even fifty quid to live on.

In the past five years, salaries at this workplace have frozen and the agency I work for do not pass minimum wage increases on. Sunday double time is now time and half. Saturdays and over 40 hours is now all at flat rate. Eventually we will have someone in a fucking hamster ball powering the lights things are becoming that ridiculous. Major manufacturers like the one I work for don’t care about the individual. Bean counters sit in boardrooms and see where they can save money. We can cut staff here, make them work longer there, make them do more here. These accountants justify their salaries by reducing yours. More and more, they demand staff for short term assignments. Sure, the skilled and valued agency staff will be kept in work all week, but the Peter’s in the factory will be brought in only when exceptional orders are being run. When the Young British contingent refuse to do these short term assignments, then the vast swathes of immigrants that the previous government have allowed to gather are queuing up to fill the gap. Big business and employment agencies have eroded the individual’s rights to the point of breaking. Now, place that alongside a Conservative government who have an agenda to reduce the number on state benefits and you have a recipe for disaster.

The average Joe on the high street is well and truly fucked off with being shit on for the last 20 years. If you sit on your arse on benefits you are treated like scum, if you go out and get a job you are treated like a slave. We chastise the feckless and desert those who endeavour to better themselves. To compound this problem the public’s attitude to the Unions has become ice cold. We don’t want our holidays interrupted, or our tubes stopped, or our economy affected. This selfish society we live in encourages us to forget how important these individuals rights are. It doesn’t matter, until it happens to you or yours.

So when hope deserts these people and self improvement is removed as an option, then something fills the void. In this case it is the “chav” culture. Where the only thing important is where your next 4 pack of special and the eighth of black are coming from. Where you are suffocated by continual advertising of products in a consumerist society that you are forbidden from being part of. Where “cool” is something out of your reach unless you deal drugs or burgle houses. Where cheap drugs are a short distraction from the shitness of your reality. This is the everyday for the current underclass in the UK and it is only going to get worse. They are fucking like rabbits and passing these bad habits on.

I will be sending a letter of appeal to the justice secretary regarding Peter and explaining these points. It doesn’t excuse his actions, but there is always effect from a cause. If you remove hope, there is little left. Next time, it may well be Selfridges. Then Parliament.

Monday, 9 August 2010

An Old Head…….

Around ten years ago I was working in a call centre outside Manchester. Myself and some colleagues returned from lunch and were travelling by elevator. An older guy called Tom from Sales jumped in just as the doors were closing. He began making small talk with someone as he stood directly in front of me. I was transfixed, unable to break my stare from his face. Ghoulish pasty skin, cheeks hanging down like satin ballbags. His wiry grey hair like the back legs of a 19 year old disabled border terrier. His only chance of a suntan would be if the mauve age spots on his face were to morph and make one monster tumour of his weathered, near translucent head. I racked my brain of what he reminded me of. Then it came to me like a bolt from the blue. Nanna.

Since then it’s become one of my favourite hobbies. Spotting Nanna Heads. There are simple rules to the game. The head in question must belong to a male, but look like a nanna. Their’s no ideal age but they just must have that certain look about them. Namely, the pointing nose, the whispy, piss-thin hair and the quintessential hanging jowls. I’ve listed my top ten celebrities below in reverse order for your perusal.


Tony Hart


Bless his little Hart. Sadly no longer with us, Tony was a legend. But this doesn’t stop him looking in this picture like he’s just got through Chemo. His dark, vacant eyes look like he’s flooding his favourite piss-ridden fabric upright armchair as we speak.


David Cameron

“It’s alright Love. I’ve found me tele glasses” – Nanna Cunt

An up and coming Nanna Head. This one’s got potential. If he’s got half the flesh volume in those cheeks as we suspect, this kid could go a long way. But at the moment he’s way off the pace.


Sammy Lee

Nanna Hamster – scouse devastator

Looking like he’s just stepped off the boat back from the Island of Dr Moreau, this horrible little bastard looks like the hanging nanna we all know. You know, the 70 year old from Ashton Under Lyne who still wears trackies and shags the neighbours son. We do all know her, don’t we?........


Roy Hodgson

Orc Nanna

And while we’re in Liverpool, add this beauty to the list. His hairs losing weight quicker than Karen Carpenter. I bet when he relaxes those cheeks they swing down like two condoms filled with angel delight. You can see him gazing into nothing at anfield, half blind from the cataracts swimming deep inside his anemic blue eyes.

“It’s foggy again isn’t it?”

“Yes Nanna”


David Thelfall

Nanna Tramp

This dirty bastard always had a look to me like he’s been swimming in piss, even when he’s out of character. Imagine him pushing his wheeler trolley aimlessly round a shopper centre. It’s all in the greasy hair with this one. Which brings us nicely onto our next entry…….


David Spinx

BO Nanna – Dirty bastard

Lets be honest, this abhorrence should have never been forced down our throats during primetime TV. I don’t pay my licence to watch this bellend stroke his filthy fucking giant of a mutt whilst imparting numerous shit nuggets of wisdom he’d obtained from the Wildlife channel. He did, however, fit the Nanna Head mould nicely. He wears that crazy pensioner smile so well. I can see him now, lifting his skirt to all the boys in the care home, nursing that insane grin.

“Hilda, put it away!”


Brian Sewell

Classic Nanna - Re-nanna-saince

If Nanna Head spotting was Art, Sewell would be the mona lisa. His detail is so perfect, he’s everything we’re looking for. If there were a crufts for Nanna heads, this guy couldn’t fucking move for Rossettes. I feel the urge to make him puff his chest out and walk him round on show. I’m sure though, upon trotting with his spine up, he’d immediately shit himself. Then die.


Bill Roach

Old school Nanna

This guys been Nannarin since nought plonk. Don’t even fuck with him.


Derek Simpson

Nanna na na na – Unite, U-stink of shite more like *sniggers*

Straight out of the Les Dawson school of nannarism. Been on the scene a long time. The George Foreman of Nanna heads. Picture him if you will in a floral skirt and white cardy, with his hands crossed on his lap, taking a small pause from his knitting to watch the local news.

And in the top spot.....

David Dimbleby

King Nanna – Nannarus Maximus

Number one for a long time in my eyes. The showstopper. The Piece de resistance. He will take some beating. The man eats nothing but strong tea and soft mints. He’s hardcore. Like Pele, he will stand the test of time.

If you’ve got a Nanna head of your own, or know someone who’s old before their time send me their picture and I’ll go round dressed as a gas man, con my way into their house and kick their c*** in for their life savings.

Monday, 4 January 2010

Celebrity Big Boring......

Without even time for the turkey and mince pies to settle, 2010’s television offerings begin with the usual freak fest commonly known as celebrity big brother. The only mercy that we are given this year is that this will be its final outing. Seemingly, the programme schedulers at C4 have realised that watching 10 people trapped in a house for 6 weeks doing nothing more than arguing over who is the most famous has become as popular as a Muslim memorial march through Wootton Bassett. In fact, I think the British public would much rather see Amjum Chaudry and his brainwashed moronic cronies pelted with cabbages and bricks than watch Dane Bowers and Alex Reid sniff each others fingers whilst discussing which position in the chart they were in the thousand or so shags Katie Price has racked up (Although I’ve heard Bowers stands at 391, whereas Reid is 890, but Reid’s higher in the bum chart).

I must say at this point that I’ve never been a fan of the normal BB. I always found that the first series with Craig and Nasty Nick was great TV, but everything that followed meant the normal contestants all knew how the show worked and went in with an agenda. I think around the third series, I took the decision that I would rather do a handstand in a brown paper bag full of horse piss than watch another minute of desperate wannabees trying to grasp their fifteen minutes by getting fingered under a sheet or sitting on a beer bottle or whatever it is they were reduced to this week. However, these mindless cretins never swayed me from my love of watching the celebrity version. All those big ego’s in such a small space had made for some classic TV. The Vanessa Felt breakdown, George Galloways “cat” moment and Michael Barrymore’s desperate and unsuccessful attempt to win back our hearts all immediately spring to mind.

So after bemoaning channel 4 for dragging it out for another series, I grudgingly tuned in for the first and last ten minutes of this car crash TV extravaganza. Stephen Baldwin was first up, a born again Christian who came across creepier than Edwina Curry performing in a peep show. I was already circling my TV remote when they dragged out number two contenstant. Ex footballers wife and general unknown talentless slag, Nicola T. Davina asked her in front of the crowd what she was least looking forward to? “Urgh, other people’s skid marks in the toilet.” It was at this point I realised I would rather watch "Worlds wildest suicides" than endure another minute, although her outburst did prompt me to think of a rather fitting metaphor.

Picture if you will the stairs leading down the corridor to celebrity big brother as a giant toilet of a house in a prosperous area. Once gleaming white and pristine, the giant celebrity turds that once graced this humongus shitbox have left their marks over the years, smearing their ungracious scrapings down the stairwell as they go. But as time has passed, the area has declined and now the smackheads have moved in. Instead of delicate caviar coated shit pellets marking the porcelain walls, it’s now mars bars and netto baked bean filled dark brown monster logs cramming their way down the piss stained corridors. It’s a year too far for CBB I’m afraid. The area has gone downhill, the toilet is ruined. Time to knock down the house channel 4.