Tuesday, December 28, 2004

December 9 (Thursday): Dream: I go back to work at my old employers and it is a really weird vibe but the partners are at least acting with compassion rather than condemnation.

My first day of freedom from exams, hallelujah. At 8.50 I get rudely interrupted when my mobile rings and it is Mark from Spicers phoning for some reason. By the time I actually reach my phone however, he is gone. He’s probably sitting an exam in Chelmsford right now and wondering if I am around for a last minute pep talk.

This morning, with no rest for the wicked, I have an interview scheduled for 10PM in Hadleigh. I pull myself together and head off at 9AM.

As usual I tear up/down the A12 at breakneck speed, I really despise this road for some reason between Colchester and Ipswich, in my head singing the Dead Kennedys’ version of Viva Las Vegas. I aim for Hadleigh and worry about missing it (missing the turn off to the sticks). Hadleigh is the strangest little town, when I was younger for some reason it had the largest Tesco in East Anglia and me and my parents would make Friday night trips/pilgrimages to it where it would have the largest selection of toys (Star Wars and Action Force figures) going. In my youth I probably spent half my pocket money and birthday present money in Hadleigh. Of course though, all good things come to an end and the large store is no longer a Tesco, last time I saw it was a huge Byrite, the size of which I didn’t think existed.

By the time I arrive in Hadleigh, I find myself having decided that I don’t really want to work in Hadleigh, have to drive all the way to this village every day of the week, all year. Here is another firm akin to my first mistake of my first employers in the world of accountancy.

I have to say though, when I arrive at the office in Hadleigh it is a pretty impressive building/office. As I step in the reception, the secretary is one of the friendliest I have come across of late. And her little (young) helper is a gorgeous strawberry blonde, maybe I might like this job after all. I wait many minutes for my interview and when I am finally received, the biggest of geeks (silly moustache and crap hair) leads me upstairs. Suddenly it dawns on me once more, this is the accounting profession. And the Chartered one at that (with me being a Certified scumbag). The office turns out to be old style, the only visible (probable) change décor since the war being the installation of computers. I find myself being interviewed by the moustache and his little helper, another accelerated young buck, perhaps my age or younger. I suspect my interviewer (interrogator) takes an immediate disliking to me (first impressions) as he picks up my CV and immediately rips into my school career and poor GCSE results. Ten years down the line, I hardly think those matter any more. An obvious spoon fed student (a chartered accountant remember) he quizzes me as to why I never went to university. I fuck up and tell him that “its just not done in my family”. This is not a valid excuse even if it is the truth (my cousins remember being on the whole being either in construction or single parents). I find the knock effects my posture, as half way through I can sense my body almost slumped to the right as I cling onto my crossed leg (American style) as if it is all that is holding me up. I probably act bored or laid back as I reel off my experience at my old employers before finally, completely hitting the wall when it gets queried as to why I am currently unemployed. I still find myself unable to talk myself out of this one and I am only unable to come across as coy and as if I am hiding something. And the guy really wants to know just what monkey shines I got up to. I fluff it here, fucking up. Without even half an hour past, the electricity inside the room is non-existent. I suspect the guy is really far from impressed by me but then again bear in mind that this is an accountant I am expecting sparks from, an accountant being one of the most boring species of man in existence, the arse end of the alpha man spectrum (zebra male). A lot of talk today is all about audit and that remains an area of pain to me, something I know I can do but something I have not been afforded a decent level of experience in due to the apparent incompetence of my prior firms and their ability to manage staff (ew, bitchy). At probably the 10.30 mark, along comes question time and it by now is pretty apparent that the guy wants me out of the door as I am now wasting his time. Floundering, I pop up with some surprisingly good questions but in the fall knowledge that I have already blown it. I almost throw questions at them like rocks, really trying to get some kind of reaction/passion spark out of these zebras. I leave feeling like screening, feeling that I have been discriminated against. I go into the thing jaded and half-hearted at best and only get the worst back. I would question why these people would even want to see me, I guess that is the hard work of the personnel people furiously selling me to prospective employers as I only end up letting them down. Grief. Whereas I arrived in Hadleigh buzzing to the Dead Kennedys sarcasm, I leave with my tail between my legs murmuring to myself Tender by Blur and “get through it”.

Retail therapy abounds as I head further up the A12 towards Ipswich for a treat and a post exam present (yeah, that’s deserved). I park by the Portman Road football stadium and decree that this shed has nothing on the New Den (except for maybe around 15,000 extra seats). I head into town and straight to the Ipswich comic shop, Central City Comics. This is the only place that I know that stocks the fantastic Headpress book/journal. This shop is so strange, it just reminds me of Red Dwarf for some reason. I enter and it seems only inhabited by comic geeks and mental simpletons, writing down the web address for some reason while the comic seller guy nervously looks on as the mental midget leans on one of his trade paperbacks, potentially reducing its grading from a mint to a mere fine. I get out of there as soon as possible.

I feel a love/hate relationship with Ipswich. For every good time, there seems a bad time. It’s a weird town where nothing really seems to be happening, to me it lacks character. And Ipswich people’s Suffolk accents, albeit friendlier sounding than Essex estuary accents, only serves to make them sound a bit thick. I stagger around town for the morning, banking my very first dole cheque in Natwest and then buying Hell’s Angels by Hunter S. Thompson before going into Holland & Barrett and buying what I suspect has been missing from my life of late: St John’s Wort. With Christmas coming soon, I can only recall Christmas Eve’s spent shopping in Ipswich with my parents and the Butter Market shopping complex with now houses a Starbucks, something I hadn’t realised had reached Ipswich, where it sits almost opposite Costa. Today I could really kill for a great cup of coffee but its pricing beyond me in these times of trouble.

At 12.15, while I find myself in Waterstones looking at the music books, my mobile rings and it is a reminder about this Saturday’s show and the Jerry Springer Opera I have tickets for. This reminds me of how Sara has been in the country already four days now and hasn’t bothered to get in touch. Ouch.

After that, I soon tear out of Ipswich, stopping off at the out of town Tesco and PC World, macking the digital cameras and weighing up if one would be affordable right now. I also find myself lovingly staring at the iPods but telling myself “no!”.

I get home and when I finally get around to looking at the newspaper, The Sun has the headline: “So, is this really the most OFFENSIVE image in Britain?” above a picture of the nativity scene. Ouch, what purpose does it serve running this story? What cause requires the knee-jerk reaction?

More spookily however are the pictures of Viktor Yuschenko which get scarier each time I see them. Wow, I hope the people that currently have it in for me don’t decide to poison me, I definitely would not be able to pull then (ho ho).

Just past 4PM (16.05) and my phone rings and its Dick Warner of Anglia Grain, an old client at BS and someone we played football with, on my mobile. Unfortunately I am only able to supply him with some of the information he requests. Drama.

Half an hour later (16.34) I get Stevo phoning me from Chernobyl (my old office). He has this and that to tell me but no real great shakes and nothing I am overly interested in. It is amusing however to hear his tone change when a partner obviously comes into the room and I swear I hear Dr Who in the distance. Work keeps haunting. Drama.

The afternoon rules when I receive interview questions back from Rothko. The guy has obviously spent some time of them and given a lot of consideration. Good times.

I spend the remainder of my afternoon doing my English homework, a critique and commentary on my asylum seeker letter. Over the course of two sides of A4 I tear the piece to shreds, probably going too far (as usual) in describing the techniques used in (the already overblown) fictional letter. Not fun.

I head out to English class and twice my phone beeps. First it is Emma telling me that she is too ill to make class tonight and for me to tell teacher. The second beep is a text from My Smelly Valentine at 18.36: “How you doin Jason. Its Sara x”. It comes from a number I don’t recognise but fucking finally she has got in touch. Back of the net.

English class begins and tonight we are going over our progress sheets while also listening to more speeches and analysing them (tonight more Churchill and onto JFK). Teacher takes us outside one by one and reviews our progress while we (the class) get left to our own devices to discuss the speeches. When we discuss my progress, teacher takes me out to a darkened hall tells me how it all reminds her of school discos (not surprising because the centre used to be a school) and how no one would ask her to dance except for the ugliest boy at the end of the night, to which she took offended (low self esteem I’m sure). I get excited talking about the course and English and she again tells me how I have a “gift” (music to my ears) and suggests how I should be looking to doing other courses. With one foot remaining in reality I mention that I have just had an interview and sat exams this week but I am trying to keep in writing.

Back to the class room without a teacher and no one can be arsed to actually discuss the speeches. I get asked by someone whatever happened with my work situation and I tell her how I got shit canned and I ask “do you know what a blog is?”. The woman’s response is “oh, you didn’t you plonker” and, bearing in mind this is a union worker/representative of some kind, it is a fair comment. Once more I find myself having to explain my way around the situation and as I tell story after story about the firm, I find myself sounding justified and actually interesting as I appear to hold some kind of court whilst also violently squirming. It also turns out that the lady has dealings with my old firm also, seems I sure know how to pick employers. Soon we (rightfully) get back onto the subject of the speeches and trudge on. At some point, the guy in the class rubs me up the wrong, when discussing Americans asks “has anyone here heard of Bill Hicks?”. Duh! I almost mention to him about discovering Patton Oswalt but figure that to be too obscure a reference. I wind up being the only person to go/say “yes” but really can’t find anything to add other than “have you heard of David Cross” which is obviously a nada. He does however add “listening to him gives you hope for Americans” which I find a really annoying and wankerish thing to say, so arrogant. I think there are only so many thick/stupids Americans because there are so fucking many of them! Not because its inherent. Whatever, class ends and I’m happy.

I get home and on that vibe I find that I have received the questions back from Patton Oswalt. Fucking excellent! This guy is SO funny, like grabbing some conversation (albeit brief) out of Bill Hicks in his lifetime. I have to say, listening to his CD, it made me laugh out loud more than David Cross’s CD, which was bogged down with too much political content. Patton Oswalt however appeared (briefly) in Run Ronnie Run, so they’re batting for the same team. Fucking hell, a Q&A with a guy that was in Run Ronnie Run. So good.

I exchange a few texts with Sara tonight and make sure/confirm that she is still on for Saturday. She calls me “silly” but not before acting in a strop because she thinks I am in a strop because she has not been in touch sooner. It is all too confusing and complex and very hard work at the end of the day (today).

Tonight ends on the best of vibes as on TV (Channel Four) is Ghost World. Yes!!! This feels special, like Christmas TV, something different and above standard set aside for the holiday season. And finally it feels like Christmas. Ironically the last time I actually sat down to watch Ghost World was about a year and a half ago and the summer night that I had told Sara she was a Holly Golightly and six hours later she was found out what it meant and she kept calling my mobile and (to my amusement) I kept ignoring it. Ouch, I never saw again (whoops, backfire).

So to say the least, tonight I feel pretty good and pretty excited about things even despite the shitty interview at the beginning of the day. At 11PM, I find myself looking on my mobile for people to text to watch Ghost World (yup, that happy that I am that sad). The only person to reply however is Phoebe: “Hiya that’s ur favourite film! Will definitely switch over – dont even ask about exams mine were horrible! nite nite.” All right then, I don’t.

After Ghost World (which remains fantastic for the Nth time) the really weird/strange Diane Keaton moving Looking For Mr Goodbar is on BBC. This film is so whack, Annie Hall acting like a proper slag and eventually (rightfully) getting stabbed to death for it. Girls take heed not head.

Nite nite.

np: Dead Kennedys – Viva Las Vegas


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