Thursday, 26 August 2010

Work Trials

Yesterday, 4pm

"So, why are you here? Talk to me."

The suited man looks at me expectantly.

"Er..." I say.

I am no good at job interviews. I hate talking about myself on demand. But the suited man has a twinkle in his eye - so far, he does not appear to be taking the interview that seriously - and I very much like eye-twinkles.

I launch into some shit about my work history. Blah blah library, blah blah temping, blah blah administrative officer in the Metropolitan Police Service about fifty thousand years ago.

"Hmm," the suited man says. "Why on earth do you like libraries? I used to work by the library once, used to see all these weird weird people hanging about; it quite freaked me out."

"Do you mean the staff, or the customers?" I ask.

"Both," he assures me. "Libraries. Books. Ugh."

This is the strangest interview I have ever had. There is very little sensible stuff going on. I am thoroughly enjoying it.

The agency that sent me to the interview said the job was a 3-month temporary admin/clerical position. The agency also said the suited man is desperate to recruit someone, as the current post holder is leaving on Friday after three years in the job.

"I've seen a few people this week," the suited man says, "but none of them..."

He grimaces.

"...clicked. You know, you talk to someone and there's nothing there?"

"Yes," I say, "I often temp in places filled with girls who can only talk about diets and/or boyfriends and/or Big Brother. It does my head in a bit."

"Really? So what do you watch on telly? Who do you live with? Have you got a cat? If you had a cat, would you put it in a wheelie bin?"

I explain I am a flat-sharing cat lover with esoteric tastes, then attempt to haul the conversation round to other, less important matters. I ask what the job actually entails.

The suited man doesn't actually know what the job entails, but thinks I'm interesting.

"You're... interesting," he says, "I like you. Could you start tomorrow?"

I need the money. The suited man is amusing. I can do 'admin/clerical' standing on my head.

"Yes," I say.

Today, 9am

I arrive at the suited man's office.

The current job holder sits me down and shows me her job.

It is not 'admin/clerical'. It is a PA job, viz, sitting around waiting for phones to ring, taking minutes sometimes, shuffling the odd bit of paper now and then. Organising things. Talking to people. Being bright and sparky and making tea and stuff. She cannot think of one thing she does that she can actually show me.

"It's mostly just fielding calls," she says.

My heart sinks.

I have been temping a long time, and through bitter experience have learned to tell the difference between first day nerves and a job that is actively going make me miserable.

Sitting around, fielding calls, taking minutes, organising things, talking to people are all activities guaranteed to make my soul shrivel up and die before the week is out. Give my hands some work to do, and I'm happy.

At 10.15am, I fetch my coat, apologise profusely to the suited man, and leave.

Some people are born to be PAs, and some people are born to work in libraries.

I resume my place amongst the weird, weird people.

Cos life's too short, innit.

Friday, 20 August 2010

A Random Man Sort Of Shows Me His Alan Whicker In The Park

It is not raining.

I go to Bute Park to sit on the grass and enjoy the sunshine. I am wearing my new purty pink top and compatible necklace. I play sudoku on my phone. I feel happy.

A guy walks past, then wanders back to ask me about the nearby stone circle. We chat, and he says he's been visiting Cardiff and his coach back to London leaves in half an hour and would I mind if he sat with me to pass the time until the bus leaves?

He is young, well spoken, a bit hippyish with quasi-dreadlocks, pleasant enough, so I agree. Strangers always seem to choose me to talk to. Generally, I don't mind, unless they are clearly an idiot.

He asks where's a good place to visit next time he's here?

I say Castell Coch - it's charming.

He says he will remember that because it sounds like 'cock'. We laugh.

I ask him what he's been doing in Cardiff. He says he saw some friends, went swimming, looked round the castle, climbed a hill that was shaped like a breast.

How nice to find a hill shaped like a breast, he chuckles.

He asks me questions about myself. I do not like it when people ask me questions about myself - if I want you to know about me I will tell you. So I jabber on about my new houseplant/baby niece/Cardiff/New Zealand for a bit then ask him lots of questions about himself so I don't have to talk about me anymore. He talks about art and life and stuff. He smiles at me and tells me he is enjoying my company so much he has doubled in size.

I assume he's talking about feeling happy or something.

I think, well, you still look about 5' 7" to me mate.

The conversation continues. He mentions cocks. He mentions cocks again. I suddenly realise he is mentioning cocks A LOT. Far more than would ordinarily be required in the course of an average conversation.

Hang on a minute
, I think, this man is talking about cocks a little bit too much for my liking.

Hmm. Okay, so he is clearly an idiot. Also possibly sinister, and definitely appalling.

I wonder what to do.

Half of me wants to run away, half of me wants to punch him violently and the other half thinks it's funny.

I glance around. There are plenty of people about; I am not in danger. His bus is due to leave in fifteen minutes and I am sure I am man enough to bear some random weirdo talking about cocks for a quarter of an hour of my life.

Decision made: I will sit this out meekly like the numbnuts I am.

Anyway, if I get up to go he might follow me.

I go very quiet, and wait to see if he notices I have gone very quiet.

He doesn't notice I have gone very quiet. He carries on talking about art and cocks and life and cocks and how much he's liking my company, then narrows the topic down to one cock in particular.

Then, like someone who believes that a cock with a man attached is all a woman could ever want, he uncrosses his legs, leans back on one elbow, stretches out, shakes his quasi-dreadlocks over his shoulders, and rubs his thigh with a languorous hand.

Then - just in case I have missed the point - he smoothes his hand around the bulge in his trousers.

I don't want to look but I can't help it. Even the briefest of glances confirms it's a monster, quite the biggest I have ever seen (and I have not been unlucky in that department). It is halfway to his knee. It is fucking massive. I become suddenly fascinated by a pair of magpies in a tree.

It's a shame I don't have more time here, he says, it's been so wonderful to meet you. You are a very open and happy soul and you make me feel good. What's your email address? I think we could be friends.

Er, I don't think so, I say. I'm afraid you spoiled it for me when you started going on about cocks.

Oh, he says. Well, next time you are in London, look me up - here is my email address. In fact I would like it if you could come to my art exhibition in Soho next September - here's the website.

Um, I probably won't, I say. You see, it was the cock thing. It was all going very well until you started going on about cocks. Put me off a bit, frankly. If you hadn't gone on about cocks, there wouldn't have been a problem. Call me old fashioned, but I thought it was a bit unnecessary. I was quite happy talking to you up until then. But, you know, you started on about cocks and that was that, really. Game over. End of story.

Ha ha ha, really? What a shame I have to go, he says. It would've been nice to get to know you better. You really are an out there person. I like that. I wish I could stay and talk to you. But we still have three minutes - you can't do much in three minutes; then again, you can do quite a lot.

He smirks suggestively.

Why don't you show your cock to those teenage girls over there on your way to the bus stop, I say? I'm sure they'd love to see it.

Oh gosh don't say that, you make me sound like some kind of creepy pervert, he laughs.

Yes, I think, there's a reason for that.

When he gets up to go, the rapey fucker actually bends down to kiss me warmly on the cheek.

I wish I'd got hold of his great big cock and ripped it off with my bare hands then hit him over his stupid smug presumptuous head with it.

Good Week, Bad Week

  • I am friends with Flatmate again - with the proviso if he ever lays a finger on me again I shall break his face. We go for a drink on Sunday night, and have a pleasant time.
  • I remain wildly unemployed despite continuing half-hearted efforts to find a job. It was nice while the weather was sunny, now it's rainy and miserable it's becoming a worry. Furthermore, the helpful and efficient benefit people keep mucking my payments up so my income at present is about £35 a week.
  • Undaunted, to cheer myself up I go charity shop shopping. I find a brand new top, with labels still attached, for £1.50. It is pink and girly; I like it. Then I find the perfect necklace to go with it. It is also £1.50. I buy them both. The flagrant expenditure cheers me up. Wearing my new purchases, I feel purty, oh so purty.
  • In another charity shop, a man shouts angrily at the assistant over a £3 pair of trousers. "I want a refund, give me a refund." The assistant explains a refund is not possible because the man has cut the price ticket off the garment. The man shouts even more: "It's not my problem, it's your problem, I want my money back." What an arse.
  • On the subject of arses, I have downgraded Marvin from 'idiot' to 'clown'. Even though he is loud and messy and a little bit strange, I am prepared to begrudgingly admit he's all right really, compared to some of the maniacs out there.
  • However, new housemate Hywel fills the arse-slot more than satisfactorily. He is one of those young, pointy-shoed, heavily-hair-gelled sharp-suited mobile phone salesman types who, well, just deserve a kicking. Fortunately, Hywel is rarely at Weasel Towers, spending his days selling mobile phones (or whatever), his evenings chugging down booze, and weekends at his mum's. He returns here solely for a few hours sleep on weeknights (usually with a few mates in tow) before heading back out into the big bad world in the morning. But while he's here, he makes his mark. He (and/or his mates) nick toothpaste, shower gel and food, don't wash up, 'forget' to lock the front door, use reams of toilet paper but never buy any, leave encrusted snot in the bathroom and once I found piss yes PISS on the rim of the sink yes SINK, which I had to clean up if I wanted to clean my teeth without leaning in piss. All of which earns Hywel an automatic upgrade from 'arse' to 'cock'. He is also ginger. I'm just saying.
  • I have to go into town; this is usually an ordeal due to chavs, numpties etc. On the way I find a very nice houseplant, in a pot and still wrapped in its cellophane, dumped in a bin. I claim it, like the true pikey I am. In town, I buy my baby niece lots of exciting yet cheap pink things for her birthday, which pleases me. Then I see a white dog wearing black socks. Ergo, my trip into town can only be described as a good thing.
  • Then a random man sort of shows me his cock in Bute Park. It quite spoils my day.
  • I make another cactus. I have learnt how to do one crochet stitch, and now I am crocheting cacti like a bastard. This will be my route to untold riches, I know it.
  • I decide to write a lightweight 500-word story on a subject of my choice, to try and get my departed writing mojo back. I give myself a generous deadline. Scraping it together is harrowing, so harrowing it would be preferable to have someone going at your nethers with knitting needles.
  • I find my good company (read: ideal man) has got engaged to an ex-bloody-Blue Peter presenter.
  • I discover the interweb contains every single episode of Brass Eye. I also discover Nathan Barley. Praise the Lord, it's a good week after all.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Getting To Know You

Questionnaire for Potential Housemates

1. When listening to music in your room, how loud should the volume be?
A: I keep my personal entertainment at a level only I can hear.
B: My music is joy made manifest, everyone should check it out.

2. How do you deal with unsightly matter (eg hair, food particles) in a plughole?
A: I remove it and put it in the bin.
B: If I ignore if for long enough it magically disappears.

3. What do you do if the toilet needs cleaning?
A: I give it a quick scrub with the toilet brush.
B: I thought toilets were self-cleaning.

4. If you need to know the postcode for your new home, how do you find it?
A: Check your tenancy agreement.
B: Wait until you know your housemate has gone to bed, then knock on her door with increasing urgency shouting her name, and when she does not open the door within six seconds open the door yourself and barge in, demanding to know the postcode.

5. What are your thoughts on sharing a kitchen?
A: Any mess I make is my responsibility so I make sure I clean it up as soon as I can.
B: A bit of food on the floor never hurt anyone.

6. In the kitchen, if there are three free cupboards, do you…?
A: Use just one cupboard because you don’t really have that much stuff, and if more people move in they’ll need those other cupboards anyway.
B: Spread your meagre food items between all three cupboards.

7. What is the purpose of a bath mat?
A: To soften the blow of stepping onto cold linoleum.
B: To soak up the flood I create when I wash.

8. If you are organising an internet connection, do you…?
A: Give the ISP your address.
B: Give the ISP next door’s address, then look baffled when your housemate explains it might be more fruitful to give them your address.

9. How do you adapt to living with strangers?
A: I understand late-night phone calls, hour-long showers, and random grunting and talking to myself may be perceived as weird or annoying so I moderate my behaviour accordingly.
B: It is not possible for my behaviour to impact on my environment.

10. Do you own a Wii?
A: No.
B: Yes.

Mostly As: Congratulations! You are not a twat, and may live here.
Mostly Bs: Fuck off.