Friday, November 19, 2004

"What the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve"

November 19 (Friday): My Parents. This morning I wake up at 6AM exhausted. I briefly MSN with Haslett (Sara) prior to heading out. I fall out the flat zombie-esqe but with everything in tow (everything I need). When I check outside, judging by my car, it looks like it snowed again last night.

When I get to North Station, I get the BEST parking space; hopefully this is a signifier of a change in fortune. To balance things out though, the fucking ticket machine refuses to take my two pound coin meaning I have to run around like a fool, asking people for change. Wow, people sure don’t like giving out change, is it something to do with being embarrassed about the contents of their pockets or them just not wanting to life a finger?

I get the 7.07 train only to be freaked out when I see someone else I used to go to school with (Lee Patrick) commuting to work. If he can get a city job then why the fuck can’t I? I guess I should read these blogs for the answer to that one.

Once more I reach King’s Cross well ahead of time, almost to the point I am buying a McDonalds breakfast. I refrain though, monetary reasoning as opposed to health reasoning.

As I walk to the college I look in a phone booth and see a prostitute card for a “pre-op”. I wonder just what the hell is the point of having a pre-operation prostitute. Surely it’s the worst of both worlds, just a glorified tranny. Oh man, King’s Cross fucking sucks.

I think this card is playing on my mind when I catch myself looking at one of the oriental students in the class and find myself wondering “what sex is that person?”. Bloody hell, I think we have a ladyboy.

Today the course gets a bit better but still this subject is such a struggle and I really don’t think the tutor is very good, more just letting us get on with it with questions rather than actually teaching us anything. And under these circumstances, I really am not up to performance.

At lunchtime it occurs to me that I haven’t actually had anything hot/cooked to eat since Saturday night. I go to the McDonalds down the road and say “super size me!”. It appears that I am on a smackhead’s diet, of course except for the ice cream but voila on the coldest day of the year so far, I find myself drinking the largest thickshake that McDonalds produce. Hey, I’m eating McDonalds, so where is my movie?

We reach the mid point of the course and I discover that I am worrying about every possible conceivable thing, mainly work and my employment future along with the financial implications and just how the fucking hell am I going to pay my mortgage and car loan etc next month? It is at this point that Office Angels from Chelmsford call my mobile. Is there some light? Don’t be fucking silly, when I call their office at lunchtime, it is just a courtesy call. Way to waste my time lady.

When I return to the classroom for the remainder of the lunch hour, Andy Kaufman has turned up after not being present for the morning session. And sitting next to him, on his desk, is a huge Evian bottle half filled with some piss coloured liquid. Maybe it really is Andy Kaufman after all, such juxtaposition is fitting.

I go to pieces during the afternoon, I can’t decide if it’s fatigue or worry or some kind of combination. Tonight after work I am supposed to go back into work and clear my desk and I anticipate that as being as much fun as drinking paint and also to be quite a humiliating experience lying ahead of me this evening.

Once more, during breaktime, I look out over the Kings Cross skyline and the roof garden in the middle of all Kings Cross, my idea of heaven: a place to lie in the middle of a screaming metropolis/gotham but several lifetimes lifted high above the scum on the streets”.

The final session in the afternoon begins with the tutor lady telling us (the class) “that question was set to depress you and remind you of how much basic (tax) paper stuff that you still need to know”. Is this woman for real? By the end of the afternoon, Friday afternoon blues have kicked in and are hitting me hard.

I ride the Friday evening train home, eavesdropping on a couple of construction executives whilst pretending to read my Hunter S. Thompson book. I guess this may be the work marketplace I will find myself back in on Monday.

I turn up to office just past 6PM and thankfully it is all next to deserted. Heddle comes trotting out complete with the comment “and almost on time” which by now is pretty much par for the course and more or less the sort of stuff that has caused/created this situation, the rod. I tear into my desk and to their word, it has not been touched, save for the obvious, the jobs that I had been working on have now been passed on. I have so much shit in desk at work and, as feared, I pull out about twenty utility and credit card bills/statements. Heddle comments “I hope you have paid all them”. Smart. I ask nicely if I can get my templates (ETB and tax) off the computer and he shockingly says that that will be OK. I really hit a break with this compliance and dumb naivety. In effect, such allowance opened the door for me to delete entire sections/portions of work and drop a virus or I could remove the boss’s kiddie porn for him (joking). Now was that a wise management decision? Anyways, regardless, I’m a good guy and I just take what I need, really grateful for the opportunity which now means that I do not have to start from scratch on templates when I move on into new employment (if). Insanely, clearing my desk takes 45 minutes to do. Along with the bills and statements, I also come across all kinds of treasures in my desk like old issues of Viz, Millwall stories from newspapers, deodorant and a packet of Durex condoms amongst other things. I return Stevo’s Atkins Diet book and I do however throw out the endless abundance of plastic cutlery and napkins I appear to have liberated from Marks And Spencer’s at lunchbreaks. As I clear my desk, Heddle keeps receiving phonecalls asking him why he is late returning home, which only prompts/causes me to take my time (I’m a twat like that).

Around 6.45, I am done and done. I have filled two black dustbin bags, one with rubbish and the other with rubbish, however rubbish I want to take home and keep as it is (may be) of use to me. I leave Heddle and the company on relatively good terms. Actually, returning to the office and clearing out my desk turns out to be a really surreal moment as we chat on a civil level, almost making jokes about things. Surely the situation should be filled with venom and animosity, surely one of us should at least be acting pissed off and angry. As I say, surreal. I make comment to Heddle “so if I see anyone in town now, do I need to duck?”. He responds “no” tells me that I “have to get qualified”. So true. And thus ends my career at GloboChem. I will not be returning there like some kind of David Brent character with delusions about my standing and popularity there.

From there, slightly weary, I head back to the train station to pick up my ticket for London tomorrow morning and the final day of the course. I stop by at Asda for some comfort food before heading over to PC World to purchase Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas because there was a token in The Guardian today and I am feeling sorry for myself. And then I finally indulge in the ultimate gesture of me feeling sorry for myself; I buy myself a bag of chips at the Shrub End chip shop. By the time I get in, it is 8PM.

When I get home, there is a letter there from GloboChem. It is my dismissal letter, P45, final payslip and final paycheque to go with it. I find it curious that this letter was not sent recorded whereas last week’s frilly letter was. The thinking behind this being? The letter reads:

“Dear Jason

I am writing to confirm the decision taken at the disciplinary hearing held today that you would be summarily dismissed without notice or payment in lieu of notice, in accordance with the Disciplinary Procedure. Your last day of service was on 17th November 2004.

The reasons for your dismissal are that by maintaining and updating your personal website with content of an inappropriate nature, and reference to the Partnership’s employees, partners and clients such that would be severely prejudicial to the good name of the partnership. As you are aware we consider conduct prejudicial to the good name of the partnership as gross misconduct (as spelt out in the Contractual Terms of the Staff Handbook) and since it has been established that your website can be discovered through searches under some client names we have grave concerns that your comments are not private to you but have become public.

You have also breached the requirement that you should devote your whole time and attention during working hours to your duties; this in itself is serious misconduct, and compounded with your website has lead to a breach of the implied term of a contract of employment of mutual trust and confidence.

You have the right of appeal against the decision in writing to me within 5 days of receiving this notice of dismissal.

I also enclose your final payslip, cheque and P45.”

Beyond that I phone my parents and remark about how surreal clearing my desk had been and just how a long it took me to do. I report I have got my finals (letter, P45, cheque) and I begin to do mental arithmetic as to just how long this cheque will sustain me before I headed to box city to live.

I sail out the remainder of the evening watching bad Friday night TV and allowing it to send me to sleep without any battle.

np: Pete Rock And CL Smooth – They Reminisce Over You

Thursday, November 18, 2004

November 18 (Thursday): I Love My Job. So, after yesterday’s sticky wicket, I get up for more college/retake courses in King’s Cross today off the back of two and a half hours sleep. I wake up and I am insane, not tired but still wired.

When I reach North Station, I actually bump into Jeremy who we play football with (or used to). He asks me where I was last night (for football) and I tell him “I got the sack”. Man, he didn’t even know. I laugh along with him actually feeling like crying. However I attempt to score one by asking “(ha ha) who played in goal then?” and it was the Chris guy (from the hell night in August), a proper goalie more than likely much better than me. Double fuck. I am absolutely utterly gutted to hear I have already been replaced and SO easily. Such is life.

The ride to London today is pretty swift and eventless, the radio this morning being nothing to write home about. This week, a bit more on the ball, I get to King’s Cross with so much time to spare it hurts. For some reason, today I am unable to find the Thameslink exit, so I come out of the main King’s Cross station entrance/exit to be surrounded by hobos, drug dealers and hookers (and often not exclusive to one vice or other). I run, not walk, away from their clutches and within seconds I am on Pentonville headed to the safety of accountancy. As I wait at a crossing I see a maniac on a pushbike speeding and screaming “look out, no brakes”. The inevitable happens as he ploughs through a commuter and breaks his umbrella, lucky not to have broken Evil Knevil’s neck. I walk away from the screaming, welcome to King’s Cross.

As I head to BPP, I look up and over and there is the Scala. Oh my, I really am on the map here today. Once more I pass The Poor School (home of Kat Slater), tempted to ditch accountancy and take up soap acting but my head wins/rules over my heart as I step inside BPP for a hell session of taxation.

Today when I see Phoebe, she has had a proper chop haircut and I barely recognise her. This is the expensive ladyboy cut I believe. And, all apologies, I don’t really go for it. She’s cool as usual though, cool as in cold but friendly. I tell her all about my adventures in unemployment and she sends over good thoughts with good intentions but I don’t think that will be enough.

I recognise more faces on this course (as opposed to Audit), so I guess more people (obviously) failed this exam than the other, I am not alone. And today’s most memorable recognition turns out to be the guy that looks like Andy Kaufman. This guy sure looks like a character (even if he ain’t one).

Today should be marked as my first day of David Brent-esqe delusions, my blind interpretation that I am actually an entertainer instead of an accountant.

By the time the tutor turns up, I have recognised several more faces, almost half of my original course class from the summer. The tutor is frightening looking, old looking but attempting modern. And with a fierce expression of someone who should not be questioned or crossed. However, she is only following a long streak of very poor tax tutors I have endured.

I really find tax a hard subject but I also feel at the same time that I make a meal out of it. I almost defeat myself from the off when I generally fail to find a good starting point on the tax calculations. The basic set up of these tax questions/exams appear to be general deluge of information thrown into a very lengthy scenario question which then requires systematically breaking down. As one tutor once said “girls tend to be better at this subject as they are able to multitask”.

When breaktime arrives, I am so relieved to get a break from all this donkey. I sit and suddenly notice this amazing looking girl/lady/woman with the most amazing face and expression. Except of course for when our eyes meet/cross and she turns into frowny girl.

Within the first few questions (on inheritance tax) I find myself drifting and not really attempting, there is a lot of uncertainty ahead of me in the coming months and I really can’t concentrate on this stuff today.

Lunch break soon comes around and I find myself once more going to the Italian place for some fantastic spicy chicken. How do they get it to taste so slick and sour?

As I walk back to our class room in the Kings Cross college, I look across the skyline of Kings Cross and see a roof garden on a flat, my idea of heaven, a cosy piece of comfort and solitude above the streets and scum of below.

Late afternoon and I can longer concentrate on studies, one day in of three and it has all gone horribly wrong. I look across at Phoebe and it dawns on me that she could only ever be my Yoko Ono. And then I keep catching myself doubletaking the oriental girl sat behind her who I swear blind that I once saw in a porno film.

At the end of the day, we tackle one last question that the tutor gives us and at the end of our attempts she describes the questions as “impossible” and tells the class that we would never be able to answer. Why the fucking hell did she ask us all to attempt/tackle it for then? Did/does she even research, look at the notes/questions ahead of the class? By the end of the day, I am hyperventilating.

Then there is the bathroom incident (no, me neither).

I ride the train home, reading Hunter S. Thompson in the process and getting dirtiest looks from the dyke looking girl sat opposite me on the train. Upon arriving back in Colchester, I queue for tomorrow’s ticket ahead of time and get behind two of the slowest and slow witted couple of people ever to purchase a train ticket in the history of humanity. However, ahead of me is some real eye candy in the form of a beautiful middle aged woman with the most striking brown eyes I think I have ever seen.

Eventually I actually get home, all in time to do the DJ thing this evening at the Arts Centre. Sadly however I come home to a huge O2 mobile phone bill, the bill has finally topped the £70 mark!!! For some reason, the folks that sponsor Arsenal are now choosing to charge me up the arse for my GPRS usage. Nightmare. Before I leave, Dad hits me on MSN and finally we discuss my eventual demise at GloboChem, perhaps/probably the conversation that we should have had earlier in the week before the inevitable happened.

Tonight I have decided to ditch my English class after last week’s red face incident, mainly to take up the opportunity to DJ (and get in free) at the Arts Centre. And to cause some drama and concern (ho ho).

With it being chills, I head over to the Arts Centre, to be there on time to start on time for once. Oh dear, early doors DJing really isn’t very much fun, you’re playing tunes to an empty house and an unappreciative audience. So much for my “I Hate Work” set tonight. I kick off with Tom Waits and move onto LONG Tortoise songs while I wait for some friends to turn up and talk to me (people I can bitch about losing my job to). I chuff myself however when I build up the nerve to play “They Reminisce Over You” by Pete Rock and CL Smooth.

Tonight’s game at the Arts Centre is Sonic Bingo, where people are supposed to go around sticking stickers on people doing certain acts as laid out in/on their bingo card.

The first band tonight are called Ventura Drive. I don’t really understand or get into them at all, in the slight. They appear to be a band dressed up as emo but without any real songs, perhaps caught in slow motion.

During their set Adam (Cats Against The Bomb) and Doug turn up and they report that outside it is actually snowing! Oh man, nightmare. It’s great to have reinforcements as I resume DJing, a pretty thankless and lonely job/task in earnest. And I reward him with playing a Cats Against The Bomb track (the awesome AKA Lover). Bored also DJing, during tracks I find myself playing a .wav file over the PA of my old manager at my old firm saying “shut up Jason”. The real winner DJ track of the night however turns out to be Uzi Lover by Chris Morris/Fur-Q which I play immediately after AKA Lover to complete a duet/brace of fire arm loving irony.

Band two tonight are *Teevo. Tonight they are much improved on the last time that I saw them, really reminded me of the great long lost band Mega City Four. That remark could either be taken as a compliment or an insult, depending on a person’s persuasion but I mean good times. And I think the description is much accurate than the really lazy Placebo. Its hard to pinpoint where I think the improvement has come other than the sound is now fuller and somewhat harder/heavier in the process. Their closer still reminds me of the finest moments of Hole however.

Around this point Emma turns up from English class and bumps me, bouncing like a good ‘un and passing on good vibes and comments from my English teacher/tutor (a better teacher than that tax one).

Before the third band come on tonight, some guy from their entourage asks me if I’ll play one of their CDs. I quake at the suggestion but when it turns out to be Faith No More, no facking worries. I mix it with more plays of my old manager going “shut up Jason” and everyone’s a winner.

Around this point, Staff comes over and comments at the low turn out (“I thought this would be the best one”) and it really should not have been when Dead Or American (from Scotland) come onstage and really rip it up. Reminding me of Cat On Form, the band appear to stand (up) for all things US post hardcore, having some physical resemblance to Fugazi not only in their demeanour but also their set up. Musically all band members got involved in proceedings (limelight/vocals) as the band reminded me most of Mission Of Burma, Fugazi, part Girls Against Boys and the revitalised stoner rock of Part Chimp. This band should be huge.

Straight after their set, the Sonic Bingo kicked in as the ring leaders sought out the people with most dots on their attire and about their person. I was pleased/satisfied to have only two dots (both earned for “stood looking bored”) because the people with most dots found themselves battling it out for a prize whilst being interviewed on camcorder. I’m too shy for all that shit.

When I eventually get around to DJing again, I open with Extreme Noise Terror followed by The Blitters. Good picks considering the promoter but also fantastic songs.

By the time Macrocosmica take the stage, it is getting late and unfortunately the venue appears to be starting to empty. I can’t understand this myself, as off the back of only two and a half hours sleep myself, I’m next to passing out. But I really want to see Macrocosmica because (quite) a few years ago I was the biggest fan of their Ad Astra album. Macrocosmica come out the box pounding, tuned down I believe and incredibly hard/loud and all done slowly. The band now really sound like Part Chimp to me after previously sounding lighter, in the area of a Sonic Youth-type band. And with Brendan being ex-Teenage Fanclub and Mogwai, you can understand where he is coming from in wanting a new sound. And he is a very good frontman with plenty of personality often engaging and connecting with the audience/crowd, even to the point that he plays Sonic Bingo with Adam at one point. He also describes one way of playing music as being like “having a rectum but without the jobby” before asking the English audience if they know what “jobby” means (isn’t it Sean Connery’s favourite word?). And his mockney accent/impression back is to die for. The set however turns out to be a real struggle on a hard/long winter Thursday night. The pace rarely steps up and maintains the dense cloud/clout of noise that Part Chimp etc are renowned for producing. And it turns out disappointing that none of the set selection comes from the Ad Astra record that I like so much. By the end of a very very long set, I find myself suffering, having to take a seat but I promise to myself and the band that I will make it through the whole set as a sign/remark of respect. And when it is over, I find myself thankfully, still around (alive) whereas others have gone home.

I end the night trading my DJ disc with the Fur-Q song on with a guy from Dead Or American for one of their CDs. It’s a really good deal, especially when the CD turns out to be really good.

I make my goodbyes and trudge back home, the apparent since long dissolved, and hit my bed for some much need sleep for sanity.

np: Unwound – Corpse Pose

"Management means helping people get the best out of themselves, not organising things"

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

"I praise loudly and blame softly"

November 17 (Wednesday): Burning Issues. I wake up this morning, before 7AM, knowing that today could be the death of me. It doesn’t mean I don’t still feel tired though, so I attempt re-entry into sleep but by the time Sara hits me on MSN at 7.25AM, I can only but throw the towel in.

This morning I emerge nervous and depressed that I have no support in a really dark time for me. I know my parents are concerned for my wellbeing but they just really are not “there” for me and so is nobody else in this world. Poor me, bleeding hearted arsehole. In the words of the first good doctor: “there but not there”.

Today, this morning, I cannot possibly concentrate on a thing other than the mountain of (undeserved) flack that awaits me this afternoon. I struggle to engage my body with my mind so I just opt for something more potato like: watching The Sopranos on DVD (for the record, the last three episodes of season 2).

I prepare some notes for today’s hearing and attempt to pre-empt and organise myself for it. The whole situation is so vague and open to interpretation, it could go anyway but of course you must bear in mind that ultimately it is a company of four partners with 25 years trading behind it against me, so ultimately my destiny is held in the essential decency of the white man. These will have consulted legal teams and have legal advice in their cannon whereas I only have the fact, which in the eyes of the situation, are subjective. There will be no rewards from this conflict, only casualties. With four against one, the minority can only be but bullied.

In the morning, I call another agency and then speak to the people that insure my mortgage and payments. I might as well have phoned China.

Late morning I receive a text from Azmei going “call me”. Man, what has she fucking heard?

At midday I leave the flat to go to Asda to get a newspaper and lunch. I want to go into this at least feeling half healthy. I buy Gingko vits (with one eye towards the future) and Blue Charge, to at least give me a little pep.

Gradually I get ready, preparing final notes for my argument and choosing smart but casual attire for the meeting, something that shows I’m taking it seriously but not enough to wear a suit. Around 1.30PM comes along as I prepare to head out. I wait briefly for him to contact to me on MSN, to say a few final words of good luck/intention, to make good the events of yesterday. Nope, it doesn’t happen.

I leave around 1.40 to face my destiny. I park up in Creffield Road, I’m not parking in the company car park because at the end of the day, I do not expect to be part of the company. Unfortunately however, parking here/there at this time brushes upon the permit zone period and there is a lurking parking attendant, so I have wait until 2PM with my car to check they my car will be all right (and won’t get ticketed). And all in all, this makes me late in arriving/turning up at the office.

As I walk to the office, a five minute walk at most, I find myself short of breath and my legs feeling very very wobbly/jelly, I experience the fear. At the door of the office I take a deep breath and step in, hoping to see as least familiar faces as possible. On reception on this day is Margaret, the receptionist least likely to give me any flack (or make any remarks) despite the fact I really like and get (got) on with all of them. Margaret asks me how I have been doing and adds “I don’t know anything”. I guess my actions have kept quiet in the office.

When I stepped through the door, I caught a quick peak of Barlow and when I get called (eventually) into Seymour’s office, it is a genuine surprise (and relief) that I am just facing him and the other John (which is two partners and one legal person less than I was expecting). Immediately the tone of the “hearing” is a lot less formal than I was expecting. The main John takes control of proceedings as I find there is no need for the notes I had been preparing for the “hearing”. The other John spends the majority of the “hearing” silent, looking down. Almost immediately I am told that they have decided to terminate my contract with a summary dismissal which is as expected but it is how executed with no argument and no appeal. John goes through things and pulls out a portion of my blog with three areas highlight. For the record, I get dismissed for the entries on 12 October 2004 and 15 October 2004. The whole meeting whizzes past me as once the big heave ho is executed (very swiftly) we are going through the motions as John fails to drop kayfabe (as the other day) and goes through an almost prepared spiel (not unlike the manner of the appraisals earlier in the year). He makes good points and rarely accuses excessively or points the finger at me but in the partner’s eyes I have probably committed an unforgivable faux pas by/at this point and it has rendered circumstances almost impossible for me to continue working at the firm, I have bruised too many egos and upset too many members of management. As I entered into the “hearing” in defensive mode, I have very little in the way to say, to deal with my executors also being so defensive. I point out that the website is personal and not (necessarily) about the firm/company but the other John pipes up for the first time with “there is going too far”, which is right. The main John never gets nasty, again telling me that it was good writing even if the content wasn’t. He adds that when Millwall next come down to Ipswich he hopes to see me and if we cross paths in town at some point, he will buy me a pint and hope that I don’t throw it over him. Disheartened I smile. I then make a rather serious point of my future reference. John tells me that they will give me a reference if/when required but if asked why I was dismissed, he tells me that he will have to say why. Thanks for the favour. I attempt to save things slightly by pointing out how things came to this by/through frustrations I had and I then point to incidents that served to my dissatisfaction with the firm but, as at the time, my comments once more fall on deaf ears. It all ends in under 30 minutes, I shake hands and get shown the door, told that I will be receiving an official dismissal letter, my last paycheque (with holiday pay) and my P45 through the post. He also adds that if the blog ever rears its head again he will “come after me with a stick and when I say “stick” I don’t mean an actual stick”. So I am threatened with legal action but I’m not actually told at all (at any point) to remove the website or change any of its contents. I ask about clearing my desk and they tell me I can come in and do it Friday evening out of office hours (which I am thankful for). I leave with my heart in my mouth, feeling really down. As I leave the office I look over to Chernobyl where I see Sandip and I wave before walking off into the sunset (ha ha).

When I get back to my car, there is a text there from Azmei. I reply, telling her that I have just been sacked. Almost immediately she telephones me and asked “what happened?”. I wonder dispute whether this was out of concern for my wellbeing, more likely to be in the interests of gossip. She gives me her new home number and tells me to call her this evening.

I pull out in my car and resume my life, glad that that cloud has been removed from over my head. I head straight over to the train station to buy a train ticket for tomorrow’s course in Kings Cross and I also head over to Sainsburys, not quite wanting/wishing to head home just yet.

Upon arriving home, I set straight into motion of organising/sorting out my impending unemployment. Firstly I telephone my mortgage company, to see how I action my mortgage protector. I put wheels in motion and it turns out that I won’t be able to get my mortgage paid for until 60 days have passed. So just what am I supposed to do to pay my mortgage in the meantime? I also call up the Job Centre with view to signing on, only to get the most arsey response imaginable. My god they’re hard noses at the Job Centre it seems. Finally I get pointed towards the council, where I might be able to get some assistance on my council tax (hopefully).

I see Tom is online and I MSN him to tell what has just happened (my sacking). It fails to register with him how big and disastrous this might me, the impact seems to escape him. In the sympathy stakes, I fare much better when I speak to Marceline online and I thank her for all her help and say how peculiar it is that they have done all this action but not once asked me to remove or compromise the website, so is it really that bad after all if they apparently seem happy to have it still up and bobbing about in cyberspace, still in the eye of public all the formal notes/letters have been so concerned about. It’s most definitely a strange set of affairs.

Around 6PM, Dad comes on MSN and asks me how I got on. I tell him with lacklustre and how unsurprised by the result I was (only surprised by the execution of it all). He doesn’t apologise for his actions yesterday.

Later on I phone home and have a word with mum, complaining slightly about yesterday and how I felt I went into today more alone than possible. She attempts to defend him with “you know how he is” but it doesn’t make me feel any better or doesn’t convince me entirely that it isn’t going to happen again some day at some point. She sounds disappointed that I lost my job but more so than she should be expressing, as if it hasn’t occurred to me what my situation and straits now are. I wish I hadn’t bothered phoning basically by the end of the call.

Tonight England play a pointless friendly in Spain. And it is pretty late kicking off. I put it on TV but only with the most limited of interest in the game. As promised I phone Azmei and give her the news/story behind today. The call means I have to put the TV on mute, so I don’t realise all the racist chants that are going in the game in Spain, instead all I see if Rooney ramming the Spanish goalkeeper in the crowd (awesome!) and various other plays losing their tempers. The conversation with Azmei is excruciating. I do most of the talking, going off on one with her giving me enough rope with which to hang myself. I so too much and I think at times I over analyse things to the point that to someone unfamiliar to my circumstances will think I sound insane. I steer away from slagging off my now ex-employers (something I intend to do) and when she chips in with her opinion, it is all nonsensical to me, idealistic comments and the stuff that she herself never had any intention of working to while she was at the firm herself. The call ends at almost an hour, feeling pretty pointless in the process and too brief on an evening where/when I could talk for England it seems.

I return to England game, not really taking it in and by now Sven seems to be executing his ridiculous substitutions. When the game ends an annoying 0-0, the point/purpose of holding the friendly (not so friendly) comes into question. What a shower of shit.

Late on, I receive an email from Allen asking me how things went and I tell him knowing that there is someone sympathetic to my plight.

Haslett (Sara) comes online late on, asking me what happened and unsurprised by the fact I got shitcanned. She slags the firm off royally (but then again they did sack her too) and she gives me advice, somewhat better than Azmei’s advice but this is perhaps/probably a little too high aspiring for someone in my position (unlike for a silver spooner like her).

Tonight I (naturally) find it hard/difficult to sleep and I find myself checking my blog until the early hours and then compiling a DJ CD for tomorrow night’s set off “I Hate My Job” type songs. I also put on the movie Suburbia twice, which twice I attempt to watch and twice I fail to watch. I exchange various emails with Allen over/through the night (including him emailing MP3s to me) and eventually I manage to fall/get to sleep around 3.30AM, which is pretty bad and dicey considering I will have to be awake and up at 6AM for my train to London in 2 and a half hours time. Bad move.

np: Rollins Band - Starve

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

"If you knew you would never fail, think what you could achieve"

November 16 (Tuesday): The War On Drugs. Almost back in the real world, once more I find myself at the hands of a 7AM alarm clock call. I awaken to the news in Iraq that an American soldier has shot an Iraqi soldier. God forbid, somebody gets killed in a war? We live in a stupid world (which I’m learning more by the day).

Suited and booted, I tear out of the blocks, heading towards Ipswich. Like a puss, I indeed avoid driving past the office for fear and loathing of being spotted by my “bosses”. I eventually hop the A12, rush hour traffic taking me thirty minutes to get out of Colchester. I listen to Moyles as Will Young is on there hawking the new Band Aid record. I know all intentions are good and the personnel involved are great but everyone has to admit that the record will be fucking shit (so says King Faux Pas).

I reach London Road Ipswich in OK time but I find myself cutting it close. In front of me is the arsehole that cut me up and now to make life crappier, he is firing out cigar smoke from his car window right into my AC and into my lungs/throat. As I near Gotham, I have to concede and I phone up the agency (Reed) to explain that I am going to be a little bit late. Whatever happened to my time keeping? For years I was the first person anyway, not only on time but generally very early. Where did I change/go wrong? Wha’ happened?

Ipswich remains Ipswich, a semi exciting/interesting place. I park at the Civic car park which used to be the car park where I would suffer from claustrophia (honest). These days however, it’s a doddle.

I head over to Reed Personnel and interview with a lady called Nicola. By this time, the day has turned out really nice and for a personnel interview, not only am I overdressed, I am also overheated in the process. The interview goes pretty well but I really have no idea just how I come over in it, either awesome or insane I suspect, no middle ground/standing. I paint a pretty picture of my current circumstances telling her that “come Wednesday I will probably be unemployed and I am really worried about being out of work for Christmas. Yes, it’s the Christmas Carol all over”. Regardless though, the outcome of the interview is pretty positive and there appears to be lots of jobs and opportunities about thankfully. I shy away from taking a couple of exams (tax and audit) due to “time” pressures and I attempt a kick word with the temp representative but unfortunately she is busy. I leave agency feeling the most positive I have since this whole nasty situation kicked off.

This is actually the first time I have been to Ipswich for a very long time (so long that I cannot remember the last time) so I make the most and have a look around. I pop into HMV and discover the movie “Suburbia” on DVD (the original Penelope Spheeris movie not the Bogosian/Linklater film of the same name) for £6. I snap it up whilst also witnessing some aggressive skinhead in the queue in front of me purchase his wares with attitude and a fifty pound note. Where the fuck is someone like that going to come across a fifty pound note (I have never possessed one in my entire life and I know people of standing who wrap their wad in one with view to looking wealthy). Welcome to Ipswich, that note has drug money written all over it.

As I walk back to my car, I pass a group of Ipswich Town winos drinking their huge bottles of Blue Lightning (?) cider. These people are a grade above Colchester winos and when I say “grade” I mean intimidating.

I hurtle out of Ipswich as fast as my Focus will carry me, stopping at the out of town Tesco to grab some quick dinner/lunch before flying to Chelmsford. Dry as a bone, I buy some kind of iced coffee drink and the new Dylan Moran DVD (nice lunch). I sit in my car for a while, listening to the radio feeling like David Brent in travelling salesman mode on a rest break. On the radio, Edith Bowman interviews U2 as if it has any importance. Between dates between towns, I feel like Willy Loman.

I pull out of Tesco and head towards my date/appointment in Chelmsford. And, as can/should be expected, the A12 is utter murder. The journey takes at least a quarter longer than it ought to and I will have to know/remember that I will be expecting hold ups when I come up to Chelmsford for my exams next month.

Regardless I arrive in Chelmsford and get parked up with relative ease. I have a kind of love/hate relationship with Chelmsford; there really is something about the place that makes me feel uneasy. I never used to feel this way when I regularly came up here for college but something since must have triggered my senses. I find the Office Angels office pretty easily; it is dead centre of the town, up a few floors. The office however is very pink and very female. Immediately I am under the impression that this place is primarily an admin personnel agency, not strictly/necessarily an accountancy agency. I meet the lady and do the obligatory form filling exercise, four of the fuckers this time. Then after that I get asked to take some tests on the computer. I always find these so insulting and today I have three of them on the PC: maths, spelling and Excel. I tear through the fuckers with ease, half completing/performing them with contempt. One thing I don’t understand: I am allowed to use a calculator on the maths test, which kind of defeats the purpose. And then when I get around to the Excel, the questions are clear as mud. The spelling test, that one is nasty, really cheeky. I do the tests in about ten minutes and then speak to the lady about the position they have open. It sounds pretty good, a change and the lady shows empathy to my plight and is encouraging about my prospects for the role. This interview goes really well but ends weirdly when she takes a Polaroid of me. This makes me laugh and then the woman goes and asks me what I am laughing at. Her strange procedures maybe?

I leave the office of pink, feeling fluffy and in dire need of meet. I head straight to McDonalds and Big Mac it up. I check my email on MSN and Ross (my man from Unison) lends me some advice with regards to tomorrow’s hearing. It gives me some heart/hope. Sadly however he cannot accompany along but then again I knew I was clutching at straws by asking him.

I fly home down the A12, hoping to get back in time to watch Farewell My Lovely on TV this afternoon (me for some reason thinking it is Kiss Me Deadly they are showing). When I near Colchester, I take a detour and stop off at Sainsburys where I buy their Classic Cola (so good) and water. I am dry.

Arriving back in Hollytree Court, I get accosted by the groundskeeper (Willy) who asks me how things are going. I was really hoping to avoid him, avoid this, a waste of time conversation. I tell him that it isn’t looking good and where I have been today. As he goes on, Dad turns up in his car, what the fuck is he doing turning up here?

Dad has filled up his car with shit from home (admittedly my shit) and has decided to choose today, of all fucking days, to come up to Colchester and dump it all in my flat, in my lap. To me this beggars belief, I was really looking forward towards a chilled afternoon, pulling myself together for tomorrows barrage of flack. I can’t really comprehend his thinking or mentality of dropping all this on/at me at this time. And I explain this to him, after having a relatively successful day, this just makes things go pear shaped. And when I dare point this point (“I kind of have a lot on my mind with tomorrow, I could lose my flat and car”), he fucking goes off on one at me, telling me how he “can’t fucking please you or your mother” and suddenly everything falls. The old man goes into one of his tempers/moods/strops and I cannot deal with him, he switches off and becomes intimidating.

When he dumps the boxes in the flat and chucks them in the loft and leaves (in a strop) I am really relieved. I do however sit on my toilet and break down. Wow, I really feel supported now going into tomorrow. Such is my life.

Disheartened, I curl up and put on the Dylan Moran DVD hoping for yuks. No dice, it doesn’t work for me today. I can’t decide if the DVD just isn’t very good or whether it is my circumstances. Whatever.

Early evening, Acton hits me on MSN. I tell him about my day and the Dylan Moran DVD and he’s “no way”. The evening slides by and once more, during Teachers, I find myself again on MSN, again with Acton and now with Sara who attempts to rationalise/sanitise my parents.

Late night, I put on The Cooler to fall asleep to. It works.

np: Nine Inch Nails - Piggy

Monday, November 15, 2004

"There's no 'i' in team"

November 15 (Monday): We Live In A World. After a night’s sleep made up of broken pockets of snooze, I awaken awaiting the 7AM alarm buzz like a criminal awaiting the guillotine.

Impatient, I find myself unable to wait for the alarm clock to actually buzz, so before that time I find myself already up and moving. With the morning still pitch black outside, I find myself staggering around my home (for now), getting dressed in the dark during hours that are otherwise foreign to me for a Monday morning.

Hesitantly I step out to go and get the letter from the post office and when I do, it is further notice from GloboChem with regards to disciplinary action against myself, with a hearing set for this Friday at 2PM, which doesn’t really suit me as that day I am supposed to be in London on my tax retake course. The paranoid side of me suspects this may have been set intentionally. Worryingly the letter tells me that due to action against me being Gross Misconduct, the company can give me a summary dismissal which means they do not have to give me a period of notice and are not required to pay me, leaving very very little breathing space. It reads:

“Dear Jason

I am writing to tell you that you are required to attend a disciplinary hearing on Friday 19th November 2004 at 2pm, which will be held in our offices. At this hearing the question of disciplinary action against you, in accordance with the Firm’s disciplinary procedure, will be considered with regard to the allegations of gross misconduct on your part.

It was drawn to our attention that you have a personal website that you maintain and update on a regular basis and that the content of this website contains inappropriate reference to the Partnership’s employees, partners and clients such that would be severely prejudicial to the good name of the partnership. As you will be aware we consider conduct prejudicial to the good name of the partnership as gross misconduct (as spelt out in the Contractual Terms of the Staff Handbook) and since it has been established that your website can be discovered through searches under some client names we have grave concerns that your comments are not private to you but have become public. You will also be aware that gross misconduct can lead to summary dismissal. Furthermore we require that during the period of your employment you shall devote your whole time and attention during working hours to your duties and shall faithfully carry out all work which may be required and this is also laid out in the handbook; our investigations have established that work hours have been used to update your website.

In addition, following your exam failures you are no longer entitled to study leave but have been studying whilst at work. You are in breach of the requirement to devote your whole time and attention during working hours to your duties; this impacts seriously on the other team members and is considered by us as serious misconduct and subject to disciplinary actions.

You are entitled, if you wish, to be accompanied by another work colleague or your trade union representative.”

Ouch. Working as an extension of my suspension notice, some accusations rub and some less so. I think really it would be pretty difficult for me to update my website at work without access to the internet (I do not even have a telephone on my desk). Likewise, it is pretty difficult for me study at work when my textbooks are just physically too heavy/large to drag into work. However, these points are beside the point with regards to the grey area of the website, an offence so in vogue it seems nobody actually knows the correct way of going about with dealing such conduct.

I return home to find Sara has been attempting to buzz me on MSN. We discuss the letter and how I am unclear as to what to do today. I tell her that I am going to go into work early (8AM) before the crowds and have a word. She says she shouldn’t bother going in, just phone. She does however add that if they tell me to stay, that I am working, that they are not going to sack me. However, if they send me home, she reckons I will be sacked.

I drive down with a lump in my throat at around 8.10 and as I pass the office, it appears that there is no one there yet. I drive past and park up at Creffield Road and walk in towards the office, thankfully when I get there Seymour’s car is parked outside so at least there is somebody home. I step through the door with a heavy heart and look for life. The door to Seymour’s office is open but he appears at the top of the stairs, emerging from Barlow’s office. I say “hello” and ask him if I’m in today. He responds aloofly “no”, as if (rightly) that was never in question. I think I respond “didn’t think so”. He leads me into his office where he closes the door behind me, sits me down and we discuss the latest letter. I tell him that I have only received it this morning, wanting to ask “why the hell did you send it registered?”. He says he was hoping to get it sorted out today but it wasn’t possible and that someone is still looking at some of it. I point out “yeah, its 600 pages!” and whisper/word “fuck!” to which Seymour responds “yeah but about 100 of them relate to work and 500 to your personal life to which I don’t care what you get up to or write”. Considering I spend most of my waking life at work, that’s actually not a bad ratio. I bring up the meeting set for Friday and he asks “does that cause a problem for you” and we head into the reception where he grabs the diary. I say “yeah, I’d really like to get this nipped in the bud and done”. He asks me how I have been keeping and I say “so so” (Boris Johnson might say “tremendous, little short of superb, on cracking form” but I wouldn’t). He asks me if I have been studying and I say “I’ve been trying to” and he mumbles “you need to buckle down”. This is a rather different John Seymour to last Wednesday, one I suspect I have since upset further. Our date is re-arranged for 2AM on Wednesday where he says “I’ll round up the troops” (and I’ll round up the cavalry). Not comfortable terminology. He briefly goes “or would you prefer it to be out of work hours” and before I get chance to say that’s preferable he continues “no, that’s best it’ll give me a chance to have a beer”. Great, he’ll be sacking me drunk. He adds that things aren’t easy because emotions are involved and that he’s “left things a bit because (he) wants things to calm down a bit in order to prevent reactions such as this” and he grabs my coat in a threatening way. Surprisingly unflinching, I reply “I would have preferred it that way” knowing fully that if they chose to slap me, everything would probably disappear in a puff of smoke as I would no longer be in the wrong. Was that a threat? As I leave I ask “can I have a bit of a heads up” but no dice. Wednesday hangs over my head like a noose.

I walk back to the car knowing it would have been better for me had I been told I was at work today, suddenly things seem worse than ever. I get in my car and head towards to Asda to buy the Ricky Gervais Politics DVD (I always vowed that if it came to this, that is what I would do). And obviously I hit works traffic and get held up.

I get home and Sara is no longer online, no longer there support and ill-advise me. I check my emails and there are various: Ross giving me Unison advice, the literary agents in London are telling me the obvious and Chris is in touch asking me what gives.

Early doors and Dad comes online asking me “why aren’t you at work”. I explain what I know but now when I say “it will be all right”, I am the least convinced that I have been to date (which to be honest, hasn’t been that much). He tells me that “mum is really worried” which is exactly what I don’t want to hear, I’m going to kill those two with worry from my behaviour and scrapes. Dad also adds that the dog is ill, adding to my latest shopping list of woes. It seems he now has a clot in his other ear (the first clot is why his right ear permanently droops). In some ways, this is the worst news of the lot, I am a firm believer that providing a person has their health, then everything will be ok. This statement doesn’t really convince me either.

Like a mole in it’s hole, I pretty much go back to bed and watch the new Ricky Gervais Politics DVD (as was always planned if I wasn’t back at work today). The DVD is ok, making me laugh in the circumstances. It turns out being several times better than the disappointing Animals DVD but still you are left thinking that Ricky Gervais is a lot funnier than this.

When that is finished, it still early morning in Planet Gram and today was supposed to be about more study but today turns out to be my day of feeling/acting like a rabbit caught in the headlights.

I go through panic and apply to numerous jobs on the Reed accountancy website. Almost immediately, an organisation called Office Angels (in Chelmsford) call and they want to see me for an interview. And then about an hour later Reed (in Ipswich) also phone me and likewise want to see me for an interview. After a little messing about (moving the Office Angels interview to the afternoon from the morning) I arrange two interviews for tomorrow and suddenly I feel positive/better from feeling pro-active. Still, I really do not want to be in the position (job hunting in exam and just before Christmas).

At lunchtime, I get some petrol put in my car (for tomorrows cross country trips) and pump my tyres (the slow puncture does not repair itself). I head over to Tesco Highwoods for lunch and buy food that would be otherwise ill-advised. Rational people will call this “comfort eating”.

In the afternoon, after aborted attempts at study proving impossible, I return to the Ricky Gervais DVD and with spirits raised slightly on this morning, this time around it is funnier second time around.

I settle into the usual crummy Monday night routine with special attention shown/lent to tomorrow’s appointments (I’m talking hygiene here!).

My night ends with watching Monkey Dust, which I have previously only casually watched but now being more attentive than ever, it is fascinating and truly twisted stuff. Which is right up my street it seems.

I don’t sleep easy.

np: Black Flag – Clocked In

Sunday, November 14, 2004

November 14 (Remembrance Sunday): Smoking. I wake up roughly and cold. Slacker by Linklater has downloaded onto my computer so I begin my day by watching that, hoping it helps to clear my mind. Fails.

At 10.30 Remembrance Day: The Cenotaph and it is too much to take (in), jaded stunned men past the age of 100 on television saying how they should have joined their friends when they fell. Any comment/gesture/act towards these people and those times feels like disrespect. I have to turn it off.

I step out to do the newspaper run and the Layer Road store only has the News Of The World, meaning I have to step out into humanity a bit more than I wanted to in order to buy a quality newspaper (in search of edutainment). I head to Tesco to get my wares. Fortunately I am able to avoid any interaction above tendering.

Once more I find myself shrinking inside myself, study isn’t happening and neither is anything else, while all this shit is hanging over like a grey cloud, electric thunder storm waiting to happen I can’t concentrate on anything.

This weekend is FA Cup weekend and on BBC is Thurrock vs Oldham. Thurrock were actually the team that put AFC Wimbledon out of the FA Cup this year. And Thurrock is only about 45 minutes down the road. In the end, the game is a real snorer as Oldham score a penalty early in the second half and that is it for the game, which ultimately begs the question, is there actually any entertainment value in showing non-league football teams on TV

In the afternoon I watch Roger And Me which I have just downloaded off Soulseek. It’s interesting and informative. Yup, that’s a good reflection of business all right. A film of people losing their homes, I hope that is not some kind of premonition. This is a film much better than Fahrenheit 9/11, less smug and more human, more tangible with subject matter more likely to affect the viewer rather than dishing the dirt on some millionaire making unethical decisions in a multinational multibillion boardroom. Unethical business occurs in our own communities. Moore was better before he became blinded with Bush.

At 6PM The Simpsons comes on Channel Four and once more Sunday evenings have structure and routine to them again and it is so comforting, in the most trivial/kitsch pondlife way. The Simpsons represents one of those things in life that you can rely on and recently watching the earliest of the early episodes, despite the crap animation, the first series onwards episodes really do hold there own and are totally/completely watchable.

I spend the remainder of the evening limbering up for who knows what I have facing me tomorrow and in the process I find myself watching Jon Ronson’s Crazy Rulers Of The World TV show which tonight features prisoner torture methods such as player the Barney kids music over and over and slipping subliminals into Fleetwood Mac and Matchbox Twenty songs (apparently). It’s all Camp X-Ray stuff, a topic/subject that it is very difficult to get worked up over/about. Its all PSYOPS stuff, a name I have been seeing mentioned in Hunter S. Thompson books of late.

Beyond that, it is the induction night on the Music Hall Of Fame and this sends me to sleep almost immediately.

np: Spinal Tap – Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight

Aim for the moon and, if you don't get there, at least you'll be a star

Saturday, November 13, 2004

Success by an inch is a cinch but, by the yard, is hard

"Success by an inch is a cinch but, by the yard, is hard"

November 13 (Saturday): Flying Saucer Tour. Baby, you are going to miss that plane.

Up and at ‘em, again I awaken suffering from another restless night. Where do the early hours go, how did I reach 5AM so sudden? The sheet on top of my mattress has been yanked off in my apparent restlessness. I check my side for where I stabbed myself on the corner of a drawer and it looks bad. Could I be about to die from eternal bleeding?

Today is open plan. I really ought study but baggage and exhaustion dictate otherwise. Early morn and I head into town to check up on my finances (now rather precarious) and to do the newspaper. I pop into Natwest to check my balance and draw out some payola and I bump into Janine and family. We exchange frosty “hellos” and suddenly kick into paranoia overdrive, mass debating in my mind “what does she know? What is being said in the office?”. When I get done at the cash machine and as I leave the bank, there she is standing by the door with eyes completely transfixed to the ground, she sure does not want to talk to me, which only adds to my fear and suspicions.

To sooth my mind with retail therapy, I buy The Curse Of The Jade Scorpion which has FINALLY be released in this country on DVD.

From there I head to Sainsburys, I find myself with a real jones on for some of their Classic Cola, which actually tastes better than “The Real Thing”.

I return home to a recorded letter/package slip from the postman for a letter/package I have just missed. I have not ordered anything specifically recently so I can only but speculate that it is from GloboChem but then again, why on earth would they be sending documentation to me by recorded that I have to sign for? Strange things happen at sea. By the time I got in, the East Hill post office is now long closed, so now it is going to have to wait until Monday before I get the letter/package/suspect device. All in all though, as a gesture of cold war paranoia, it sure works and sends me on a downward spiral of worry and concern due/down to the potential contents of such an item of post. Is it a writ to a lawsuit? Ain’t no time to play.

Today pretty much winds up being a waste of time. Once more under the circumstances, I find myself unable to get down to any form of study and I only wind up spending the afternoon watching DVDs. The first of which I watch is Before Sunset. Years ago I would proclaim Before Sunrise as being my favourite movie as I became delusional that that might be a realistic description/recreation of a real relationship. Through the years however, the truth of the world has come to show me otherwise and the last few times I have attempted to watch the original (Before Sunrise) I have just found myself becoming bored, no longer falling in love with the on screen couple, dismissing them as wet and truly unbelievable. So, when the sequel came like a bolt out of the blue earlier this year, I immediately knew it would either the best movie or the worst movie. This afternoon I sit down and watch Before Sunset and I have to admit it leaves me semi cold. I have truly moved on and the words uttered/muttered in this film now seem some of the most unconvincing conversation you could hope to imagine. It’s also pretty shocking to see Ethan Hawke’s physical decline next to Julie Delpy’s pretty well maintained appearance. I loss interest in the film early on but my current situation/circumstances I think would dictate that I would lose interest in any film, so sucking a thoughtful tooth, today I do not make any lasting judgements on the film, instead putting it to one side for sometime less cynical. I would however that Delpy’s songs sound fantastic (prompting me to immediately download them off Soulseek) and then ending of the movie turns out to be insania inducingly clever and annoying at the same, a fantastic last line and a really brave decision to let/make/force the viewer to make up their own minds as to the ending/destiny of the two characters. I find myself looking at and watching the extras on this DVD, the first DVD I have watched the extras on in a very very long time, so I guess the film left a good mark in the end. Here’s looking forward to a time when I will feel more like watching the movie.

By the time I switch to watching Curse Of The Jade Scorpion, the evening is already drawing in and outside it is almost black. I have heard the worst possible reviews of this movie but being a blind Woody Allen follower, I’ll always buy into his thing. And of course the movie he has made after this one, Anything Else, turned out to be absolutely fantastic. This movie however manages to capture my attention even less than Before Sunset. I start out with best intentions but soon the plot has moved so slow that I have almost stopped breathing. Instead, I find myself distracted with Saturday afternoon football and today Millwall are away to Preston. In true Fever Pitch style, today I gamble all my luck on the outcome of this match. Mentally I say to myself “if Millwall win this today, then that will be the turning point of my fortunes and luck to come”. In the end, the game finishes at 1-1 and in the destiny luck stakes, it is pretty difficult to judge and weigh up the outcome of that result. It does mark however Millwall scoring a late goal instead of letting in a late goal for a change, as Barry Hayles scores in the 86th on the same day that that Scott Dobie guy (who he?) makes his debut.

Tonight represents the culmination of the apparent Graham family reunion as a table for eight is booked for us all to eat Greek food (whatever that is). As the Garnham side (Mum’s side) of the family appears to be falling apart and turning into one big soup of anger and lies, all efforts appear to be being made to bring everyone on Dad’s side together, now that there are even less of us than before. I’ve happily said I will go along, after giving Dad some prodding to pay for me (and I’m never one me for turning down a free meal). So, in order to make my parents (especially mother) proud I put a hell of a lot of effort into my appearance for this evening’s appearance/representation and this includes wearing the best of the best clothes and thoroughly put everything into scrubbing up well.

Eventually it comes time to roll and I look good. My parents pick me up and it’s all in a rush and I fucking forget to tape this Branford Marsalis show on Channel Four. Nevermind. I get in the car (mum and dad’s new Fiesta) and I can immediately tell that mum is in a hump but at least dad seems ok.

The restaurant we go to is called Bellapais and we turn up well ahead of time, obviously the first members of the family to arrive. Immediately I begin to feel self conscious, not really all that game for seeing family members I haven’t seen in nearing a decade. And especially in/at these times (ho). Eventually everyone else turns up and it is a really weird evening, these aren’t people that dine out often. At every given opportunity half my relatives are smoking cigarettes which, whilst being vile and disgusting in a restaurant, only serves to project them as being poor and like Selma and Patty off the Simpsons. Our waiter looks like a young Allen Ginsberg and the service all night is absolutely fantastic which is a shame when the food turns out to be crap and expensive (even if I’m not paying for mine). I have keftedhes, swordfish steak and kataifi. And I think I make the best decisions even if I only chose the swordfish because it came with chips. I attempt to converse but I’m stuck on the end of the table and find myself the youngest by ten years. Mum however does fine talking the hind legs of these donkeys having cheered up but then I cruelly go and point out that she sounds like Nanna Moon off Eastenders. It’s a busy Saturday night and I look around at the people eating remembering when I used to actually take people out for meals on a Saturday night. By the door there is a girl that looks like a tubby version of Julia Stiles and I am immediately smit (its all in the mouth with Julia Stiles).
Eventually I/we come out of the evening unscathed, myself having barely spoken to half of my family. Everyone gripes about their food (typical Grahams) and I find myself glad to get home.
I get in and fall asleep until around midnight when my mobile rings and it is a number I don’t recognise. I answer it and its Haslett (Sara) from Australia. Its morning there and she is calling me from her bathroom and whinging about the natives outside her window. She sounds or at least/best very very hungover. We chat nice nice and with her in this state, you can always get away with saying some pretty off stuff to her. However, there she is telling me how she has nailed the 18 year old local yokel over there and how last night she was drinking driving some jeep and she cannot remember how she got home. All good stuff. As the phone (line) peters out, she just disappears and once more I find myself left exhausted having spoken to her. Meeting up when she gets back might not be the best idea.

np: The Vines – Get Free