Thursday, September 30, 2010


Thursday 30 September 2010

Dream: at one point I find myself in Great Bromley passing the pub where I was verbally abused on the day of the Hillsborough disaster, past the second hand car dealership where I once had a run in with the proprietor and past the home of my former Gringo Records cohort where we had many meetings and hatched many plots (in addition to laughing our arses off at a Sasquatch documentary one night, amongst other things).  Eventually I stop to go into the post office (of which there appears to be three).

It was a strange disrupted evening of sleep last night.  At one point I swear Hill Street Blues was playing on my TV trying to keep me awake.

When the alarm eventually buzzes I feel as if I could still do with a bit more sleep but that’s OK, I actually appear to be in high spirits for a change today.

After a brief bout of lethargy I soon pull myself together and head out.  As I exit my front door it is to the sight of the biggest spider sat on our landing.  I half expect it to say “good morning” to me.  Hopefully its presence will now scare the living shit out of my neighbour when she leaves her apartment.  Instant karma.

The drive to the station turns out to be a relatively nondescript one with the only remotely interesting sight being a Hovis lorry driving through a red light outside the police station at the bottom of Butt Road.  He has no fear.

Eventually I get on a train and it is a mongrel one.  This is usually a bad sign for the day ahead.

For a second day running I have “The Bitterest Pill” stuck in my head.  There are worst songs but unfortunately this is kind of defeatist and now comes with the added weight of the conclusion that came with This Is England 86.

By the time the train reaches Chelmsford, against type the day has turned sunny.  Then at Ingatestone (always at Ingatestone) that fucking cunt female Mark Ibold lookalike decides to again squeeze in and plate crowd next to me.  She apologies but she does not mean it as she proceeds to nudge her elbows into my ribs for the remainder of the journey.  I can’t help but feel this is a symptom of the mongrel train.

Eventually and thankfully the train pulls into Liverpool Street but not before the female Mark Ibold takes every fucking opportunity possible to knock and bang into me.

Upon arrival at the tube platform all appears carnage as no train appear on the horizon.  In the end one arrives as I avoid the wanker train even though it is Watford bound and Bellalike feels inclined to board.  A couple of trains later I am sat comfortably on a tube before eventually becoming the first person into work this morning, an honour which comes complete with alarm duties.

With the tube delay making me slightly later than usual the Filipino follows me in within seconds and not long afterwards the boss comes upstairs in high spirits.  Then The Girl turns up and here it goes wrong.

Early into proceedings it transpires that the chequebook on the new(ish) company is coming to an end and we do not have the following book.  With this news the boss begins to flap, which as usual he directs mainly at The Girl as she has something of a reputation for taking care of such housekeeping.  Also her consistent lateness lends/soils her with a stain of incompetence.

From here unsurprisingly a shit atmosphere arrives as she kicks off with her little madam act.

After the boss says his piece (and I don’t bother to get involved) The Girl begins ranting at me, tearing into me for not sticking up for her and with this some kind of pissing contest ensues.

I am not good when presented with situations such as this and far too often I will tend to react like a rabbit caught in the headlights.  A person with a quick tongue will unfortunately always get the better of a person with more intellect.  Also by nature I am just a soft person, very passive aggressive, so when accusations such as these hit, being unexpected and unprepared I am no good at dealing with such propositions.  As a result I lose, as a result I fail.  More or less I find myself being shouted down by an underling, basically losing face as I become undermined.  Its not so much the words she uses (which I soon forget) but more the fucking audacity and manner with which they are delivered.  This is a girl we have happily accommodated this week as she has searched for a new flat/home and taken time away from work to do so.  How fucking dare she exhibit such a pissy attitude when really she should be grateful as fuck.  I truly cannot imagine me getting away with anything similar at any of my previous jobs.

From here things fall apart as I go quiet (grumpy/moody) and chose to concentrate on my work while in the background I overhear as The Girl does her tough job of spending the morning ordering Ugg boots online.  I really do not know how to deal with such a situation.

Eventually The Girl asks me for the bank computer fobs which I toss at her with rapid response and precision.  She promptly responds “that nearly took my face off”.  Shame.

Things fail to improve when some stupid cunt phones the office and decides to chase me up on an invoice for some corporate magazine advert.  This is not my department.  I spoke to her about a month ago, after the posh boss failed to say to “no” to the advertisement offer, at which point the woman was already threatening to issue late penalty charge invoices against a £250 invoice with a seven day turnaround.  Fuck her.  We proceed to have a tense conversation before I refuse to give her a clear answer or the posh boss’s mobile phone number which ends in us slamming our respective phones down.  Just leave me alone.

All day the atmosphere remains tetchy and stale as things fester while we work in silence and an elephant remains in the room.  It is at times like these I appear to accomplish most work.  Go figure.

Finally we reach lunch which happens and then the remainder of the day plays out in continued relative silence.  Occasionally The Girl will begin singing along to the radio in a gesture that resembles the carriage scene in National Lampoon’s European Vacation.  Its definitely a gesture I could live without.

It is around this point that the boss hands me a copy of his daughter’s personal statement (with view to her studying fashion) for me to proof read.  Personally I find the concept of personal statements to be bullshit exercises.  Reading this one immediately I notice there is no arc or form to it.  I also struggle to reconcile/associate with it being that this is the work of an eighteen year old Jewish princess.

In the end 5.30PM thankfully arrives and with it a hell day comes to an end.  As I exit I say “bye” to everyone as I am truly/royally fucked off by it all.

The boss actually lets us out a little early which sees me getting into a brief bout of business drunk with him and the IT Guy.  I’m fuck off though and don’t really want to talk to anyone related to work at this time and soon I cut the session short.  To my chagrin the IT Guy follows me out and we get the tube together as he heads towards Southwark.

From here I head towards the Southbank where tonight JONATHAN FRANZEN is speaking about and reading from his new book “Freedom”.  This event suddenly feels like a hot ticket as he has been in the press a lot recently as the book is being proclaimed a great piece of work.

Instead of going straight down to Waterloo I decide to get off at Bond Street and step into Soho to go record shopping with view to cheering up.  As ever stepping into Sister Ray is something of a depressing experience as a once bustling store now barely has a pulse these days.  After this I head to Fopp which is always reliable.  On the way I take a route through Soho that sees me going through Meard Street to see if there are still flowers at the front door of Sebastian Horsley’s old apartment.  There are not.

Inside Fopp it is the usual array with today’s surprise bargain being various Bill Cosby comedy CDs for £3 each.  Also Kick Out The Jams by MC5 manages to tickle my fancy this evening.  With this I pay up and step out of the store and head towards the South Bank taking the usual route of passing The Ivy, down St Martins Lane etc before eventually finding myself on the Golden Jubilee Bridge where tonight everything around is lit up and looks truly majestic.

I get to the Southbank Centre in good time where I linger for a while before the Purcell Room is opened where I promptly enter and take my seat.

When JONATHAN FRANZEN emerges it is bookishly and sheepishly, very pleasingly he matches up to expectations.  Soon after being properly introduced he takes to the lectern and pleads with the audience members who have purchased his new book “Freedom” not to read it.  At first I think he is being wacky, instigating some kind of stunt but then he explains that he and his publishers have today just discovered that the version of the book that has been printed is from an early galley version of the novel (its only an early draft).  Naturally it is now being recalled created both great expense to the publisher and an instant collectors item.  With this news/information there is a discernable gasp amongst the audience as it becomes apparent that the place is filled with book geeks (which includes me).

From here with the bombshell out of the way he opens with a reading from “Freedom”.  It is a descriptive telling of the revelation of a daughter having been raped by a jock and the consequences that comes with.  As a result emotional reaction is stilted and resigned as gradually the realisation that only so much can be done about it showers over proceedings with tension and defeat.  There is so little justice.

It’s a long and thorough section that fully displays the FRANZEN gift of vision and an eye for detail while reconciling the head with the heart and the circumstances that occur.  You can tell he has been reading this paragraph for quite a while now as it runs so smoothly, orated so detailed and compellingly.  This after all is a writer known to read his work out loud when in progress.

With this he steps down from the reading and into the interview where he modestly talks about the machinations of his latest opus.  Unsurprisingly much of the questioning is along the lines of his portrayal of a dysfunctional family and exposing/describing the cracks beneath the surface.

He makes comment how a writer needs to strike a balance between sensitivity and detachment.  He certainly comes as the former while acknowledging the distinct necessity of the latter.  This comes coupled with a brief description of how a young extended family member is currently in an unhealthy relationship with an older man which as group they are currently having to deal with.  Then as if realising his over share he shakes this off and says “why am I saying this?  I shouldn’t be telling you this”.

FRANZEN works the event with one eye on his watch very conscious of the time.  He is plainly a seasoned pro at doing these things and seemingly eager to get the thing done.

As ever the audience questions come in and as ever they gloss over me.  Why do I switch off to these things?

With an hour done he pulls things to a conclusion before nodding towards the book signing session.

Tonight in Colchester Dave is having another school reunion and I would really like to make an amends for Saturday and show my face in positive fashion.  With this in mind after brief hesitation I do not buy a wrong edition of “Freedom”, do not get FRANZEN to sign it, do not pass Go and do not collect £20 (or probably more from eBay later on for it).

From here I shoot back to Waterloo and up to Tottenham Court Road then across to Liverpool Street.  In the end I get to 10PM train which just about offers the chance of arriving back into Colchester in time to show my face for last orders.

Gradually the train rolls towards Colchester just as the batter on my iPhone dies.  It does not look good.  Fortunately just before the phone goes I hear from Dave where the people are in the George Hotel.  It’s a curious venue.

I get back to Colchester just before 11PM where I immediately tear to The George where last orders have apparently already been called.  However in a real stroke of luck I manage to get parked on Colchester High Street just opposite is and soon I spot Nathan and Nigel from school stood outside having a fag break.  At first I am not sure it is them until Nathan shouts “Jason Graham!”  With this we exchange long overdue hugs, the second of which is with Nigel who was Day Fifty Four of my Facebook Cull.  Whoops.

With this we step inside where I soon spot Dave and Matt from Saturday but now also is Steve who was easily one of my best friends at secondary school  He immediately comments that I “haven’t change at all”.  It’s a well intentioned comment but I am still trying to work out whether this is a good thing or not.

For about an hour we catch up as things feel scarily similar considering that it is seventeen years since we were at school together.  Interestingly I sense that these people have actually bothered to remain in touch with each other post school as suddenly I remember just what a mess I was when I got spewed out into the real world.

It turns out that another person was out earlier tonight as Melanie my old neighbour in Little Clacton was the only female that bothered to head out.  Melanie was Day 92 of my Facebook Cull.  Maybe it was for the best that I missed her this evening.

I mostly speak to Nathan about music before thumbing through an old album of school photos that Nigel has brought along.  Thankfully I am not in any of the pictures.

Eventually as things pass midnight Dave laments (bemoans) the no-shows of tonight, who actually included a number of Facebook culls I was semi dreading seeing for fear of copping shit for my unfriending.  Again, probably for the best.

Soon the reality of partners and last trains kicks in as we shuffle out of the now empty The George bar area.  Outside we all exchange messages of goodwill as we go off in our separate directions for what might be another fifteen years.  Briefly I make suggestion towards another meet up soon but logistics will always get in the way of and block that.

I end the night seeing off Dave.  Sadly we have not had the opportunity to talk at length during this visit which is frustrating because I am really curious to speak to him about certain things in his life he appeared to confide to me.  Oh well, next time.

From here I drive home and end a testing day on a high.

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