Sunday, February 27, 2005

Meat Is Murder 

I hope that I’m not a mean person. I try not to be, but here’s where I draw the line: I would hate to be eaten.
I would find the experience undignified and degrading, and if I had the slightest hunch that you were planning to do such a thing, very frightening as well. Even if I was already dead, I still think it would be a terrible and graceless way to pass from existence to non-existence.
So please understand me when I say you absolutely do not receive my blessing to eat me. Not unless your very survival depends on it and you’ve looked very closely at all other available options, and I’m talking VERY closely.
In return, I promise never to knowingly eat you or your loved ones. Not for passing pleasure, and probably not even if my continued existence was at stake, although I can’t swear to that.

In February 1985, The Smiths released Meat Is Murder. I became a vegetarian a few days later - twenty years ago to this day, as it happens - and although I’d been thinking about ‘converting’ for a while, I’m not embarrassed or ashamed to admit that hearing Meat Is Murder was surely the catalyst that spurred me into action.

I did it for two reasons. First, I felt that it was the right thing to do.
I stopped believing that I was worthy of the - at best undignified, at worst painful and frightening - end to another creature’s life. I still don’t think I would be worthy of it. I don’t think anyone is.

Second, I hoped that it would make me fascinating and irresistible to girls.
My theory was that girls would be so impressed by my compassion and integrity and my commitment to acting upon beliefs and feelings - to put my money where my mouth was, as it were - that they’d feel helplessly drawn to having sex with me, or at least letting me see some of their girl parts.

I never got to test my theory because I didn’t know any girls, let alone discuss dietary issues with them. All the same, I hoped that word would get out onto the grapevine, and that girls would want to discover more about the mysterious nut eating boy, and maybe even express an interest in sharing cider with him and getting horizontal in a mutually moist and cosy way.

Even now, I still half-expect a delegation of farm animals in tuxedos and evening gowns to knock at my door and hand me some kind of award in thanks and recognition of my not eating them for all this time.

“No really. Thank you so very much for this beautiful bronze statue of - what is it? A vege-sausage? But I would have done it anyway. I did it all for you, and I accept this award in honour of you, my smelly farmyard friends.”

But it hasn’t happened yet, and doesn’t seem likely now.
Then again, perhaps they’re saving it up for a big thirtieth anniversary blow-out, with champagne and stars of stage and screen, and little nibbley things on sticks and maybe even cocaine, and all those high school girls who never did and never even knew, and surely would have done if only they’d known, but didn’t, and would all now love to, but can’t because I say no, I’ve moved on, we were all so much younger then, you had your chance and missed it, sorry about that, isn’t it murder?

Thursday, February 24, 2005

What's It Like To Be A Skateboard Punk Rocker? 

Complete the following well known phrase:
“We all live in a yellow _______”
You’re mission, should you choose to accept it and you’re prepared to risk looking like a bit of a tosser, is to find somebody who doesn’t know the answer.

Because everybody’s a Beatles buff, aren’t they? We all know the hits even if we weren‘t around at the time - I popped out just just as The Fabs were popping in to record Sgt. Pepper - and we all know little bits of Beatles trivia. Where does it come from? I think it’s a kind of folk memory. We are born knowing that Stu Sutcliffe was the first Beatle to pop his clogs, that Stu’s girlfriend Astrid invented the Mop Top, and that manager Brian Epstein had a bit of a thing for John Lennon. Aren’t we?

Well, that’s what I thought until this week. Two of my team - and more importantly, my two new blog characters - were discussing The Beatles.
“Oh yeah, I’m a big Beatles fan,” said Zippee. “I’ve got the Red and the Blue albums. I’m looking at getting The White Album as well.”
It became apparent he didn’t realise these were compilation albums released after the group split. He thought they were albums they’d released during their career and he needed the white one to round things off. Aww, bless. I suddenly felt a little bit older.
I bit my lip for fear of sounding like a condescending old twat, which I guess I am anyway, but it struck me as strange that there were people in the music saturated Western world who didn’t know their Beatles basics. It’s like not knowing that the sun sets in the west, or that BBC radio announcers always dress in evening wear.

Anyway. It’s been a shit week. If Monday was a breeze and a bit of a laugh, the rest of the week has been a Force 10 gale - all buffeting and throwing up overboard and not much fun at all. A week which no amount of lovely stationary could make alright.
I’ve seen goalposts moved forward, job specifications changed on a whim, and deadlines crossed out and re-redrawn and re-drawn again.
Joking aside, I want to do this well. I don't want the whole thing falling apart on my watch, thanks very much. When it became apparent there was no way I’d meet a deadline for a particular project, I acquired three loan signings from Neil’s team until the pressure’s off. They’re students on work experience and are bright as buttons and cute to match.

I don’t think I can cope with three new characters, so I’m going to apply a bit of my usual blogger's license - exaggerate here, caricature there, mess about with time frames when it suits me - and amalgamate them into two. So introducing Ash and Zippee: they wear hooded tops, spend their lunch hours circling the car park on their skateboards, and try to cultivate a look that suggests they may have just mugged your granny. But they learn at incredible speed, brighten the place up no end and frankly they’ve been a bit of a godsend.

Stella sent me a text today saying “I’m on holiday. You’re not. Don’t forget to do eveyone's timesheets. It's important.”


Monday, February 21, 2005

Generals And Majors 

Tony Blair won’t be able to blame his failings on the previous Conservative government forever. Sooner or later he’ll have to stand up and take responsibility for his own spreadsheets and so should Stella.

My goodness, they’re in a state. There are spreadsheets for this project and that sub-project, and intermediary spreadsheets to act as interfaces from one to the other, and spreadsheets for budgeting and spreadsheets for her social diary and spreadsheets that track the FTSE 100 and her Celebdaq index and the rising fortunes of her Fantasy Hairdressing Team. It’s chaos.

On Friday, she tried to put the blame on Neil, the previous team leader, which is a bit off because she’s had plenty of time to sort things out and besides, Neil is a certified lunatic for whom we make allowances.
But apart from trying to fathom the unfathomable, I’ve rather enjoyed being boss today. People sidle up to you for advice and you tell them any old tosh and they go away happy. It’s as if I’ve become infallible.

There’s a problem at Cabbage Brothers. Nobody can log in.”
“Undribble the simile plugs, count to ten and watch out for a metaphysical surge. If that doesn’t work, reset the congrommelator.”
Thanks Tim. How do you know that?
“I was in the cadets.”

And if it still doesn’t work - which it won’t - they assume they’ve done something wrong and feel too awkward to come back and ask again.

All day I’ve been making furtive guerrilla raids on the stationary cupboard - check out these puppies, they’re life affirming - and tomorrow we’re going out on manoeuvres. I’ve got my eye on colonising the help desk.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love And Understanding? 

We have quite a few customers in Liverpool, so many is the time that I’ve sat in my car with a road atlas on my knee wondering where I might be. Getting lost in Liverpool is easy, and no matter how much extra time I add to the journey to compensate, I nearly always end up arriving at my destination hot, bothered and late. And probably not too good in the fragrance department.
The only time that I’ve ever been sworn at by a customer was also in Liverpool. A fascinating fact for you to do with as you please.

No such problems last night though, when Girlfriend, me and my Toyota Nosebleed happily trundled along the East Lancs Road to see Elvis Costello at the Royal Court Theatre.
We’ve seen Elvis loads of times and he truly is the bees knees. Last night everything was played in a country’n’blues shuffling style. Brilliant. And the Royal Court is a lovely lovely venue too. We sat so high up I got altitude sickness.

It’s a been a while since I updated you with our Ticket Stub Temple of Coolness that hangs in the downstairs loo. So:

Hope Of The States - Preston Mill
The Thrills - Manchester Apollo
Snow Patrol - Manchester Apollo
Badly Drawn Boy / Elbow / I Am Kloot / plus many more for a Tsunami benefit thing - Manchester Apollo.
Elvis Costello & The Imposters - Liverpool Royal Court.

Consider yourself up to speed.

At work today, Stella countered my “I’m not arsed about ambition” stance in a way I never expected: she’s appointed me as team leader for the next fortnight while she swans about on holiday.
The most responsibility I’ve ever had to deal with previously was looking after my Mum’s cats. They responded by moving in next door, so it will be interesting to see if “my team” do the same. It should amuse my Mum’s neighbours too.

“My team.” That sounds so not right. Stella’s going to “fill me in” with her “hand over” tomorrow. See - I’m already picking up the lingo.

Sunday, February 13, 2005


Consider it carefully when push comes to shove. Watch out for the shit as it falls from above, like a post card from God saying “Heavens above! Only the drunk and the dead know the way that I feel!”

When it turns out that things aren’t the way you had thought, and it finally dawns on you just what you’ve caught: the realisation that you have been bought. Only the drunk and the dead know the way that you feel.

No nagging doubts on your mind as you ride the train home, no “Hello I love you”s on the answer phone, no romance in your life but you’re living in hope. Only the drunk and the dead know the way that you feel.

Last night you laughed as you danced off the edge of the world.

The end of the world.


To listen to this post in, ahem, musical form: Right Click, Save Target As…
Copyright owned by me, Bitch!

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

If You Don’t Want The Goods Don’t Maul ‘Em 

The lady at the gate has wonderful soft baps and I swear her fruit pies will be my undoing.

My ‘bust a gut for January’ campaign has been a complete flop, and I’ve told her I’m holding her responsible.
Despite a month of thrashing about on the exercise bike like a gigantic possessed hamster, I’ve managed to achieve the exact opposite of what I was trying to. It’s so unfair, etc.
We need some new bathroom scales. I want to get some techno-scales that pretend to like me and say “No fat content today, Tim! And hey! You been working out?” unlike the current ones which glumly flash discouraging digits then sneer when my back’s turned.

The lady at the gate smiled contemptuously, as you might if you were listening to a fat idiot in denial.
I was about to launch into my ‘but muscle is heavier than fat’ spiel when a custard tart caught my eye. I picked it up, fondled it for a while, put it down again, picked it up again and paid for it. I thought she was going to thump me.

"Like the great man says - if you don’t want the goods, don’t maul ‘em," I trilled, unintentionally looking at her breasts at the same time, and immediately wishing that I'd done neither.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

You’ll Be In Some Sputnik Baby, But I’ll Be Underground 

I’ve done being ambitious. I’ve laboured and slogged, and put in the hours and driven the extra mile, mile after mile of stuck in traffic on the motorway miles, so far away from where I’ve wanted to be that sometimes I’ve actually felt homesick.
I’ve also done taking it easy and letting “my career”, such as it is, just kind of drift along, out of my control, going with the flow in a who-knows-what’s-around-the-corner kind of way.

Some years I’ve had fair-to-respectable pay rises and been treated well. Other times I’ve had zilch and been treated like shit.

What I’ve learned is that there’s never a correlation between how hard I push and how well I’m rewarded. It’s not so much random as completely irrelevant. If Bill Surname Chief Executive Officer is feeling a bit flush he might give us a pay rise, or he might not. It has nothing to do with me.

I’ve also found that not being ambitious gives me more time for other stuff and suits my temperament much better. Paradoxically, I think it makes me more productive. You want to chase your tail all day in the heat of the sun? Knock yourself out. But it ain’t me, babe.

I was telling Stella all this just thirty minutes after where I left off yesterday. I’d thought about it for a while, then went back into her office and tore up the post it note I’d left on her desk, just seconds before she walked in.

I said I’ve no axe to grind with anyone being as ambitious as they want to be.
I just don’t think it’s right to expect others to be ambitious because it suits your own ends, and especially not when there’s no guarantee of a pot of carrots at the end of the rainbow.
It equates to peddling false hope, which is just… it’s just…

“Heinous?” she interrupted. “Blimey Tim, I didn’t know you felt so strongly. Have a vitamin tablet.”

I chose one at random and it instantly fizzed and frothed up inside my gob, putting me in a mild state of ‘soon I won’t be able to breathe and this is how I’ll end my days, foaming at the mouth and moaning in my boss’s office about nothing in particular’ induced panic.

“You’re supposed to dissolve that one in water first, you idiot.”

I think I might finally be getting through to her.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Pissing In The Wind 

Appraisal season will soon be upon us, and Stella is foaming with excitement.

Bonuses are up for grabs for the manager with the best performing team, and Stella, for whom life is nothing if not a never ending series of pissing contests, has set her sights on victory.

“You need to trumpet your achievements,” she counselled, between a succession of vitamin tablets. “I want you to be more ambitious, Tim.”

After lunch I found an information pack on my desk, along with a post it note saying “What do you think of this?”
I sketched out a few notes:

- This video inspires employees by motivating them to develop a positive mental attitude!
- Discover the PROFOUND TRUTHS about change!
- Don’t Adapt - Manipulate!
- Using cynically underhand strategies and practical exercises, identify and capitalise on others’ weaknesses!
- Learn how to keep difficult situations from grinding you down by creating a destructive emotional environment!
- Get some perspective and make work fun!
- Be fucking assertive!

I left the blurb in her office, appending her post it note with the words “Stella, I think you’re pissing in the wind.”

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