Fuck this, I think to myself.
I'm on the phone. It is several years ago. I run a monthly magazine. You know. Glossy. 'National'. County-set lifestyle-type thing. Plush, purpose-built offices. Imacs all over the place. Staff. Prestige. It looks like the CTU building off of 24. An 'important city' in the South-West. I regularly speak to Mercedes and Alfa Romeo. Not an Alfa Romeo dealership. Fiat UK Head Office. These people know my name. Fucking get me.
I'm on the phone to the printers. Every last page has been .eps'd and ISDN'd to them. I confirm this.
We tell our advertisers we have a circulation of 80,000. It isn't a bad number.Printer Lady:
Yes. It's all here. Usual print slot, all colour towers available so you can have full colour throughout as requested. Heat-sealed as usual. Bundles of 50 each. Usual print run? 2000?Me:
In publishing, there is a notoriously vague manner in which distribution and circulation relate to each other. But 2,000 to 80,000 is pushing it to such a degree that Sisyphus would think it light work.
This has been going on for some time. I am no longer playing.
I get up. I walk into the office of the woman who 'publishes' this charade. I'm not looking forward to the conversation.
Not because I dislike confrontation.
But because she has a bonk-eye.
It is difficult to speak to anyone with a boggle-eye. You are never sure which is the good one. I always like to make steady eye-contact with anyone I speak to. But is difficult with this woman. I have to flit my gaze quickly from one eye to the other to make sure I am covering all bases. The resulting sensation is similar to sea-sickness.
The result of the conversation is that I find myself in a bar, in the middle of the afternoon, with some unexpected time on my hands.
I order a drink and find a seat that allows me to watch the world go by. I reflect upon the day's events.
I know now, and sort-of knew then that this was the end of my glittering career in publishing. A shame. I rather enjoyed it. Never dull, always exciting, challenging. And at the end of each week/month there was a thing
that you had made happen. But it is no place for those who adopt a zero-bullshit policy. I'm amazed I made it as far as I did.
I feel quite relaxed, even slightly happy. I watch the people scurry about, chasing their own work related goals.
Haha, I think. Not me. Then I think a bit more. I shall have to go home at some point. There will be a conversation. I think about this. Perhaps it will go this way:Me:
Oh. You're home early. Good day?Me:
Not bad. Jacked the whole thing in on a whim. Point of principle and that. How is our one-and-only baby?TM:
Barely three weeks old. I do admire your principles and feel sure they alone will put food on the table. We have no financial concerns at the minute?Me:
Oh no. I feel sure something will turn up.TM:
My word, you are excellent. And really facing-up to your new responsibilities so well.
I light a cigarette. I think about this some more. No, I think. There is an outside chance that the conversation will not go that way. Oh dear.
More thinking. I am resourceful. I have not worked in media sales in this corner of the country for the last seven years to find myself with no contacts at all.
I remove much-hated mobile phone from inside-breast pocket and turn it on for the first time in three weeks.
I begin making phone calls.
After some humiliation and some hello-again-can't-help-old-bean I have secured a new job. Today is Friday. On Monday I start as the new head of the marketing department of a medium-sized telecoms company I used to do business with.
Just like that. I have been officially unemployed for 20 minutes. I order another drink, flushed with my own superbness.
It was, of course, all a dreadful mistake.Twatishness
I begin by sharing an office with the Sales Director. It is an awful building, in a dingy, anonymous trading estate.
Sales Director is a twat
of the first order.
He and his brother, Managing Director, are the existing sons of a once-mighty diesel-engine manufacturer in the South-West. Their Daddy has bought them this silly little company. As both have never had to do an honest days work in their lives, they have no idea what the fuck is going on.
I don't mind too much. I do know what I'm doing, so I get left to my own devices much of the time.
But my God he is a twat. Nearly middle-aged. He prowls the halls, chomping on his gum, rattling the keys to his frankly-horrible BMW, giving it the big-I-am at every opportunity. He is almost universally hated. Even, I suspect, by his own brother.
And yet. We get on. Then, and even know, I am not sure why. I actually liked him. He was disgusting in every regard.
That episode of Friends. When Chandler discovers that the grumpy guy upstairs was exactly the same as Chandler in grumpy guy's youth. A bit like that. I saw in SD every appalling aspect of my own personality unchecked, blossomed and fed by privilege. I could not help but warm to him.
Does this mean he was no longer a Twat?
I did not have time to dwell on this. We moved into new premises. Myself and my small 'team' of marketing staff were to share an open-plan office with the field-sales staff, who also partially answered to me.
Gareth was a despicable salesperson. He wasn't called Gareth. I called him that because he looked like Gareth Keenan off of The Office.
I know what you're thinking. That's a bit weak, Tired. You can do better than that.
But you don't understand. He looked EXACTLY
like Gareth off of The Office. If you worked in an office, and saw him there, you would think someone was winding you up.
That would have been bearable. But oh no. This man would have been crowned King of Twatland.Example:
I am at my desk, doing something dreadfully tedious with a database. Gareth wanders over, and stands at the end of my desk. He does not say anything. Nor do I. He puts his hands on his hips. I remain silent. He begins to slowly shake his head in a it's-all-down-to-me-but-even-I
I say nothing.
He takes in a deep lung-full of breath. Then slowly expels it whilst still shaking his head in wonderment.
I know from experience that he will keep doing this for at least fifteen minutes unless someone intervenes.Me:
What's up then, Gareth?Gareth:
[as if noticing me for the first time] Oh. Nothing. [starts to slowly shake head again] Working on some very big deals my friend. Very
Care to tell me about them?Gareth:
[falsely suppresses fake laugh] Cheeky. You know I can't do that.Me:
Why are you here?Gareth:
Anyway. Can't stand about all day listening to you when I've got so much on. [mimes cocking a gun at me] Catch ya laters, yeah?Me:
Sales Director gives Gareth the task of trawling every trading estate in the local area and securing the contact details of every decision-maker of each company and reporting the results to SD. Not unreasonable, as Gareth's job is, after all, to build sales relations.
Gareth promptly spends a week at home, fucking about with his Xbox.
Upon his return from his mission, he tells SD that he cannot give him a report as the details are in his car. Which has broken down and is at the mechanics.
Each day, Gareth drives into work in his perfectly road-worthy car, parks it in a different trading estate where SD is unlikey to see it, and walks half-an-hour into the office in order to maintain the subterfuge. FOR A MONTH-AND-A-HALF. Then claims the mechanics nicked the report.Example:
It is late in the afternoon. For some reason there is only me and Gareth in the office.Gareth:
[apropo of nothing] It's rubbish isn't it?Me:
No strong feelings.Gareth:
It's just, once you've looked at it all, it's a bit boring.Me:
The internet. I've looked at all of it now. Nothing left. Boring.
Given his vast ability for pissing-about and doing fuck-all, I wasn't sure if he was joking. He seemed very serious. Perhaps he had viewed every single web page in existence
. It would explain what he did with his time.Anyway.
Anyone who has worked for a medium-sized family-owned limited company will know what it is like. Monthly spurious reasons why I was denied hard-earnt bonuses were bad enough, but having to explain to my staff on a monthly-basis that they too had been fucked out of their commission was becoming a chore. The Brothers Grim felt every penny was coming out of their own pockets.
The management-consultantcy agents came and went, each one fired because they
did not know what they were doing.
I went on holiday for two weeks. Upon return, checked wage-slip to see that I'd only been paid for half the month.
Oh, we changed the holiday pay policy says M.D. You hadn't accrued enough days.
When did you change it? 10 minutes ago? Might have mentioned before I went.
Two days later, me and two of my brothers pack everything my young family own into a Luton van, and drive nearly four-hundred miles away, never to return. TM and FD follow one day later.
Oooh. That showed them.Conclusion.
It was a long time ago now, and so much has happened since. Despite the tone of this, I've no real ill-will.
But I do still think about SD and Gareth sometimes.
Sales Director was a TWAT with no redeeming features whatsoever. But I liked him. What does that mean?
I HATED Gareth. He was Mr. McTwatty of Twatsville. If he had walked around with the word TWAT written on his forehead in permanet marker people would have thought 'my word, he's understating the case a little'.
But I think about him now, sitting at home on company time, chatting to his wife, fiddling with his Xbox and playing with his own young son.
I think about his refusal to play the company game. To do whatever he could, often at his own detriment, to fuck them around and do exactly what he
felt like. On his
terms. To not bend, or break. For anyone.
I can't help but slightly admire him.
But he was such a TWAT.It is very confusing.