Saturday, 26 July 2014

Why the Hell do People Think I'm Intelligent?

My Dad was a working class orphan from Fulham. He spent the second world war down mines as he was too young to fight, he later became a fireman then a central heating service engineer. My Mum was a working class girl from Ireland. Her first job was as a servant, she later ran away to London and worked for the BBC as a cook. They met, got married, moved to Hampshire and finally had 1 child when they were both in their 40s. That'll be me then.

So I grew up within constant hearing distance of 2 very distinctive - and different - accents. Yet my brain decided to ignore this and, for some reason, I have never had any accent at all. Nothing. Also, being an only child to older parents, I learned to escape boredom by reading and I developed an interest in words. This ensured that I gradually expanded my vocabulary and developed a love of the English language. 

BUT - and this is the important part - on a basic level I've never really been particularly bright. I have an average level of education because I simply couldn't be bothered to go to university, I couldn't see the advantages it might offer. So I went to work in a supermarket (and stayed in retail for 22 years, never progressing beyond dept. manager). 

I digress, the point I am stumbling towards here is that ever since the age of 10 I have been dogged by the general opinion that, almost entirely due to the way I talk, I am some sort of clever person. We moved to Wiltshire when I was 10 and for the first couple of years I was relentlessly bullied because I was 'posh' and 'clever'. Nope. I just don't have any kind of local accent. This, somehow, translates to 'posh' for a lot of folks.

People who have worked with me know only too well that I am not suited to work. Oh sure, I can muck in and work hard, I just dislike the whole ethos of having to do stuff all day for somebody when I'd rather be doing stuff for myself, in my own way and my own time. This causes an emotional response which translates into stress. So work colleagues would often see a side of me which only ever materialises when at work - miserable, confrontational and generally unpleasant. I recently (and not for the first time) walked out of a job for entirely emotional reasons and am now unemployed with no money. I am applying for jobs which I know will stress me out again and which I'll probably eventually walk away from under a big black cloud... but I've never had any kind of career plan or managed trajectory in life and I'm basically at the same place now that I was when I was made redundant at 20. Just hanging around hoping something will 'turn up'. But I've never been clever enough to work out a way to work for myself, even though I've had 30 years in which to do so.

So, I really don't see myself as being intelligent, sorry. Perhaps I'm completely misunderstanding what 'intelligent' means... This, in itself, makes me a bit dim.

There's a point in the book The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy (or one of its sequels) where Ford Prefect declares to Arthur Dent that they are both just a couple of "fartarounds". I like that. That word sums up my approach to life completely. 

Forget intelligent. Forget imaginative. I hereby declare that I am, always have been and always will be a fartaround.


Sunday, 22 September 2013

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Farewell, have fun, this blog is no more....

Bye now.

Or, if you really are a glutton for punishment ;


Monday, 16 July 2012

Dawlish Warren Acid Trip

Taken with Samsung Tocco 8mp phone camera, June 27th - July 1st 2012. Fiddled with using PhotoScape. I never said I was a professional...


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Four Seasons, One Tree

Pictures taken with Samsung Tocco mobile phone camera between April and December 2011


Thursday, 8 March 2012

Happy Birthday

Seems this attempt at a blog is 1 year old today. And still rubbish.


Thursday, 1 March 2012

Attack of the Sea Monkeys

When I was a tiny Sketchy my old man would sometimes come home from work with American comics for me (Spiderman, Superman etc) - I later learned he used them to hide his porn mags inside but that's another story...

Within the pages of these pulpy 1970s tomes were bizarre adverts for things like x-ray specs, life-size monsters, hypno-coins and the famous Charles Atlas bodybuilding courses... I was insanely jealous of American kids who could get their hands on this stuff for just a few dollars, British comics had no such exciting products available to order.

But the one advert which had me spellbound, and terminally confused, was for Sea Monkeys. Apparently these were little pink people, wearing crowns, who hatched from eggs and could be kept in a glass of water. Now, I was already fascinated by nature and even at the age of 8 was fairly sure that if there were tiny people living in castles in the sea I would have heard about them. For literally years I pondered this until I gradually forgot all about them...

Well full marks to the advert designers... they were friggin' BRINE SHRIMPS all along...

Having done a little internet research I am gobsmacked to find that they are still available to buy, from Amazon and many other outlets. I kind of doubt that they can be 'trained' as the original advert states, but then nothing in that advert is particularly close to reality anyway... however I am suddenly tempted to get hold of some even if only to finally put to rest my suddenly over-excited inner 8 year old self.

But what the hell do they have to do with monkeys? Who sat and stared at a bunch of shrimps for a few hours back in the 60s and decided they looked like monkeys? Oh, hang on, the 60s... it all becomes clear...


Monday, 6 February 2012

The Ghost in the Stairwell - Part 2

I slowly descended, watching the figure standing in the dark as it watched me…

As I cautiously reached the bottom of the stairs I saw its mouth drop open and it seemed to slump against the side of the reception desk. “You… BASTARD!” it hissed at me.

It was Mr Crawford, he was white as a sheet and clearly terrified. What I hadn’t realised was that on Saturdays the twilight team finished at 6pm, not 8... Mr Crawford let everyone out, assumed I had already gone, set all the silent alarms and went home.

When I went to the canteen for a drink, I’d set the alarms off. Mr C had been called back by the police, who then searched the entire building - when they got to the stock control office they’d looked through the window in the door, not realising I was at work just around the corner (good search technique, I don’t think).

Finding nothing, the police had gone again, while I was totally oblivious to the whole event. That was when Mr C reset the alarms, but before he could leave the building they went off again… then I appeared at the top of the stairs…

All he could see was a silent figure in a long dark coat who shouldn’t have been there, standing in the gloom, then slowly coming down the stairs towards him. It was brown trousers time for Mr Crawford that evening for sure when he saw me, the ghost in the stairwell…


Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Ghost in the Stairwell - Part 1

The following is a true story… I know because I was there…

The town centre of Trowbridge, all the streets, shops, offices, car parks and houses, is built upon the site of the old town castle. The castle itself was torn down hundreds of years ago and no obvious physical evidence remains. It can be traced from above quite easily though as many streets follow the route of its old walls and ditches.

Back in the late 1980s I worked for a well known supermarket chain and the branch I worked in was built more-or-less above the main castle site. As soon as I started working there other staff began telling me stories of various ghostly incidences which had occurred over the years, things moving, half-glimpsed figures walking through walls… you know the kind of thing. I dismissed it all as the usual tosh folk like to imagine… but rumour had it that the store was actually built above the old castle dungeons and was haunted by the spirits of poor souls who had died in various unimaginably horrible ways…

One Saturday in November I was working late. Now, these were the days when there was no 24 hour shopping, indeed hardly any evening shopping either. The store closed, like every other shop in town, at 5.30 on Saturdays. I was, at this time, manager of the stock control department. Almost all stock control was carried out first thing in the morning and the team of staff were all generally going home by 4pm, but we’d recently had a new computer system installed to finally drag us out of the dark days of pen, paper and sales calculations… needless to say, although it seemed state-of-the-art to us, it was a bit crap and required a hell of a lot of accurate data input.

I had elected to stay late, on my own, to do some overtime, working on into Saturday evening in order to get all the stock data updated. The stock control office was upstairs, next to the staff canteen. At about 4pm I shared a quick coffee break with the duty manager of the day, a young chap, Mr Crawford, who was fairly new to the store. Nice bloke as I recall, a bit soft but friendly enough. Afterwards I went back to the office and carried on.

The office itself was L-shaped with one door, the door had a face-height window in it. The computer station was round the corner from the doorway, so anyone working there was invisible to outside observers.

After a couple more hours I could see I was nowhere near finishing the job so I headed back out for another coffee and a smoke. (Of course this was when you could light up INDOORS in the workplace, thus ensuring that the chances of developing lung cancer were spread equally amongst smokers and non-smokers alike. Ah, happy days.) Entering the empty room I realised someone had switched all the lights off. I reached for the light switch but then realised the huge windows were enough to illuminate the room from the car park lights outside, it gave the place a kind of warm, soft, orangey glow which I rather liked, so I left the lights on, lit a fag and stood, musing, at the window while I smoked. Then I grabbed a mug of coffee and took it back into the office.

It did all seem very quiet but I knew the small team of twilight shelf-fillers were beavering away downstairs, getting the stock on the shelves ready for Monday (no Sunday trading in those days, oh however did we survive?!). I set my coffee down and carried on working.

At about 7pm I had finished all I could do and decided it was pub time. The twilight team were due to finish at 8 so I thought I’d slip away quietly and perhaps claim for an extra hour’s overtime if nobody spotted me on the way out…

I switched everything off and popped to the canteen for one last smoke - I did smoke very heavily in those days. Once I’d finished that I grabbed my long black raincoat from the cloakroom and headed for the stairs…

The stairway itself led down directly to staff reception, hence it was quite easy for staff to slip in and out unnoticed when there was only a small crew on and nobody manning the reception desk so I was still hopeful I wouldn’t be spotted and would be able to blag some extra overtime… I walked slowly onto the landing at the top of the stairs and peered down at the desk, wondering why the stair lights were also off… and there, next to the desk, was a dark figure, totally still, its white, ghostly face fixed on mine and piercing dark eyes stared up at me through the stygian gloom…

Part 2 to follow…