Monday, November 21, 2011

MI Fuck!

It's been a few days since I received the email telling me I didn't get the job.

Frankly, I was relieved.

But I had to apply for it. It was a vacancy that required candidates with a good grasp of English, like what I got. It also offered the promise of an exciting career, something a tad more important than selling plastic bags to bored Polish shop assistants who don't even know what the fuck it is they want.

It was a job with MI5.

When I first read the spec, I felt a wave of eagerness rush through me. It was a sensation I'm unused to, which I know now is called 'Being Alive.'
The role seemed to speak to me. After months, nay, years, of reading "Spineless team member sought with ruthless blind allegiance - must possess degrees you don't have, with a thorough knowledge of programs and processes you've never heard of..." it was refreshing to finally encounter something I could not only do, but might also enjoy.

So I applied.

The initial tests were online, the first gauging your common sense, the second testing your data reading skills. This was fun, so I was surprised to receive an email telling me I'd passed. It didn't say how well I'd done, only that I was eligible to go on to the 'proper' application now that I'd gone through their initial filter.

And this is where I'd panicked.

Question 1: Do you keep a personal online journal?

I stared at the screen. Well, discounting this actual blog, I don't. Maybe, I thought, I could just tick yes and be honest, but underneath, it said 'If yes, please type the address here____________________________'

Shit.

'I could tell them', I reasoned. After all, they'd get to see 6 years of written English produced in my own time for fun. That's a goldmine for any potential employer, right? - provided of course that they overlook the endless bitter introspection, the junk food addiction, the relentless swearing, the Class A drug abuse, the prostitute sex, the heavy drinking, some cunt with a car, and the ceaseless, relentless bitching about my day job.

So I ignored it and soldiered on.

HAVE YOU EVER TAKEN DRUGS?

Oh bugger.

IF SO, PLEASE LIST THEM

'Cannabis', I began, 'Esctasy, once' (although it was more like 5 or 6 times but I felt like I was being sorta honest as I never took more than one in any given evening - I think.

And then I typed 'cocaine' and stared at the screen. Nothing made that word seem fluffy and innocent and it looked utterly out of place on a job application. It was the word equivalent of a piss-stained tramp passed out on the floor of a 3-year-old's birthday party. So I deleted it and ticked the box that said I'd quite like to discuss my application with someone later, please.

And then I clicked submit.

To be fair, I was very happy with my application. It was sturdy, and I was confident that I was the man for the job - apart from lying about those last two points, made worse by their assertion about not lying as it was a staggering breach of trust.

Except it wasn't really lying, was it? Besides, I'd decided I would tell them about the blog and let them make their own mind up were they to ask, and I was going to tell them about the coke too. I'd just have to go through my entire blog replacing all the 'motherfuckers' with 'rotters', and generally adjust everything from XXX down to a PG or even U whilst praying they'd overlook past indescretions.

And I'd got through to the next stage, the telephone interview. I was now quite dumbstruck, not to mention full of a considerable amount of guilt. However the date they'd given me was in the middle of the week so I replied to say I couldn't do working hours as I'd literally be walking the streets conducting it on my mobile phone. They replied to say this would be fine as long as I didn't mind, so I agreed to their new date on a Friday.

I woke up to Interview day with a fair amount of nerves. And an hour in, those nerves were replaced with anger, and angst, as my boss told me the car cunt had resurfaced. This was rather troublesome, as I would've liked to have spent the hour or two before my interview hiding in the toilet to read up on the job so it would be fresh in my mind. Instead, I was debating insurance with my boss because of a scratch on a sportscar some arsehole claimed I did nearly a year ago.

Needless to say, I'd become deflated and utterly sick to the pit of my stomach about something unrelated to the call I was about to make. Then, in the middle of that day, having excused myself with the line that I was leaving the office "for a think", I instead hid down a London backstreet to phone MI5 and sound unnaturally perky and eager to please.

So you can imagine my glee when I was asked about my interpretation of the job, and about their work in general, and I had nothing, nothing, barring the generic bullshit in my head. Admittedly when I had to provide examples of specific work-related scenarios I had even less, umming and ahhing as I walked up and down the same fucking street in a state of awkwardness, disbelieving the strange optimism that appeared to be tumbling out of my mouth.

But by then I'd gone off the job. It was destined to fail when I'd agreed to conducting the whole thing outdoors and on a cellphone, with a runny nose, for over half an hour, not to mention doomed from the outset thanks to my frugal admissions in the first place.

On the plus side, I still have absolutely no impact on British security, so I guess you can all sleep easy. However, it does mean I can continue to blog with a moderately clear conscience.

Sorry about that.

Friday, November 11, 2011

There Is No God

I am not a bad person.

I care about my friends. I care about humanity. But that doesn't mean I'm immune from getting fucked over.

Apparently, the last shred of humanity in Stalin's cold heart was extinguished the day his first wife died.

Mine was extinguished this morning.


Almost a year ago, I wrote this. It is a post about how, over Christmas, I was given the office van to drive home on Christmas Eve, park it away for the holidays, and drive it back in the New Year.

During that time, I used it once when a friend asked if I could help her cousin move.

'Why yes', I told her, I could. I had the van with me, you see. The whole thing seemed almost ordained.

So one morning during the festive post-Xmas deadzone, I drove to Somewhere, London, loaded up the van, and took friend + cousin to Somewhere Else, London. Call it my good deed for the month. I was even rewarded with unexpected bottles of booze, and petrol money.

Which was nice.

So with a heart full of joy for a favour accomplished, I got back in the van, drove about 40 feet, and came to a standstill. A stationary car, a brand new, luxury stationary sports car, was blocking my path.

'Get outta the way, fuckhead,' I may have muttered.

He made a stuttering, stumbling concession, barely inching to one side, and I squeezed through, made it past, and drove on...
    .... only to be chased by said fuckhead who was claiming I'd hit him.

I got out. We examined our vehicles, and in the darkness saw nothing. He thought I may have scuffed his car and a £20-£30 polish would rectify it. Details were exchanged. And I drove home feeling more than a little uneasy.

Goodbye petrol money.

Within a few days we were talking on the phone. It wasn't £20-£30, he said. Quotes he'd got were more like £200.

I baulked, and said I'd have to take this up with my boss.


So, New Year, back to work. I told the boss. Boss is unimpressed, and says that as the van was used for my personal errand, it's my personal problem. I understand. I am essentially left to fend for my fucking self, but I understand.

Time passes. I try to get my own, cheaper quote to nail this thing in the bud. I also email and phone the other driver. We debate the problem. I continue to deny all liability as, after all, I saw, heard, and felt absolutely nothing. It was almost as if - I dunno - I drove past him and went about my business. Nonetheless, and with work not 'getting' my 'back', I want to come to some kind of agreement and get this damn thing resolved. I ask the driver to meet me half way and share the cost. It is, after all, his word against mine and I still never saw or heard a thing.

Driver says 'No'


More time passes. The driver then speaks to two luxury sports car bodywork shops. Their quotes are £1,200 and £1,800 respectively.

Now go back to my original post. Just check out that tiny fucking scratch. Go on. Have a really good look. See anything worthy of that cost? Me neither.

I send texts to driver saying this is getting ludicrous. Driver begins to quibble about the need to get it repaired 'properly' with a high-end bodyshop that'll loan him an equivalent replacement luxury sports car for the day or two that his is out. I can now add more numbers to those huge quotes.

I phone back, panicking. The driver tells me that he has no choice other than to go for the higher quotes, as the luxury sports car manufacturer has now logged this scratch as an official defect that can only be rectified through one of their own approved, overpriced repair shops.

I start to feel incredibly fucking sick.

Meanwhile, our insurers send a guy round to examine our van. He can see no comparable mark on the vehicle, like nu-thing. It was almost as if I DIDN'T EVEN TOUCH HIM.


...... Then time really passes......

Fast forward to about a month ago. A letter arrives at work. It is our insurers.As they have heard nothing more, they say the case is closed unless they hear anything further.

'Congratulations,' my boss says shaking my hand - and I'm shocked. I feel like I've dodged a bullet, although I sense a reload.

That reload was today.



Today, we got an email. It was from our insurers. Attached were the other driver's letters to his insurers. There, in black and white, he'd scanned all my emails to him, and even our phone texts;
"I can get other quotes," I had grovelled. "I can get a loan, maybe pay £180"


"Look how readily he agrees to pay up!" the driver gloated to his insurance company.

'YOUR INSURED CLEARLY ACCEPTS LIABILITY' his insurers barked at ours.

And then my jaw clenched, and tears welled up in my eyes. My offers to help were now being used against me.

'Don't worry about this,' the driver had told me over the phone months earlier. Verbally, I now realise, he was a bloody nice bloke. Verbally was where I'd reiterated how I never accepted responsibility for all this, and where I made clear that my boss was threatening to deduct from my wages any losses incurred.
'We'll work something out,' the driver told me, and I'd gone on a mission to do what it took to NOT GET MY WAGES DOCKED.

Like an idiot, I trusted him. He was a gentleman, I'd reasoned, who told me he wouldn't let this spiral out of control. After all, I'd said to him, 'Please don't let this spiral out of control. I still maintain I didn't do this....'
And so I'd done - and wrote - whatever I could to not let this get to the insurance claim stage.

Yet there, in today's email, were my old texts, disturbingly reproduced on my monitor, having been culled from his phone, then faxed and scanned to his insurers. And they burned into my eyes and mocked me.

'I'll do this,' I had pleaded. 'Let me try that...' and I wondered how the fuck I'd been so naive, at my age, with my knowledge, to put anything like that in writing.
The last of the texts reproduced on the monitor was unequivocal. To paraphrase, he'd written to me; 'You did this. I should not be the one out of pocket.'


But he omitted my reply text back to him. I know, because I checked. It is still on my phone.

'I did not do this,' I countered. 'This whole thing is becoming obscene.'

For some reason, he chose not to pass that last text on to his insurer. He much preferred all my previous ones that read as if I'd sell my own grandmother to repair that scratch.


Monday, November 07, 2011

Crossroads


Well hello there. I know it’s been a while but I’ve been away, you see – not in the geographical sense, but one of those metaphysical, allegorical journeys to Righting-Wrongston (not far from Cheersville.) In doing so I’ve shed 21 lbs (or a stone and a half in old money), mainly by cutting out almost all shit, and exercising like I’m trying to power a small Welsh village with my legs.
And I’m almost 74% sure I’m not done yet.

Bored and somewhat twitchy though I’m getting with all this healthy living, I’m still keen to lose another stone. I want to be ‘normal’ on those doctors’ charts.

By and large it’s been bearable. It's only happened through a combination of utter stubbornness, positive thinking, and a book*. And as such it’s not been possible to keep up a blog of misery.

Until now that is, because I’ve not slept and my ears are hissing like a burst waterpipe while my head throbs and I’m confused and non-specifically angry – but then again I did spend the weekend avoiding fireworks and human companionship as I sat in front of my computer watching clips of comedian Jim Jefferies at such an awkward angle that I’ve put my back out.

So things are bloody brilliant on a bullshit, superficial level, but less so on a personal one as the boring minutia of my dull life slowly dawns on me;

  • Practically all my friends are married now, and with children, and we’ve all inconveniently moved away from one another.
  • This means my social life is essentially spent waiting for a specific, pre-arranged night out that, besides being as rare as hen’s teeth, is also violently boozy, and I’m afraid I’m finally bored of drinking.
  • You see, barring the occasional tipple, I simply can’t see the point in getting insensibly drunk anymore. It’s getting expensive for one thing, and fattening for another, plus the hangovers seem nigh on unbearable.
  • In addition I’ve got a responsible job with the unfortunate side-effect of being poorly paid (last week I spotted a receptionist vacancy with the same starting salary as mine now), and what with the high cost of living plus Christmas, I’ve begun staying indoors trying to not spend any money.
Which is fine but we’re social animals – even me – and I need to, I dunno, do something that doesn’t involve seeing a chiropractor on Monday morning because I spent a whole weekend alone  in the same twisted, horizontal position while I soberly hunt down gross-out comic routines on the internet. 

Basically what I’m trying to say is I really need a girlfriend.

Still.

Which brings me neatly onto that *book I’d read that could be my gamechanger … The Game. 

That's what single-handedly inspired me to diet in the first place, which is odd as it’s a tome I steadfastly refused to read in the past, mainly because it’s about picking up as many women as possible and frankly, that’s crass.

Yet: ‘Never judge a book by its cover’.




I had thought that buying the above would do nothing more than enrich a smug, sleazy fannychaser who was trying to impress me with fatuous tales about the large number of women he’d nobbed, but after being repeatedly talked into getting it by RUSSELL, I discovered that the author was actually one of me; a gimp, a loser, a bit of a twat, until a work assignment came his way that changed his life completely.

He got into shape and smartened up, which is (almost) where I am now. He also started talking to women, an important point which could prove my undoing as I haven’t actually done anything about that yet. Bit important that one, but I hope to do something about that soon - I think.
Y’know, approach women, chat, not cry in front of them, that kind of thing.

Or I could do the other thing that’s currently infected my brain…

I could go out and buy a palletload of Krispy Kremes, and take the lot home and fuck it in a sugarcoated orgy of shame and regret.

Call it a crossroads, if you will.