Sunday, July 25, 2004

July 2 (Friday): I don't really wake up this morning, instead I endure a restless night of very little sleep and my alarm clock just provides a boundary with which to abide by. This morning, looking in the mirror is frightening: this is the face that is out to win over London City? Ouch.

I sneak off into London. As I drive to the station I take a little paranoid detour past Butt Road so as not to be seen passing the office dressed in my suit. Like I said, paranoid. I manage to get the first train to London after nine and I am surrounded by differents, amateur commuters I guess. They're weird looking and I feel over dressed.

Today I really do feel nervous: what on earth am I going into, welcome to the jungle and all that. The train journey is schmoove and I get into London by ten and hop a weary train to The Strand. Like a fool I notice my station is on the Northern line, so when the Liverpool Street Central train turns out to be too much for me, I hop off at Bank to get a Northern line. This is a fuck up, it don't work like that Jason, so there I go having to get back on the Central line and wasting so much time in the process it is horrible. Eventually I get to the Strand and with time ticking away I emerge from the station having no idea in which direction to go, I need a compass! I do start off going down the wrong direction along the Strand but manage to turn that around to get to Hays within seconds of my appointment. Today seems to be the hottest day of the year and inside the Hays offices it is unendurable. This isn't helped by being met by two stereotype receptionists chatting amongst themselves who give me grief for interrupting them from their conversation. I sit in the waiting form filling out another idiot form which feels aimed at illegal immigrants looking for work. Sat with me in the waiting room is the token black (maybe he is an employee of Hays, paid to sit there all day to keep up race figures and race relations) and of course the ever present nervous young who you know chauvinistic employers just chomp at the opportunity in seconds. I fill out my form, one up on black dude who doesn't realise there are more pages after the front one, and wait in the hella heat feeling over dressed for the occasion. Remember, this is no big deal, this is an employment agency, they are used to dealing with a hundred chavs and pikeys a day, of course a man in a suit is overdressing. Wearing a suit to an employment agency I guess is akin to wearing a suit, you feel obliged but its unnecessary and your chances balance on much more substantive elements/factors.

I finally get my interview, this after they take a photocopy of my passport making me feel like I'm entering customs, suspected of terrorist activities (hey, I do a blog). The interview is a bash. The girl interviewing me knows substantially less about the accounting profession than me, she is personnel all the way. Still, she has me on my toes immediately, asking me my GCSE grades. I also go "what the real ones or the ones I've made up?", only joking kids. The interview actually pans out very encouragingly though. Once it is established I can do my job, my interviewer begins telling me about the current openings and opportunities going at Hays and they sound like dream jobs to me: a practise on Bond Street, another dealing primarily with art dealers, another with media types and fashion houses. These jobs actually sound interesting! One downside though, the salaries are kinda poor but for a foot in the door and the opportunity to work at such organisations, I'm willing to live with that. She then also adds that the big four are beginning to hire more. This is music to my ears, I am so encouraged and excited, feeling I have discovered a real shot in the arm for my stationary career. One thing however, this is Hays telling me these things. Hays have a history for me of being unreliable, so all this euphoria may all be for nothing, before I reach for the sky my feet must remain on the ground. I leave at 11.45, the woman making comment about my cough ("it's a chest infection") and how she is about to go on holiday so she will be away for the next couple of weeks (how unprofessional). Whatever though, I leave a happy bunny.

I re-emerge onto the Strand looking at the Savoy (which to Hays office is opposite). This really is somewhere on the map. I am now left with a lot of time to kill until my second appointment at 2.30 with Accountancy Additions. I decide to go for a wander, to purposely get lost and take in the City at a slow pace and do something I have never really had the opportunity to do before. First though I spot a Boots and buy some Strepsils with the idea/notion that that will cure my chest infection in time for my next interview (delirious). I walk down the Strand and wind up on Fleet Street checking out the buildings around me like never before and texting people enthusiastically in the process. I text Phoebe to see if she would like to meet up for lunch. When I reach St Paul's she texts me back and says unfortunately she can't, that had I "texted earlier...." Nevermind. At St Paul's I decide to turn around head back towards the centre of things. In the process I text Azmei an apology, attempting to explain myself in the process. This little stunt couldn't possibly go any worse and soon, after cliches and patronisation, that ends with her discouraged at me and my high spirits crashing back to earth. Kudos.

Soon I have wound up back in Holborn and I looking for the offices of Accountancy Additions in preparation. Job done. And still with a hell of a lot of time still to waste. I end up in Covent Garden, Oxford Street way. I go into Forbidden Planet, something I am doing much too much these days in London (but in there I do find the most interesting book about eights Video Nasties, I remember watching some of them pre-cert, which wouldn't have been very healthy for a boy around the age of ten to be doing). I also end up in Fopp, spying more mysterious bargains (how do they knock those things out so cheap, are they Eastern Europe or Asian off cuts?). Next is Borders and it soon occurs to me that I am chain shopping, this still does not stop me checking Virgin Megastore but this might have a little more to do with that fact that the hot as hell day is now torrential rain.

It probably best shows what kind of mind frame I am in when I actually go into Burger King and eat by myself, I have one of these little things/rules that I will/do not eat in public on my own. This is only the second time I have ever done so, the other being after a visit to a professional lady in Victoria. Of course I drop some sauce down myself which I figure is a great precursor to going into a business type meeting/interview/appointment. More insania erupts when I attempt to use the BK toilets in Oxford Street, they're SO dingey and you just can't get any peace. After two people storming in on me I give up, the fella was too scared of further exposure.

I head back to Holborn for my interview at Accountancy Additions. More form filling in but at least this time this company looks like it actually deals with professionals and skilled personnel (i.e. me!). I do however turn up drenched which is odd because whereas Oxford Street was rainy and wet as fuck, I emerge one stop in Holborn to things nice and sunny, go figure. This interview is very casual, much too casual. The man interviewing me is South African and called Craig. He is overly friendly and as a result unnerving. He tells me that this morning he has just spoken to Louise from the office and he asks me just what is going on at BS & Co for him to be having two people at once job hunting from there. I say my bit. This interview feels less encouraging, Craig appears to be attempting to steer me more towards employment still in Essex and/or Suffolk. This is the opposite to music to my ears, I feel such a switch right now would be a real side step. He does however comment that he has more positions in those areas than actual personnel to fill them; that's the stuff, said like a true employment agency. This interview is very brief, something I am a tad relieved about. He asks me why I dressed up, commenting that I didn't have to. I have to lie and not tell him it was to meet with another agencies. All agencies will tell you not to register with anyone else because apparently prospective employers will get bored of seeing your CV however the truth is that they just want 100% dibs on any commissions from them finding you employment, they are in effect steering you away from approaching their competition. And how many businesses do you know that will approach more than one employment agency? Those fees actually are astronomical, I have been offered a thousand pounds in the past to find fresh blood for my employer (at that time).

Free of all my work obligations and somewhat encouraged, I make the quick hop back to Fopp to make my purchases (four Nick Cave CDs, two John Coltrane DVDs and Hannah And Her Sisters by Woody Allen on DVD) and by four I am back on the train back to Colchester to hook up with Stevo and Sandip/Sunny to go to the 20/20 cricket tonight.

I do all right getting back to Colchester for five but this still means poor old Sunny is waiting at the office for me. I strip off out of my suit in my car into my night clothes, someone passing me in my car at that moment could have got quite the thrill.

I finally hook up with Sunny around 5.30. Stevo has already left for Chelmsford and Sunny is flapping. It amazes me how much of a meal he makes out of getting petrol on London Road, Stanway. Whilst on our way to Chelmsford, Stevo calls me and asks if we can pick him up. That's cool but instead of picking up at his house, he wants us to pick him up at Chelmsford Beefeater. Stevo is really fucking weird about his parents. I know it's a bit odd for a 35 year old to be back living at home but we don't care THAT much! Unfortunately Sunny and I get a little lost when I get confused as to which eatery is the Beefeater (my bad). In the end we go to Stevo's house and call his home phone. He's long gone, what a fucking calamity. Sunny gives up and decides to just drive to the ground and basically fuck Stevo. We find the lush staggering into town roughly outside Chelmsford prison. He is nuts. We let him in the car and he has pictures of Portugal and the England v France match. All is forgiven. On the way to the cricket ground I have a heated discussion over how crap it is that Greece have made the Euro 2004 final, it's rubbish!

The cricket ground is rammed, I will never get used to the public being all over the pitch prior to kick off. And to add razzamatazz to proceedings some pretty tubby girl is on the pitch singing covers of Billy Joel etc songs whilst kids around her appear to be attempting to hit cricket balls at her. Above us there are darkest clouds and rain is inevitable, postponing the start. When the rain finally teams down the only apparent place to gain refuge is the disabled area, and it’s a pretty piss poor show when so many people clamber round people in wheelchairs just to keep out of the rain.

Eventually the game kicks off and we start out drinking in the pavilion, along with all the other uninterested in cricket pissheads. After just five minutes of watching play, I already see more cricket than I did in the whole of last year's visit. Essex bat first and are piss poor, soon wickets go and they fall apart. However, please don't ask me what the score was. It appears that for 20/20 teams tend to put out their reserve sides. We came today to watch Shane Warne but a few weeks ago he broke his hand (or something) but I doubt he would have played anyway. We drink drink drink and all beer here is pish. I do however enjoy going to the bar because there is the most beautiful Asian girl working (it).

I check my phone and there is a text from Phoebe thinking it weird that I am watching cricket, asking me "isn't it boring?" Rather. I also check my phone to see that Marco has been evicted from the Big Brother. Oh my, drama darling. Nevermind, he sucks ass and cock.

Chelmsford is a strange place, much too many West Ham fans it seems. Essex fall apart for a pretty poor score and Hampshire enter into bat looking a good bet to score. At this point Stevo disappears for about half an hour when he said he was going for chips. Instead of just going to the concessions truck he has gone all the way into Chelmsford to a proper chip shop and brought back proper bags of chips with some curry sauce (for Sunny? What a stereotype!). Stevo has also returned with a four pack of Stella, how the fuck did he sneak that in? When I moaned about the poor beer, I was only half joking. Sneaking Stellas into a cricket ground, that pretty much sums Stevo up. We then remember that there is a cricket match happening and Essex are putting it to Hampshire and gaining wickets and pace to the point of being in a winning position. Eventually (and quickly) Essex pull it off and bowl out Hampshire and win the match.

We stagger back to Sunny's car through the streets of Chelmsford. Stevo and Drew are always ripping on Colchester, so we gain our revenge and take this piss out of “this?�. Sunny is a real sport driving us around. He takes Stevo home but via the road Drew lives down so we get to see what his castle/mansion looks like, which is actually pretty average surprisingly. When we drop Stevo off Sunny says to me "I can't imagine him ever moving out or having a girlfriend." I agree. I squeeze out enough conversation with him to get us home, me sounding semi big shot now that I have now been to London to check it all out. I get in and The Krays AND Good Morning Vietnam are on tv. Too much choice, life is good sometimes. In the words of Phoebe: sweetdreams.

np: The Vines - Get Free


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