Wednesday, August 18, 2004

July 22 (Thursday): Interview today. I wake up pretty much as per, this time round I want to go into the interview. Today I am motivated and eager to make a good impression. It's a shame I was unable to get a haircut at the weekend but otherwise I am tip top. I arrive at the station in time to catch a train around 8 AM. I don't rush to get onto the rammed Anglian railways number from Norwich, instead I choose the leisurely choo choo, the plan being arrive in London around 9 AM giving me 30 minutes to get to my destination with plenty of time to spare.

Things look really up when I bump into Allen who I ride the train with until he gets off for his job in Chelmsford (this despite the automated train announcer's insistence that the train is going to Frinton on Sea). I show him the weird bruise that has appeared on the inside of my right knee from playing football last night, there is a straight indentation like it had been jabbed with a screwdriver. Things begin to go rather pear shaped when the train shudders and slows down not far after Marks Tey and eventually it grounds to the expected halt. Nervously I begin to clock watch. Allen assures me that will get there on time but I'm always sceptical. An announcement is made and apparently a truck has run off the A12 and is now encroaching on the embankment of the rail tracks. We sit for several minutes, many more than are comfortable. Probably twenty minutes plus later we are rolling past a crazy transit pretty much shredded on the embankment almost on the tracks, they were not telling fibs after. Still, whether they were or not, I am now really pushing it for turning up on time to the interview. Allen gets off at Chelmsford and more late commuters get on. Today is so hot and I feel myself already getting hot under the collar and perspiring profusely. Sitting opposite me is a semi attractive office bod (probably junior) and she is clocking me chewing/picking my nails, I watch her as she watches my fingers pick away. She seems repulsed, I can't blame her.

It is around 9.30 when I step off, into Liverpool Street and now there is a real big urgency to movements on public transport. I look on the map and cannot decide which is the best method to get to the firm for the interview. I head for Charing Cross and by the time I emerge from the tube station it is past 10.00, my original interview time. I stagger out the station at the Strand end and call ahead to announce my obvious lateness. The secretary is semi unconcerned, telling me she will pass on the message. What, no verbals over the telephone? I have a lot of trouble finding the place and I find myself walking past Trafalgar Square frantically trying to find my bearings on my crappy little map. I end up trawling down Pall Mall, eventually I am headed the right way. I spot the Sports Cafe and storm past it wishing so badly that I could pop in for a quick one. Finally I find St James' Square but your guess is really as good as mine as to which of the four sides of the square the office is at. I do a complete lap of the square before finally finding my way towards the correct numbered building.

The office is quite unimpressive, almost like something out of This Life. That is kind of the running motif mentally in my expectations and mind wars of what to expect and tackle with a city firm, and this place is straight out of that show. The office is old and a bit stuffy. I walk into the entrance lobby and there is woman on security which looks the softest line of security in history, so on the contrary she is probably really dangerous with hand-to-hand combat blah blah blah. Finally I arrive. I look at my watch and the time is 10.20. This is pathetic (on my part). Mr Shah appears along with a firm partner who does all the talking. I am steered into a minor meeting room and I apologise profusely for being so late. They don't seem care or register which leaves me with a distinct lack of assurance either way. The Asian guy Hahish looks weird and I am so relieved that I am not being interviewed by him alone. The partner who does most of the talking is kind of stereotypical in a Ron Manager style. For a partner of a city firm really isn't dressed overly impressive and his Coke bottle glasses look dated right back to the sixties. And Hahish does appear to have a regular pulse. I'm a prick to the end. Mr Ron Manager seems a cool guy though, warming to me somewhat as I go into charm overdrive. This interview has really gotten off on the wrong step severely and I just present myself really sheepishly and pretty different to how I represented myself on the Bond Street interview, that version of me might well terrify my interviewees on this occasion. The job itself is a real dream position. Basically the company serves as the outsourcing function of Next Model Management in the UK who do work for FCUK and involves running the accounts for an agency booking fashion shows and it involves offices in New York, Paris and Milan and communication with all offices over the globe. And the job on the face of it appears a real doddle for someone, such as myself, familiar with the accounting package involved. I get really excited about the job and when it is discussed I really try to sell them on my experience in the area. The interview lasts just under an hour and I am let feeling in a state of limbo down really to the general stuffiness and flatness of the event (not on my part, ho ho). We wrap up the interview and I think I mess up by not asking enough further questions about the position but to this point I really think further questioning would lead into over familiarity territory. I make nice nice as I leave the office and the partner thanks for me coming to interview, which a paranoid person might take as a kiss of death/vote of confidence.

Post-interview sprawl out onto the West End, straight opposite Haymarket Theatre where When Harry Met Sally is playing reminding me of Phoebe's no no that suggestion. I mill around the area for a while, heading to Leicester Square tube station where I hope to find that crappy back market video/DVD shop where the guy sold moody copies of Kill Bill when it first came out ("it's a pretty good copy, you can only hear the audience for a little bit of it"). Walking around the backstreets is a real eye opener, this is the pinnacle of the Europeanization of London. Eventually I find myself staggering around Leicester Square proper, hurdling over tourists and shocked by just how quiet the area is for eleven o'clock in the morning (aren't the kids on holiday yet?). Eventually I find myself on the bottom of Charing Cross Road, seeing a part of it I have never before seen in my life, these are the real book shops (none of your Borders bollocks here). I wander into the best poster shop I have seen in my life. Officially I don’t do posters but I find myself searching for Woody Allen prints, movie posters with taste and class. Initially I do not come across any but I do find a Goonies poster and like the person in a complete state of Arrested Development that I am, for a second I almost buy it. Eventually I hit paydirt and find the Manhattan poster. This is the best, two people falling in love, walking a dog, sitting on a bench at the crack of dawn, discussing what is important in life. The purpose of such a vision is escapism and capturing such an image and putting it on my wall might allow me to exchange places with them for five minutes. I procrastinate but give up on the whole poster idea in the end, they're horribly tacky and ultimately found on the walls of the emotionally stunted. That is until I find my holly grail of posters: a poster with every Simpsons character EVER! And it is a good size (in other words small). I buy it immediately (however to date, today being August 11, I still have not put it on any wall anywhere).

I leave there and find myself in a comic shop. What's that about, all of a sudden I am going through a comic renaissance even though I still have comics left unread from my last little period. I have to say I am tempted but when I am unable to find the really perverted issue of Weasel by Dave Cooper I exit in a huff. Today is glorious, this is the best (or worst) weather of the year so far. Soon I find myself in a more recognisable part of Charing Cross Road, on the verge of Covent Garden. Still this whole gotham is next to dead, where the fuck is everyone? Does everyone hip in the city nurse hangovers and crank comedowns until midday regularly? I go to Rough Trade Records for the first time in absolutely years. As per everywhere else in London it seems, I am the only person in the shop. And I am wearing suit and look a total narc or someone well past it trying to be cutting edge. Rubbish Graham. I scan the racks and don't really recognise any records I want to buy. I look around for records by the label I used to be involved with and no dice. I do confusingly come across the complete Free Kitten back catalogue though, are they hip again? Is there money in it? Is it time for Kim Gordon to regroup? I get out of there pretty quickly, seems finally that part of my life is past me. Back outside in the summer sun I immediately text Allen telling him I have never felt so out of touch in my life. Seems, Fopp is now more my kind of shop.

I wind up in Forbidden Planet looking at things I have looked at before. I buy the Video Nasties book I saw a few weeks ago and finally bite the bullet on the American Splendor book (just after my little epiphany with the cbr yesterday). I ask about the Dave Cooper Weasel comic here and get sent to a comic shop on Old Compton Street ("oh really? What you saying?"). I plonder out of the shop deciding, the girl I find to drag into Forbidden Plant and still be interested is the girl for me. I wind up in Fopp but there's nothing new in there for me. There are also a couple of hippy, probably Scandinavian travellers making out in the shop, so repulsed I leave. I also get funny looks for another security guard yet again (maybe I'm paranoid). I go to the comic store on Old Compton Street and its in the basement somewhere and really good but ultimately full of comics I am to be honest completely uninterested in. I do the Borders thing but soon get nauseous and leave.

Eventually I land up in Virgin Megastore. The sale suckers me in but first it looks a good/safe bet for a coffee break, for some reason all other coffee houses appear packed and therefore intimidating to me, it being lunchtime and all. I go the basement and Cafe Nero and a large Friends' sized cappuccino. I pay about £2.40 and feel a complete sucker…..until however I taste the brew, it tastes so good. Sarah at Hays phones me and enquires as to how the interview went. I tell her good and get very enthusiastic at the position but she sounds very disappointed by the fact I was held up and turned up late. This is of course when she can hear me, behind Virgin has a booming big screen meaning I have to repeat myself about three times before she hears me. We give up on our phone call and she leaves me to finish my brew on the proviso she will call me later. I finish and join the queue for the bathroom, the men's is out of order so we're all queuing for the wheelchair facilities. A girl emerges from the women’s and goes “there’s no one in there, you can go inâ€?. Yeah right jail bait, I tell her “I don’t want to get arrestedâ€? and it makes her laugh. I still have it. Upstairs in the shop I buy CDs I don’t really want and probably will finally listen to in six months and then I am done and another wasted day in London is put out of its misery.

I get an early afternoon train back to Colchester and it is a breeze. I text Azmei about being interviewed by another Shah, making the joke "you might be related". Its all blah blah. On the train Hays attempt to phone me again but the signal is piss weak and once more the call gets discouraged, I tell her I'll phone her when I return home. As soon as I get back to Colchester I quickly pop into Asda to buy vitamins, Fructis and cereal.

When I get home to Bohemian Grove I check my PC and its still online and on my MSN Messenger list is Phoebe online. Strange, she said she could not do lunch today because she was going to be at a client's. She lied to me, she didn't want to do lunch. I go offline and speak to Sarah at Hays. She’s asking me whether I have considered working in North London. I reply “certainly� but by North London she is thinking Reading, Watford and further afield, I kid you not. She also mentions that the Slaven Jeffcote interview feedback was positive, they thought I took five minutes to get warmed up but then came out of myself. She says also that they made mention of my appearance, that I looked a bit bedraggled. I was chasing around like a blue arsed fly to get to that interview, running against the clock etc, I may have looked bedraggled because I was bedraggled. She says when she interviewed me she didn’t think it was an issue and I tell her “that’s harsh, I didn’t look like a pikey or anything�. And as I write this (three weeks later) this was the last time I spoke to her, read into that what you want.

With that little chore out of the way, I bite the bullet and hit Phoebe on MSN. Fear knocked at the door, faith answered and there was no one there. Phoebe is aces and sounds happy to hear from me. I seem to be making her laugh, even with my strange sense of humour that is not for everybody in earnest. She explains to me that she was at a client’s this morning. Excuse accepted. I keep going about the appearance comment thing, half joking and half serious. She jokily tells me I sound obsessed by it. I bet I do.

Eventually the afternoon turns into the evening and it is time for this weeks appointment with the good doctor. This weeks session is hard work. It is all about her telling me to find something to do that I really enjoy. Rightfully she scolds/criticising me for turning up late for the interview and my whole attitude towards it (which in my defense I think is city). This week it gets pointed out that I have gone off track again. The dynamic I have with my parents is pointed out, the whole only child scenario and how I am automatically placed at the bottom of the hierarchy due to that and how it is slipping into my everyday life and all my other relationships, how in those I also slip to bottom of the pile and how I just let it occur. Its happened in work, social, the record label, relationships with girls, when really I should have been taken the reigns and control while in actuality lesser people have been able take scope and override and basically take the piss. The session reverts to the finding myself suggestion. The good doctor suggests (tells me) I should quit my job (my career) and pursue what really makes me happy, one thing of which is to go to university. As if I could afford to get off the career ladder now, yeah right.

Once out of the session I go flying to Abberton where everyone is having a cricket practise. When I arrive, after getting semi lost/taking the worst imaginable route, Jack, Randy Pan and Melchard are already done and are leaving to go for a drink. Good idea, I only turned out in order to go to the pub afterwards. I remain behind with Stevo and Brian though to get some batting practise. Stevo tells me that each partner had individually asked him today where I was (officially I was taking a holiday day). I start out by batting right handed but that does go so I try out batting left hand (I used to swing the baseball bat left handed, considering myself to be a switch hitter, ho ho). I fair much better left handed and decide to go with it come our match next Tuesday. We practice for quite some time but I am also very worried about missing our chances at the pub!

By the time we are done and arrive at the Crown pub in Abberton, it is to the partners of the firm leaving. Fortunately, they are choosing to head into town and go for a drink there. Nice idea! Moves are made to meet up in Smiths. I drive back, following Brian and park up in the office car park. Brian and I head to Smiths and are the first people out to represent. I decide not to get super pissed tonight, just to take it easy but still be visible in drinking (too much think, not enough drink). God only knows where Stevo chooses to park up, he takes forever to turn/catch up and then he is dressed as if coming straight off the cricket pitch as opposed to the rest of us who have changed, Jack and Randy Pan even taking so long to change they must be getting dolled up. Eventually they arrive by which time Stevo is already well over the limit on drinks and gasping for more. Myself, I am slow and subtle, bursting for peanuts and probably somewhat boring in my seriousness brought on by not getting pissed up. While in Smiths, in trots Steve Whitton who used to manage Colchester United (and play for West Ham and Ipswich amongst others). The man looks pretty healthy and carefree with a clear conscience for a player that I never saw have a good game for Ipswich and a person than almost ran our hometown team into the ground. I've seen him in Smiths before (apparently he lives in Eight Ash Green near Dick) and as per usual I do my thing of texting Ben and telling him to come down and slap him. I don't know if it's down to Whitton but around this point Jimmy suggests that we move on ("it's a bit dead here").

Our original plan is to go to the Hogshead. Stevo is drinking away happily but doesn't appear to want to ask me if he can stay over and I don't feel like offering to let him stay, so when we leave Smiths, Brian as expected goes home but Stevo as unexpected also goes home. I head to the Hogshead with Jack and Randy Pan but it is Thursday night which is bad music night there and as soon as we reach there we see some duo doing a terrible Police cover version so we walk straight past and go into Roberto's Wine Bar. Last time I was here was with Syra, which was a real nightmare. It does concern me slightly just how many faces (faeces) I recognise in this place, my boss is a man about town and I get dragged into it occasionally.

A visit to Roberto's has been more fun (historically). Immediately Jack gets talking to a friend and a client (or is that client first, friend second). He begins doing the rounds and I and Randy Pan get stuck with some guy with property on Lexden Road boring the tits off the pair of us. By now I have pretty much given up on drinking and I am kinda quiet due to probably being out of my depth in this "adult" world. When it winds up being just me and Randy Pan in conversation I bring up the subject of Syra when he asks "how is Syra?" when he actually means Sara. I fucking snap at him, being aggressive more about her rather than towards him. I tell him that I know he had her calling the office for him and that it fuck things up for me with her. He acts in some kind of denial, telling me “she is bang up for it and I’d be taking her out�. Ultimately the conversation/information appears to be doing anything but registering with him. I hope I let him know I am steaming about the situation but who knows. I think I am unnerving the partners tonight, I am out but drinking slowly and subtly and basically not falling all over the place. I begin pushing the envelope with Randy Pan and suggest/insinuate that he (a 35 year old man) is dating his partner (a 40 year old woman) in order just to get her daughter (a 15 year old girl). Basically I am sarcastically accusing him of being a nonce, attempting to make him get defensive on me. I know its acting strange/weird but I’ve got the right arseholes with the man.

And then along comes another familiar face (to Jack), a gentleman taking a young lady out it seems. The guy turns out to be the landlord of the infamous Acme Arms and the young lady is jokingly referred to as the man’s daughter, as opposed to bit of stuff. Turns out though, the girl actually IS his daughter. Trollop. Incest. The girl gets chatty with Jack and asks if she can get a job in his (our) office. I jokingly chip in (wrongly) “hey, they’ve already taken on a pair of tits on once this week�, Jack jokes “two pairs of tits� and she grabs mine going “you’re all right then� and Jack pipes up “they’re the biggest in the office�. Screwed, I can only retort “second biggest, no one beats Andrea�. I am fucking obscene sometimes.

Faces disappear and I find myself left with the Father and Daughter team. Now there is legend of Iran getting barred from the Acme Arms so I ask them about it and it turns out that once he got so ratted, he threatened the Mother of the team, got barred and threatened to come back and set fire to the pub. Nice! This is the kind of dirt I want to hear. Eventually Jack and Randy Pan return from their schmooze and talk is made of moving on now that time has past eleven. Mention is made of Edwards but the Family man and girl want Chinese or basically any kind of food. The class act that I am, I suggest Bodrums, only jokily, but they decide to go for it. Ouch. The remainder of us get moved to a table near the door where Jack is working his shit on some ladies, two of whom I recognise. Randy Pan joins in and I sit still and quiet, next step is falling asleep for me. At this point the ladies I don't strictly recognise begin introducing themselves to me and I say "hi" but lack in conversation when it comes to sexualised women old enough to be my mother. The lady I know most out of this motley crew of three is a lady called Barbara who used to answer the phone at a New Town Colchester boudoir called Dollies (making her a Madame?).

With time reaching the witching hour (is that midnight?), Jack is to be found attempting to get these ladies to come home with him (us). I feel left in a state of limbo but Randy Pan says to me “come with us, it might get interesting�. A privileged invitation, kind of. We bundle into the Barbara woman’s car and it is kinda grotty and suddenly the shine of the Colchester high life dulls a little. I sit in the back with Randy Pan, by now fucking ratty drunk, jokingly taking blackmail photos of him with my mobile. He calls me a wanker and has a go at hitting me, prick to the end. By now the heavens have opened and outside the car it is a midnight storm but we have no way of getting into Jack's as he is nowhere in sight. Eventually Randy Pan and myself get thrown out onto the street (West Stockwell) and I find a doorway to shelter under, believing it to be Jack's. We stand there for minutes, waiting to gain access. Randy Pan begins attempting to thump and rough me up again when I suspect I am snarling some kind of abuse at him (my boss) about him being a pussy. Bastard though, he hits me without a second thought whereas I feel restricted in my retaliation towards my employer (biting the feeding hand and all that). As we tire of each other's company we begin banging on the door to get let in and the next door opens and Jack emerges. Whoops.

Jack has a fine house and I have now been inside it a number of times, each time stickier than the previous. Two years ago I found myself there until 5 in the morning at the aftermath of the Christmas meal when Randy Pan was attempting to fuck a coked up Sara and last summer at around 7 in the evening I found myself pissed as a fart giggling myself silly on Jack's sofa as I could hear him in the background (I believe) lining me up with a lady to sleep with wearing my Millwall shirt (honest). The sad aftermath of the second story though was that I passed out in the Roberts nightclub toilet and was thrown out before good times were allowed to occur.

The bosses at my company/firm are notorious for buying pink champagne in order to impress the ladies. Personally I think the beverage is gay and tastes like wee. Today/tonight however out comes a bottle of the real deal stuff. The most attractive of the three ladies works for (or maybe owns) a store in town called Acmemismo and initially plays it cool until Jack pulls out a bottle of plonk which she is aghast at him possessing as it is “her favourite wine and I am surprised anyone has it in their house�. This is primo stuff I am witnessing, suaveness in action. Want to learn about pulling birds for forty years, watch this guy in action. This whole scene and my appearance in it is complete weirdness to me, three males three females, is something going to happen?

Soon it becomes obvious the two ladies, whose names I forget, are vying for Jack's attention when really the “Madame� lady is acting a kind of manager/coaching role and Randy Pan and myself are just bit players/bystanders. I find myself on able to laugh at the absurdness of the whole situation……and dig into as much free hooch as possible. I begin to get involved in conversation and feel a bit mothered in the process. I use Phoebe as a topic of conversation so as not to appear completely impotent (although compared to this situation I probably am). Around 1.30/2.00 a taxi arrives to pick a fucked in the brains (but not in the pants) Randy Pan up. I’m not offered a lift but don’t expect one from that aggressive thug.

Around 2 in the morning my phone rings and it is Sara from Dubai. It is five in the morning out there and she sounds pissed, both drunk and angry. Turns out she has just had a phone call from the wife of the South African gentleman (her Mr Big, ho ho) who she has been fucking. What does she expect? The woman to phone her up and suggest they band together and take revenge on Leroy (Mr S.A.) like Thelma & Louise? Oh my. In the house, now just me, Jack and three women, they all think it is Phoebe calling me. It actually looks good in front of these people that I am being called at this hour, it looks like I have more of a life/social circle than I actually do have. I talk dirt with Sara with occasional pitch ins from Jack and the ladies until 2.30 when I leave Jack's house along with the ladies (I think). I walk home clutching my cellphone talking to Sara about things I can’t remember. At one point I walk under the Southway underpass and the signal cuts out. I feel left off with the conversation ended and then she goes and immediately rings me back! God, she is calling my mobile phone from Dubai, it must be costing her a packet. I get back to the office where my car is parked and so is Randy Pan's Jag. Needing a slash, I piss on my boss’s car, exacting revenge for the past two years of heartbreak he has caused me by being better at pulling work colleagues than I. Job done, I get in my own car and slump as Sara harps on and on, moan moan moan. I find myself with half a chubby in my pocket and begin asking Sara what she is wearing, asking her to talk dirty. She tells me how skanky she is in bed but all the same I enjoy it. I do the usual game of accusing her of loving me ("you lurve meeee!") and I do Bear At Bedtime impressions/voices and get away with saying the cheekiest dirt with her. Eventually the call ends at 3 AM (6 AM Dubai time) and I feel frazzled, my mind/brain fried from an hour of having a mobile phone pointed at my head (almost as harmful as having a gun pointed at one's head). I am very naughty as I drive home and get in just after 3 AM and put on the School Of Rock DVD (again!) and immediately fall asleep, clothed in the heat. Life's just a ride, this has to be real.

np: The Doors - Touch Me


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