Monday, July 25, 2011

Tact and Diplomacy.

One thing I’ve always been good at is diffusing potentially combustible situations.

The days in the murky world of Corporate Whoring plc continue to be dark, and I find myself attending yet another post-redundancy leaving party. It’s in honour of Uncannily Similar’s wife on this occasion. I know his feelings to be mixed – he’s worried about money, but is looking forward to not working in the same building as his wife. His reasons for that are his own.

Our venue is a tavern of low standing named The Smack Rat. Spirits are surprisingly high and strong drinks with equally high spirit content are consumed. As are even stronger drinks with only one ingredient.

I retire outside for a cigarette, soon to be joined by a couple of female colleagues. The cracked-tarmac street outside is as insalubrious as the venue.

The inevitable radge-packet weaves toward us, tracky-bottoms tucked into sport socks, shaven of head and belligerent as hell. He makes some unflattering comments, directed at the women.

I know exactly how to handle this. In a previous life I worked in the ‘licensed trade’ and have dealt with many a drunkard, despite – or because of - my less than towering height and slim build. Keep your voice low, steady and firm. No aggressive body language, do not encroach on personal space. Maintain regular eye-contact but don’t stare. Be polite, do not get annoyed. Easy.

Me: [Stepping to within 6 inches of his face and firmly planting my hand in the middle of his chest] Listen, chief. Why don’t you fuck OFF back home to your pregnant girlfriend and your fucking STAFFY BULL TERRIER?

I pause to consider my words. I feel I may have forgotten to include something. Ah. I know.

Me: You CUNT.

Astonishingly this does not have the becalming effect I imagined.

A split second later it occurs to me that the strong lager, stupid gay mojitos and tequila shots may have dulled my faculties a little. It’s possible I have misjudged the situation.

Suffice to say, after much escalated confrontation involving door-staff, several burly male colleagues and the two female colleagues insisting I hide behind their skirts, the radge is sent on his way and all are unscathed.

I am surprised that no-one thanks me for my intervention. I did, after all, heroically make myself the target for the ruffian’s ire, hence sparing the blushes of the ladies. None of whom swoon, but merely refer to me as a ‘cock’.

The following morning I resolve to work on my negotiating skills. Or to just never leave the house again.

Monday, July 11, 2011


“Do you know who I am?”

I’m in one of those road-side diners you find in dust-bowl shit-holes like Arizona, which is where I assume I am. I’m sat on a high stool at the counter drinking coffee, which I never do, and smoking a Chesterfield, which I never smoke.

I glance at the man who has just spoken. He’s catching the eye of the check-shirted woman behind the counter as he sits in the stool next to me.

Me: Yes. You’re the actor John Glover. You played the devil in that awful series ‘Brimstone’ they used to show late night on Channel 4.

The Devil: [very casually, given the gravity of the whole thing] No, I am the Devil. You just see me like this [gestures at himself] because this is how you imagine I’d look, you being an obtuse fucker who used to watch too much late-night television. No cloven-hooves or pitch-forks for you, you awkward twat.

It wasn’t actually that bad a show, just seemed to lose its way. If you wanted ‘bad’ you should have checked the king of late-night bad drama series ‘Highlander’. They put that on at about three o’clock. Adrian Paul – fuck – he made you look good.

TD: Yeah, it wasn’t me, it was the actor John Glover. I’m the Devil.

Me: Alright. Touchy.

TD: I have a deal for you.

Thought you might.

TD: It’s – [to the waitress] – could I get a black coffee? It’s simple. Two million pounds. In return for one memory.

Which one?

Well – [to the waitress] – thanks. A few months ago, your six-year old son and eight-year old daughter are staying with you for a few days. One afternoon, daughter goes to visit one of her old friends and your son and you spend time alone for only the second occasion in your lives. He chose to do so - knocking-about in the park, having your first falling-out, making-up, braying the hell out of each other in the soft-play centre, indoor-rock climbing and him generally thinking everything was awesome.

Me: Yeah, I remember.

Thoroughly sickening so far. So. Five in the morning, he has a bad dream, and clambers into the camp-bed you are sleeping in. That you have set-up in the spare room that is meant to be their room but you’re too much of a fuck-up to buy bunk-beds so they sleep in the double-bed in your room –

Me: HEY. They’re not cheap, bunk-beds. There’s a recession on. I’m not earning ..

TD: Whatever. I can fix all that for you. So there’s no room at all in this camp-bed, and he lies flat-out on top of you and he’s not a little boy anymore but he knows just being close to you will make the bad dream go away and you spend the night with your arms wrapped around him smelling his hair in your face and just as you’re about to sleep at six in the morning his sister wakes and climbs in as well and the camp-bed creaks and you think it’ll break and you can’t remember the last time you were so tired and so happy?


Two million pounds. Buy a house. And some decent beds. And a little flat near where they live so they don’t always have to travel hundreds of miles just to spend a couple of nights with you. Just that one memory.

Me: I’m quite fond of that one, as it happens. And we're talking about two million IMAGINARY POUNDS - this ISN'T EVEN HAPPENING.

You’re a prick, do you know that?

You're not the first to have mentioned it.

TD: Fucking time-waster. Cock. See you around.

You were great in ‘Heroes’…

TD: That wasn’t me, that was the actor John Gl….oh fuck off.
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