Thursday, 18 November 2010

Date Night Camden Part 2

Kali and I agreed to meet up again two weeks after our first outing... we texted, chatted on Facebook and tweeted each other in the subsequent time and it was all very flirty, light-hearted and fun.
We once more decided to converge on Camden Town on another Saturday night... as I recall Kali arrived a little late at the station! Her train was delayed and she sent me the following text ‘Hey train has gone wrong way, really sorry I’ll b a bit late! Please don’t go without me or I’ll have to go 2 my friend’s fancy dress party in a cheese club:0 X’
I replied not to worry I’d wait and I just stood at the station.
I couldn’t help but watch all the people waiting at the station slowly drift off with the guy or girl they were waiting for... I started to grow a little impatient... but then suddenly she arrived. Kali immediately apologised and offered to get the first drink to make up for it.
Strolling down the high street I wanted to put my arm around her but felt a bit awkward so we just walked and talked.
Kali suggested we try a different pub and I agreed... we eventually settled on a pub just next to Camden lock. Kali once again demonstrated her uncanny ability to find tables and seats and we sat outside and had a few drinks.
It was at this point she tried to explain to me her love for grime and all manor of different artists such as Bashy, Wiley, Example etc. I sat opposite as Kali attempted to convey to me the finer points of grime.
I couldn’t help but display my total indifference to a genre of music totally lost on me. I found it rather odd that this girl who looked every inch the rock chick could be into a genre of music I would typically associate with hoodies and people who use phrases like ‘blood’ and ‘bredryn’
As it got a bit colder we moved inside and got a few more drinks and Kali once again located seats (you need to see her in action at this! Mere words cannot articulate what an art form she has turned this into) Kali removed her coat and I was instantly aroused. I whispered to her ‘You’ve got such a sexy body.’ Kali smiled at me and made a joke about me needing to talk to women for 20 odd minutes before I kissed them! No further invitation was needed and we shared a lingering snog I then put my arm around her fiercely.
The music in our chosen pub rose to deafening levels so we left. We went back to the same pub we spent the whole night in two weeks before. We sat at the back and just spent the whole night pulling, drinking and talking.
That’s when I came up with my ingenious idea... if there was one major negative about Kali is that she followed Spurs a team I have a particular disdain for...for so many reasons mainly because their supporters are so very arrogant about a glorious past but the fact that they haven’t won a meaningful trophy for 20 odd years doesn’t matter they are still the ‘biggest’ and ‘best’ in all of London town! (Rant over) And I being a supporter of the country’s favourite under-dog West Ham...with the two clubs meeting soon I smelt an opportunity... if Spurs won I had to do a dare and vice versa. The fixture now had an added spice and importance particularly as I already had my dare for Kali lined up! And I feared what she would be cooking up in that oh so dirty mind of hers!
Our bet was settled and we moved onto other topics of conversation and Kali stunned me when she told me she had a child I believe these words to be verbatim ‘Dude do you realise I have a child?’
I didn’t but it didn’t change anything I liked her and everything that encompassed. So I wasn’t as freaked as you may imagine. We carried on drinking and Kali put both her legs upon my lap and I held them as I looked deep into her eyes before succumbing to yet another snog.
Whilst kissing Kali for the umpteenth time I totally oblivious to the world around us was suddenly given a rude awakening by a bouncer who whispered into my lughole that we had to tone it down or we were out... shock, surprise and embarrassment began to course throughout my vessel.
The looks we copped from our fellow pub enthusiasts from that moment were of the type that you typically associate with murderers, terrorists and the mentally deranged...
After a few more drinks and some toned down pulling we decided to leave and get something to eat. We wound up in KFC and Kali ordered 6 pieces of chicken! We split them 3 a piece and sat outside on Camden High Street and consumed them quickly.
Kali then suddenly and somewhat dramatically asked me what I wanted from ‘this’ I was flummoxed; I usually have a quip or a witty response to almost anything but for once I didn’t want to put on a show and I responded honestly and thusly ‘I really like you’ and to my delight Kali reciprocated.
We shared a tender hug and she took my hand lead me into the backstreets of Camden and we shall I say fooled around a bit... It was great I wanted so much and just to be away from prying eyes and pub bouncers for a couple of hours was truly liberating.
It was now really late I’m talking around 4am; Kali and I sat down on the cold concrete and huddled for warmth. We just talked for a bit until she eventually drifted off into the land of slumber. I however was still wide awake! But Kali looked so peaceful sort of like an angelic pixy! I just couldn’t wake her... so whilst she lay on my lap I just watched her sleep and marvelled at how peaceful, cute, beautiful and sexy looked at that moment.
Kali eventually woke a couple hours later and thanked me for her couple of hours of sleep with a longing kiss; her lips felt so soft and tender that I was instantly alert and standing to attention!
She suggested we go to get some coffee and we wound up at a burger king in Leicester Square.
We sat down with a couple of cups and with my arm around her we just talked about nothing and everything really, we would only break off for the odd kiss which was so much more tender and longing as opposed to ferocity and passion of the night before.
After sitting and just watching the world go by for a bit Kali told me she had to work and we should go... we strolled out of that burger king arm in arm (almost Kali’s hand was ever so slightly down my jeans but I wasn’t complaining!)
We got on the train and just pulled all the way till Kali got off at Waterloo.
I totally wiped out by this point got the train back to the Stow and just about made it through the front door before collapsing on my bed.
I just lay there but I couldn’t drift off... I couldn’t wipe an ever broadening smile off my face as thoughts of Kali and another great night with her illuminated my consciousness. I gradually fell asleep still in my clothes inhaling her wondrous scent.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Date Night Camden Town

After getting in touch with Kali through the wonderful medium of Facebook, we agreed to meet for a drink in good ol’ Camden Town; I suggested Camden as it holds so many great memories for me from sneaking into the ol’ Camden Palace when I was just 15 years of age, progressing further up Camden High street to Underworld at about 17 and then coming full circle when Camden Palace became KOKO.
I had spent most of my adolescence in Camden and was very comfortable within its truly unique surroundings.
Camden also has a great array of pubs and restaurants so it was the perfect place for a date... I also had a hunch that judging by her pink hair and facial piercings Kali would have knowledge of Camden and its alternative culture!
Kali and I agreed to meet at Camden Town station at 20:30 I keen to make a good impression arrived some 30 minutes early! So I just wandered up and down Camden high street listening to Up The Bracket by the Libertines on my MP3. As I walked up and down the high street I couldn’t help but simultaneously stroll down memory lane... the nostalgia Camden holds for me is so powerful that each step is laced with drunken memories of jumping around carelessly to indie music in Underworld, KOKO, the now defunct Camden Palace and that one time we strayed into Purple Turtle surrounded by leather and PVC in our converse and denim!
After wandering for a bit I saw it was around 20:30 so I went to the station and waited for Kali... a few moments later there she was; just as I remembered... the pink hair shining defiantly mocking the social conventions of blonde, brunette and red head. She was wearing a large black coat which hid the body that I couldn’t take my eyes off a week or so before.
After some rather stunted and awkward conversation we popped into the World’s End (perhaps not the best name of a pub for a first date) I got us a couple of pints whilst Kali found us a table.
The music being played had turned the pub into something of a cauldron! Kali and I could barely coherently exchange verbal’s. So after a swift pint we ventured further down the high street to another drinking hole.
Kali then displayed an uncanny ability to find seats! As we arrived at the next pub we discovered it was packed but she used her eagle like precision to seize a table just as a few people left and bang we were in!
Kali got a round in and at last took off her coat and my gaze was transfixed once more on her lovely, petit body and for the first time in the night I allowed myself to relax.
Kali and I talked about a variety of subjects...we started off on books and films. We had quite similar tastes. I remember being a bit taken back by her knowledge of Jack Kerouac’s On The Road a book that I read a couple of years ago and that if I tried to talk to my mates about would probably want to change the subject as soon as.
Kali instead listened whilst I explained the novel to her and what I loved about it; the freedom, the casting aside of the status quo, forgetting about the conformities and conventions that society forces upon us to suit its own interests! Kerouac just travelled around the good ol’ US of A having adventures with his buddy my literary hero Dean Moriarty.
As the night got older and Kali and I were on about pint 4 or 5 the lingering looks we were giving each other became just that little bit longer and that little bit more frequent... I would literally look into Kali’s eyes for about 4 or 5 seconds without saying anything and she would meet my gaze. This occurred various times until I just thought ‘fuck it’ and we both leaned in and shared a passionate and raw kiss.
Soon as it was over I remember the exact words I said ‘I’ve been wanting to do that since the moment I met you.’
For the rest of the night conversation was out and drunken, passionate snogging was well and truly in. Kali and I just continued to pull relentlessly into the night... she then managed to both shock and turn me on with her shall I call it suggestive statements and downright dirty talk!
The night was rapidly ascending into the best of my 2010 so far; I couldn’t get enough off her... on the one hand she seemed really sweet, cute and vulnerable and on the other she seemed like this insatiable and dirty vixen who wanted to do unspeakable acts to me!
Kali and I continued to drink pints and even the odd Jaeger bomb until the pub closing time.
I remember this part vividly I was so engrossed in pulling Kali that the bouncer actually had to lean over into my ear and tell me it was closing time to get me to break my clinch with her!
Both Kali and I were how shall I say pissed out of our respective trees! As soon as we got outside she grabbed my arm and I kissed her with a ferocity I hadn’t displayed towards a woman for a number of years.
Kali told me she needed to get to her brothers in Manor House and I being the gentleman that I am insisted I’d get her there... not an easy task when you’re as inebriated as the two of us were! We ended up asking the good people of Camden for their help and eventually we got pointed in the right direction.
We jumped on a bus to Manor House and whilst we stood I just held Kali in my arms and kissed her gently on her head full of glorious pink hair.
A tender show of affection amidst all the drunken chaos.
As we got off the bus somewhere in the darkness of North London Kali insisted I could stay over at her brother’s it sounded crazy to me as I hadn’t even met the geezer...but I was so tempted... I sobered up a bit by that point and realised it would’ve been more than a bit awkward!
We eventually found her brother’s place and I met him a big, burly bear of a man! Wouldn’t want to be on the receiving end of that punch! My tiny by comparison East London frame would’ve bloodied the streets of the capital if he caught me with his sister!
So after an entire night of pulling, groping and suggestiveness Kali and I said goodnight with a handshake! For her brother’s benefit of course...not sure how he would’ve responded with me pulling Kali and slipping a hand or two down her jeans!
So with Kali safely at her brother’s I jumped on a couple of night busses back to Walthamstow; eager to fill my mates in on what had been arguably my greatest night in Camden Town.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Pink hair and Piercings

A burst of pink
A petit bundle of passion,
Allure and excitement.
Hits me as the summer gently cascades.
Soft features adorned with piercings which subtly hint at a daring, uninhibited and wild soul.
Lingering looks the prelude to the submitance of a
Longful lust.
In her presence all rationale is lost.
Daring, spontaneity and endless possibilities
My north star.
I desires...
Unsatisfied... fully as yet.
To lose myself in her ecstasy,
To cherish every glorious inch.
To fully submit and allow ourselves to be entwined into
Sporadic bliss.

V festival
The year 2010 had so far been a bit of the same ol’ shit, the social life was on the wane, the agency work still demeaning and frustrating, the glorious escape of the radio gig on hiatus and a group of mates who were gradually drifting in different directions.
My ol’ pal Alex suggested we catch the Sunday at V festival I knew instantly I couldn’t really afford it... the agency work had been sparse throughout the summer and had left the ol’ wallet dryer than Oscar Wilde... but once I checked out the line up... Faithless and Prodigy almost back to back... Fuck it was my mantra ‘I’ll go and just worry about how to afford it later’ my battle cry!
Despite Alex putting the offer out to the whole group... only Danny and I responded positively; it merely further proved that as a group of mates we were sadly drifting. I’m quite lucky in that all my mates are from really diverse backgrounds... we literally come from all over the world from China, India, Pakistan, Italy, Cyprus... we are essentially the united colours of Benetton! In fact it still amazes me how we’ve never been snapped up for an advert.
And whilst this diversity is great and I feel it has given me the wonderful ability to just not see colour... the very differing backgrounds from which we all dwell is probably what’s driving us apart now; we are all now starting to realise how different we all are and that’s reflecting in the fact that as time goes by we see less and less of each other.
With the year gently winding to the end (I have this theory about as soon as August is over you’re basically in free-fall to x-mas and new year as the ‘ber’ months go by notoriously quickly.)
I wasn’t about to let this opportunity slip... so the morning of 22nd of August I linked up with Danny and Alex and we ventured down to Chelmsford.
Upon arriving at Chelmsford we were welcomed by a barrage of women handing out wristbands with V Festival 2010 emblazoned on them; I received three, Alex two and Danny just one... I made a joke about the women subconsciously ranking us which didn’t go down too well with Danny and Alex!
All of this talk of V festival is essentially irrelevant... we wandered around, we drank cider, we had a few laughs and a few spliffs as you’d expect from three likely lads such as ourselves.
The Kooks had just finished their set; which I adored. I still listen to inside in/inside out occasionally and it just reminds me of Uni and simpler times... when my life was basically determined by going out with my mates to pubs, clubs, gigs etc and not having to worry about the ever looming ‘real world’
That’s when she came over... what could on be described as a pixy suddenly was talking to me, intriguing me; she was cute and her pink hair was alluring, daring and exciting. I was fascinated by every word uttered from her pierced tongue. I couldn’t shift my field of vision from her lovely petit body.
At that moment I just wished my mates weren’t around so I could flirt unashamedly and in an uninhibited fashion that would’ve either impressed her or just plain scared her off. She revealed her name to be Kali and we just talked about music, to my relief she revealed herself to be a Libertines fan; this is a little test I administer when I’m talking to someone I don’t know about music. If they get the true intricacies, subtlety and genius behind the absolute Indie legends that are Pete Doherty and Carl Barat then they pass, if they’re one of the philistines that dismiss them as a couple of druggies who’s songs all sound the same I turn away from them with a distain I usually reserve for all supporters, followers and general hangers on of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.
Suddenly I’d forgotten about my chums, hell I’d even forgotten about V festival and the only thought in my mind was ‘I so want to see this girl again, you know in a somewhat social climate, over a drink or two, she can talk and then I’ll talk and we’ll get to know each other until we succumb to a drunken snog/grope fest.’
I don’t know if it was side effect from the weed, or the mixing weed with alcohol but I was rooted to the spot! I felt this immense anxiety coursing throughout my body, the very idea of asking her out and the possibility of getting shot down in front of mates gripped me and began to take charge of my consciousness. Whilst the rest of the crowd were waiting impatiently for Faithless I was attempting to shrug off the shackles of fear which had gripped me... stroll over to Kali all confident like and say something like... ‘Hey Kali could I buy you a drink sometime?’
I knew Kali was leaving as she had mentioned she would be watching the Doves who were on the a different stage at the same time; so with time running out, Faithless about to start and Kali getting ready to leave, a real pressure cooker situation was developing...and I only came to see Faithless, Prodigy and escape from the tedium which was plaguing my life!
Kali however didn’t have any trouble however walking over to me and asking and I believe these words to be verbatim... ‘Can I stalk you?’ and cynics will have you believe romance is dead! I gave her my name whilst still in the midst of a drunken, high haze. I watched her walk away and quickly went over to Alex and asked him ‘what did you think of her?’
He answered ‘she seemed nice.’

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Final Chapter?!

With my faith waning in the belief that meaningful employment which would allow me to progress into the world of media and journalism was just around the ol’ proverbial… I needed a way out, an escape from Albion and all the problems and lack of opportunity that dwell within these realms.
And then it dawned… a way out of the interminable dross that was and still is the employment scene in these United Kingdoms… TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language) incase you’re not too familiar with this particular concept I shall explain: As we all know English is one of the most spoken languages used on this planet we call Earth; well as natural purveyors of this language there is a course you can do varying in hours and expense in which you can learn how to teach English to those who wish to learn all over the world! Now who wouldn’t be interested in such an opportunity?!
Late in 09 I decided that’s it I’m going to work my arse off save up do the course and then take a job in Barcelona teaching gorgeous, cultured, uninhibited and effortlessly sexy Spanish sorry Catalonian women (who all happen bear a striking resemblance to Miss Penelope Cruz in my mind’s eye.) It all sounded perfect… leaving behind dreary, samey and routine like London for a climate change in every sense; and saving would of course be easy! For once the fact that my social life was ebbing towards its dying embers would be to my advantage.
Well by way of sod’s law (would love to know who christened such a term) the social life actually started to under go a renaissance; would you Adam and Eve it! Yes I still unable to say no to a night out despite the Utopia I could picture waiting for moi in Iberian paradise went on a series of night outs from late September including birthdays, dinners, clubs, gigs etc till about mid November; it was as if for 5-6 weeks I was all of a sudden the recklessly social 19 year old that I thought had been lost under the weight of fear of the future.
This period I termed as my ‘crest of the wave’ because it couldn’t possibly last and I figured I might as well ride it till the waters calmed once more.
One night in particular of this period still reverberates and was in many ways the peak of the wave. It was Halloween 09 and I along with a couple of mates was heading out to Underworld located right in the heart of Camden Town…Underworld incase you’re unaware is a night club small in stature which pumps out the latest in contemporary indie music; it is also a relic of those early carefree years between 17-19 I would frequent the venue and lose myself in a sea of indie disco heaven.
The mates I went with named Alex and Danny are two people shall I say who haven’t been affected as I have by the recession; Alex has been settled in a restaurant for the last few years as a waiter and Danny graduated university and found a job and salvation at betfair in 2007.
Throughout the night I had to endure them talking about their girlfriends, their holidays (in Thailand and Turkey respectively) how they managed to spend just £800 on flights and accommodation. Swapping holiday stories, discussing where they were going next year etc. I had nothing to contribute so I just sat there taking in all their merriment whilst sipping eternally on a JD and coke longing for the subject to change to football or music or even Haruki Murakami’s novel Norwegian Wood!
The reason I mention all this is I want you to be able to understand the state of mind I was in upon entering Underworld.
After a few drinks inside I was desperate for some type of validation, some kind of escape from the recession-ridden path I was forced to walk. Never before had the gap in quality of life between my mates and me been so prevalent; they knew it, I knew it and I was determined to during the great leveller that a night-club can be seek my own form of temporary redemption.
Whilst on the dance floor with my two mates in tow I got the attention I so craved, so desired, longed and lusted for… the source however wasn’t the shining light I needed but instead was more of symbol of my desperation.
A rather large woman came boogying towards me; her eyes wide, her hair short and black, her attire pieced together from discarded curtains. She was a good couple of inches taller than me and a dozen or so inches wider! Not to mention that she was in her mid to late thirties at least.
Suddenly there she was dancing in front of me eager for me to pick up the baton…
I wish I could say I managed to resist or that I was blind drunk but that would simply be a fabrication… without thinking I picked up the baton and ran.
I put my arms around her considerable frame avoiding eye contact as if somehow that meant it wasn’t real. After a song or two I just thought fuck it! I’ve gone this far down the track I might as well go a little further.
I leant over and kissed her on cheek and she proceeded to giggle after which we tried to establish a dialogue, which just amounted to each of us merely pretending we’d heard what the other had said.
With my mates seemingly out of the picture off to bar (I’d seen Alex mime the drinky drinky motion) I leaned in and pulled her; as with all guys when you pull a girl you first start off with your hands by her sides, then slip them down to her arse your hands will just rest there for a moment cupping each buttock in one hand then we’ll slowly work our hands up to her tits giving them a fair ol’ grope all whilst maintaining the snog and this ritual groping is just as important as the engaging of tongues.
But with this woman who’s subsequently become known as ‘Valuev’ (the fight was the next weekend and once I revealed she was Eastern European the moniker was inevitable, Danny even suggested that I being a comparatively small Black guy and she being a tall eastern European it literally looked like…)
I simply kept my hands up by her ample sides for obvious reasons.
Did pulling this woman provide me with the satisfaction and validation that I so desperately craved that night I hear you cry?! Did it provide adequate escapism from a life a galaxy away from where I wanted it to be?! Did I suddenly feel I was on par with Danny and Alex in life stakes?! No would be the simple and rather obvious answer to those questions; I went onto snog her a few more times before she ventured off with her friends and we ‘agreed’ to reconvene on the dance floor for ‘round two.’
Needless to say I’ve taken a fair bit of stick for such a fois pas; in hindsight wasn’t she wasn’t ‘Valuev’ a physical manifestation to how low I’d sunk, how desperate in every sense I had now become?
Danny, Alex and every so often some geezer you vaguely remember from secondary school who you become ‘friends’ with on Facebook and you discover they’re married, engaged or happen to be the assistant manager at C&J Clarks and you can’t help but wonder when did ‘appen? When did everyone suddenly go off and get a better life than me? How is it that he’s marrying an adult human female he professes to love? Whilst I’m making do with whoever shows the vaguest bit of interest in me in some grotty little discotheque!
I mean did someone literally start giving out handbooks as to how to get the job and girl that you so desire by the age of 24 but whilst this was occurring I was at home wanking over whatever tart ‘appened to be on Babestation?!
The thought of running into anyone I knew from Rushcroft Secondary and having THAT conversation in which we attempt to in the space of five minutes divulge the significant events that have occurred within our lives over the space of the last 7-8 years. Is a disturbing one.
I can have a decent 3 quarters worth of a conversation about going to college and then onto university but that’s where it ends; I do not believe there is a pleasant or eloquent way of describing how upon graduating from university in May 2008 I have spent the past 19 odd months looking desperately for respectable employment but thanks in no small part to a worldwide recession and rising unemployment figures this has proved to be a nigh impossible task so I work casually as a Steward/Waiter, still live at home and wake up everyday to this rather depressing reality which inevitably means I wont pass up the opportunity to ‘escape’ through the means of drink, drugs and whatever member of the opposing sex gives me a green light.
I do however find this whole situation I and millions of other recent graduates find ourselves in rather funny perhaps even ironic… all through secondary school and laterally college its drummed into you incessantly that University is the pinnacle, ‘you get a degree and you’ll earn x amount more…’ Higher education the essential ladder you must climb to where you want to be, to be content, to be that spivvy cunt.
But on the odd occasion I do run into people from my ol’ school it tends to be the ones who found work straight after school or college that are now thriving; settled in a job, renting their own place, have a few grand tucked away, a world away from this interminable dross, this perpetual purgatory within which the vast majority of recent graduates dwell.
Is a shift in the balance of power in the offing? Will recent graduates upon the world waking from its recession induced slumber be the ones who are holding all the cards? Are these 19 odd months we’ve had to endure (so far) us merely wandering through the desert to reach the promised land?! Salaries, renting our own places, when asked what you do for a living being able to answer with assurance and pride instead of the ol’ vitriol about how you’re a ‘recent graduate’ just doing agency work till you break into your chosen field.’
Will we look forward to those catch up conversations? See them as a glorious opportunity to boast how after a couple of rocky years those degrees paid dividends, came good in the end.
That all does sound rather lovely but how would we all cope without the squalor to which we’ve become so accustomed?

As I sit and I write these words at 14:38 on 14/1/10 I do possess the renewed optimism that only a new year can bring. My plan now revolves around getting that TEFL qualification as I’ll only require a 20 hour (£195) certificate to teach this wonderful language of ours in the Czech city of Prague.

Perhaps upon returning to Albion I’ll have another crack at that Journalism lark.

The past 19 odd months have seen the glorious university bubble well and truly burst… a world of agency work, recruitment agencies and applying for endless jobs online have become life as I and millions of other recent graduates know it.
By writing this novel it was my attempt to provide an insight into what life is like for recent graduates at a time where genuine job opportunities are increasingly sparse; its also been my salvation as I have so much free time; writing about my experiences over the past year and a half has proved cathartic and proof to myself that I’m not a steward or a waiter; but that I am a writer.
What does the next 19 odd months have in store? Que sera, sera but I’ll be perfectly content if its so formulaic that I couldn’t possibly write another novel based upon it.

By Kwame Boakye.

Recruit Event Services

As I mentioned earlier in this tale I work for two different agencies and now is the turn of Recruit Event Services to step forward for its look under the ol’ microscope.
I first joined Recruit whilst still at the wonderful lil’ bubble known as UEL Docklands Campus; casual work, not too taxing, could up the shifts if uni work was sparse and could dial ‘em down when the work was racking up ‘appy days!
Recruit Event Services is an agency, which specialises in supplying stewards for events but mainly for footy matches and concerts.
The job itself is simple: stand there in an all consuming and particularly unflattering orange coat/waist-coat with STEWARD emblazoned across the back in capital letters and that’s it. You stand there for usually around 5-6 hours answering the odd question and that’s that! The real battle ensues on a mental level with literally having nothing to do, no-one to talk to, standing in the same spot with the soles and balls of your feet begging you for respite from the pressure of standing upright in heels, your back in cahoots with the feet starts to ache in another ploy to alleviate the pressure, with all this going on you constantly check your phone on the sly (because if you get caught that’s a ticking off) to check how long until your shift is over. And staring at your phone in disbelief as only twelve minutes have passed since you last checked.
Perhaps the most difficult aspect is one particular piece of the uniform and that is the clip on tie. I believe it was The Libertines who once decreed in their legendary indie anthem Time For Heroes “there are few or more distressing sights than that of an Englishman in a baseball cap.” Well I urge messers Doherty and Barat to revise those lyrics as the sight of anyone regardless of nationality, colour or creed in a clip on tie is just as distressing if not more so.
The job is simple it’s the supervisors who make it more difficult than it needs to be. Permit me to paint you a picture… last summer/autumn (2008)- the band was the Kings of Leon, the song was Sex On Fire and I was working at Wembley Arena for their gig (I must confess when I booked it I was just looking forward to earning a crust whilst slipping into the auditorium and listening to classics like Red Morning Light.) Upon arriving I was told I’d be helping check tickets; I hadn’t done it before but I thought ‘just another gig.’ nothing to worry about.
That line of thinking was dissolved as soon as I step into this tiny little room at the arena used for a ‘special briefing.’ Its at this moment I’d like you all to picture that scene from that Nazi film that’s been doing the rounds on the net for a few years, where Hitler and his head honcho’s and henchmen are discussing how their plans for worldwide domination are experiencing the odd hiccup from the good ol’ allies; it all seems to get very animated as Hitler refuses to believe his grand design might be about to be reined in.
Well that’s essentially what went on in that tiny room… the supervisors systematically made what was ‘supposed’ to be a simple night: in which I’d just gawp at the pretty little rock chicks and listen to the odd classic from the band of the moment into ironically a night so stressful it wasn’t worth the hassle; one by one they proceeded to go through the dangers such a night would bring, for example: being the hottest ticket of the summer counterfeit tickets were going to be all the rage; to distinguish between a fake and genuine took the mastering of some sort of machiavellian code of numbers and letters. The caveat to this little trinket of information is if there were too many people in the standing section the gig could be closed down and that we as ticket checkers would carry the can; this revelation in itself provided an interesting little paradox… would it necessarily be a bad thing to get sacked from a job I didn’t particularly enjoy? But where on earth will I find another job in the middle of a bleeding recession!
To my relief the night passed off without too much of a hitch and I even abandoned my post as soon as I heard the opening riff to Sex on Fire and I just stood there in my fluorescent blue and orange waist-coat and absorbed the anthem of the year… oh how I longed to be in the crowd with all the pissed teens and fellow twenty-somethings; wearing a pair of skinny jeans, pointy shoes and a red and black checked shirt (the official uniform for a Kings Of Leon gig) Its only natural now that I can’t help but idealise the period of your life ages about 17-21 when you have your student loan, you’re going out with your mates three times a week to gigs, clubs, pubs etc. you don’t have any real problems, issues and concerns and the future is something you just don’t worry about ‘when it comes, it comes.’ Funny how as little as 2-3 years ago I was right in the thick of that scene and now at only 23 going on 24 it just seems like another world; one that I was never really part of.

Working at the grand ol’ Wembley arena is easy/difficult depending on the event… if its an Artic Monkeys sell out then expect a night of overly loud, aggressive, inebriated folk, who are just going to be spilling beer all night and the odd drunken punch up would be a distinct possibility. To quote the Artic’s at this point from the song a Certain Kind Of Romance ‘and just ‘cos he had a couple of cans he thinks its alright to act like dickhead.’ Its as if they managed to in one sentence surmise the attitude of the male contingent who go to their gigs!
Compare that to a bunch of ol’ dears who come down to see Cliffy Richard… now that’s a relaxing night although having said that the last time I worked at a Cliff Richard concert I was told to keep checking on the ol’ people within my section as due to the strobe lighting and the fact many of ‘em get a little over excited during his performances that there have been the occasional death at his concerts… who’d have thought Cliffy Richard should come with a health warning?
There are certainly goings on to keep you entertained at the arena though; for instance whatever the event particularly when bands perform its as if the arena acts as a magnet to all fit young women in their teens and twenties usually of the Blonde and Brunette persuasion to come down wearing low cut tops, short skirts, cleavage and arse hand in hand competing for the attention of the masses.
So picture me all single, pathetic and desperate and all these young girls running around ANY of them would do… but there I am in my blue and orange stewards waist-coat which is actual girl repellent. It’s all they can see: I defy any man even Russell Brand or Charlie Sheen to look cool, desirable or sexy in that get-up.
And even if the temptation grew to the point to of trying it on with one of these freshest of face adult human females... invariably I can guess what would ‘appen next: an awkward sort of ‘no thanks’ a dirty look. 3-4 minutes later some spivvy looking gentleman comes roaring over and launching a volley of verbal at you till a supervisor comes over the guy yelling at you happens to be banging the young lady whose tits, arse and legs captured the attention of your lustful eye; he explains all. You’re taken to one side and told ‘that’s unacceptable you’re fired.’ (That’s the condensed version you’d be reamed for a good few minutes before the actual bullet was fired.) Since the glorious days that were UEL docklands campus Journalism and Creative writing course 2005-2008 ended and with it the ol’ student loan working for Recruit Event Services has been my primary source of income; its not worth risking it all for a hot piece of arse and a disgruntled spivvy looking cunt.
Its at this point I would like to describe for you a hot young medic who is a permanent fixture at the Arena…
She’s quite tall, flowing multi-tonal Blonde hair, a pretty face that just screams ‘I’m middle class and enjoy the works of Sylvia Plaith.’ And a pair of legs what would even rival queens of gams Alesha Dixon. The reason I bring up this pretty little medic is because she’s the focal point of one the more surreal things I’ve witnessed at the arena… now of course a girl such as her is going to court the attention of many an onlooker nothing out the ordinary there.
Permit me to explain; I was working the recent Gladys Knight concert and my supervisor that day was a guy called Artinal aka ‘chubby.’ Now this geezer was about 5ft5, bald, about two stone over weight, gap-toothed, in his mid to late thirties and possessed a strong Caribbean accent which through no fault of his own constantly sounded menacing. Now something I should explain about the agency industry is everyone can be divided in the following categories hard-man and comedian; by this I mean there are those who find that having a laugh, a joke and find that operating in a serene and calm manner is the most effective way of working with the staff. The hard-man philosophy is literally based upon the logic that intimidation, degradation and instilling fear in the staff through verbal jousts is the most effective way of communicating with their staff. ‘Chubby’ was most definitely a card carrying member of the hard-man fraternity.
During the briefing he was short, he was loud and overbearing a classic example of this and oh how he revelled in it was when the subject of breaks was raised he told us and I believe this to be verbatim “if you ask me about breaks, I will look at you, look away and then walk away. I’ve already done it today and the management have no problem with me doing this, so don’t ask! Because it will happen.’
The look of arrogance and contempt transfixed on his features was unsettling; I decided after that little speech ‘if he has a pop just bite that lip for all you’re fucking worth.’
I headed to my position and just waited for all the people living their lives to arrive and after a while just waiting around with my level of boredom coming on gradually sort of like some sort an ecstasy pill. When I witnessed something as compelling as it was disturbing… as the pretty little medic I mentioned earlier was doing her rounds ‘Chubby’ walking behind her just spanked her pert little arse! She turned around and he was just smiling she didn’t seem too impressed and he just continued to follow her down the corridor desperately trying to talk to her, to flirt with her, to get a rise out of her. Picture it this pretty, tall young white woman in early twenties being harassed by this short, little, bald, fat black geezer.
I naturally became intrigued with this little subplot and kept an eye on the situation for the rest of the night… and each time I saw the pretty little medic ‘Chubby’ wasn’t too far behind snapping away at her heels. The look in his eyes one of desperation, lust and delusion and look in hers one of contempt, disgust and frustration.
Watching this oh most bizarre of scenarios I was constantly reminded of the ol’ yellow pages advert; the one where the little kid has to stand on the yellow pages to kiss a girl who just happens to be a giant compared with little ol’ him. Never occurred to me how embarrassing that must’ve been. Wouldn’t surprise me if the kid from that commercial is in rehab somewhere… poor little sod.
I don’t think I can accurately convey just how hilarious it was watching this girl wander up the corridor and then five seconds later watch this chubby little geezer gaining on her a desperate look in his eyes.
Funnily enough after watching that whole episode unfold in front of me it’s very hard to take ol’ ‘Chubby’ seriously his threats-empty, his menacing accent-soft, the crazy wild eyed look- puppy dog eyes lusting after a girl who was mid-table Premier League whilst he’s bottom half Blue Square Prem.
‘Chubby’ however is a mere pup… the actual bitch of the arena is a woman known only as Pat…straw-like platinum blonde hair, a face with more wrinkles than an un-ironed dicky dirt and a gap-toothed grimace all neatly tucked way under a navy blue blazer. Earlier in this novel o’ mine I mentioned people who get a little bit of power in an ultimately meaningless job and it goes to their head; due to a lack of personal success within their life. Pat is the embodiment of my theory.
From what I can gather about her Pat was originally a steward for Recruit centuries ago and gradually over the years worked her way through the ranks to reach the position of a senior supervisor.
Now I can’t believe for one second this is really what she wanted to do with her life so its my theory that she didn’t get the breaks/doors were closed or in some cases never even opened. She grew bitter and angry and now when she looks upon the fresh-faced stewards of today with their hopes, their dreams and their aspirations. She takes revenge on the world and inflates her decimated ego by ensuring for the duration of their shift they’re subject to unnecessary rudeness, long winded condescending speeches about which toilets we’re allowed to use and impromptu footwear inspections; if shoes aren’t glistening expect to be ordered to give ‘em a good ol’ spit shine.
However the biggest threat Pat possess is that she actively and in all probability gets off on sending people home without pay; its crazy and ludicrous that such a decision is left to the whim of such a volatile and bitter person.
During her various rants its hard not to ponder ‘I went to university for three years and came out to this?’ during these very rants its impossible to even plot any kind of path towards the promised land of milk, honey and journalism.
At moments such as these can’t help but picture a suited and booted version of me strolling down Fleet Street I-pod in tow as I walk towards the station after yet another glorious day.
As those words erupt out of Pat’s mouth it dawns just how far you are from who and where you want to be.

Whilst working for Recruit you do every so often get an opportunity to see something you want whilst you get paid which is needless to say a great situation to find one’s self in. I don’t think I can provide a more adequate example of this than Tottenham V West Ham at White Hart Lane at the back end of the 2008-2009 season. Now its fair to say when the fixture list is released; before any other I will scour as will all my fellow ‘ammers for Spurs and Chelsea home and away as these are simply the fixtures you have to win and cannot lose. (Unfortunately we never seem to win them.) I hadn’t seen the mighty Irons play for a while as due to politics; (namely rising season ticket prices) I had to relinquish my season ticket at the end of the 2007-2008 season yet here was an opportunity to watch a stellar fixture, get paid and be one with the Claret and Blue army located in the south stand; I even began to look at the whole thing as some sort of covert operation… behind enemy lines stuff: I an East Londoner and hardcore ‘ammer had managed to infiltrate enemy territory in the north of the capital and would watch the game amongst the enemy making the inevitable first West Ham victory at the Lane since 1999 all the more sweet.
Exit gates, exit gates, exit gates… once upon a time working at White Hart Lane meant you would definitely get to watch the game and more than likely get a free hotdog, burger, pastry etc. for your trouble.
As Tottenham hired more of their own stewards such privileged positions were left to their own… so come the day of the game I was told to work on a shitty little exit gate away from all the action, atmosphere, banter and revelry.
Just waiting there on that exit gate I grew more and more frustrated as the minutes ticked away towards kick-off, all manner of thoughts started drifting in and out of my consciousness ‘no-one will mind if I sneak up every couple of minutes.’ ‘Perhaps if I can convince them I’m mad keen on Spurs a bonafide ‘yido’ they’ll send me up with good cheer.’ ‘If I get caught out of position won’t I be sent home without pay?!’
With kick-off approaching I could literally taste the butterflies on my tongue… remember that feeling when you’re about 15 and you’re asking out a girl you really like; how the anxiety, fear and perspiration take a firm hold of you… well that’s something like what I was experiencing; you want ask out the girl but you’re afraid of actually saying those words, putting them out there, making yourself vulnerable…
So with a temporary nausea brought about as Duel Of Fates you know the theme from Star Wars revenge of the syth belted out around the Lane I ran up the stairs and into what is known as the ‘shelf stand, shelf stand Tottenham.’ Out in front of me I could see the ‘ammers being led through the handshakes by Lucas Neill as the travelling Claret and Blue contingent started chanting ‘East, East, East London.’
As the match kicked off I twigged how difficult it would be to keep my emotions in check; with Spurs fans all around me launching songs towards the ‘ammers hordes disparaging and casting aspersions on East London and Mocking the club I hold so dear.
So between the constant nausea I was suffering with, worrying about getting caught by a supervisor, suppressing my anger at the taunts aimed towards my club and area of London and watching a highly charged derby its fair to say I wasn’t coping too well with this rather odd cocktail of feelings and emotions.
I would literally go up for a few minutes watch what was a bit of a dull affair with both sides cancelling each other out then I’d hurry back down to my position along the corridor. I kept up this act rather successfully without any problems that is until about midway through the 2nd half; a goal kick launched up field by Robert Green eluded the Spurs defence and there was David Di Michele behind the Spurs back line one-on-one with the imposing figure of Heurelho Gomes; with me up in the Shelf stand surrounded by lilywhites fearing the bulging of the net followed by the brief silence and then eruption in the south east corner was inevitable; but Di Michele’s shot was weak and only managed to find the outstretched foot of Gomes, unfortunately for myself I didn’t manage to mask my disappointment and frustration too well and I copped the odd look from a few of the home faithful at which point I bid a hasty retreat to the serenity of the corridor and back to my position.
I was reluctant to go back up after effectively outing myself as an ‘ammer desperate for a win over the boys from down the road.
After managing to calm myself I headed back out just in time to see Roman Pavlyuchenko score Spurs’ winner and hear the roar of the lane as they celebrated a sweet strike that everyone within the ground knew would be the only goal of a match which lacked any real spark/fluency.
Witnessing the goal and experiencing the collective roar of around 32,000 Spurs fans was and still is a sight that actually bruised my soul… cue the songs to the tune of the ol’ Pet Boys classic Go West ‘No noise from the Pikey Boys’ and my personal favourite ‘One nil in your cup final.’
As the final whistle blew some fifteen minutes later and ‘Glory, Glory Tottenham Hotspur’ rang out; I drained in every conceivable sense could only ponder when I’d be writing about such events for I don’t know the Guardian whose match reports are in fact wonderfully constructed stories using a range of similes and metaphors to paint an artistic vision of a game of eleven v eleven; instead of merely sneaking up every few minutes in that orange and blue overcoat running the risk of the getting the ol’ tin tack from a £6.50 an hour job that plagues yet is essential to your life.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

The Tale Of EA Worldwide

This next chapter will be difficult to write for the reason it’s still so raw.
Picture it university has been over a good three/four months: you begin to realise how you’re going to miss seeing the group of mates that you assembled over a three year period, it’s yet to dawn that keeping in touch is something that sounds nice in theory but seldom ‘appens.
You’re applying for jobs everyday on the net the likes of Reed, Monster, jobsite, gumtree etc. You must apply for 40-50 jobs a day and you get nowhere; you start to treasure rejection e-mails as at least that’s something.
It’s the first time in your life that you’re not in full time education and it terrifies you; the blanket of being a student; the shield it provides from the harsh realities of the real world. For the first time in your existence you wake on a Monday morn and you’ve nothing to do, nowhere to be, you don’t have to be up at any particular time, no-one’s expecting you anywhere on this globe. One could conceive it as a new and unprecedented freedom: it and pardon my French scared the shit out of me; you can so easily get accustomed to just lazing about the house reading the odd novel, listening to music, watching Sky Sports News on a endless loop etc.
And that’s exactly why when I received a e-mail from an EA worldwide marketing company asking me if I’d like to come in for an interview I was only ever going reply with an enthusiastic and desperate yes.
At the end of the week I went to the interview in their south London office, I was introduced to a geezer named ‘King’ as we would be having a joint interview with Mr Hector Montalvo; he was a short geezer, jovially rotund, had a cool pair of specs on, his hair was gelled in a messy ‘I’m still down with the kids’ style.
He sat King and I down in an office and very vaguely described to us about the history of EA worldwide and the companies aims and goals for the future all with his booming American accent; I was hearing what the fella was saying but I wasn’t really listening’ I couldn’t help but think this has nothing to do with journalism, nothing to do with my passion for writing, nothing to do with the degree I just spent the last three years obtaining. At the end of the interview Hector asked me if its something I’d be interested in I said yes… oh in hindsight ‘yes’ insured a hellish, torturous and desperate experience.
Later that day I did receive a phone call from Hector with the details of a sort of orientation type day that would allow me to see how you did the job; I turned up having no idea what to expect for all I knew it could’ve been male escort service.
Upon arriving at the office I was introduced to a guy by the name of Eniyola (I think that’s how you spell it.) he was tall, skinny, had short hair (in direct contrast with my raging afro) he sort of had a black Austin Powers look about him: his glasses and suit purveyed an image of Mike Myers prancing about in those awful films, but instead of a parody of a British accent he had a heavy Nigerian one. I was then told that Eni was going to be looking after me on the day, would answer any questions I had and would give an assessment of whether or not I’d be cut out for the job.
With that we headed out towards London Bridge Station and boarded a train towards some obscure part of London I can’t quite remember; on the way he kept asking me questions vaguely to do with what we were doing and where we were going. I still have didn’t have an earthly; an example of the line of questioning would be ‘If we as a company were attempting to drive up the amount of people who subscribe to Sky how would we go about doing that?’ I answered with a typical response with offerings of: sending people info packs, cold calling people with details of packages, even setting up base in a mall and attempting to seduce any would be consumers.
He retorted with what if I told you that only would account for 30% of the available market. I was confused and a little afraid; after a few moments I clocked what he was hovering around… door to door sales.
For the rest of the journey I was zombie like in my responses; my thoughts were clouded in how whenever anyone of these people turn up on the doorstep I either don’t open or feign interest until the first available window opens up for me to tell them I’m just not interested.
After completely zoning out I ‘awoke’ to find myself standing outside the first house; Eniyola rang the bell no-one came out. We then proceeded to walk around this block of houses Eniyola going through his perfected polished pitch about the British Red Cross; it was eerie how he changed the pace, pitch, volume and topic with each door; for example if a White British person came to the door he would adjust his pitch to focus on what the BRC did within the realms of the United Kingdom, if an older gentleman/lady would come to door he’d focus on what the Red Cross did within the local community emphasising on how they would help the ol’ dear’s with their weekly shop. He had this technique down to a fine art; it was wonderfully choreographed. In total we did the same block three times as he explained to me it was important to ‘work your area properly.’ The target was to speak to a minimum of 100 people; Eni explained to me how by the law of averages if you speak to at least a 100 you should be able to get your three apps (applications) with each app worth £20 to the geezer that brought them back to HQ. Sixty quid in a day wasn’t a bad day’s work. Although on this particular day for Eni the law of averages wasn’t on his side as he didn’t manage to secure any signatures.
After an awkwardly silent train journey back to south London I found myself sitting in the waiting area when Eni approached me and asked to speak to me outside; he asked me if I was really up for this, how I didn’t seem too eager for the battle that laid ahead, How he thought I was a lovely guy but seemed to lack the hunger for the job. Oh how prophetic he was I wish I’d heeded his warning.
But whilst his tirade went on all I could think about was the fact that I wasn’t even close to getting anything else, how scary it was at home with nothing to do, how I was gradually becoming too comfortable doing nothing all day, how I’d now memorised the rota and times of day the Sky Sports news female presenters were on and how every day at 3pm I made sure I was sitting down on the ol’ sofa so I could just gaze and drool at the Goddess of beauty that was Natalie Sawyer.
I wanted out, I wanted something else in my life, so even though as soon as I clocked it was door to door it wouldn’t be something I’d be content doing I told Eni I was up for it.
He still not convinced agreed to put in a good word for me.
I waited around for a while and was called into an office by Hector, I sat down exhausted and he sat opposite me and just studied me for a moment before he asked how the day had been; we chit chatted for a few minutes and then he asked me straight out if I was genuinely interested; again riddled with doubt but with another morn looming with nothing to do and nowhere to go I buckled and said I’d get used to the aspect of bothering people whilst they were in their homes and try to coax them out of their account no. and sort code; although naturally I didn’t phrase it quite like that.
He stuck out his hand and then said ‘congratulations you start tomorrow.’
What is strange is that when I left the office that night I was actually made up; I had that job I so craved. But I knew it wouldn’t last long.
Firstly it was a 12 hour a day job you would turn up at 10am to the office, stay there until about 12 practicing your pitch, learning all this bull that was supposed to help sway those people you encountered who were on the fence: first there was the SEE principle which stood for smile, eye contact and excitement: this simple acronym was designed to use the mirror effect i.e. you smile = they smile, you’re excited = they’re excited etc. Wait there’s more! There’s a world of techniques used in the sales industry that you’re taught to get you to part with that oh so valuable account no and sort code!
The next one is the Jones effect: this entails as you’re going around your selected area and perhaps getting a name of someone you talk to even if they don’t sign up; say for example Stephen at 34 and when you go to say no. 42 during your pitch you’d say ‘you know Stephen at no. 34? Yeah was talking to him earlier such a great guy he already gives to 3 other charities but he still agreed to help us out.’ Now this technique creates competition within the neighbourhood ‘if he gives then so will I! can’t have ‘em thinking were cheap can we?’ In case you haven’t worked it out the Jones’ effect gets its name from the keeping up with the Jones’ competition and mentality.
But of course what we worked on most was the actual pitch saying it over and over again, getting it embedded into our very consciousness, getting it down to such a point that even if the person whose door you knocked on came out wearing a full on Nazi uniform it wouldn’t phase you. So here for you delectation is that pitch:

You: Hi there how you doing today?
Occupant: Fine.
You: That’s great my name is (insert name here.) and I’ve been licensed by your local council to visit your neighbourhood today on behalf of the Red Cross; I’m sure you’ve heard of us right?
(At this point hand them pitch card)
Occupant: Yeah sure.
You: Oh that’s great! As I’m sure you know we help and care for people all over this world: natural disasters, famine, I’m sure you remember the Tsunami in 2004 we were actually one of the first charities to respond to this disaster providing food and shelter for those who were affected by this tragedy. I’m sure you’ll agree we’re providing a really essential service.
Occupant: Of course.
You: Well sir in order for us to keep doing this work that makes such a difference we need a massive 1.5 million pounds every single week. Now don’t worry sir I’m not here to ask you that!
Pause for chuckle.
(Remove pitch card at this point)
You: All I’m doing today is speaking to people like yourself who think what we do is really great and wouldn’t mind helping us out with a really a small amount it’s the equivalent of a cup of coffee out of your weekly budget; I’m sure we can count on you for that right?
(Smile and nod this point)
Occupant: OK
You: Great why don’t we go inside and I’ll walk you through a simple form it only take thirty seconds to get you involved.

The form actually takes nearer twenty minutes to complete but if you reveal that the battle has already been lost.
The morning sessions before we hit the streets were so surreal and it was either something you allowed yourself to get immersed in or like me you found the whole thing rather ridiculous. For example each morning would start with a campaign meeting; nothing unusual about that… but it was the way said meeting was set up; think a surreal call to arms and you’re halfway there: picture it: 10:30 in the morning; you’re absolutely exhausted because you’ve already worked 36 hours in the week; every time you blink you lust for your bed like a sailor lusts for female flesh after months at sea. And then you hear bellowed by some geezer you were introduced to a week or two ago but have long since forgotten and I believe this is verbatim “Hey guys!”
Everyone in the office with the exception of me replies
“Hey what?”
He then replies again
“Hey guys!”
Everyone again replies
“Hey what?”
Finally getting to the point he replies
“You ready for a campaign meeting?”
Was the cry from the enthralled masses and then we’d all huddle round for the meeting. I can’t recall ever joining in this ritual and it didn’t exactly endear me to the locals.
As I’m sure you’re beginning to gather I wasn’t too happy in this job and it showed in my results… during my time with the company I didn’t get more than two people to sign up in a week; the target was three a day and I would trudge back to the South London HQ after a long slog putting on this false smile, this gentle and slightly higher pitched voice, my afro cut – my very symbol of defiance against the conventions this society imposes upon us, the suit, the tye, the smile etc. all to create this image/persona that I was a happy go lucky guy just trying to do my part for humanity when in reality I was a desperate and struggling sales rep.
Returning to the office without at the very least two completed apps was humiliating.
The protocol was you’d have to wait around in the office till you were called in to find out how the day went; during that purgatory I would often just stand around eyeing the smug looks upon the features of those who’d rung the bell (got at least three apps) see the pure joy on their faces as they went around asking if anyone was in possession of a marker so they put their name down on the ‘High Roller Board’ (This was a whiteboard that was reserved for those who got three apps or more.)
Once plucked from purgatory, you’d sit down in the office sometimes with Hector, sometimes with one of his minions indoctrinated in his philosophy. You’d be asked about your day and how it was generally before you’d get down to business; my answers were perennially along the lines of ‘things were going alright till this happened…’
After all the foreplay the nitty gritty, the nuts and bolts were then put upon a computer system; the very fruits of your toil compressed into numbers. You’d skate around the less important info like how many people you’d talked to, the amount of houses you’d knocked on etc. and to be fair I always did alright on those parts I knocked on enough doors, I generally spoke to enough people for the law of averages on which this entire business and profession was built upon to kick in but it was at the end of the interrogation when asked in almost flippant and whimsical manner “How many apps?”
And I with my eyes fixed firmly anywhere but on either Hector or whichever of his prefects were on interrogation duty for the day would answer in a low, husky voice “none.” Upon that word leaving my lips I’d naturally become overwhelmed with an unprecedented feeling of inadequacy, frustration and embarrassment. Even though I hated the job I longed to be the spivvy cunt arriving back at the office asking everyone for a marker so I could stroll over to the High Roller Board and write the ol’ moniker with a real arrogance and gusto that every girl in the place would instantly drop their knickers and offer themselves up as my concubine.
The thing is whilst I was struggling the King guy I mentioned earlier who actually started on the same day as I did was the golden boy; the cunt! Everyone in the organisation knew and loved him, revered him as some sort of saviour, some sort of champion; he was Fernando Torres at Liverpool banging in the goals and absorbing in the adulation of the Kop and the media, If there were smart shirts with King no. 9 on the back it would’ve been made compulsory for every employee to wear one, King would regularly get more than 3 apps, he would regularly out perform everyone in the office, even the seasoned veterans were going to him for tips. Unfortunately for me I was Robbie Keane to his Torres: never really took off, showed the odd moment of class, never really felt the love of the Kop, continually slated by the press and Boakye no.7 would’ve been on special offer in the club shop.
My failure was compounded even further by his success; in fact there were two occasions on which I really felt it; the first was: once after a shift I had been introduced by some south African geezer whose name I didn’t know but he seemed to know mine! To this woman: short, pretty, kind of sexy, brunette. I was feeling alright because I’d actually got an app that day! So I strolled over to her to start a conversation and just like my career at EA worldwide it never took off… she answered with one word answers and constantly during my attempts to be funny, witty and satirical; I could see her eyes wandering; her very eyes appealing to anyone in the room to come and save her; like she could literally catch all of my short comings as a sales rep by spending too much time in close proximity.
We’ve all seen those American TV show’s like Saved by the Bell (Tiffany Amber Thiessen was actually my first crush) when the high school jock turns up and everyone is high fiving him, shaking his hand and literally doing anything they can to be associated with him; like his popularity and success was contagious and by successfully managing physical contact or getting a nod or even a wink would instantly make you just that little bit better.
Well that’s pretty much what it was like for King whenever he strolled into a room; women in the office would literally swoon. Guys in the vicinity would see him as the ultimate stud asking all the time if they could practice their pitch with him, begging him to divulge the secrets, which were rapidly taking him to the summit of the sales industry.
The other moment was defining in my short-lived career as a sales rep came the day King was promoted! That’s right after four glorious weeks at the top King was promoted into ‘Leadership.’ To be honest it didn’t really mean much; he got more for each app but that was about it.
It was watching him give his ‘acceptance’ speech the whole office lusting after every word uttered from his lips, his pin stripe suit looking all pristine and glistening, his beaming smile as he couldn’t contain his pride in his inevitable procession towards all glory ever associated with world of sales. It was whilst watching him in front of everyone that I knew I just couldn’t do it, I could never be him, I couldn’t get anywhere close to him not to Torres himself, I’d never feel the love, The Kop would never chant my name, at best I could’ve been a Voronin or possibly an Ngog someone just ‘appy to be there and take the odd moment of praise that came their way but forever be in the shadow of Torres… of King.
The following Monday I went in early to Hector’s office and quit.
Unsurprisingly he didn’t exactly fight to keep me; whilst on the theme of Liverpool FC I can imagine a similar scene unfolding in the corridors of Anfield in which Robbie Keane and Rafa Benitez were sitting in his office when Rafa told him that Spurs had had a bid of 12 mil accepted by the club just SIX months after they’d sold ‘im for 19 mil. Keano was probably sitting in Rafa’s office hoping that Rafa was going to tell ‘im ‘we don’t want to sell you.’ ‘I’ve seen the error of my ways: You’re starting Sunday. Please Robbie, this time it’ll be different.’
I can’t fathom the words to explain but I wanted Hector to tell me that the system had failed me; that I was a victim of some sort, the ‘customers’ and my colleagues didn’t understand me, confused my languid style for laziness, they just couldn’t see the intricacies of what I was trying to do.
In reality Robbie probably just had to listen to Rafa prattle on about how it ‘wasn’t working.’
How the glorious partnership he prophesised with Torres that would shoot them to their first Premier league crown and would form the foundation for an all conquering assault on Europe just didn’t look like coming to fruition, how it was nobody’s fault and that circumstances dictated blah blah blah.
That’s not too dissimilar the speech, I was privy to after I’d uttered the words ‘I can’t do this anymore.’
Hector went on about how he also didn’t feel it was working, how I didn’t seem to fit in, how I wasn’t progressing as he’d anticipated; in all probability he was just relieved to get my ‘negative’ influence out the door and even more grateful that in this scenario it wasn’t necessary to put on the bad guy mask.
We exchanged a meek handshake and I walked out of the South London HQ for the final time; my feelings at that time can best be described as a mesh of relief and disappointment but also something else was gnawing at my consciousness and I just didn’t want to acknowledge it, give it airtime of any kind. But on some sort of level I was looking forward to waking up the next morn lying in bed listening to the Xfm breakfast show with Alex Zane, watching a double bill of Frasier on channel 4+1 whilst eating my cereal and necking cups of tea and of course waiting till 3pm when the Goddess of British television that was Natalie Sawyer would be commencing her afternoon report.