Archive for February, 2010

Work.

….It’s been another rum old week.

I was sent on that fork lift training course at work. That should have been a skive and another skill gained.

Alas!

They are having an overhaul at work. The Assistant General Manager has (jumped/pushed?) left. The General Manager’s prospects don’t seem much brighter. They are having a massive crack down on mistakes made in the picks for the stores, and time off sick and accidents.

So instead of our on-site trainer taking us we had a crazed Jock!

He is re-testing all the current fork lift drivers in an attempt to weed out those that might be an accident risk, and being harsh on those being trained, ie, me!

Our on-site trainer gave the lads time to practice so they would be ready for the test, allegedly helped with the written part, and let one lad have ten attempts at the test until he passed it! Others have told me they failed and were told to go away and get their heads together then come back the next day.

Not so with the crazy Scot! He gave us two goes at each exercise, most of the course was spent in the canteen drinking coffee whilst he went for fags, Bollocking each mistake like you were in the army (instead of pointing out how to rectify the error)  no dummy run, straight in to the test.

I was well on top, I’d done the hard moves. I thought I had cracked it so I started to relax. I got myself into a challenging position, managed to get myself out of it, was dead chuffed, reversed out ready for my last move….’Park up and get off the truck’.

What? In my haste and relief I’d forgotten to retract the forks before I backed the truck up.

FAIL!

He was such a crap instructor I wasn’t that bothered. I’d already overcome the urge to beat the crap out of him after one of his screaming harangues, and after he’d threatened to cut me from the course I had started to get off the truck to go home. He stopped me, but I was ready to walk right then.

In the end I was just glad to have it over and done with, either way.

So that was less than fun.

Yesterday at work the new AGM came and asked me how I’d failed, I told him about relaxing and being forgetful, didn’t mention the crapness of the trainer as it would have sounded like sour grapes, he said that they would put me back in for it.

Then I saw the trainer again and he said that he’d told them to put me on a three day one to one course with the manager they are sending away to become a trainer.

Tesco’s opening a big warehouse has scared the crap out of them, it seems. HA!

Then I noticed that there was a missed call on my ‘phone. An event in itself as I don’t give out my number. I got home and tracked it down as the number for that agency driving job, the car transporter one.

I rang it this morning and the guy said he had been ringing around letting everyone know that he would have work for them in the next two to three weeks!

This is good news, but somewhat scary.

I have a full time, not too poorly paid job in the middle of a recession.

I quizzed him, and he reiterated that it was a full job, no experience necessary, with two weeks training given. All the things I need to hear really.

An agency guy’s word being only second to a politicians in veracity I am cautiously optimistic. Why would he be ringing me if he didn’t have work coming up?

The down side is; it would be a bit of a pay cut on basic pay, (but there are bonuses) I would possibly have to be away from home for five nights a week, possibly sleeping in my cab, and I have to risk losing my permanent job to take an agency one. And it’s based in Skelmersdale, thirty miles away.

The only other thing of note is my front tooth cap is coming loose so I’m going to have to go to the dentists. Hate going to the dentists! Can’t remember if that was the tooth that was shot out or the one that was nutted out. Either way, growing up was shite!

Buck.

Help for heroes?

Right! The time has come, I need to speak out.

First and foremost, let me say that in my experience being a soldier is a shit job, done extremely well under even the most trying of conditions. The lads and lasses put their lives on the line and do their duty.

I’m not about to knock that.

I will start by saying; that is their job, for which they volunteered. Nobody made them enlist.

The thing that distinguishes the armed services from any civvy job is that it is in your job description that you will die if so ordered. Tell a copper or fireman to stand firm in the face of certain death and he has the option to quit. It is a soldiers job to die if necessary.

They are doing their job, come death or mutilation. That is not heroic, it is for that they are paid.

But they are being brave, that makes them heroes!

I would argue that the modus operandi of the army is to make you more afraid of your Sergeant than you are of the enemy. You are bullied into being a mindless drone, afraid to not obey an order.

In the first world war the Royal Military Police were positioned in the trenches to shoot any man who didn’t go over the top.

In the second world war they had conscription with jail and dishonour for anyone who wouldn’t go. I know from personal experience that even the most jaundiced of cynics would prefer the possibility of death than the certainty of a lifetime of shame with the stigma of cowardice.

It was proven at the Nuremberg Trials that following orders is not an excuse for committing war crimes. Yet we have recently gone in to illegal wars. Every soldier should have refused. They did not. Nor were they ever likely to.

My point is; bravery takes many forms. Killing Johnny Foreigner for his oil may well be the least brave option once you’ve taken the Queen’s Shilling.

Then there is a technical point; a hero is someone who goes above and beyond the call of duty. Who does something without thought for personal danger, to serve his unit, and somewhat nebulously, his country.

To call everyone in uniform a hero is to devalue the word and dishonour those who have earned the epithet. Clarkson did a piece on some chap who kept going back into battle though they tried to cas-evac him on several occasions, firing a mortar like a bazooka, bleeding from his ears, shot to shit and still fighting. That is a hero. Some desk jockey who happens to wear a uniform is not.

Then there is the actual campaign, ‘Help For Heroes’. Started by the Sun. The mouthpiece of the evil Murdock. Why did they start it? To whip up patriotism and support for our boys and to stifle questioning dissent amongst the ‘screw oil concerns, let’s keep our boy’s alive’ lobby.

The aim is to have us all saluting the flag, supporting illegal wars, and frightened to say ‘bring the boys back home’ as that would mean we were unpatriotic. Is it braver to follow this route or stand for your principles?

Of course I’m a stinking hypocrite. I am actually trying to get back into the army!

What was that Latin phrase?  ‘I see and approve of the best path, I follow the worst’

I want to get back in to get my truck driving experience so I can get a civvy job. My principles are as ephemeral as that. It doesn’t mean I can’t see the truth of the situation.

Which brings me full circle to my my point. I am willing to serve, again. I know and accept the risks. If I can get back in I will most probably be getting my experience in Afghanistan. Would that make me a hero? No. It would make me a chap doing his job.

To quote the philosopher Gump; “That’s all I have to say about that.”

Buck.

Nostalgia ain’t what it used to be.

At work some coffin-dodging bastard has switched to Gold. Allegedly all the best songs from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s. Actually all rock ‘n’ roll, and a few pop songs from the latter decades. Apparently there was no hippy era, no punk, no new wave British heavy metal, no gothic. Just saccharin 60’s and the odd inoffensive mainstream pop song.

Which brings me to my point, spleen vented.

They have played Cindy Lauper’s ‘Girl’s Just Wanna Have Fun’ a few times. Each time I hear it I feel a bittersweet pain.

I am suffused with a nostalgic melancholy for a loss I can’t quite pinpoint.

It’s not the song, which I like in an off-hand way. It’s not exactly the time in my life when it was in the charts.

I  have been thinking about it. O.K., so I was getting drunk but I was still working full time and my standard of living, due to the above, was considerably poorer than now.

It seems to be some sort of product of the milieu, the zeitgeist and my own age of innocence.

Girls just want to have fun.

We were young, all the fun was new and thrilling (not the dependencies they would become) life was innocent and hopeful, and we were all just kids. Trying to live the dream of the day, which was to be totally ‘right-on’, (which later became ‘Politically Correct’ and a stick with which to beat the dream to death.)

You weren’t a man, woman, black, white, atheist, Muslim, whatever, you were all people, and it could all work out.

I’m getting choked up looking back on that.

‘So young, so dumb’, as a later songstress would say.

Sorry about that, I was trying to capture a feeling and explain it. Wendy objects strongly to me writing it, so if it was too much…, well, tough tits, we ain’t in the 80’s no more!

…..And, we’re back in the room. Senior moment over with.

What has been happening with your quest for a driving job? I hear you cry. Potentially good news, at last!

For months every job I’ve seen is either advertised as ‘must have extensive previous experience’ or it turns out to be a prerequisite when I have applied.

Out of nowhere, like the proverbial bus, three come along at once that state ‘previous experience preferred, but not essential’.

Woo-hoo!

I’ve applied for two of them, (the third was 20-50 hours, I need to be sure of more than 20 hours).

One of them is for a car transporter driver. Not great in many ways, I’d have to take a pay cut on my basic, might be away from home for a week at a time, and it’s at Ellsmere Port (about 25 miles away, so petrol money would be more). However, when I rang them (turns out it’s an agency fielding the contract) they said that the jobs were full at the mo, ring them back every fortnight on a Friday and they would get me in. No experience necessary as two weeks training given!

That will do me!

Gotta go, boss says it’s bed time.

Buck.