Thursday, August 27

Naked Ambition

Whiplash is doing Community Service today and there’s no cake left. In the lull I find myself once again checking the small ads. Today’s favourite is this one for a Receptionist/PA
(must be over 18) Need a receptionist/Personal assistant for our successful company but must be a hit with management and clients. Must be a flirty bubbling character very open minded.

Are you prepared to do anything for progression. can you work in the nude in a naked office environment?

If your that person get in touch

One might think that this is for employment in a common-or-garden House of Ill Repute and although the syntax does seem to point that way, I'm considering whether this might be the start of a general trend towards nudism in the workplace - or maybe one of my ex-employers is doing a recruitment drive:

I once had a job at an architect’s office, cooking lunches for a sexy beast called Ian Pollard and his staff. Ian was terribly enthusiastic about nudity at work, he had more nudie pics on the walls than you could shake a stick at, his wife and his PA wore very few clothes indeed. Ian himself didn’t like to be too naked at work, we frequently entertained Stalwarts of Industry and he wouldn’t have wanted them to have felt overdressed, and the risk of injury from spitting chip fat compelled me to stay fully covered.

Mr Pollard gave up the architectry soon after I stopped working for him and followed his true vocation: getting on telly as a naked gardener, I’m wondering, if that’s him advertising for a new PA.

Update: I quite like the Sun's take on this too.

Monday, August 24

Fire And Cake

It seems that we were hit by some kind of storm last week; the film crew arrived back from Arizona, frantically unpacked, repacked, people came and went with bits of engineering, repaired computers and reformatted batches of hard drives

the fridge was emptied.

At 4am this morning we hauled cases out to a vehicle for the trip back to Africa.

I’m standing among the debris of abandoned bundles of cables and surplus wads of packing – I have the stupified look of a cartoon animal that a train just ran over but it hasn’t realised yet.

On the bright side a lovely New Boy has come to work with me and Miss Whiplash

He makes cake

Today he arrived at 9am accompanied by a strawberry sponge and whipped cream

I might recover

Thursday, August 20

Crimes and Misdemeanors

Miss Whiplash is due in court today and we’re all hoping it won’t result in a custodial sentence this time. We’ve had a few discussions as to the best outfit to wear for the judges and I think she might be reducing the leopard print accessories for the occasion.

I’ve never actually made it to court but that’s not for the lack of being naughty, I’ve had several sphincter-clenching moments when I’ve fully expected to be taken away by a policeman and locked up for a very long time. I started a list of my best closest near misses but it just rambled on and on so I'll cut to my top favourite brush with the law of all time:

One of the recording studios where I worked had a big farmhouse kitchen, I cooked and we all sat down and ate together, we drank just water, no wine. After supper the musicians, producer and engineers would go back into the recording studio and continue working.

Larry Klein arrived to record one day and that first evening his wife joined us for supper. Larry’s wife at the time was Joni Mitchell, she had spent the afternoon smoking weed with Dawn, one of the studio employees. They were in high spirits and when the boys went back to work after supper, the girls wanted to get booze and cigarettes and asked me to take them somewhere to stock up.

My car was an A35 manufactured before my birth date and as Dawn got in the back and Joni sat next to me lighting another joint, my mind was obliterated by one repeating thought

I have Joni Mitchell in my car

As we swept into town another thought joined the first

I forgot to get the MOT* done
which distracted me a bit.

Then Dawn said
You’ve just gone through a red light

and there’s a police car behind you

it wants you to pull over

Now my head was full of the newspaper headlines

I got out of the car and smiled sheepishly at the two policmen who said:

Did you know that you jumped a red light back there?

Yes I’m really sorry

We’ve been following you for quite a while actually, we’ve not seen one of these for a few years, d’you mind putting the bonnet up and starting the engine so we can have a look?

And they never noticed the stoned rocker.

*it's a legal requirement to have a valid MOT certificate and the police would normally have asked me to present this document.

Tuesday, August 18

Full House

Everyone is here; Miss Whiplash swept back from her Scottish sailing holiday, the film crew returned ready roasted from Arizona, there's a New Boy. And the kit is also back.

I live in the same house as the production company and it’s suddenly very crowded here. I have just got some ply cut to fit over the bed in the spare room to make more space to unpack, clean and repack the cases (ready for next week's trip), my other jobs include getting cross with insurance companies, transcribing the interviews done with the scientists, chasing people for receipts ... and buying food.

The food thing is mainly because Barney the Tall Teenager is also back. Last month he started digitising a pile of tapes that needed processing, a job he started with gusto, but then he got bored and petered out.

I’ve finally caught up with him and twisted his arm with an extra bribe of limitless nice food and a financial bonus if he gets the job done by Wednesday. He has taken me at my word - the first thing he does when he arrives in the morning is check out the fridge and get breakfast. Today already he has consumed some yogurts, 2 boxes of cream cakes and a plateful of pasta, sausages and peppers that would have fed an army.

In order to get the job done in time I want him to work on this evening, so that means more cakes, and a promise of cow pie if he’s still here at 8.

Thursday, August 13

Vicky Pollard's Sister Cuts My Hair

The prospect of an interview in London meant that I finally had to face the fact that I needed a haircut. Most of my French and English hairdressing visits have been quite harrowing, the French ones are fierce and tut when I refuse their advances with the lacquer can and the English ones have a tendency to weep about their boyfriends - or they give me too much detail about wedding outfits and child care.

All I needed was someone to cut a straight line across my shoulder blades, I’d left it to the last minute, the Spanish barber over the road advertises that he is unisex so I stopped by to see if he could fit me in.

Turned out that Manuel was not actually unisex himself but he does have a ladies basin and chair looked after by a disarmingly candid and fast-talking teenager called Laura, her accent the broadest Bristolian, here’s a reference for it in case you’re not familiar:

I was going to get a dry trim, making the visit as speedy as possible but Laura was lovely and made a remark about her employer that was so deliciously indiscreet that I found myself asking what she’d charge for a cut and blow dry, she threw in a special offer just for me she said:

Today I’ve got an offer on of twenty five pound, normally it’s thirty five pound but Jasmine’s left and taken all the customers with her and the book’s empty now so me and Doreen are trying to get more people in.

For the hour it took to ‘do’ me she bathed me in a stream-of unedited chat prompted by my answers to her questions:

Laura: Going anywhere special tonight?’

Me: Just the cinema, I’m going to see Coco Before Chanel

Laura: Oh I love that. I got one of those artificial bags down the market. I love quilted stuff. My Nan made loads of quilts. Mum doesn’t like them though she thinks they’re too hot....

And I learned loads of useful stuff too, for example, if I bought just 10 issues of The Sun newspaper and collected their tokens, I could get a holiday for £9.50. You wouldn't get that information in a Vidal Sassoon salon.

It was the most fun I've ever had at a hairdresser's - I shall go back there.

Monday, August 10

Bunking Off For Banksy

There is one Camera Boy in the office, diligently logging all the material from last month’s African lion trip, Miss Whiplash is on holiday and I don’t want to deal with the expenses sheets.

This morning I made a big pile of bacon sandwiches and a flask of coffee and ran away from those receipts, at 8am I joined my friends, various people armed with books and newspapers and some children playing Snap to queue for a show by our famous local boy vandal.

Banksy has been pursued for decades by 'The Authorities' for graffiti-ing around first Bristol then the rest of the world and now here he is, in our stuffy little museum, he’s filled the entrance hall with a burned out ice-cream van and binge-culture statues staggering around with their dogs and shopping, fairground music playing tinnily in the background. There are his trademark witty stencil pieces, a room of quite disturbing animatronic creatures and all the upper galleries of stuffed animals and old-fashioned paintings in big gold frames have been interfered with, here’s one of the reviews

Proper grown-up critics can dismiss Banksy as An absolute thundering backside, Charlie Brooker refers to his fat-arsed, berk-pleasing rubbishness (a lot of arse criticism then!!) but an entire road has been closed off to accommodate the queues that two months on, are not abating. The lack of subtlety in Banksy’s work is not the point - it’s funny, cartoony stuff done with great panache and a big part of Banksy's charm is that, unlike many artists, he doesn't take himself too seriously. More people have gone through the doors of our, normally moribund, local museum in the last two months than in it’s entire history and I bet the Oxfam shop opposite are still smiling at the anonymous donation they received just before the show.

Wednesday, August 5

Office Party

Since the crew went off filming ants, the production office has gone very quiet. Miss Whiplash and I meet up occasionally to eat cake and play the office bongos but we broke out the Champagne yesterday when an email arrived to say that an episode of our insect series (Pollinators) is a finalist in a German Film Festival, I emailed the news on to one of the Camera Boys and asked him how things are going, this is his reply:


I've told The Director about Pollinators and he seemed very chuffed. All is indeed well here and we're churning out some darn cool footage and enjoying it too. Got some great stuff today of aphaenogaster (long legged ants) licking their queen's bottom. We are working in labs amongst lots of scientists, the rooms here are filled with hundreds of plastic boxes full of the ants - it is pretty fascinating. The daytime heat has a very similar feeling to pointing a hair drier at your face, so thankfully we're inside now! We had a seriously spicy Thai meal this evening in a restaurant and so we have put some toilet roll in the fridge in anticipation for tomorrow morning.


Sunday, August 2

The Food Of Love - Part III

This is Mariam Hassan and Manuel Dominguez, her producer explaining about a stew that they are making, it really should be made with camel - but I couldn’t find any camel meat so she has made do with lamb.

I was standing backstage fascinated by their tattooed feet

Mariam is from the Western Sahara but Morocco has occupied this land since 1976 and the Moroccan security forces continue to treat the Sahrawis extremely badly, Mariam has found asylum in Spain but many of her compatriots have been stuck in Algerian refugee camps for 33 years now.

Morocco has built a wall across the territory it is laying claim to in the Western Sahara and Spain has in turn built a wall to keep out the asylum seekers

This review of a talk given last month by Wendy Brown discusses the astonishing number of walls that are going up all over the world.
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