Sunday, December 20

Another Solstice

In my recent hunt for work I launched a multi-pronged attack - this time I included the use of agencies in my arsenal. Mostly these are an irritating waste of time but, in these straitened times, I felt that I ought to visit a few. They usually have quite grand-sounding titles and are located at an impressive address, I have been kept waiting in mahogany-panelled splendour but more often, lurking behind the impressive Kensington or Knightsbridge façade, lie stained carpet tiles and broken MFI furniture*

One agency has a name that makes it sound like a charity shop and is situated in a very unfashionable part of London. I made an appointment with Julie who is the sole employee and owner of the agency, she opened her front door to me and invited me to follow her up to the office. We picked our way along a hallway scattered with footwear and toys, then up the stairs and I was shown into the spare bedroom. The only chair was under a pile of laundry, Julie placed the stuff on the chair on top of the pile of clothing that was on the floor. I sat on the chair while Julie sat on a little step ladder. Agencies always ask you to bring lots of paperwork, I handed my papers over, then watched with fascination as Julie balanced a scanning device on one knee, a laptop on the other then placed my pages on the scanner which scraped and squeaked away for a while. During this time I was able to notice that Julie’s big toes had worn through her slippers and although her office didn’t have any desk space it did have an exercise bike, some full rubbish sacks and a lovely big stuffed rabbit.

Despite the apparent chaos Julie’s is the only agency that has found me any work, I start cooking regularly for a new client in London in a couple of week’s time.

Tomorrow I’ll have been married to The Director for ten years, I wrote about the wedding here, we’re going away to celebrate and I’m taking a short blogging break. I’ll get on with the next chapter of Earwig Sandwich when there’s something to write about.

Happy Solstice to everyone and if you celebrate anything else at this time of year - Happy that too!!

*The employing client doesn't visit the agency, the agents go to the client.

Monday, December 14

Interview Tragi-Comedies

I have been in the production office helping Miss Whiplash choose a new helpmate. We’ve been through this process many times; we place an ad, discard the many slovenly, illiterate emails masquerading as applications, a short-list is drawn up, appointments made and we wait to see what will appear before us.

These were our favourites:

1) The man who appeared to be auditioning for a part in 'Oliver'
Cap at a jaunty angle, he took up a stagey pose on the doorstep and launched into a prepared speech.

2) The candidate who chuckled away as he said
I go crazy if I have to write stuff, I manage to do the title and then I go aaaarrrgghhh (waves hands aloft makes horror face) and then I tell my girlfriend what I want to say and she does it for me.

3) The young man who glossed over the reason for the early termination of his previous contract
Whiplash pressed him: Was there an accident Julian?

Julian: N-no, no (long pause before adding quietly) not really

4) The man who completely disregarded Lovelock Style Rule No 475*
Shades, wacky bandana, multiple piercings and the bottom part of a ZZ Top beard

5) The shouty man
when asked what his responsibilities were in his current job, treated us to a 15-minute rant about his work colleagues

We have taken on someone who appeals to us very much but I’ve completed a survey on who we’ve worked well with over the years and next time I’m just going to write this advert:
Help wanted: All applicants should be able to make tea and deal with rubbish bins. Women should be fierce, men should be nerds with strange hobbies - funny hair a bonus in all cases.

*Lovelock was a friend and style guru, wearer of orange Paul Smith suits, man bags and highly polished footwear, he passed on many pearls of wisdom, rule No 475 pertains to headwear
Never have more than 2 crazy things happening on your head at once; big hair, big glasses – fine, but ditch the wierdy beard

Tuesday, December 8


image: work 289 by Martin Creed

By Friday evening I was feeling thoroughly bad-tempered, having spent the afternoon haggling with a prospective employer. I then fought my way through rain and dense London traffic to another meeting but I was late and missed the rendezvous. I ended up damp and out of breath outside Tate Britain feeling more than a little sorry for myself.

The classical façade of the Tate building is written across with a big neon declaration that EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT, a sentiment ludicrous enough to cheer me up immensely, putting me in mind of the final scene in Monty Python's Life Of Brian when rows of crucified men sing Always Look on the Bright Side of Life.

Inside, the Tate was hosting a series of events under the title Extraordinary Voices, I arrived in time to see two women trussed up in elastic dresses, each at opposite ends of a long gallery at the top of tall stepladders, they sang to each other through megaphones, it was lovely - like I’d imagine mermaids would sound.

And then I saw a long-lost friend - singing with The London Bulgarian Choir, it’s the sort of music that makes me weep – in a good way.

They’re worth seeing if you get a chance to catch them.

Wednesday, December 2

A Tale of Two Dining Tables

I returned to Bristol earlier than planned last week, just in time to see a bed being removed from the top bedroom which is becoming a second editing suite, the first editing suite was whirring with the business of getting footage prepared for the new editor.

At the bottom of the house a Camera Boy has been busy operating knurling machines and drills, metal shavings crunch underfoot in the the kitchen and the dining table has many tools on it. Carpets and furniture are glittery with the shine of metallic dust - Christmas simply isn't Christmas without it.

In the middle section of the house, The Director was surrounded by women and cake and was getting flummoxed, he’s spent the last several weeks in cars with boys and cameras and has forgotten how women carry on; Zena was in doing lion research, Mrs Moneypenny was getting the government-related paperwork in order and Miss Whiplash was unveiling her current collection of winter clothing. Last year it was floor-sweeping, furry filmstar cloaks, this season she’s channelling her inner intrepid-reporter via cream flak jackets and fur-lined underwear.

On Monday The Director flew to America to talk to people in the offices of National Discovery and I went back to The Smoke...

Last night I was engaged to give a cookery class at a private house in Hampstead, the idea being that I prepare tapas for the hostess and her guests while talking about what I’m doing, they join in with the making if they want, then everyone gets to eat the food - somewhere along the line the original intention was lost.

I arrived and was shown by a maid to the vast kitchen/dining room fitted with a big shiny cooker, double-sized double sinks and impressive granite work tops completely obscured by gadgets; 2 juicers, a breadmaker, a microwave, remote control units, toys, little bottles of condiments, jams, medicines and a footspa, there is not a handspace of work surface visible.

The kitchen is dominated by a massive table, covered with a cloth and decorated all along a wide central section with 6 big vases of flowers, dry fruits stuck on tall stalks, swirls of feathers, glittery pine cones and trails of beads and sequins leaving not quite enough margin around the edge of the table for the 14 place settings already laid out - there’s nowhere to put any food.

My breathless client had forgotten about it being a cookery demonstration. She talked very fast about all the dogs and children that needing taking to vets and flute lessons...

Are you ok to just carry on? Juanita can show you where everything is and help you peel things. I’ve got no idea how many people I’ve invited but they’ll be here in a couple of hours, I should be here just before and we’ll have a little champagne – will the food be done by then?
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