Sunday, 22 December 2013


Work was coming on apace.
After eleven years of being a minion I’d finally managed to get myself on a management course which should have happened four years earlier but unfortunately I was in Africa when they held it.
Now with one of the two people who always rejected any application I made having left, I was finally on one.
Unfortunately, I was working for the other one at the time and he made it abundantly clear he didn’t want me on it.
So what do you do ?
You know that expression ‘When the going gets tough… ’
I didn’t get tough, I got downright hard.
Since it was being made impossible for me to actually do the damn course by not giving me a team to lead, the tutor had to intervene…
And somebody got TOLD that I was on it and was going to complete it.
My tutor actually asked me if, bearing in mind the problems I was having, I'd wanted to complete it ?
I said yes.
So he’d asked me why ?
‘Pure spite’.
‘That’s not the best reason, you know that don’t you ?’
‘Of course, but right now it’s as good as any other… I’m not walking away and I’m not backing down, I’m going to finish it despite anything or anyone standing in the way.  If I’m no good then that will come out, but if I am then any damn reason will do…’
‘Ok, you’re in…’
Of course the problems just became bigger, time was running out and I still hadn’t got a team to lead so I was asked if I’d ever led a team ?
‘Yeah, Rhythms of the World… It’s a music festival and I run one of the stages…’
‘Ok, write what you do and provide evidence and I’ll submit it…’
Christ !
You could have knocked me down with a feather…
THAT I can do.
So I did.
Apparently it was so good my tutor wanted to keep it as a ‘demonstration model', including the bits when I went off on one about not actually having a stage and when that arsehole Ross tried to shut us down which included the odd swear word or ten...
Gobsmacked !!!
I’d passed.
Stress, stress, stress… Who needs it ?
It’s actually called ‘Bullying in the workplace’ and it shouldn’t occur at all, but try telling that to management and they’ll shy away from you as if you’re poison.
Still, it was done and I’d passed.
The strange thing about it was that we’d got a new management structure and they were advocating a system which I’d managed to advocate ten years ago and still believed was the best way to go.
Maybe I was ten years too soon ?
Ok, because of needing to save money they had been sort of forced into it, but I was going to be one of the few who didn’t have a problem with it.
All those who had been building their own little 'fiefdoms' and doing as little as humanly possible were now going to have to work, and that was going to hurt them somewhat.
I couldn’t help laughing inside.
What goes around, comes around… 

Wow !!!
Within a week of Haddy finally getting her Biometric Passport she has had three companies ask her if she wants a full time job ?
Yes please, and thanks very much.
(About bloody time)
So she took the first two that came in because they don't clash with each other, time-wise.
It means that the school is going to have to pay the 'transfer fee' to the agency, but the other one is early evening and so the agency don't need to be told.
Finally... Something to celebrate.
It will make her feel a bit happier anyway.
At least now she can compete on level terms and not feel as if the powers that be are treating her as useless or second-class.

I had realised a few years ago that writing stuff for performing on stage was becoming more difficult.
If you’ve dissed one political party and it fits with another one then you can either keep the original if you’re happy with it, or write something else which usually turns out inferior to the original one anyway.
I’d shied away from doing any repeating and usually kept the originals unless I’d got a suitable ‘hook’ to hang it on.
Besides, I wanted to see what the kids made of what I was doing, so I’d concentrated on writing about how I felt and what I saw in Africa.
One country isn’t a continent and all the countries had their own problems it seemed ?
So I’d written a monster.
Sixteen verses long, and I knew it needed tidying and editing but there had been no real chance to test it in a live situation, mainly because I couldn’t be arsed what with all the rest of the shit that was going on in our lives.
Now I was going to have a chance to try it out.
Stevenage Arts Festival was rolling around again and I’m told the Mayor and Lady Mayoress are coming to our little show.
Oh bollocks !!!
Best behaviour again.
We’d entitled the show ‘Pencil Din’.
Clever eh ?
Actually we can’t take the credit for it as it came from one of the Arts Guild, who had sent us an
e-mail to say we had been ‘pencilled in’ for a particular date.
For some reason everybody at Parnassus had the same idea when they read the e-mail.
Ok, Grant’s doing the sorting out and I’m doing the back-up for him.
We’re probably going to be a little short this year as we’ve got three off sick.
Murray is failing fast and although she doesn’t want to appear she does want to be there.
Sarah is having problems so getting some of the schools involved has gone on the back-burner for this year and Jon is in and out of hospital.
Jackie has joined us and it’ll be her first one with us as a performer.

First try out for the publicity poster

Joy and Grant between them had just come up with an idea for the poster when we heard the news from Percy her husband, that Murray had died.
She’d managed to get to her eighties but her body had finally given up the fight.
She was the gamest out of all of us and I’m going to miss her.

Murray Weston in full flow back in the 1990's
She had a great imagination and when she ‘went for it’ you went with her, carried along inexorably on a roller coaster ride of words, passion and emotion.
I think it fair to say that we’re all going to miss that chirpy little spirit who managed to keep all of us on our toes.
It did put a damper on what we were doing, but her attitude would have been one of ‘get up and get on with it…’
So, a little bit saddened and a little bit chastened, we carried on with getting it together.
I suppose we all look upon Parnassus as a family of sorts and losing Murray really was like a death in the family.
While all this is going on, the ‘Rhythms’ team has been in touch…
We’re doing three nights at Club 85 over the traditional Rhythms weekend in July so do I want the Sunday night for an ‘Arcadeclectic’ bash ?
Is the Pope Catholic ?
Don’t be a pillock, YES I want the Sunday.
Friday or Saturday would have been better, but Sunday will do nicely if that’s what’s on offer ?
There will be other things going on in the town square, but only the three nights of what is traditionally ‘Festival fodder’, ie artists and bands.
So… What’s happening ?
I’d previously asked Blyth Power if they’d be up for returning to Rhythms if we had a site and they had assured me they would, but to get them there from all points North was going to cost us a bit.
It all depended on whether I could get a balanced bill of three because I reckoned that if I got my ‘dream ticket’ gig then we SHOULD be alright ?
Oh well, you can only ask…
Three yesses and we’re away.
So the bill for Sunday will be Scum of Toytown, Blyth Power and The Astronauts.
Something for everyone providing you don’t mind dancing, moshing and watching three of the best bands around.
Budget wise, we were on the limit.
Anybody wanting or needing any other expenses was going to come up short.
But… All three bands knew each other from times past AND they all respected what the others did so there shouldn’t be any ego problems.
Everything was going along quite happily until Steve, our program director, told me he’d quit.
Apparently his vision of where we were going wasn’t the same as the Rhythms trustees ?
For fuck’s sake !!!
This was going to end in tears…
Anything that starts with a vision and ends up ‘political’ always does.
But at least we could start advertising the events.
Oh… We can’t ?
Apparently we need a ‘Corporate flyer’ with all the information on ?
Ok, well get your arses in gear and get one sorted then.

One week before ‘Pencil Din’ Haddy’s Aunt Rose died.
I’ve now got a heartbroken wife who is making plans to get to Senegal for her funeral.
There’s no way I can go with her because we can’t afford two tickets, but at least Haddy can go.
She’ll be away for a week which will include the gig but honestly that doesn’t matter.
The twins hadn’t managed to get their Mum because she couldn’t have her phone on at work, but they had got hold of Fatou up in Glasgow.
So when Fatou rang and told me after not being able to get in touch with her Mum, I’d told work and said I needed to be with my wife when I told her.
Thankfully they’d understood and I was now on the way, but Haddy had about ten missed calls on her phone so I kept calling, hoping to get to her before she made a call.
I did, but it didn’t go well.
Thankfully the school staff looked after her until I’d got there.
It was not a good day.

Aunt Rose was one of the nicest people I’d ever met and also one of the best cooks.
We’d spent our honeymoon with her and her husband in Senegal and she’d pronounced my Chicken Jalfrezi that I’d made on charcoal at Sainabou’s wedding as ‘Tres Bon’ and that was good enough for me.
She’d been to the hospital a couple of days earlier with a splitting headache that wouldn’t go away, they’d got it under control and so she’d gone home.
The next day she’d rung Haddy to let her know and the following day she had gone.
To say my wife was upset was the understatement of the year.
If it had upset me the way it had then how do you think my wife felt ?
The following Tuesday I was seeing her off at Gatwick at six-thirty in the morning after staying up all night to get her there, three hours before check-in.
That really is one soul-destroying place at that time in the morning and it meant I hit all the work traffic when I drove home.
Knackered and totally wrung out.
All I could do now was await her call to say she’d arrived safely…
First Murray from our ‘poetry family’ and now Aunt Rose from our own family…
The omens were not exactly auspicious.

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