Monthly Archives: November 2015
It shouldn’t go unnoticed to the three people who cast their eye over this blog while they have a spare half hour to sit on the toilet that I’ve had a few issues in the past when it comes to employment. For reasons completely unknown to science, I simply cannot settle on one job for more than a year before I resort to name-calling and back-scratching in order to contrive an escape.
Once, I took a job at Northern Rock bank and embarked on an ‘extensive training programme’ which consisted of sitting in a room for eight hours a day listening to a newly-divorced lady talk about mathematics while shoe-horning brief but eye-opening anecdotes about her failed marriage into the seminars. After a month of being trained on how to click the mouse fifty different times on various parts of a computer screen, the trainees were put into a ‘live’ setting on a busy department at the bank. All trainees were shadowed by an experienced member of the team as we learnt the ropes and took calls from enraged members of the public about why their shares were tumbling into oblivion. After receiving about four hundred calls over the course of two hours relating to how much of a bastard I was simply because I was an employee, I politely asked my supervisor if I could use the bathroom then went to get the next bus home. Not long after that Northern Rock went under so, needless to say, I had the last laugh.
Anyway, in the early part of this year I was still very much in a state of flux. That is to say I was in a state of constant change and instability within my working life, and not, as I presume one would expect, part of a rectangular-shaped compartment with three flashing Geissler-style tubes arranged in a “Y” configuration, the unit of which makes time travel possible and is the core component of the DeLorean time machine. I’m not that but I was still, at age 34, struggling to make sense of my professional life.
At the time I was working at a place in the Northumberland wilderness where I’d took on a role as ‘assistant to the assistant in charge of assisting with cleaning pint glasses’. With such stressful responsibility it was only matter of time before I viciously imploded like when the Ghostbusters crossed the streams and all life as they knew it stopped instantaneously and every molecule in their bodies exploded at the speed of light.
Not long after I’d walked the plank, I received my final pay and P45 then followed a rather aggressive-sounding letter in the post from my former employer’s solicitor which stated I’d been overpaid. I was impressed at how quickly they caved at my response. Maybe my correspondence gave them a headache they just couldn’t be bothered to deal with. To be fair, my girlfriend quite often expresses exasperation at my conversations with her so I can understand it.
Your ref: D/HS/T******
Dear Scary Solicitor People…
Many thanks for your threatening letter which was lying in wait for me when I returned from my annual trip to Mordor.
I understand you are acting on behalf of F****** P*** Ltd who have instructed you in relation to the recovery of the sum of £417.66 which was apparently paid in error into my bank account. I must confess that I was surprised that my former employers were terminating a contract of employment that didn’t actually physically exist as a contract of employment. It appeared the general terms of this make-believe contract amounted to ‘we’ll make this up as we go along’ so to receive a phone call to confirm that this imaginary agreement was to be terminated was something of a relief. Despite it not existing. I was informed during this phone call that I’d be receiving all due monies including any accrued holiday entitlement as well as my P45 and final payslip. Standard.
A few days later I returned home to find a recorded delivery note from Postman Pat on my doorstep so I sprinted as fast as I could to the post office thinking it was the lightsaber I had ordered online at 3am after drinking two litres of Buckfast. Imagine my disappointment when I discovered it was simply a letter confirming that I was not wanted at F****** P*** anymore, and that I’d be receiving all due monies including any accrued holiday entitlement as well as my P45 and final payslip. This jarring black and white realisation of my abandonment caused me to re-establish my relationship with Buckfast.
Three days later I awoke to a loud knock at the door. It was Postman Pat again but during my wild Buckfasting I had accidentally locked myself in the bathroom with only a rubber duck for company. I named him Ben and we became firm friends. (He is assisting me with this letter). Having escaped my water closet prison, I discovered that Postman Pat had left me another recorded delivery note so once again I hightailed it to the post office – my trusty sidekick Ben accompanying me – so I could finally get my hands on my lightsaber. Unfortunately it was simply my P45. Another damning finality of unemployment. Strangely, however, there was no payslip included. This didn’t bother me one iota as everything is run by the machines these days and I simply decided to check Skynet to find out what my final pay off would be. Cyberdyne Systems Model 101 informed me that there were in fact two payments into my account. Not having a payslip to refer to, I simply concluded that one payment was hours worked and the other was holidays accrued including all of the Bank Holidays that I worked during my fleeting time there.
Unfortunately, and despite my former employer’s mandate of sending everything recorded delivery to ensure they’re personally hand delivered by the aforementioned Postman Pat, I received no correspondence – not even a phone call – about an overpayment and simply used my final pay to order two more lightsabers and pay off most of my rent thinking nothing of it. So, as you can imagine, this has come as something of a shock. It’s lucky I was sitting on the toilet when I opened your letter.
However, because of the machines being in charge of everything, I have on demand mathematical skills and used a “calculator” to “calculate” what my holiday pay should have been. According to the Gov.uk website holiday entitlement calculator, I accrued 42.20 hours of leave which comes to just over 5 days which, on an 8 hour day and minus 2 days that I took, amounts to £360. This includes the three Bank Holidays I worked which I was promised I’d get back as leave. And you can’t break promises can you? Again, I have no payslip for comparative purposes so I expect you to correct me if I’m wrong. And will look forward to a hearty debate. So as you can see there has been an overpayment of £57.66, which I acknowledge.
Unfortunately, as I am now unemployed because of the termination of my imaginary contract, I have no income. I will, however, compromise, and can offer you a repayment plan of a pound a year for the next 58 years. (I am generously rounding up). I will deliver this pound coin personally to my former employers on the anniversary of my make believe contract termination.
I trust this settles the matter.
Dear Mr Peet,
We have referred this to our client and having discussed this further we will not be pursuing our claim for repayment in this instance.
H******** & Co.
A little while ago, the Head of Steam in Newcastle underwent an extensive refurbishment.
Having been a regular patron of this iconic little dump back when I used to be allowed out after dark, it hadn’t gone unnoticed that each time I’d bypass it in order to head to a more pleasant imbibing establishment, the doors seemed to remain permanently and mysteriously closed.
In much the same way you’d moodily stare at the floor after spotting a friend of a friend approaching you from afar with whom you didn’t want to end up trapped in excruciating conversation, I’d begun studiously avoiding my old stomping ground lest I fall back into my old habit of spending whole evenings trapped in excruciating conversation with friends of the friends with whom I’d initially gone out on the drink.
Aside from the more believable theories as to why it was shut which included rumours of a long overdue death in the downstairs venue bit, there came quite the inexplicable rumour that it was going to be magically transformed into something resembling the inside of a Swedish sauna. On hearing this news then ultimately seeing the occasional photo of the new interior being drip fed to social media, this fable turned out to be bang on the money as you can see from the photographs I’ve appropriated from Microsoft Google Inc. without assigning authorship.
I felt quietly intrigued as to whether the brand new toilets in this brand new Head of Steam would be transported into the 21st century and include toilet roll, locks on the doors and actual doors themselves. Also of interest to me was whether the Hepatitis virus was still used in the cisterns when flushing the toilets, and if there’d still be free Class-A drugs hidden behind the toilet bowls to use at one’s pleasure. I suspected luxuries such as these would be a long shot, but I approached my first use of the new HoS toilets with the same amount of excitement and trepidation that one would generally expect when venturing into a WC in order to simply use it.
*For each toilet review, I’ve created and will adhere to a strict 7-point ‘Toilet Test’ to ascertain whether each public lavatory subscribes to my sky-high criteria for a pleasant toilet experience, and all future reviews will follow this.
1. Toilet Approach: does it seem threatening? Do your eyes water on approach?
Thankfully not. Approaching the entrance to the toilet made me feel a lot like Sir David The Attenborough in that nature film he was in when he visited Planet Earth because there was a small rainforest by the entrance window that contained all forms of life that I can only presume is very important to the small but intense sub-climate the Head of Steam now cultivates. And feeling like David The Attenborough is obviously a good thing as he’s 149 years old and can still run faster than a car.
2. Toilet Entry: is there a toilet attendant inside and is he/she grinning at you?
Again, no, there was not another human being awaiting me with an extensive array of high sugar lollipops and disgusting aftershaves, nor was there a lustre of desperate self-loathing and an aggrieved sense of injustice in the air when I washed my hands and didn’t have to pay for that privilege.
3. Toilet Cubicle: is there a lock on the door? Is there even a door?
I was vociferous in my joyful relief that there were now doors in the HoS cubicles. In the past when you wanted to do your business you had to ask a friend to stand like Batman at the entrance to the cubicle, warning people to stay clear in a rich, sexy voice like the way Gareth Bale speaks in Batman Returns. The locking mechanisms were also correctly fitted and in place which means management have taken great pains to ensure Gamekeeper Robert Muldoon doesn’t moan on and on like he used to about the lack of locking mechanisms on vehicle doors when he worked at Jurassic Park.
4. Toilet Privacy Settings: is it an isolation booth? Is there a gap at bottom/top of door/walls? In the toilet, can anyone hear you scream?
Disappointingly, there is a small gap at the top of each cubicle presumably as an emergency escape route should the entire building go into lockdown like what happened at my work the other day when I misplaced my iPhone and didn’t stop screaming. Speaking of which, I did try the Pavarotti Test and sang the crescendo of ‘Nessun Dorma’ in full voice whilst having a relaxing sit down wee. Unfortunately people can definitely hear you as I received retorts from fellow toilet users in an abusive vernacular hitherto unknown in the English language. So while the privacy appears to be good, it’s really not. Think Google for comparative purposes.
5. Toilet Use: is there a toilet seat? Location of roll dispenser? Proximity of walls to push against should the need arise?
Use of facilities was better than expected as is clear having mentioned I sat down to have a wee which is a rare treat for the male of the species. The space between cubicle wall and toilet is distant enough for a quality test of resilience, enough to not pop your shoulder or cause a migraine should you find yourself in dangerous waters during your toilet experience. Unfortunately the toilet roll dispenser was located behind the toilet and above my head which will result in you appropriating a backward slam-dunk stance each time you want to get some paper. Which is fine for any basketball fans out there but what about the rest of us?
6. Airblade Alert! Airblade Alert! Airblade Alert! Airblade Alert!
*The presence of the famous Dyson Airblade automatically awards the toilet the Must Visit Because It Has A Dyson Airblade Award regardless of how atrocious the toilet is, how many sheets of bog roll you cover the toilet seat with or how many times some boorish fuckwit bangs on your cubicle door when you’re trying to do drugs.
Head of Steam Airblade. Our survey says...
7. Toilet Overall Score Out Of 1000:
750 out of 1000 with plenty of scope and time for the facilities to be decimated to a pre-2014 standard of airborne-syphilis and doorless ponderings. Recommended. Would come again.