Updated Every Weekday!

20/9/2002: Neurotic Thrillers

This week's Friday article is another review of those curious 'erotic thriller' movies. This one goes by the name of 'Sins of the Night' and features, amongst other things, blatant private detective stereotypes, murder, conspiracy, and people with stupid names. And sex. Lots of sex. Sex and Mars bars. To learn where the Mars bars come into it, read my review now!

Your assignment for the weekend is to see how much loose change you can find in your home, then send it all to ME!

Much obliged.

Cheerio, then.

19/9/2002: The Hands That Do Dishes

"We've got a little job for you," says my agency.

"Oh yes?" says I.

"It's at Rugby Cement Works."

The bottom drops out of my stomach. Rugby Cement Works? That big huge foundry-esque place I sometimes pass on my driving lessons? They'll no doubt have me chained to an iron bar while I stir troughs of viscous grey stuff and carry enormous blocks of concrete into the pits of Hell or -

"You'll be working in the canteen."

The bottom gingerly returns to my stomach. Unless the washing-up gloves are made of enraged scorpions I really don't see how this could be anything less than a cushy number -

"It's from 7:30 to 12, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday."

The bottom of my stomach, having just gotten comfortable, drops out once again, only this time a little gentler. Three measly five-hour days. With that and what donations I can get, that'll just about cover my back rent. But what of next week? Oh well. Sometimes we just have to rely on uncertainty.

"I'll take it," I say. And I'll write the rest of this update tomorrow afternoon, when I get back.

(brief snatch of elevator music)

Can you spot the suicide victim on top of the tallest tower, children?
Here is a picture of some cement works, not necessarily the one I was at today.
I did not get to see a lot of it.

Hello again.

You know what I love about temp work? All the fascinating new places and people you get to go to and meet. I also love the way all the temp jobs I take turn out to be only for one day, as that means I have lots of spare time for my hobbies, such as writing this site, fretting about rent and sitting by the phone waiting for the agency to ring.

Ah yes, there's the introduction I wrote yesterday. Stirring cement and hauling concrete blocks sounds pretty good right now. At least that wouldn't leave you with pruney fingers, pruney hands and pruney wrists for an hour. And my hands wouldn't smell of rubber. I've been quickly reminded why I hate washing up, especially professional washing up. You really have to get in there, scrub the buggers 'till you can hear the metal atoms screaming in flesh-stripped agony. Then realise it's actually you screaming, the gloves and your flesh having been worn away by the scouring pad.

Anyway, I turned up at the cement works - Jesus, the silos and main factory area are HUGE. Little buildings and side-roads and car parks everywhere you turn. This would be a very good place to play at being Garrett from Thief. I follow directions to the reception desk and of course the receptionist is rather conspicuous - conspicuous in his or her absence. Any other man would no doubt shrug, go out and hunt around for someone to point him in the right direction. Not me, sir! Common sense is for wimps! So I sit there like a lemon for ten minutes before going hunting around to find someone to point me in the right direction.

I eventually get there, and the kitchen gives me immediate flashbacks to dinnertime at my old school. There's the thing on the ceiling you hang ladles on. There's the little grill rack for toasting fifty slices of bread. There's the big metal thing whose purpose you cannot possibly fathom. And why are there two sinks, right next to each other?

Another thing I like about industrial/warehouse temping is all the little snippets of information you pick up. Today, for instance, I learned that two popular tea companies are planning a merger (I won't say who in case they wanted to keep it secret), although I suspect I might have misheard someone, so that hot stock market tip may be unreliable. However, I did learn for certain the purpose of having two big sinks right next to each other.

You fill up one with scalding hot water and green goo that makes bubbles, and you fill the other with scalding hot water and purple goo that also makes bubbles. You give the pots a good ol' scrub in the green goo until they're all squeaky clean and free of grease, then you dunk them in the purple goo for a final rinse. For some reason, the purple goo adds another layer of grease. Then you dry the accursed thing with paper towels that disentegrate in your hand and don't so much dry as smear the purple goo-grease around, then chuck the pot on the appropriate shelf and hope no-one gives it a close examination. You also hope that the subsequent food poisoning epidemic you have no doubt caused will be confined just to the factory and not, say, the whole damn world.

Of course, you have to imagine the green goo.
Here is an example of something I DID see a lot of today.

Maybe I'm just being paranoid. But when the woman I was working for told me that if I didn't get all the grease off then I was 'finished', I did wonder why she chose to be so dramatic. It would of course be simplicity itself to dispose of a body in a cement factory... no, sorry, I'm being paranoid again.

The washing-up process was rather time consuming for me, since I found I would have to wash a single item several times because of the aforementioned purple goo grease, and I spent most of the last few hours with an ever-expanding mountain range of crockery on all sides, spending ten minutes scrubbing the grease off a fork before dunking it in the purple goo, giving it a feel for grease, sighing, and dunking it back in the first sink. Yeah, yeah, I know, I'm an idiot. Then my work day overran by ten minutes so I could finish the whole pile and the woman assured me that they didn't need me anymore because Thursdays and Fridays were quiet days. It wasn't because I was incompetent or anything.

In accordance with Christian teachings, lying is a sin. That means that this woman is going to Hell.

By the way, on the way out I noticed the motto of Rugby Cement Works on one of their trucks.

"Rugby: More than just cement."

And I would really like to know what the hell that's supposed to mean.

18/9/2002: Won't Somebody Think Of The Children

I found myself in a doctor's waiting room the other day. Not because I have any disfiguring disease or anything, I just like to sit in waiting rooms and watch the human traffic pass through. This time, however, since I couldn't find any Reader's Digests in the magazine pile, my gaze was drawn to a curious device that was placed in the dead centre of the room.

It was one of those playthings usually placed in waiting rooms to placate any restless youngsters who happened to be passing. If I had to describe it I'd probably say something along the lines of 'an abacus on a bad acid trip'. There were several twisty turny coloured wires, each with beads of different shapes and colours threaded through, the object being to push the beads around the wires. It's not the most exciting of playthings I know - when you push a bead around a wire loop you expect it to keep going down the rest of the wire, moving in an intricate and amusing fashion. But no, it just goes 'plonk' down the first loop and refuses to move any further.

And yet, there was something oddly hypnotic about the device, and I was fighting off an irresistable urge to get down on my knees and play with the fucking thing. And I know that everyone else in the room was feeling something similar, because when some little kid - the only demographic legally allowed to play with it - came in and started fiddling with it, going 'whee' every time a bead circled a wire loop, ALL EYES WERE FIXED ON HIM. We longed to be three again, just so we could play with the bead thing without embarassment.

Hours of fun.
This isn't the toy I'm talking about, but the picture of that one was kind of shitty,
so here's one of something along the same lines.

There were two waiting rooms in this doctor's surgery, each of which has one of these things. There's also one in the dentist's surgery I patronize. And when it became necessary to have a blood test done (don't worry, it turned out I wasn't the father) I spotted yet another of the wire beady things in the hospital outpatients waiting room, sitting innocently in the kiddy's play area. That was when I started to get suspicious, and so one day when I was in the aforementioned doctor's office I took note of the manufacturer's label and stored it in my bottomless memory for useless facts and figures.

'Krucial Kids', 'twas called. And I have a feeling the company was set up in the 80's, which is recognised as the period of time in which the last person in history said the word 'crucial' as an exclamation without being mocked. The company was based in Essex, and I live quite far from there, so they must be quite a big national company. You know what most big national companies have? Websites!

So off I go to Google UK and Ireland, searching for 'Krucial Kids', and wouldn't you know it? They even have a domain name: www.krucialkids.com. It was off the site I was able to get the picture shown above, but this company made millions of different kiddy play toys, including about ten thousand variations on the 'push beads along wires' theme. So far it all looked like a perfectly innocent if rather sickeningly twee website, no real cause for alarm, so I clicked the 'back' button to get off the site and HOLY FUCK A SHITTY FUCK SHIT:

Toot toot!

That is the most disturbing thing I have ever seen in my life, and I've been to science fiction conventions. What is the meaning of this freakish child-toy hybrid? And what's the deal with that fourth one along eating something kinda indistinct but which could very easily be human flesh?

I suppose it could just be a rather misguided attempt to create an adorable picture for advertising purposes.

It could.

Or.

OR.

Have you ever seen 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers'? The one with Jeff Goldblum and a bunch of people whose names I don't know? In that, the whole alien plague was set off by a little alien plant someone gave to someone else as a present. What if that alien plant wasn't discovered until it grew into an enormous tree, or a whole forest of trees? And what if someone, maybe hypnotised by the alien rays, were to cut down the trees and make, say, wooden children's toys out of them?

It would explain a lot. It would explain how there's one in every waiting room in town. It would explain why they feel strangely magnetic. (sudden realisation) Gasp! And it would explain why the little kid I mentioned at the start of this article who played with the beads thing started acting like an obnoxious little shit a few minutes later! It was possessed by the alien toy!

Well, for me the matter is settled. I'm going to start carrying the biggest axe I can find with me every time I go to a waiting room, and if I see one of those toys I'm going to smash the evil thing to splinters. If you guys could do the same courtesy I'd be awfully grateful. The owners of the waiting room will thank you for the service later. A lot later. Maybe by the time you get out of prison.

17/9/2002: It's a God's Life

[Before I get to the funny stuff, I just wanted to send out mad props to Karrie Ferris for the lovely forty bucks she sent my way after my impassioned plea yesterday. She's been the only donator so far I'm afraid, unless you count the two sympathetic but moneyless e-mails, but I'm sure the pennies'll come rolling in when it becomes clear that you could get YOUR name (yes, YOUR name) at the beginning of an update. And if that's not incentive to give away your hard-earned cash then I don't know what is. Anyway, on with today's show.]

Pull up a futon, children, I've come to talk to you about a very special person called God. He loves all his little children, but when they're naughty, he can punish harshly. He lives in Kidderminster with his wife Betty and works as a truck driver for a small haulage company -

Oh. Sorry, I was thinking of someone else.

So yes, God. Creator of the universe and all sorts of groovy shit. Last refuge of the scoundrel and wearer of a beard bigger than galaxies, he's an impressive figure and no mistake. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm no great believer in God. In fact, I believe in 'The Force' more than I believe in God. I'm very fond of chaos theory and if you believe in chaos theory you sort of aren't allowed to believe in God, which is fortunate, as I don't. I was never brought up to believe in Him, and when I first saw a Bible I pronounced it 'Bibble' and laughed. What I'm talking about is hypothesis, here.

I guess the scripture IS open to interpretation...
This charming picture is apparently Google image search's vision of God.

Let's assume for the moment that God exists, ignoring all the evidence to the contrary, and that he's a bloke up in the sky who makes planets and universes and shit. Let's imagine him in the traditional Christian way, slightly resembling Santa Claus but in a long white robe and golden sandals. Now let's imagine him building the Earth.

He gets an ocean-covered sphere and a bucket of green paint from the local DIY shop. At first he wants to be artistic with the design of the continents, but then his favourite TV program comes on, so he just splashes on a few random shapes and goes off to watch. He comes back the next day and lights up his new gas-powered sun, starts the clockwork moon, and starts arranging trees and plants all over his new planet. He buys them in 100-packs from the local hobbyist's, who believe him to be building nothing more radical than a train set in his attic like some old retired men do. Next he puts together some animals from the giblets of the chicken he had for tea and the leftovers of garden maintenance and sets them off to roam around his new paradise.

Now, he's ready to add the final, most important ingredient: Man. He builds a man out of dust and some leftover DNA, making him in His own image (well, in the image of his brother Hank, in truth - God is kind of insecure about his looks) and puts him down on the Earth.

"Go!" says God. "Go father your race and rule this planet with compassion!"

"Be a bit tricky with just the one of me, dad," says Man.

"Oh, sorry," says God, and creates Woman out of Meccano and his chemistry set.

"She looks a bit weird," says Man.

"I thought you'd prefer it that way," says God, reluctantly removing the third breast and second vagina.

"That's fine, dad," says Man. "Incidentally, I'm sure I speak for Eve and myself when we say that we're terribly grateful for this planet you've built for us."

"Oh, no problem," says God. "Now, run along, I've got Mars to see to next."

And so God gets to work on his next big planet, but just as he's ready to start warming up the core, Man comes back.

"Have we mentioned how grateful we are for the Earth?" says Man. "It's absolutely spiffing. We like the parrots in particular."

"Yes, yes, you've already mentioned that," sighs God. "Could you just let me get on with designing Mars, please."

"Right you are, boss," says Man, before going back to Earth.

He returns a few months later, while God is laying down the major continental land masses of Mars. "What is it now?" asks God.

"Er, bit short on food," says Man meekly. "Weather hasn't been too good to us. Some rain'd be nice."

"Alright, you'll get your rain," says God, eager to get back to work. "Anything else?"

"We're still really grateful for you making the world and stuff -"

"Go away."

"Right."

A week later, Man returns to present God with a little thank-you card, signed by him, Eve, and 'all at the Garden of Eden'. God looks over it briefly, then puts a fatherly arm around the shoulders of his creation. "Adam," he says. "You've noticed the little dangly things I've put between your legs, no doubt?"

"Oh yes," says Man. "They're great for hanging decorations on-"

"Well, there's something you should be doing involving them and the little hole thing that Eve has in the same area. I'll leave you to work it out for yourself, but kindly stop bothering me."

Sorry, Mike.
Here's another, slightly more mainstream vision of God. I added the hat to make him
seem more approachable.

Eagerly, man goes away for a couple of years, and God finally feels safe enough to continue his work on Mars. He's just about to start designing the new animals when a knock comes on the door, and there stands Adam in a nice suit, surrounded by several wide-eyed children, also in their sunday best.

"Can I help you?" asks God.

"I just brought the kids along to tell you how incredibly grateful we still are for the whole Earth arrangement," says Man with a stupid grin on his face. God slaps a hand against his forehead and wipes away a speck of foam appearing on his heavenly lips. Undeterred, Man presents God with another card, a bunch of roses, a box of chocolates and an attractive carriage clock.

A bewildered God then is forced to stand awkwardly, heavily laden with gifts, as Adam conducts a stilted rendition of 'for he's a jolly good deity' by the group of equally bewildered children.

And that was just the start. Two thousand years later and God's house was absolutely chock full of men, women and children, eating the contents of his fridge, dropping sweet wrappers and thanking him for the whole Earth thing whenever they happen to be passing. God, meanwhile, was weeping in the bathroom, as he hadn't even been able to populate one single other planet in his universe, all thanks to the accursed humans getting in his way all the time.

The point I'm trying to make is this - even if there is a sentient God who created everything, I really cannot see the point of going into church and saying thank you every Sunday. He's done his job. Good for him. I'm sure he got the idea the first nineteen thousand times you thanked him for his hard work. If you want to show your appreciation for Creation, go out and enjoy it. Climb mountains, swim in the seas, cut down the trees and make Chippendale writing desks out of them. Just leave the poor git alone.

(This update was paid for by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to God)

P.S. Please send me money before I kill something.

16/9/2002: Throw me a Frickin' Bone

I may not show it in my bright, sparkly whinges on this webpage, but I am deeply troubled at the moment. For the first thing, I'm skint. I've finally run out of money, left now with a growing debt problem and a couple of ATM cards for empty bank accounts. That job in the Filofax warehouse I wrote about a while ago said it would be for two weeks, but apparently 'two weeks' is management speak for 'one day', as that's how long it took me to do all the work they had for me and be told I needn't turn up anymore.

So I'm back in the jobs market, and my agency assures me that they have another job for me, an ongoing one with some trucking company where my task will be to hose down trucks. Doubtless I will have hosed down all the trucks they have in the first day of my employment and be politely told to sod off, but I suppose a reasonably well-paid day's work would cover my back rent.

10.67p ... enough for a haircut.
This is pretty much my savings at the moment.

A question that nags me is this: Why are the corridors in Star Trek always really clean, and yet you never see any cleaners? But the question that nags me most of all goes like this: Why am I finding it so difficult to find work? Why am I having to rely on an agency to find menial monkey work once every blue moon?

Here are a few suppositions I've come up with.

1. Trapped in Employment Limbo

I'm not unqualified, I know I'm not. I've got nine GCSEs and a couple of City and Guilds qualifications in information technology. I know how to use a fax machine and how to file. Surely I have all the necessary skills for temporary office work, but whenever I ask for it, I'm told I need more experience in an office environment. It's the typical catch-22, really. So I toddle off to the office next door to see if they've got any menial warehouse work I can pay the bills with, but they frown and shake their heads. I think because I'm overqualified for most of what they have. I'm trapped in the little gap between menial work and less menial work, too qualified for one and too inexperienced for the other. Really makes me want to spit.

2. Bad Reference

My last steady employment was as a Christmas temporary assistant in a branch of Electronics Boutique in the town centre, from November 2000 to January 2001. I find I usually have to give this as a reference, but I have suspected that the reference I'm getting from them isn't very good. I know the manager didn't like me. I used to do all sorts of silly things, like pressing 'cash' on the till when the customer was paying with a card, and I once got chewed out for leaving the back door open while I went to do something else. I also have a sneaking suspicion that the manager thinks I'm lazy, because the assistant manager later told me that the manager thought I was lazy. Well, I got sick of not being sure, so I asked a friend who works at the last place I applied to what the reference said. The answer?

"I wouldn't employ him again, but he got the job done."

And I really have no idea how to take that.

3. Parents Conspiracy

Once I ruled out bad references and qualifications there was only one thing left to explain why I had failed every interview I've attended for two years. Conspiracy. The first party I looked at through narrow eyes was my parents; would it not be easy for them to phone my interviewer later behind my back and say I had suddenly fallen off a bridge or got another job offer? But why would they do this? Personally, I think they don't want me to leave home, and want to keep me locked up in this house like some kind of pet. Jokes on them, though. If I ever find this out to be the case, I'm going to murder them both! Ha ha!

4. World Conspiracy

After laughing that last one off, I started getting paranoid. Why would my parents conspire to keep me unemployed? I'm really spiteful to them and they need my rent payments. So ... I guess it must be a conspiracy on the part of the whole world. Let me tell you some more about the last place I applied to. My friend who works there told me that the manager was impressed by me and said she would probably employ me, but then - as my friend put it - she had two more applicants and changed her mind. No doubt these two new 'applicants' were wearing dark suits and shades, both holding their hands perpetually inside their jackets, telling her she'd drop my application and forget about me if she knew what was good for her. They're watching me, I know they are. They've got cameras all over my house, made to look like moths and crane flies. They want to see how desperate I can get before they offer me a job as a special undercover agent at MI6.

Cool!

Well, if you're reading this, and I know you are, then I think I'm ready for my new job, lads! Just pick me up in front of the house tomorrow at noon in one of those big black cars with the tinted windows and I'll show you my CV.

5. Poor Interview Skills

Pff. Yeah, right.

In the meantime, why don't you readers give me a hand with the ever-expanding sum of money I owe my parents? It stands at about ninety quid at the moment, so please give generously. Click the little button below to donate to my PayPal account. Remember, every day I don't get kicked out the house for not paying rent is another day this site stays online. Be a sport! Help FullyRamblomatic today!

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All material not otherwise credited by Ben 'Yahtzee' Croshaw
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