I came back to the flat in Kew Bridge after Christmas. The round of parties, work, and pubs carried on. I went for walks by the Thames and round Kew gardens.
One of my flat mates was called Andy. He had his 21st birthday whilst he was at college. When we caught up with him after lunch he had celebrated too well and long. We put him in the car and then took him to the flat. I caught the tube back to the flat and found that the others had laid him face down on his bed with his head over the end of the bed. This was so that if he was sick he wouldn't choke. Unfortunately this arrangement resulted in his nose resting on the metal bedstead. His body would register that his nose hurt so he would raise his head and the pain would stop. Then his head would fall and his nose would crash into the metal. The cycle carried on and on with his head bobbing up and down.
Work Work Work
The first job I got on my own merits (as opposed to working for the family company) was working at a company that made light fittings (theoretically). I was 19 and it was my first summer vacation from University. The Company was staffed by a group of people who seemed congenitally unable to organise anything let alone any manufacturing.
At some point some one had decided that manufacturing would be better organised if it was located in Wednesbury rather than Stoke on Trent. This meant that all of the senior management had to travel for an hour in the morning from Stoke before starting work. (On reading this again I realise the idea of being actually able to commute from Stoke reliably is now utterly absurd. There is no way with today’s perpetual traffic jams on the M6 that any one could actually contemplate the idea without being certified clinically insane. Some things, in fact, lots of things don't get better. We have cars that go twice as fast yet take twice as long to get anywhere.)
Now this was 1975 and being management they did not consider that starting work before 9.00am was for them. However if they started work in Stoke at 9.00am then this meant they didn't arrive at Wednesbury until 10.00am and conversely in order to finish at 5.00pm they had to leave at 4.00pm.
The work force of whom I was one however had to start work at 8.00 and finish at 4.30pm or later. Because we used clock cards we were generally actually there between those hours but because no body seemed to notice or care nobody actually did anything vaguely useful until about 9.55am and stopped doing it at 4.05 pm.
I worked the same hours as any body else but I was actually there from 7.30 am till 6.30pm and all day Saturday, which meant that I was paid buckets of cash. About a week into my job which consisted of carrying out a materials analysis I discovered that the entire factory was to be closed down which meant that anything I did was totally pointless. However because I shouldn't have known this I couldn't tell any one.
In any case the data on which the analysis was based was so hopelessly inaccurate that the analysis was seriously flawed and any one using it to predict future purchases would have bought very little other than obsolete components. The material requisition system was so appalling that one Saturday morning I was sent out in a company car to buy all of the available bolts of a particular size from all of the branches of one ironmongers in the area. I saved the day and production continued.
The personalities there were equally incredible. There was the man who smoked 120 cigarettes a day. He walked in every morning with a deck of 6 packs of cigarettes and smoked none stop. When eating he would pause inhaling just long enough to load the food into his mouth. Half way through my sojourn at the Company his doctor advised him to stop smoking cigarettes so he started smoking King Edward's cigars He managed to limit his intake of these to 20 a day. I suspect that he is no longer around to verify the authenticity of these words.
There was a woman, Marjorie, who had been through a series of intimate operations and would describe in precise detail all of the gynecological explorations and probings and cuttings that she had been through. The guy who was working with me on the analysis was called Allan was a swarthy 25 year old with sideburns down to his chin and a Mexican moustache to match. He seemed to either be at work or in bed with a different lady every week. According to his testimony which took the first hour at least of every day at work he made Casanova sound completely without a sex drive. On Monday mornings of course it required a full two hour description of his exploits.
One day the Company sales representative appeared and sat down with after lunch and began to talk about his war time experiences. Before long Marjorie appeared and together with Allan they spent all afternoon discussing everything there was to do be done with persons of the opposite sex. It never seemed to occur to any one that we were actually employed to do something useful for the Company. Inevitably the day arrived when the announcement of the closure was made and I had to go to do other things. I never actually got to meet the person who was meant to be my boss because he was on extended sick leave. However I did hear afterwards that he had been charged with embezzling from the Company. I have wondered from that day to this how any body actually noticed