Thursday, February 12, 2009

War Stories Part I - The Background

I have had a reasonable number of jobs in the past 29 years (Jesus Christ, is it really that long since I left school), including a couple of spells which could almost be seen as careers if you half-close your eyes and squint a bit! Inevitably I have some stories (some funny, some not) sourced from my time in most of those jobs and I’d like to share some of them on this Blog. But first, the background of where they originated. In effect, the short version of my CV is:

After leaving school I worked for a couple of years as an Office Equipment Service Engineer repairing typewriters - remember them? - and photocopiers throughout Scotland, and attended college studying for a City & Guilds in Radio, TV & Electronics Servicing. A complete change of direction then followed and I worked for a major Plumbers Merchant for a dozen years or so in various branches throughout West Central Scotland and the North East of England, starting as a Warehouseman and relief Lorry Driver, working on the Trade Counter, as the Counter Supervisor, in the Office, as the Office Supervisor, Branch Manager, and finishing up as the Area Commercial Controller with responsibility for 13 branches in South Scotland and Northern Ireland at which point the bastards had a major internal reorganisation and I was made redundant!

Moving swiftly onto another smaller Plumbers Merchant as Warehouse Manager I worked there for 6 fairly unsatisfying months before being made redundant again (lucky white heather anyone?).

At this point I realised that maybe another change of direction was required and I decided to spend my way through my redundancy money while being a self-employed motorcycle courier in Glasgow for a year. Great fun (apart from my death-defying accident, of which perhaps more anon) but I literally made a several thousand pound financial loss over the year! I think I was the only courier in Glasgow whose motorcycle was actually insured for courier work - fifty quid a month I seem to remember - and since I was riding the best part of a thousand miles a week, the bike needed a full service about every six weeks at a cost of a couple of hundred quid!

So onwards and upwards and having very narrowly failed the eyesight test to join as a cop I started in 1997 as a civilian with Strathclyde Police, working for about 3 years in a police office as a Divisional Assistant & Turnkey (see photo right, although it isn't me) which mostly involved dealing with the general public and searching & looking after prisoners in police custody.

I stopped being a Turnkey in 2000 and no longer work for Strathclyde Police. Sadly I have no stories which relate to my current job, so where and what it is have no relevance to this forum.

Some of the stories have been sanitised, mostly to protect the stupid, but sometimes because they relate to stuff which discretion forbids me to discuss, so in no particular order other than that which I remember them and add them to this Blog, they will be posted here as and when I feel like it. But to get the ball rolling, the first one is:

The Orangeman

In a branch of a Plumbers Merchant in Glasgow I worked with a number of people who were, let's say, fairly keen members of the Orange Lodge. This didn't particularly bother me, partly because it gave some opportunities for baiting them, so I got on pretty well with everyone, although getting a Saturday morning off any time around the 12th July was mostly impossible since 85% of the staff had "walking" commitments then!

I worked there for about a year as the Warehouse Supervisor before moving to the north east of England and transferring to another branch. A couple of months after I moved down south I had a Friday off work and travelled north back to Glasgow for the weekend. Since I had some time to kill before the inevitable beer and curry, I decided I'd visit my former colleagues so drove to the industrial estate and parked outside the branch, straight across from the office window where I could see half a dozen people inside, and they saw me getting out the car.

Well I was vaguely aware of some strange looks directed towards me as I walked towards the front door, but thought nothing of it until I walked in past the Trade Counter and made eye contact with a guy who I'd worked closely with for a year but who just blanked me and looked away, ignoring my spoken greeting. Confused I went through the office door to be greeted by a very senior member of staff who asked very loudly "what the FUCK are you wearing?". I looked down at myself to see if I'd accidentally put on a pair of crotchless tartan rubber shorts or something (as you do), and then the penny dropped. That morning I had, as was and remains my custom, gone into my drawer and retrieved the first thing which came to hand (not being a fashion icon I pay little attention to clothes, as those who know me will testify!) and that day I happened to put on without a second thought a South Africa rugby jersey (see upper photo), whose colours are vaguely reminiscent of the football strip of Glasgow Celtic (particularly their away strip - see lower photo), the sworn enemy as far as a certain type of Protestant in the west of Scotland is concerned. I explained that it was a rugby jersey and had nothing to do with Celtic or indeed Catholicism, but the following 15 minutes I spent there were rather strained to say the least, so I made my excuses and left.

A few months later I again visited the branch, this time differently dressed, and the guy who had blanked me made an obvious point of coming over and enthusiastically asking how I was and how the job was doing, and wasn't it nice to see me again ......

As a postscript, that guy sadly died a year or two later by which time I was back in Glasgow working as Area Commercial Controller and that branch was one for which I was responsible.

Along with other colleagues I attended his funeral which was held in the "Orange" church in Glasgow and presided over by a Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) minister who was wearing an Orange Sash over his clerical garb!

Very surreal and rather reminiscent of the Rev Dr Ian Paisley, that famous prick from Ulster. I made a big point of crossing myself at every opportunity, but nobody noticed. Except God maybe.


  1. That's kind of you to say. There are a few more, which will see the light of day over a period of time.

  2. Do please clue me in - how much is a quid?

    Me = American and unfamiliar with your currency.

    What a fascinating life you've had!

    Word verification: wastowel

    Variation of "west owl" perhaps?

    Or "wash towel?"

  3. Tracie the Red, a quid is one pound sterling (the equivalent of your dollar) also denoted as £1

  4. And worth almost nothing thanks to the financial gerry-mandering of a Presbyterian Scot. Ho hum!