Thursday, December 13, 2012

1987: Counting down to judgement day

It's coming up to Christmas and it's clear this job can't go on much longer.

I'd finally settled into the routine of working, though it had been a long and difficult adjustment. Two bouts of extended and largely fictional tonisilitis had satisfied my craving for time off, sitting at home watching 15-to-1 as dusk fell, followed by Grange Hill and Thames Report but the job really wasn't going anywhere and therefore neither was I.

I loathed it. I was bored to sobs. I had a desk and a phone. No surfing the internet and disguising it as work in those days. I had to get on the phone and cold call anyone vaguely agricultural and try and hard sell them advertsing space in a Middle East-aimed agribusiness magazine. Needless to say I was hopeless at it. My highlight of the week was going round to the local newsagent and buying Farmers' Weekly. It didn't occur to me why it should be on sale in a small corner shop in Bayswater, but at least it was something to do.

There were only three of us in the office (see previous entry 1987: We were watching TV), but at least we were all friendly at last, despite my dad being our immediate boss, but far away in Bahrain. They'd stopped eyeing me suspiciously and by this time the banter flowed. However there were always those back-of-the-mind concerns that I hadn't sold a thing.

The big boss came over the previous month and took us all out individually. I had to go round and meet him in White's Hotel in Lancaster Gate, his hotel of choice. He was a rich Arab but he wasn't in the least bit flashy. I recall we discussed his travels. His favourite place was New Zealand.

I was due to fly out to Bahrain for Christmas anyway, and the office was going to close on December 17th. This did not go down well with my workmates, though why anyone should complain about an office closing down for the whole of the Christmas period is anyone's guess.

People were uneasy though. We clearly weren't doing the numbers. We had a jolly Christmas lunch in Smollensky's Balloon then we said our goodbyes. Everyone wondered if we'd be here this time next year.

A couple of days later Satellite by The Hooters was playing as the taxi pulled into Heathrow in the early evening, lights twinkling all around. It's a song that will forever remind me of Christmas, and also the fact that when I arrived in Bahrain dad would break the news that the London office was to shut.

I'd never felt such unbridled joy. But there were still a few months of misery to get through first.

1 comment:

  1. Gosh, the Hooters were rocking a strong aesthetic, weren't they, even by the standards of the day. I can imagine how that song might have taken on a certain anthemic quality, in the face of your impending liberty. A sort of 'onwards and upwards' moment, I dare say.