Monday 31 December 2012

Can't Work, Won't Work

I'll be off to a smokey-drinky in a couple of hours so I shall be early in wishing all fellow jewel robbers, and vaguely interested passers-by to your humble host's cyber abode, a very happy and prosperous 2013 to come. Yes, I know that's being optimistic, but you never know, eh? If you really fancy a round-up of what has irked us most this year, do drop by Snowdon's pad for a comprehensive list.

In the meantime, seeing as our smokey-drinky is promised to last many hours into the new year thereby potentially wiping out much of tomorrow, here are - in order - something to make your jaw drop; some quarter century old anecdotes; and one of the little Ps' fave videos of 2012.

Via the Devil and Guido, this news clip is one which has - unusually - tipped Mrs P into a bout of apoplexy. If you haven't yet come across it, find five minutes to listen to a guy who called LBC's Julia Hartley-Brewer to say that he had turned down employment because it meant he had to be at work by 8am.

Since Mrs P works in an office where her rotational shift often sees her starting before that time, she listened to 'Paul' in angry disbelief. I was more interested as to how little things seem to have changed despite the efforts of MPs over the past few decades.

In the 1980s Mr P Snr owned a pub in which I helped out regularly behind the bar. One of our workshy customers - who seemed to be able to spend every lunchtime in the place despite being on the dole - was a remarkable man in his 50s called Pete. Remarkable because of his amazing talent for avoiding any kind of paid employment whatsoever.

A trained electrician, he would always complain that there were just no jobs for him and blame the economy, nasty business owners or "that bloody Thatcher". Being an old-fashioned 'local', most knew him well enough to know these were just excuses and nodded along in faux sympathy. 

Despite this, one day the wife of another regular - who held a high-ranking position at a state-run institution about three miles away - pulled strings and got him a job on £300 per week (a very good wage at the time) overseeing the electrical system for their buildings. In front of the rest of the pub he was unable to refuse without losing all credibility, so took up the offer. 

However, the next week on a Friday, he was back in his usual seat in the pub at lunchtime when the lady job provider came in.

"What happened to you, Pete? You worked for two days but no-one has seen you since Tuesday", she enquired.
"Well", he replied "the job just wasn't right for me."
"Why ever not? It's a brilliant wage and the role isn't very taxing for someone with your training"
"Because I have to get a bus there, and it takes half an hour and costs me a pound each way" was his staggering response.

She just stood there open-mouthed for a few seconds taking this in, then told him he caused her a lot of embarrassment, before storming out. Pete merely shrugged his shoulders and carried on drinking his pint.

He later landed a job - after being threatened with losing his dole by the job centre - five minutes walk from his house at a local warehouse. It was a position where he mostly watched TV but was called upon to fix equipment and wiring and the like when required. He again lasted two days before claiming he had a bad back, going on long term sick, and then being fired which got him back on the dole where he was happiest.

So there have always been people like LBC's Paul around, and always will be, but that he seemingly doesn't see anything wrong with his turning down a job for reasons the rest of us would find ridiculous is also nothing new. Our pub's Pete also seemed able to kid even himself into a state of mind where he wasn't doing anything unusual, and reacted badly to any criticism directed towards him.

The best example was when a 'stranger' came into our local and, after ordering a pint, spotted Pete and greeted him warmly. It turned out he was an ex-local lad who had moved about 100 miles away and was only returning for a brief visit of old haunts after 25 years out of the area. After a few reminisces, he had the entire pub in stitches with this exchange.

"So, Pete, are you still doing that job you did last when I was around?"
"What job was that?", enquired Pete with a contented smile.
"Programme seller at the Queen's coronation", he fired back, followed by a raucous belly laugh.

As tears of hilarity were rolling down the cheeks of regulars who knew what Pete was like - and now knew that he had been that way for at least 25 years - he was emptying his glass muttering "what a fucking cheek!" before leaving with steam coming out of his ears and a furious purple colour on his face.

Needless to say, even that public put-down did nothing to change him.

By way of contrast, the guy below - who presumably had no problem with starting work before 8am on his stall - reportedly fell foul of visa regulations and had to leave the country.

Go figure.

Have a lot of fun tonight if that is what you're planning on, we'll chat again next year.

UPDATE: The Ashtray blog have provided an excellent run-down of how e-cigs fared in the past year.
2012 will be remembered as the year where electronic cigarettes came into their own and gathered the attention of millions.
It's also well worth a read.


Steve Wintersgill said...

Enjoy your smoky drinky mate.
Shutting up shop at 6, getting suitably lubricated then taking a day off tomorrow - that'll be two full days holiday in about 5 months, if you include the Sundays that I don't open I'm beginning to feel desperately workshy ;-)

DP said...

Dear Mr Puddlecote

People like Pete were cheap at twice the price.

I worked for a while at a post pivatisation company. The people there had long memories of what it was like in the 'old' days. One example was of a chap who used to roll up, do about one and a half hours 'work' then retire to the bar in the basement (they had a nationalised company bar in the basement) where he would while away the rest of the day. On full pay. With index-linked pension.

Now we have seven million state employees. Doing what? The best are on long term sick leave or doing bugger all, the worst are using their time 'productively' to bugger up the working and personal lives of everyone else.

Pete (if still around) and Paul are now cheap at ten times the price. Where would you prefer the jobsworth who told you to re-etch your lorry windows to be - being paid lots with pension rights to .... .. your business or sitting in a pub for a fraction of the price and keeping out of your face?

Happy New Year, Mr Puddlecote. See you at the IEA sometime.


Paul said...

As the hotlinking on Audioboo has been switched off, I've produced a full transcript of the contents and it's available here.

Dick_Puddlecote said...

I wonder what Paul would have made of working till 10pm and then staring again at 4 or 5? If he did something like that, he could own his own business employing tens of people a decade or so later and choose his own working hours (I know someone not far from here who did exactly that). ;)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

I fully understand your point, but I don't think the window-etching inspectors start before 9am. ;)

Dick_Puddlecote said...

Thanks, much appreciated.