Journal Entry: August 1988
Went to London, met Steve, went to Proms, went to Marcel Marceau, watched a block of flats burning, went to Notting Hill Carnival, nearly crushed to death, discovered coconut liqueur.
Went to a party, got to bed 7.30 a.m.
Thurs & Fri this week: partners meeting with CETIM and PERA people.
Felicity Lott wore a splendid creation made from lavender gauze & sequins & sequins & more sequins. The soloist in the Tippett (David Wilde) looked like Benny Hill.
The Notting Hill Carnival looked like the ultimate advert for soap powder – blinding white gowns billowing in the breeze. Steve tried photographing some aggro and was told off by the locals.
When we got crushed we were separated & met up at Richard’s flat in the next block. Spent all night tying paper weights to a helium balloon to make it hang in mid-air.
Journal Entry: February 1999
Meanwhile, today at work Sharon was called in for a meeting with Mike. Five minutes later we were all called in and he explained that company performance was very poor. The only remedy for this is to increase production, which means that the R&D staff need to concentrate on issues relating to the factory, with new product development being suspended.
Also, Sharon has agreed to take on the job of running the drum business (as we were told earlier this week).
All in all, this shake-up has created a mood of simmering hostility. When Sharon asked me to tell her about drum coatings, I said “but you were put in charge because you know more about them than anybody else”, whereupon she looked ready to burst into tears.
In December Mason made zero profits. I commented that ‘the company’s fortunes can’t be that bad if we can release people regularly to teach kids to read and write’.
We’re also being asked to keep an hourly log of every working day to establish the cost of R&D dept.
The works have found out that Jon & Mark are scrutinising their activities in a pseudo- time and motion study.
Late at night.
Went to Metro to see ‘π’, the exceedingly pretentious and enthralling B-and-W movie about…well, I’m not sure wot it was about. Today at work we had the results back from the Employee Satisfaction Survey. Load of garbage. And I helped Sheila write part of her psychology essay, a florid tapestry of confusion.
Journal Entry: March 1991
This morning gave a talk about my project to the rest of group.
Phoned up the Dept of Employment who asked if I was being given pay in lieu of notice. So off I went to see Personnel (again!) to find out. One of the young workers in there got my file out and placed it open, on her desk so her colleague could examine it. After a few seconds’ reading, this one looked up at her mate & said “I don’t know what to say to that”.
Yesterday left Oxford & went up to Wigton in Cumbria (birthplace of Melvyn Bragg) for an interview with UCB Plastics. Anyway, one of the other interviewees was staying at the same hotel as me. It turned out to be Jennifer, the girl who shared a house with Jody and Graham at Harrow.
However, returning to the journey up – I paused at Carlisle station & sent off some postcards to Jean, Julie, Dad and Pam & John.
Anyway, at the Royal Oak Hotel had a divine meal – smoked mackerel in lime & tarragon sauce, chicken with ham and asparagus, and profiteroles.
The interview itself was a disaster. They began by giving me a ‘personality profile’ quiz in which I had to nominate the words in groups of four which best described me.
Then they wanted to know if I was married, did I have a girlfriend, do I see myself getting married? And then – having explained to me how UCB employed 800 out of the 5000 inhabitants of Wigton – the MD said ‘…it’s a small town and you won’t have any secrets from anybody’, which I thought extremely odd!
Here I am listening to Chris Rea (‘On the Beach’) and reading Leonard Cohen & thinking about the chemical weapons with which Saddam is attacking the Kurdish rebels & about the six hundred oils wells which are ablaze in Kuwait.
In Kuwait it’s too late to be hateful. In Kuwait you can read a newspaper at night by the light from the oil wells, but they make so much thick black smoke that car drivers keep their headlights on in the daytime.