I was a Qualanoid Zombie

I remember when George Bush Senior was referred to (in a satirical novel) as ‘Vice-President Shrub’. Oh, those were the days!

It was thirty years ago today…
Journal Entry, 10 Feb 1987: This morning sent off an application form to British Industrial Sand. Went to MEB and Gas, phoned Pam to say my housesitting services were available.
Last night on TV: BPI Awards and ‘The Films of David Cronenberg’ – Rabid, Dead Zone, The Fly etc. Must compose the Cronenberg Concerti.
On the news: writs issued against Duncan Campbell for his Zircon reporting, he splendidly defiant, holding aloft a glass trophy for anyone who can demonstrate that he has damaged national security.
I think MI6 more to blame for their pathetic recruitment techniques: only qualifications needed are an Oxbridge Degree, clean collar and cuffs and a gay lover already employed by MoD to provide reference.

11 Feb 1987: This morning in the post: application forms for Halesowen College and Pyrene Chemicals. Answers to be vetted by Paul and Ada. (Note: Paul and Ada were staff at the day care centre where I was doing voluntary work in 1987)

11 Feb 2017: I’m living in a rented two-bed flat, claiming Universal Credit and working part-time as a shelf-filler in Tesco. I don’t own a car, or a motorbike, or a hi-fi.

Journal Entry, 20 May 2013: Yesterday went to Caffé Nero, then to AMC to watch ‘Olympus Has Fallen’, an amazingly crude and violent thriller about a terrorist siege at the White House. Borrowed heavily from Die Hard.
Before this film we have four trailers, one of which was for a movie called ‘White House Down’ which looks as though it might be an amazingly crude and violent thriller about a terrorist siege at the White House.

Journal entry, 3 May 2013: Yesterday had my ‘Skills Training Needs’ meeting with Larry Candler at work. He’s never read my CV and didn’t know I had an interest in bikes. We went through a long list of standard tests – humidity exposure, colorimetry, impact, Buchholz etc – to see how well I knew them and how often they were required.
At one point he asked ‘Have you worked anywhere before you came to us?’ which seemed odd. Perhaps he thinks I’m actually 26 years old, fresh out of college; so I ran through my reverse chronology.

Journal entry, 26 Apr 2013: Last night to AMC to see ‘Side Effects’, an ornate psychological thriller starring Jude Law. At work, Nick H called in to examine the kA testing samples.

In the news: over 200 dead in Bangladesh following the collapse of a sweatshop clothing factory.

Today at work, Dave asked me ‘Do you know what time we’re having this meeting?’ and it turned out that there was a Marine/Ad Hoc lab meeting to which I hadn’t been invited. Mind you, when I do go to meetings they never include anything relevant to me.

James left at the end of Feb: no decision yet made about who is now responsible for calibrating stuff. Ryan left at end of Dec: no decision yet made about who’s in charge of Marine stuff. Had an e-mail from Amy at kA, which began ‘Hi Richard’. It appears that no-one had notified kA that Rick Hayden had left Exova a year ago.

Journal entry, 29 May 2013: This morning we were all summoned to a meeting at very short notice with Mike Pooley, European MD. He waffled on about achieving synergies by transferring technology between different departments, in order to achieve improved efficiency. Mentioned ‘Oil and Gas’ about 15 times.
Said that the restructuring process would take 2 to 3 months, plans announced end of June. There will be five redundant positions among management following this shake-up, consultation process underway.

‘A very exciting period for us all…’

Meanwhile, Dave has tracked down four client reports which had been Authored by Dean and Approved by Danny, but still not Sent to Client, so they’re now 8 weeks overdue. Littered with mistakes, lazy cut-and-paste, overlooked batch numbers etc.

Journal entry, 25 Jul 2013: At work the lovely Danielle and Dean were having an e-mail discussion about QUV lamps wearing out – jolly lofty and pretentious. I joined in, asking whether the QUV people had any thoughts on our use of tap water instead of demin for the QUV-Spray system – in breach of ASTM and ISO requirements.

Then Danny sent me a form to laminate including the erroneous NH3SO4, so I replied asking for this to be changed.

Journal entry, 18 Apr 2013: Yesterday we had our marine/ad hoc lab meeting – Danny went through the usual H and S etc. Then he introduced Malcolm and Kelly, both of whom have joined the department ‘for an unspecified period’. Carl looked annoyed at this, since he still hasn’t been given a firm contract. They’re interviewing him and A N Other for his job.

I was again treated as invisible – Dean is now in charge of wet paint testing and will be authorised to train up everybody else – including myself, presumably.
Performance reviews to be carried out early in May. Matt has scheduled a coatings update meeting on 25 April.
Danny gave me a job to start work on; the quotation is six months old (Sep ‘12) and there is no purchase order.

Hurrah for John Carter, for He is the Salvation of us all! Today I sent an enquiry to Lindsay (copied in JC and Danny) about Wask, our new client. I mentioned that they weren’t on LIMS but we had started work.
JC promptly fired me a stiff e-mail message saying we should NOT be starting work if there is no PO or pro-forma. But alas! It was three hunky blokes called Danny, Dean and Carl who hoisted the 60 kilogram units into the salt-spray machine, not moi – cos I was away on hols on Monday!

Journal entry, 26 Jun 2013: Last night rode over to visit Dave and Jess – v enjoyable meal, Toad in Hole. This morning got the 6.45 bus to town then train to Stockport, then taxi to Alphabond. Initial impressions not very good – small building on a drab industrial estate, no receptionist.
I was met by Dylan (son of Nigel) who gave me a standard application form to complete. Employment & educational history. And it asked for work and character references. Talk about insulting.
I sat in their reception area and filled the thing in, then he reappeared and briefly looked over my writings. ‘Have you got any references?’ he asked.

Then I was ushered through to an office and he looked at my CV (as supplied by Whitehall) and he had their internal interview questionnaire and proceeded to ask exactly the same questions – in the same order – that Nigel had asked over the phone last week. What a waste of time. Also said ‘What sort of person are you…are you married, for instance?’

Kept asking me about money – what was I looking for, and would Exova make a counter offer to prevent me leaving. At one point I mentioned that I didn’t know what figure would be appropriate for a PhD with 20 years’ industrial experience, and he immediately said ‘it depends on what value a person brings to the company.’

Journal entry, 11 Jun 2013: A couple of weeks ago Danny sent me a ‘high-importance’ e-mail asking me to prepare a Qualanod SOP (or rather telling me that Matt had requested one) and that we would discuss it over the following week.
So far, nothing. During our marine meeting yesterday, JC said that some Qualanod Testing (and AASS) would be coming in.
And today, of course, our scheduled coatings team meeting – Tuesday afternoon relocated to Tuesday morning relocated to Friday morning – has now been cancelled.

Journal entry, 27 Jun 2013: About 6 weeks ago Danny sent me an e-mail saying that Matt M needed an SOP for Qualanod etching. Today at long last he responded (clumsily) finding fault with the nominated ISO standard spec. (Note: a long story, involving me carrying out Qualanod etching partly outside the fume cupboard because it was occupied by Jon and Gaz. Danny notified Dave Carr who invited me to a disciplinary hearing about breach of safety procedures., rather than ask me directly…)