No More Mister Macklin

Zinc Void, 19/11/04

As old as old and painfully aware
From day one you let us know that
he cold blue light was shaped by cells
High profile kept in check by infidels
A pose of cynical disdain, so desperate
To show us all that we no longer care.

Here, this bottle carries deeper red
Than anything you might have seen before:
A rock star died and left it in his room
Although, surrounded by success it seemed
That life had nothing left in store but
Disappointment – at least that’s what he said.

They found the note in 1988; gold ink,
Blue paper, four pages to confess
To sins that left us all aghast;
We confidently thought the stories of your past
Were lurid tales to hide the loneliness
Of one who badly wanted to be great. 

Journal Entry, 28 Nov 04: Fri night went to Anne’s house, met her two dogs and three cats, all adorable.
Sat morn train to Piccadilly, Luke came and picked me up, went to Guildhall and found place locked up. Went to Town Hall to ask their ushers to redirect any lost bikers to our place.

We set about putting up raffle prize posters and balloons. Dave and Jules turned up minus one raver, waiting for other band and PA system. Rick turned up with a bottle in hand, much to the annoyance of JJ (Guildhall manager).
Rick breezed in and grabbed the DJ’s mike, and announced ‘Welcome to the joint XYZ and ABC Rock Night, although I don’t know what they have done because we organised the whole thing.’

Then as the band were nearing the end of their set he announced: ‘The owners of this place have told us that we need to finish the music at eleven-thirty; well, I think they can just fuck off, and we don’t need to worry about not being invited back, cos we can just find somewhere else!’
Which outburst left me feeling panic stricken – although the staff asked if we would be back next year, which means they must have taken a fortune behind the bar. 

10 Jul 05: Last week, four terrorist bombs in London. Last night 20,000 people evacuated from Birmingham. LK went to visit Anastasia in her new Caravan of Lurve. She then discovered that Bobby has been spying on her on Gaydar via a pseudonym.
Before going away I sent e-mail to MSC with ideas about decorating float with chains. Steve S replied saying he thought Julian’s idea was good and more fun. But when I spoke to J- he said he wanted a general chat, not to provide specific ideas.

12 Oct 96: This afternoon Lady K rang to torment me by shaking a box of Aldi Belgian chocolates down the line.
Later on during the conversation he mentioned that he was moving over to Cable and the phone went dead.
He rang back, and I said ‘Oh, they don’t like it when you use that word.’ So of course he goes ‘Well, when I’m connected up to CABLE my CABLE phone bills will be a lot lower thanks to CABLE which is why so many people have gone over to CABLE CABLE CABLE! CABLE already, even.’
I was in hysterics and managed to stop tittering long enough to tell him that the word ‘cable’ was derived from the Persian word for ‘harness’. ‘You know’ I said, ‘those things you put on a horse.’ ‘Or a man’ he replied.

Tues 4 Mar 97: Last night went to Showcase to see ‘Mars Attacks!’
On Sunday night in the changing room heard one of the cricketers say it was the worst film he’s ever seen. Anyway, I thought it was hysterical.
Sent letter to Jules and Kev.

Today I was sat in the lab office when Malcolm burst in, turned to Dave and said excitedly ‘Come and look at this!’ It turned out that one of Sheila’s tins had flown off the stirrer and covered the floor.
Anyway, Dave and I helped her clean up the mess while M- just ignored us and carried on working.
About an hour later M- was frantically stirring his paint when he suddenly stopped and rushed over to the sink to wash red paint off his face.
How apt. I kept quiet about this – instant karma, huh?

Letter from Steve M-; still out of work, still fighting Craps Paints.

Weds 5 Mar 97: Today at work was reading ‘Satanic Verses’ & came across what I think is the passage which caused all the furore. Basically all the brothels have been shut down except the one patronised by the chief of police. The dozen prostitutes there have adopted the names and character traits of Mahomet’s wives (inc one dead) because it turns their clients on.

How anyone can be dumb enough to interpret this as a comment on the behaviour of the Prophet himself I don’t know.

Sat 29 Jun 96: Weds, Thurs and last night have been to the Admiral Duncan in Nott’m.

Yesterday got to work to find everyone asking me if I had been involved in the trouble. Apparently there had been a violent altercation in Macklin St, a bloke being kicked unconscious. Yesterday evening a WPC came round to interview everyone and asked where I had been. I said unconscious in bed. She was concerned that I wasn’t wearing my glasses.

Wrivel Pardox

Journal Entry, 21 May 2002: Full day’s work – knackered.

Got to work 8.00, did some QC. Phil H rang at 8.40 & said that he’s cleared it with DRP for me to go to Perkins. Hopped in car and went down there. The A513 has been re-numbered so I got lost. Eventually found the place & took samples – flakes from a plastic cover.
Got back at 1.35.
Endless phone calls, issued formulation, they want a 50-litre sample then 250 more next week.
Did some C-of-Cs.

Asked Rob about putting formulations on system. He said ‘But didn’t Corrie show you how to do it?’
‘Of course not.’
‘Well, I asked her to.’ Indeed, thought I.

22 May 2002: Rob P has flug away somewhere this morning – no one told me, just overheard.

No work has been done on the prep or ordering or delivery of my new Dusty Grey (that’s the name of the colour) primer for Perkins.
Went to cycbercafe, looked up Fiends Reunited and put myself on the Carrs Paints listing (headed ‘ladoratories’).
Went to Company Bar, saw Steve I and Steve II – gave him phone no for MS. We got chatting to some leather guy who turned out to be the ex-Pres of MSC Finland.

23 May 2002: Visit from Jason Campbell, Stort Chems. He knows a lot about Altana. We eventually finished the 50 litres of Dusty Grey for Perkins.
India and Pakistan heading for war.

Sales dept keeps asking us about a batch of white overdue from works. I had heard mention of this stuff yesterday – ‘drying problems’ – and found out it was wrivelling. Told Kev it had too much drier added, so I added 0.5 percent MEKO to a small sample and solved the problem. [Note: I was leaving work one evening and saw that four drums of MEKO had been delivered, but the warehouse staff had mistakenly put product labels on them for the solvent MEK. Pointed this out to the boss, probably saved the company about 20 grand in lost production]


Together In That Church (Charles and Diana)

The wedding of the century, they said;
The fusion of perfection into perfection
Blows the mind, while time rolled by
And glory became a password

The metal was hardened and tempered
And a gorgeous sense of feeling
Entered the stone we watched grow old.

I succumbed to the Hawklords’ spell
And imbibed the more exquisite
Journeys on a trip no travel guide can tell.

For he was drunk and I was ugly
Which must have cancelled out a lot of sins;
So that we might one day take our place
In that painted heaven
Where the journey to yourself begins. 

3 Jun 2002: Glorious sunny day (it rained earlier, as it’s meant to on Bank Hols) and tonight is pop concert in grounds of Buck House – Queen, Elton, Cliff, Shirley, Rod and Ozzy (oh, to be famous enough to have just one name!) all giving their utmost for big bad Liz.

Grace Jones also performed, but that’s another story…
England play Argentina Friday afternoon. It will be like WW III.

Well, Party at the Palace is in full swing – Tom Jones showing everyone how to use vocal cords, Toploader setting crowd alight and Brian May bringing the history of the guitar solo to a single rose-coloured point of joy…
[Oddly enough, while I type this I can hear an assortment of Prince songs on Radio Four in the next room]

17 July 2011: Last night went to the Lass O’Gowrie for a quick drink to kill time before going to see ‘Potiche’ at The Cornerhouse.
It turns out that the L O’G is hosting a 2-week arts festival as a sort of grumpy alternative reaction to the MIF currently running.

The had some girl (I think) doing a strip tease while gyrating the Hula Hoop (again, a very Grace Jones moment). Other highlights included a VHS recording of ‘Star Wars’ off the telly in 1982, complete with mouldy old adverts.
Tomorrow night they have a guest speaker – Ramsay Campbell.
Potiche was v funny and deliberately rather dated.

This morning rode over to Stretford to go to Laundryette, and although the floor tiles are the same, the stylised foliage-type wallpaper has been replaced with swirling doble lines in gold on a white background like isobars or a Hans Bellmer drawing.

17 July 2011: Rebecca Brookes of N[ews] I[nternational] has resigned and been arrested, and [Sir] Paul Stevenson (Commisioner of Metropolitan Police) has resigned because he was involved with the NI executives and bribery.

20 July 2011: Last night had some dull pain which spread over my right shoulder. Horrible.
Meanwhile, at work the atmosphere has gone very strange. We’ve turned down a job which John C originally quoted for in March 2010.
Also trying to do Taber abrasion on panels of Inconel coated with TiN. Can’t get a stable DFT or drill a hole in the middle of it.
Danny doesn’t speak to me apart from bare instructions on work.  Chris did a 5S audit and shortly afterwards I had an e-mail message from D- full of complaints about the state of the lab.

Ryan has just returned from a business trip to S Korea. No reason why anyone should have discussed it with me, but also no reason why it should have been kept secret. And we submitted a quote to *** offering to carry out rebar testing for £280 when the actual cost of the test (done properly) is about £17000.

 Wednesday Morning

A vapour trail
Not straight, but curved
Defaced the Eccles sky.
I walk to work.

And I recall
A lightbulb-blue filled room
When March that year
Became my festival of pain. 

Friday 13 May 2011Yesterday morning woke up with severe twinge of back pain. Showed Qualicoat application staff round the lab. Then we all went off to Bem Brasil restaurant and gorged ourselves on meat and salad.
As we finished the meal the neighbouring table was taken over by Roberto Mancini and some other MCFC people.
Then off to the MEN Arena to see John Bishop – I’d never seen him before, v funny.
The middle-aged couple sat next to me said ‘Oh, he’s nice, he doesn’t use a lot of bad language like other comedians’. Anyway, he turned out to be lavishly profane – but they still roared with laughter.

This trip was arranged as a reward for our excellent 5S performance in tidying the lab last year. A far cry from the set-up at Carrs Paints, where we had to do three hours unpaid overtime every week, cleaning the spray booths and mopping the lab floor.
[Diary entries, overtime: 16/02/96, 20/02/96, 23/02/96, 27/02/96, 01/03/96, 05/03/96, 08/03/96, 15/03/96, 19/03/96, 22/03/96 – mainly 1 hour each]


Cement Fix I

Journal Entry, 7 May 1994: Went down to the office today – few weeks ago boss asked me and Paul to look at using emulsion resins to modify some cement, an imported budget grade from a company called Chapcrete.
We made up a dozen samples using PU or SBR or epoxy emulsion systems at three diff percent levels. Cast out 2mm-thick slabs and left overnight at 50 deg C to set.

The epoxy samples were no gd – some of them cracked while drying, showed really piss-poor strength. The other two resins gave decent strength on the cast panels. The boss never asked us to check water-resistance but I decided to do it anyway, put panels in demin water at room temp. Weight uptake after 2 weeks: 0.6 percent (PU) and 1.1 percent (SBR).
The test coupons were allowed to dry out for ten days at RT and then tested for tensile strength.  PU-modified samples were very weak, about half the original strength. The SBR-treated samples were much stronger than before.

Anyway, we wrote up a quick report on this, left it in his pigeonhole, got a summons to the office today.  ‘Are these the test results?’ Yes, we said. ‘Are you sure you tested them all the same?’ Yes, of course, we said. ‘And this is the only one that really works?’ (holding up sample 64A/4C).

‘Well, I reckon you might have gone wrong somewhere with the testing. Why does this one work but not the others? I mean, you would have to pick the most expensive grade…’
I started to tell him that the data sheets for the SBR resin said it was highly water-resistant unlike the others, but he banged his fist on the table (so bold!) and shouted ‘Look, you’re not telling me what I want to hear! Now get out and test the others again until you find one that works!’

So we scurried out of the office and when I saw him the next day mentioned that we had used up all the cement powder and could he order us another sample? ‘Oh, there’s a whole bag in the warehouse’ he said, ‘Get Clive to show you where he’s put it.’
Went to see Clive who was (as usual) leaning on a broom and chatting to one of the delivery drivers. Waited four minutes before he eventually noticed me. ‘Yeah?’ Told him we needed some cement powder, and at first he didn’t know what we meant. Turns out the lads have been helping themselves to this stuff and the sack is now half-empty.
So I was filling a tub to take up to the lab and suddenly realised that I have seen that brand of cement before. A couple of years ago I had a brief and brutal encounter in a dark warehouse with a security guard, whose torch had picked out the Chapcrete logo on a paper sack next to my head.

The actual episode happened round the back of the railway station; I was going out with Colin at the time and we were out in town for a couple of drinks.
So we were there on a dull Saturday night; the dreadful weather had taken down lots of trees so that commuters were anxiously searching for hotel rooms, the trains having been cancelled and several main roads blocked.

One young woman dragging a wheeled case approached us. ‘Can you help? I’m looking for Melton Street…’ I pointed at a tower block visible about three minutes’ walk distant. ‘See that building? That’s the Melton Hotel.’
Her face broke into a relieved smile and she thanked us before hurrying away.

When we arrived at the pub we found it closed because the staff (according to a sign on the door) were unable to leave home that night. So we turned back and decided to have a drink in the railway station.
‘I know – let’s go round past the workers’ shed and get in without buying a ticket’ said Colin. So we wandered down the side of the car park, almost deserted under the harsh mercury lights. But the gate, normally open until midnight, had been locked shut. We were about to go back when a yell from a nearby portakabin stopped us.

Thinking that someone might have been injured, we looked in the window; the cabin was dark except for where bars of light from outside fell on the desk and the shovels lined up against the wall. In the gloom, a dark shape could be made out and after a few moments it moved into an illuminated area of the cabin, showing that it was two male figures locked in an embrace.

As they pulled apart we both gasped and ducked below the window, but not before we had seen a protruding limb caught in the light, a bold white truncheon that flashed before passing back into the shadows.

‘Come on’ I whispered, ‘let’s get in that shed.’ We stayed crouching and ran to a nearby hut, pausing to look round. No sign of anyone following. Once inside the shed it was completely dark; I used my hands to navigate around Colin’s legs and he groped fiercely at my face, pulling me down so that I could lick and suck. Trying desperately to undo his jeans I fumbled with the Mobius zip; a squirming baby eel with denim scales and flashing teeth of brass, whose end remained forever out of reach.

The gasping and grunting went on for only half a minutes before he gave a muffled yell and my mouth was flooded with acrid slime. I leaned over and began coughing and retching to clear my throat, and both of us gave a start when a voice said quietly ‘Hi lads…d’you need a hand with that?’

The figure stood in the doorway; we didn’t know if he could actually see us, and had no idea if we were about to be assaulted. He stepped back into the light so we could clearly make out his bulky shape, the hefty fluorescent jacket bearing a security firm logo. We both shielded our eyes in pain as he flicked on his torch and watched us cowering in a corner.

A few seconds later he was kneeling next to us, stroking the back of my neck and murmuring ‘Come on…come on, just get your arse out…good lad.’
I was so aroused by what we had earlier witnessed and annoyed that Colin had managed to shoot without waiting for me that I hastily undid my jeans. But I didn’t have the nerve to pull them down; I wanted this stranger to do it. He pushed a hand down the back of my jeans and began to finger me, delicious and painful at the same time. ‘Use some spit’ I gasped.

Colin moved forward and reached to the guard’s crotch, unzipping him and pulling out the sturdy white knob. The torchlight made everything appear crisp and unreal, like an illustration; the dense black hair around the guy’s cock, the pool of saliva, the scattered workshop tools and a split bag of cement with a dramatic logo. The kneading and grinding sensations continued, making me think of a fishmonger ripping the tentacles from a large squid.

I screwed my eyes up, snorting to stop myself crying out in pain. The guard moaned briefly and then gave a coarse grunt before quickly pulling out and walking away. Colin helped me to pull my jeans back up and cleaned the grazed skin where my cheek had been pushed against the floor. We walked unsteadily back through the car park and managed to find a late bus home. Two payslips had fallen out of the guard’s pocket, and we kept them as souvenirs.

Journal Entry, 9 Dec 2005: Developments at work. This morning had meeting with Alan D followed by a meeting with Steve S.
Tech Service and Development are to be merged and then split up into four smaller teams. Lots of sarcasm about the production staff – John K remarked that ‘All the lads hate G-, they think he’s a knob jockey.’

So far at work – tech service, preparing long-oil and stoving alkyd and WB dispersions of yellow, red & violet pigments. I get development samples to test, including yellow 151 with lumps in it.

Journal Entry, 25 Jul 2006: Sent off my CV to Listgrove and SRG. Upheaval in the world of crime and punishment – jurors from the Jill Dando murder trial say they have doubts on the conviction of Barry George.
And one of the senior police officers in the Stephen Lawrence murder case has been accused of corruption, receiving money from the father of suspect David Norris.

Journal Entry, 16 Oct 2006: Another (other) very) very) queerious, mysterious (but not at all) serious incident (from) the (catalogue) of EC Pigm(ent)s.
Early this morning Alan D called into the office to ask if Adam and myself would like to attend a presentation by Bob Christie, (one of (another of, indeed) our innumerable very (very (very)) highly-paid consultants.)

I said I’d like to but I have a hefty programme of work. Shortly after (wards) I was working in the lab when Bruce looked in to remind us that this talk was taking place. But I missed it because nobody told me where or when it was taking place.
Rather like Mike Allen somehow ‘forgetting’ to send me an e-mail about the sales team dinner last November which I was meant to attend.
And my unofficial demotion from ‘Senior Tech Service Chemist’  to ‘Lab Technician’.



Her Imperial Mauveness

Journal Entry, 14 Oct 2013: Last night stayed in with a pizza – never went to Blayds, never got upset over Chris, never had 3 pints of Kronenbourg and didn’t stagger back home via McDonalds. Got up really early. Plugged in printer & scanned the Electoral Register.

Then I was brushing my teeth and had a coughing fit which jolted my lower back and I’ve spent the entire day in pain.
At work made a mess of loading the cloth roller-towel so Danny had to cut it free. Bah!

15 Oct 2013: Today at work WWE caught me watching as she spent half-an-hour messing around with her driving licence. ‘Yes?’ she said in her most imperious manner.

Boss has been asking why Perkin-Elmer charge 200 pounds an hour, and we want to send our machine to their workshop for servicing.
Meanwhile, John at work asked if I ever went to gay bars. Me: ‘Yes, all the time.’ He stared, so I asked if he was surprised.

17 Oct 2013: At work, made up a small batch of black stainer for the coatings shop to use, but I had left a few tiny flecks of black on the stirrer. Later on, the WWE flounced into the office and said angrily ‘Have you finished using the stirrer?’

Yes, said I, why? She complained that ‘There is black pigment all over it!’
Ah, said I, I was waiting for that complaint. She always starts the day with a complaint about something.

We have been having problems with intercoat adhesion using epoxy systems on the works. I made some dual-coated panels, using the actual works batch of material which had failed the amine-bloom test. I tried to insert a knife-blade between the layers but it was completely stuck. Hurrah!

[Note: the epoxy coatings are made by stirring the pigments into a keg of resin, at a low P:B ratio. No mechanical grinding is used, no wetting agents to promote pigment dispersion, so silicone flow agents, and an overall low P:B. The corresponding products from rival companies tend to have much higher SG values than ours, but we can’t have dense material since a 20-litre keg will breach manual handling regulations. So the systems are guaranteed not to work properly. And if we use hydrophobic fumed silica, we incorporate that by gentle stirring instead of ball-mill grinding. And if we use any polymer microfibres, these are also dispersed by gentle stirring instead of the almighty thrashing they so badly need]

30 Nov 2013: At work we had a leaving do for one of the guys from the factory floor. He had been with the firm for 26 years, but the presentation lasted two minutes.

9 May 2014: Today at work the repair engineer called in to fix the DSC machine; he said that he had originally installed this item ten years ago and we have not had it serviced once since then.

And I’ve been asked to make some epoxy coating with manganese violet pigment and hydrophobic silica; while wandering round the storage shed I spotted a couple of pallets which between them held 33 tins of the violet paint and 58 tins of hardener – just the stuff I was trying to make. Each tin weighed about 10 kg, so might have been worth £65 to a customer.  And it was all just sitting there, gathering dust and growing older and older and older….

…so anyway, Trevor walked into the boardroom a few minutes after we had started the meeting. He was always late, and usually spent the whole time gazing scornfully at the ceiling or creating elaborate angular doodles on the eight-year-old desk blotter he always took along.

‘Nice of you to join us’ remarked Simon. Trevor smiled weakly at the Sales Manager before slumping into his seat.

The discussion went on and on – a few production issues, cancelled orders, feedback from our trade stand at an exhibition, alternative raw materials suppliers – until we came to the Panufnik Disaster.

‘Right, have we made any progress?’ asked the Managing Director. ‘Of course, we all know that it’s the customers fault; idiots who try to save money by not applying the stuff properly.  We always have this problem with them.

Panufnik Components was a producer of specialist marine equipment, and we had supplied them with four batches of heavy-duty protective coating material. One batch of this stuff had started to crumble away after six months in service, and a huge desalination plant had to be shut down for repairs to be carried out.

‘Well; any ideas?’ The sales manager looked round the room at the assembled team leaders. Trevor, without opening his eyes, raised a finger. A few seconds later he stood up and rapidly pulled two small conical flasks from the pockets of his lab coat.

‘Tell me, would you prefer some peanuts’ – and he placed one flask gently on the table – ‘or would you like some ecstasy’ – and here he slammed the other flask, half-full of gleaming white sweets, onto the polished wood – ‘instead?’

The MD was about to start yelling at him to get out, but Trevor began striding round the room towards a flip-chart, addressing the carpet in a bold, harsh monotone: ‘Now most people think that drugs are harmful and indeed they are exceedingly dangerous and will produce systemic organ imbalance leading to malfunction and death – but rumour has it that peanut allergies are responsible for more deaths in the UK each year than MDMA.’

The sales manager sighed, keen as always to contradict anything that Trevor said. ‘Yeah, but only because they’re consumed in vastly different amounts. Or didn’t you do statistics at school?’

‘Anyway’ (ignoring the interruption) ‘imagine that these nuts’ (winking as he shook a few of them into his hand) ‘are particles of pigment.’

We all stared, wondering what he was going to do next.
‘And imagine that the delightful savoury dust’ (and here he popped a nut into his mouth and began to chew) ‘represents the film of air and water which is tightly bonded’ – here he gave a slight wink and the merest hint of a gasp after the word ‘tight’ – ‘to the surface of each seven-micron granule.’

While talking, he had drawn an irregular shaped blob around whose edges there were snakes and marshmallows and eyes. ‘Now, if you incorporate the pigments by gently stirring them, this layer of damp air will remain at the surface; which is no problem, until two of the particles bump into each other, at which point they will decide to stick together. And if this process happens often enough, the overall number of pigment particles will be reduced by ten, or fifteen, or twenty-five percent.’

‘So what?’ asked the MD. ‘If all the material is still present, then it will give the same level of protection!’
‘But’ continued Trevor, ‘If the number of particles is significantly reduced, then the barrier properties would be compromised. And the colour strength would start to change on storage. And the viscosity would begin to drift’ – at which point, we all began to feel uncomfortable, since these were exactly the performance problems of which the client had complained.

‘But if you incorporate the right amount of wetting agent during the grind stage’ (and here, the purchasing manager snorted, since he was utterly convinced that additives were expensive and unnecessary and gave no improvement) ‘it becomes possible to incorporate higher levels of pigment while keeping the viscosity low’ (at which point the sales manager rolled his eyes in torment, since his entire career was devoted to adding solvent to things in order to make them cheaper, and a lower-viscosity system would not allow him to do this) ‘so we can apply the material more easily.’

None of us had noticed the patches of double-sided tape dotted around the flip-chart, but now Trevor pulled a cheap plastic doll from his pocket and began to roughly dismantle her, sticking the beige-coloured limbs and head around the edge of the blob-shaped blob.
‘Behold, for these are your lovely seductive tendrils of Solsperse’ he began, ‘and they will enable the pigment grains to remain distant from each other and firmly bonded to the resin matrix, giving you’re the level of performance that is so impressive in other firms.’




Aftermath of Lucifer



Aftermath of Lucifer (JCP) 

Youth, with immortal gaiety undimmed
Ripeness, by years indulgent now left spent
Drinks that bitter draught, reality
Spurns the illusion of the cosmic dawn

And all death destined and delicious things
Waiting till the sands no longer fall
More lovely finds, the more it finds them vain

Believe at last the fractured notes we hear…
As through men it thrills
But round the edge it kills
Who love, and of their love
The ones whose love is kept
The poignance feel; at bay

When to the margin of their hope they draw
By cruel awareness of an unjust law.
Away! Thou hast no time to lose!
The sundial mask is falling into place
Long ere this hour thy potent enemy holds

Another suite of constellated lies
Deep counsel with his peers
How best to stay
She hears our yesterday

Thy ventures
Like hollow eastern blossoms washed away.