Celtic Illumination, part 268, Slurry with a fringe on top.
We had to have a company meeting which was held on the afternoon, of the first Friday, of every month, in a hotel in Lytham Saint Annes. Prizes would be given, normally cut glass crystal items like whiskey glasses or vases. I found these events quite boring; the first half of the afternoon was a company meeting with motivational speeches and gifts. The second half would be each little team would get together and discuss their progress. I found this weird, as you were always out on your own in the field and I began to understand that although civilians love to talk about team work, they hadn’t the first idea about it at all. If I was to encounter any problems out in the field I could contact my team leader who would come to my rescue, if he wasn’t too busy. He was also supposed to occasionally call in on me, and all the other members of our team, and make sure we had no problems.
I remember at one of these meetings we were all given new cars, well; when I say given, I mean that our existing cars were exchanged for brand new cars. I didn’t mind the fact that we had no choice in the colour, make or even model of the vehicle. I do remember driving home and noticing that the rubber seal that held the front windshield in place was coming loose, I couldn’t have been bothered to go to the garage and get it fixed, so I told myself that I would repair it myself when I got home. I subsequently discovered that the only adhesive that I had at home was wood glue, so, as the car would be sitting on my drive overnight, I filled the cavity with wood glue and pushed the rubber back into place. Being so clever, means that I could probably fix anything, anywhere, anytime, using almost any old thing.
Before you get tremendously jealous let me explain that my next port of call was working for a solicitor in Pontypool in South Welsh Wales. As I set off bright and early Monday morning, cruising along the motorway at the prescribed speed limit, for I would never exceed it, not moi, I noticed that the rubber was beginning to come out again from around the windshield, but what was even more exciting was that the wood glue was now spreading out along and across the windshield. This is where being so intelligent and loving complicated mental arithmetic comes into play. As you have set out at a certain time and calculated your journey, precisely, so that you will arrive at your destination on time, you now must work out if you will still be able to see out through the front windshield of your car when you arrive in Pontypool. This involves calculating the rate of spread of the glue, affected not only by the speed of the vehicle plus wind speed, the surface area of the windshield, the volume and viscosity of the glue and of course what sort of a mess would there be if I used the windshield wipers?
So; do I pull over and clean the windshield or do I leave it and hope for the best? That’s probably what normal people would think; I of course, thought differently, I kept driving because apart from not wanting to be late for my first appointment, which was with the solicitor I was working for that week, I had calculated that there was not enough wood glue to cover the windshield completely. Of course when I say calculated, I mean hoped. I managed to get to Pontypool and my meeting on time, the fact that the car looked a mess didn’t bother me. Pontypool was a small rural town in the South Welsh valleys and with the amount of agricultural vehicles moving through the town, coupled with the incessant rain, almost every vehicle in the town was splattered with mud. By the way, please don’t think I’m complaining, small, rural, persistent rain and grey mud, splatted everywhere, reminded me of rural Ireland, so I was happy.
The solicitor was a nice fellow and quite excited that he was defending his first murder case that week. He gave me his list of people I should go and blackmail, showed me to my office and left me alone, which was good for I had things to organise. First job was to find somewhere to stay; second job was to line up a series of appointments. Third job was to work out a route to Chester as I had managed to get an interview for another job, but the only problem was that it was in Chester and was on Wednesday. I could see that I had two choices for travelling to Chester. One route was directly though the Welsh mountains and would be about one hundred and twenty miles. The other route was to leave Wales, circumvent the whole mountain range but use the English motorways which would be about one hundred and eighty miles. Both routes would take approximately the same amount of time.
Both routes had advantages and disadvantages. I loved driving through mountains whether they be Welsh, Irish, Scottish or Italian. Motorway driving could be boring at the best of times but at least you could travel along at a fair rate of knots and not get caught behind slurry dripping tractors and trailers, well; not that often. And of course there was the little niggling problem at the back of my mind which was how long was the front windshield of my car going to stay in place for. Despite my little problems I was looking forward to at least having a go at the chance of working for this new company. The job was for an audiologist with a private company. The company was Scrivens, with their headquarters in Birmingham. The job was to cover the North West of England so that’s why the interview was in Chester.
I was impressed and a little excited with their advert. I can still remember it offered, first class training, an executive company car, a competitive salary, and an open ended commission structure. There were lots of other goodies on offer as well, but the main ones were decent enough for me. I remember turning up at the hotel in Chester and joining twenty other hopefuls in a room. We all sat around a large table and eventually someone came in and began talking to us. I was a little disorientated as for me an interview was when you went into to a room with one, or two, or three or more people and answered questions they asked you. Towards the end of the morning there was a break in proceedings for tea and coffee. I was called outside and a fellow explained that this was a group interview. There were four places on offer and they felt that I might be capable of winning a place, but I had to perform more in the group interview.
Now that I understood what had to be done, I performed as requested and took over the group. I could see the fellow smiling as I controlled the discussions that followed, but I still wasn’t convinced that I had done enough. I suppose what I didn’t like was that in the forces we would have been briefed beforehand, this is what is going to happen and this is what we expect you to do. Of course civilians, being such wonderful managers and leaders, didn’t bother with any of that guff. People began to be called from the room and our numbers dwindled. I initially wondered if there were being called outside to be given a little hint, like I had been, but as none of them were returning I deducted that they were out of the process.
It was very similar to the reception foyer at Biggen Hill as thirty seven of us sat there wondering who was going to be thrown out, by the time there were only ten of us left, the old nerves were beginning to stretch. One of the qualities that had been highlighted, or pointed out to me, at both Biggen Hill and Hereford was that I was a natural leader, so that fact certainly gave me a huge amount of confidence. But I was still relieved to hear that I had made the final four and had got the job, which I rewarded myself by driving back to Pontypool through the Welsh mountains. It wouldn’t be long before I could replace my wood glue covered car with an executive vehicle. I knew I would have to explain the mess when I handed the car back, unless of course I could clean the mess up myself within the next ten or twelve days. I might have been able to get away with it had my team leader not been waiting for me in Pontypool and apart from him wanting to know what had happened to my car, he wanted to know where I had been all day too.