Celtic Illumination, part 307, Mister Mephistopheles and me.
It was strange visiting TPT as an unemployed employee who didn’t exist. I don’t know who or what they were trying to con, by fiddling my employment status, but I really did feel sorry for any person who was a student with them. And please understand that once again, that having discovered a huge collection of imbeciles, I often did wonder if it was me that was wrong. Perhaps all these social workers and civil servants were not absolutely useless, perhaps it was me. I hated some of the ridiculous set ups that I would encounter throughout my normal working day. I remember nipping around to the admin area to photocopy some paperwork. The photocopier seemed to be under guard from a male student.
I lifted the lid on the photocopier and was about to set my paper on the glass surface when he stopped me. I was informed that I was not allowed to use the photocopier as I hadn’t been trained. I would have to hand him the ‘job’, he would record it in his book along with my name and department and the number of copies I would require. My ‘job’ would be put in the queue and when complete, I would get a telephone call and could come back and, having signed for it, could collect the photocopies. He couldn’t do the ‘job’ there and then as his supervisor wasn’t with him. I understand that it took three days to train an average person on a photocopier. I compared it to the time on 92 Squadron when Slim, the squadron Warrant Officer, threw me a machine gun and within twenty seconds had me turned in to a fully trained killer by saying ‘The bullets come out this end, which you should keep pointed away from yourself at all times.’ Practical and with a health and safety element included, you can’t get better training than that.
Talking about head cases and guns would naturally take me back to dear old Grahame. Tony had been skipping about like an infant outside an occupied toilet waiting for our trip to go and visit Grahame. I did feel sorry for Tony as it wasn’t nice to see how much pressure he was under from debt collectors and the like. Nothing much has changed in the debt industry as I see a nine month BBC undercover investigation into two of the biggest bailiff companies in the UK is about to be broadcast. I understand that one bailiff in the programme describes ‘bailiffs’ as ‘legal thieves ripping people off.’ I think it is an awful shame that poor people allow themselves to be treated so badly, we should arm the population, like Grahame always was. I would like to see a bailiff try to enter his house.
We did, we entered Graham’s house and he hadn’t changed, I had expected him to have mellowed, I wasn’t expecting any prison tattoos, or for his accent to have changed. The only apparent change I could detect was that he had got louder. Grahame and Tony went into another room to discuss their business and I sat down with Ginny and had a nice cup of tea and a chat. Ginny was still upset that all of their so called friends had disappeared when Grahame had been sent down. She didn’t have one good word to say about the Duke of Norfolk’s son, who scarpered away the moment the police showed up and hid behind his father’s skirts, but then that’s just the British aristocracy for you. It took about forty minutes before the pair of them came out and, judging from the smile on Tony’s face, I could tell that Grahame had fixed everything for him. I was reminded of Goethe’s Faust and wondered if I had enabled Tony to actually sell his soul to the Devil.
Graham and I chatted about this and that and the other. He insisted that I send him some of my writing work so that he could skim an eye over it. He knew people you know. I don’t want to leave a direct connection to Grahame from this blog as I would hate to cause him any embarrassment. What I write is the truth, so I have no qualms about recording what has happened, I am not in the business of purposely embarrassing people, that comes later. Just to see if Graham is still on the radar, so to speak, I Googled his name the other day and was quite surprised to see that he is now a film producer and has been for a number of years. I immediately sent him a message so you can expect to see this blog turned in to a major Hollywood blockbuster in the near future. I wonder who they will get to play me? Graham insisted that we stay in touch as he had the odd job come in that might interest me.
Tony and I headed back to Skelmersdale and Tony was adamant that I deserved a reward so he organised a fancy dress party at the air cadet squadron. I decided to dress as my favourite and most influential character, Rab C Nesbitt. Rab was a Glaswegian television sitcom character who would comment on the state of society, and very accurately I may add. Added to this he was an alcoholic whose main lifestyle choice was to remain unemployed. Rab always wore a string vest and a bandage on his head. I could copy the bandage but could not find a string vest anywhere; this was long before the days of the internet and e-bay. I settled for a plain, round necked, tee shirt but to add that little something extra, I set it out and poured a cup of vegetable soup over the front of the garment, allowing it to dry, so it would give the impression that I had vomited over myself.
My costume was quite a success on the evening, but people still remind me of that evening today. One of the then cadets, Carol Browne, always recounts how I stood by the bar picking bits of dried vegetable from the front of my tee shirt and eating them. She found it quite disgusting, in a funny way. I found it quite handy as you all well know there is never enough peanuts on a bar. I suppose I had invented a new and healthy bar snack. Tony disappeared after that and I wonder if like me he had an ulterior motive for being with the air cadets. He wasn’t ex forces, he wasn’t even an ex cadet. so I have no idea why he was with us. We had spent some time together apart from the long journey up and down from Grahame’s or Lumb Bank. We had once been sent off to attend a course in the Lake District about the safe management of outdoor pursuits for teenagers. We never made it to the venue as it was such a nice day and the mountains in the Lake District were looking so splendiferous, we sat outside a country pub all day, drinking beer and admiring the scenery.
And I suppose that is the one thing that I wished I could do instead of sitting in an office with a bunch of high flying TPT managers. I actually hated working for TPT because if you noticed something was wrong, or came up with a more efficient way of doing things, they were not capable of change. I was used to life in the air force where if you could see a better or more efficient way of doing something it would be put into effect immediately. I had been given the usual task of producing a timetable for the two week long mandatory course for the long term unemployed. Once again my comments that this could only be completed in a general manner as to be more specific would depend on the actual individuals on the course, fell on deaf ears. I could see that I wasn’t going to get anywhere so settled down to dream up another theoretical timetable. Then the telephone rang.
The last person I expected to hear was Grahame but sure enough here he was bellowing away at me down the line. “Peter!” he roared. “I have a job that I need your help on.” I know I was smiling as Grahame spoke, for the man was completely off his rocker. “I want you to be my bodyguard for a week.” Makes you feel good when an ex SAS officer needs little old me to protect him, but then the mountain rescue teams didn’t half produce some hard men. “We’re to fly to Johannesburg and pick up a consignment of diamonds. You’ll be given a weapon when we get to South Africa. All we have to do is deliver the diamonds to an address in Amsterdam and its two grand each, for the weeks work.”
A couple of things occurred to me as Graham spoke. One was that if he was offering me two thousand pounds for one week’s work, apart from it being a good deal, he would have been getting at least six. The offer was so far off the scale that it didn’t even register with me, but I could see the opportunity for a bit of a laugh. John, my manager at TPT, was also the chap who trained the air cadets in the use of firearms. Sounds a bit grand for a person who trains teenagers to fire .22 rifles, but such is life. “Listen Grahame,” I explained. “I’m waiting for a call to go to Ireland, but I have a weapons expert here with me who might be interested.” “Put him on,” bellowed Grahame. I covered the mouthpiece as I handed the telephone to John. “There’s a friend of mine here,” I explained. “Who needs help with a wee job. Two grand for a weeks work, but the person needs to know something about guns.” John snapped the telephone from my hand. I sat down and watched the colour drain from his face and he stuttered and spluttered as he turned down the offer from Grahame. I left the office so that the telephone could not be given back to me. I know I was smiling to myself as I walked along. Graham certainly had livened my day up, but he also helped me confirm that I wasn’t the mad one in all of this, perhaps, and I know it sounds very strange, but perhaps I was one of the sane ones.