In the bleak Midwinter

As soon as it transpired that I was not destined to be a criminal my life  took a turn for the better.

I had decided that it was time for me to get a job. I had been considered for a post as groundsman for a yacht club at the end of the summer, believe it or not there had been two rounds of interviews and I had got as far as the second round. These were days when if you applied for a job you got it but they were a little suspicious that I was overqualified with by three grade E A levels.

Next I applied for a job as a temporary warehouseman (yes man) with a well known newsagent chain. This time I was more successful, the interviewer took one look at my strapping physique and announced ‘we’ll take him’. There were a couple of supplementary questions but basically the job was mine.

And so, for the next couple of months I would leave home in the dark and cycle a couple of miles over the closest we had for a hill in Norfolk to a warehouse. I really cant remember much of what I did, I remember it was freezing at ground level and boiling at roof level. I can also remember having to pretend to work when there obliviously wasn’t anything much to do, I would take a broom and go off down the aisles where I would be entertained by finding a copy of ‘The Joy of Sex’ on the shelves awaiting distribution.

The staff consisted of the foreman, a couple of Norfolk lads called Carl and Darren and a couple of women who seemed to do the more intellectual tasks who names escaped me. These were the elite, they had the best jobs but they would be there when the Christmas rush was over. There were three extra staff for the season, recruited alongside me were Trevor and the Colonel. Trevor was a weedy timid lad who seemed about 14, he didn’t say much and was the main source of entertainment for Carl and Darren. I don’t know what the Colonel had done to end up in a temporary job in a warehouse but it must have been something very bad. Clearly The Colonel was not the name he had been born with but he had a moustache and a military bearing. He was phenomenally reactionary even by 70’s Norfolk standards and would launch into diatribes that would leave him red faced and exhausted if he observed anything that smacked of liberal decay. One morning Carl reported that petrol had been syphoned  from the works van overnight by local ner do wells ‘cut their fucking balls off’ roared The Colonel turning crimson.

Clearly the rest of the staff didn’t want much to do with us and the temp staff took their breaks separately, I made sure I took a book.

Best of all though, I had started a relationship. I had met Lucy (not her real name, that was Bridget) at a rare ‘gig’ by my band The Rockwell Buzz Company’. I think that for one weekend the various band members had reconvened  for the weekend and were mob handed enough to jam at a party held in a house in the country. I still miss those days when I knew rich bohemians, the house was enormous and for one night only occupied by a group of teenagers. Anyway Lucy appeared keen but I only really developed social skills where women were concerned about 30 years later by which time it was little to late. Anyway one day a received a call at the warehouse from Lucy saying she was ‘passing by’ (this was on an industrial estate) and did I fancy going for a lunchtime drink ? For the first time I became aware of just how resourceful women can be when they want something, she had phoned the main branch shop and obtained the number of the godforsaken warehouse. It was a lovely feeling to be wanted, really there is nothing like starting a new relationship at Christmas, my endorphins were working overtime.

Clearly here was nothing wrong with having a couple of pints and then going to work in a hazardous environment and so we had lunch together whenever possible, I was earning a wage now, sometimes we even shared a packet of crisps.

The year, rather belatedly, just got better. Old friends began to drift back from university, Phil had a job on the post, Dunc couldn’t be arsed, they were slightly dismayed at my habit of falling asleep in the pub after eight hours pretending to work.

As the warehouse prepared to close for a couple of days were be visited by the local company bigwig. He stank of alcohol, ‘don’t drink and drive’ he advised us as he left jangling his car keys. We must have had some kind of party and loosened up with a bit of seasonal drinking on Christmas eve. Predictably it got out of had, the women decided it would be a good idea to cut off my shoulder length hair. Becoming alarmed by them waving enormous scissors in from of my face I had to escape by knocking a fire extinguisher off the wall at which point we were sent home only to have a brief sleep and go out on the town again.

What with being so busy I was missing out on the music scene. This might not have been such a bad thing. Despite punk the huge hit single was Mull of Kintyre by Wings.

Now, as I’ve made clear, I have no problems with Macca doing whatever he wants, the man wrote ‘Hey Jude’, if he wants to rhyme Kintyre with desire in what sounds like a first draft he bloody well can. It isn’t my absolute favourite McCartney track though I must admit. By the late 70’s we were not really expecting that much from him (or John or George or Ringo) . What is amazing is that this sold over 2 million copies, equally mystifying is the fact that I have never known anyone who has admitted to owning a copy, and believe me that’s pretty much the first question I ask any new person I meet.

And so 1977 was heading to an end, could it all have been so simple then or has time rewritten every line? There would be great times ahead but I would never feel so free again.

And Macca would write some better songs eventually.

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