Sunday, October 13, 2002


They Might Be Giants. I have hinted along the way about the various jobs I did which I wasn't very good at. Mostly they involved driving around Scotland trying to persuade people who I'd rather not have had amy dealings with to buy first books, and latterly chocolates from me. I am not a natural salesman - indeed, I remain staggered to this day that I achieved any kind of success in either job - in both environments, I managed to get myself promoted to do something I hated less, and ultimately in my current incarnation, to a job I actually quite enjoy (and, I flatter myself, am actually quite good at). And along the way there was an awful lot of driving. I thrashed a successon of Astra estates up and down the A roads of northern Scotland; I spent more time than was good for me driving the notorious A9 at night (at one time, my kindly employer decided that team meetings were to be held in the evenings - yes we had team meetings; yes they're as bad as they sound - my team met in Perth, I lived outside Inverness. I used to get home around 2am, and get up for work at 6 the next morning.) I graduated to a lovely Ford Orion Ghia, which I flung around corners too fast for a year or so, then I was out of work for a while (the company collapsed. I don't think it was my fault.), and when I took up selling (technically, I was a 'Marketing Promoter', but it was selling) chocolates, I had a 'burgundy' ( = brown) Escort estate. With a radio cassette player - hey, 1989, folks - no CDs yet...

So I lived in Perth now, but the team meetings had moved to Rickmansworth. By the time I move south, of course, I'm expected to go to meetings in Edinburgh, but we'll let that pass. My journey plan was constructed by someone who had never been further north than Watford, so included all sorts of eccentricities; including one day a fortnight driving all the way to Stranraer in the morning, doing about £15 worth of business, driving to Dumfries in the afternoon, doing around £25 worth of business, then going home. A round trip of some 300 or so miles for virtually no purpose at all, except to subject me to hours of inane pop radio. Eventually I crack, and start buying cassette tapes to keep me sane. And I accidentally bought a TMBG tape - I might have intended to buy something else, but the selection in Stranraer was extremely limited, if you didn't like Daniel O'Donnell. Fortunately, these two guys operate on exactly the same insane level as the more subconscious parts of my brain, and they have a bucketload of great tunes. Profoundly silly at first hearing, these songs start to stick little barbs in your brain, until you are quite capable of saying things like 'If I were a carpenter I'd /
Hammer on my piglet, I'd /
Collect the seven dollars and I'd /
Buy a big prosthetic forehead /
And wear it on my real head'
and finding some meaning in them. The two TMBG tapes I own are forever associated with that long, dreary in places, drive to the edge of Scotland every second Tuesday - surprisingly, I am still fond of the songs. Which just goes to prove that the devil certainly doesn't have all the best tunes...

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