Archive for the ‘Absurdity’ Category

The Interview

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

In just over a month I will be celebrating my 25th anniversary living in America. I’m not sure if celebrating is the appropriate term considering recent events, but it will do for now. I wrote several articles in the first few years I was settling into the great American dream which I have never posted on my blog. The following article is one of my favorites:

In 1997, while I was still working on the ramp at Hartsfield Airport, I was offered the opportunity to interview with a computer software company for a sales position. My wife’s relative worked for the company and encouraged me to apply and also set up the interview. He believed I would make a great salesman with my Welsh accent and unique charm (his words not mine!) I didn’t share his confidence in my retail ability, but he reminded my that the company was famous worldwide, and the products sold themselves by reputation. This would return to bite me in the leg later but I digress.

The interview was arranged for 4.30 pm, and I had ample time to work my morning shift on the ramp, drive home, shower and shave, and put on my wedding suit and power tie. I left the house one hour prior to the interview to avoid any possible traffic congestion, and to give my time to compose myself. I arrived 3/4 hour early, and decided to walk around to clear my head of negative thoughts. It’s hot in Atlanta in May, particularly wearing a suit and tie, and I was beginning to burn up. A sweaty head and perspiring palms are not really items on wishes to present to a prospective employer  at an interview, but there was no respite from the heat except for one straggly tree which was token contribution for landscaping a sea of tarmac. I decided to make a good impression and present myself 15 minutes early.

I straightened my tie, wiped the insteps of my shoes on the back of my pants, and opened the door to reception, but there was no receptionist to greet me. Remember this was 1997 when receptionists had not become an endangered species. I assumed she had stepped out to powder her nose, and I patiently waited and waited and waited. There was a glass door behind the reception desk which displayed a sign in black bold letters: EMPLOYERS ONLY. Through the opaque glass I could decipher human shapes scurrying back and forth, and I assumed somebody would notice me and attend to me. They could at least put me on the right track to fame and fortune, but to no avail.

It was now 4.30 pm, and I was beginning to become a tad anxious. Cold beads of perspiration were running down my back and my glasses were beginning to steam up. There was still no sign of a receptionist, but I assumed the interviewer would come and get me. Assumptions were not helping me in pursuit of the American dream, and I was now late for the interview. I had entered the desperate hours, and it was time to execute  Plan B except I didn’t have one. The only items in receptions were two chairs and a telephone sitting on top of the reception desk. A TELEPHONE!!!! It was now 4.45 pm, and with nothlng to lose, I picked up the receiver and heard a dialing tone. Now what? Dial “0” and wait. Following several rings, a little voice answered. I had a human contact at last and she said:

“XXX Company, this is Cindy, how may help you?”

“Hello, I have an interview with Miss Personality from Human Resources.”

“What is your name Sir.”

“David James.”

“One moment Sir while I contact Miss Personality and tell her you are here.”

“David, Miss Personality will be with you momentarily when she’s finished sharpening her claws. In the meantime, please have a seat.”

Five minutes later, enter Miss Personality.

“David Jones? You’re late; your interview was scheduled for 4.30.”

“It’s James actually, and I was early. I arrived at 4.15 and I have been waiting in reception for 45 minutes.”

“Didn’t you read the sign: PLEASE RING FOR ATTENTION?”

“What sign? There is no sign. What’s this an initiative test?”

“Oh never mind, I can spare you a few minutes. I thought your name was  David Jones, and not James Jones. Why is HR always giving me the wrong information? I’ve got hundreds of forms for you to complete. Sit down in that hell hole while I read your resume. If you manage to complete them before I go home tonight then I’m not fulfilling my job properly.”

I believed the British had the patent on red tape and petty bureaucracy, but I had obviously underrated Corporate America. I managed to complete the forms before Miss Personality could hotfoot it through the exit door, and she greeted me with a leer. She instructed me to sit down on a chair across from her desk. My chair was at least two feet lower than hers.

“What makes you think you can be a salesman when you have no experience in that field?”

“I admit I have no experience in sales, but I am well aware of your Company’s respected reputation world wide, and their products sell themselves.”

I mentioned earlier that latter comment would bite me in the leg. Little did I realize it would be a stake through the heart.

“Well that’s a gross over-simplification, and you’re sadly mistaken if you think our salesmen turn up at the office and the orders come rolling in>>>>”

“I’m sure there’s much more to it, but equally with expert training and guidance provided by your Company, I would be up for the task.”

“Do you know what products our Company sells, and who our main competitors are?”

By this time the interview was going to hell in a hanging basket. The products sell themselves line had sunk like the Titanic, and my mind was turning into a mushy blank sheet of paper.

” Hum, well hum, you sell computer software and stationery, and as for competitors, I’m new to America>>>>>>”

Well I have a meeting to attend in five minutes and unless you have any questions>>>>>”

My peers always stressed to me that the cardinal rule in interviews is to be sure to ask at least one question, or at least I thought so until>>>>>

” Yes, I do actually.  What type of areas are sales reps expected to cover, and what type of transportation do they normally use?”

The veins in Miss Personality’s temples grew to gigantic proportions and she was positively bristling with contempt.

“A car of course and covering an area anywhere between Alabama, Georgia and Florida. What other means of transport could you possibly use?”

I pride myself in being quite intuitive, and I had been acutely aware for some time that this lady hated my guts. This had to be the worst interview of my life. My job prospects at this Company went AWOL at the reception desk, minus the sign, and I decided to go down will all guns blazing.

“Well depending on the area, I thought maybe taking the train would be appropriate, and I also own an airplane (which I don’t) which I could use, providing suitable airfields were available, and my expenses were reimbursed accordingly.”

Miss Personality flopped back in her chair with an incredulous expression on her face. She looked for all intents and purposes like a cartoon character who had just been smacked in the face with a jackhammer.

“Just kidding>>>>> but it pays to have a sense of humor in sales, don’t you agree, Miss>>>>”

Slowly recovering her composure she replied:

“If you say so, Mr……David….. thank you for finally turning up for the interview. I will be reviewing your application over the next few days, and will decide whether to call you back for a second interview which would be with one of our senior sales managers. You will be notified by post. I appreciate your interest in our company  and have a pleasant evening. Please find your own way out.”

As I walked past the back of the reception desk I  noticed a card lying on the floor. I picked it up and written on the card in bold letters was: “PLEASE RING FOR ATTENTION.”

Approximately a week later, the standard reply arrived and surprise, surprise, my services were not required at this time, or at any other time.

Me and My Machete

Sunday, April 19th, 2020

It’s bamboo season at the James household which means bamboo shoots will soon be sprouting up all over my yard and I need to cut them down as they appear to prevent them from becoming a sequel to “The Day of The Triffids. Another movie that comes to mind is “The Naked Jungle” but I’ll save the analogy for another post. I find the best tool for controlling the bamboo is my trusted machete. You have to cut them at the source before they engulf you and your yard.

My machete recalls another incident where it played a key role in getting my car back from a local car accessory store. I had left my car at the store to have roof rack fitted. It’s approximately half a mile from home as the crow flies. However I live at the end of a cul-de-sac, and walking the length of my street onto the adjoining highway would take three times as long to reach the store.

However there is a more direct way which would require cutting a path through brush and brambles to the rear of my property,  negotiating a steep bank which terminates into  a local church car park, and then onto the highway a couple of hundred yards from the store. Hence the need for the machete. It was a sunny spring day and I deemed the undergrowth not to be too intimidating.

Perhaps wearing a polo shirt and shorts was not the appropriate outfit to take on this challenge. Anyway I reached the base of the bank perspiring profusely with an accumulation of cuts and scratches on my arms, legs and neck. The steep bank presented more of an obstacle than I anticipated, but I eventually stumbled into the car park on my hands and knees. Luckily there was nobody around to witness my foolishness.

I recovered my composure to the best of my ability in the circumstances, and gingerly made my way along the road to the store which was now a mere 200 yards away. I was so relieved to make the store  that I forgot I was brandishing a machete, and seeping blood on various parts of my body. I opened the door to the reception to be confronted by the owner and another customer who immediately stopped their conversation and stared at me with terror etched across their faces.  My fellow customer finally cut (no, he didn’t have a weapon, not that I could see anyway) the ice and asked: “Tough neighborhood????” I just replied: “Oh no, I was just taking a short cut (there’s that word again.”) The owner stammered: ” Your c–c-c-c-car is r–r-r-ready Mr. James. I replied: “Let me catch my breath, and I’ll put my machete down and get my wallet out to pay you.” The owner said: “Take your time, Sir. I’m going to the restroom for a rub down with a damp edition of the Atlanta Journal and Constitution.”

Political Ineptitude on Either Side of the Pond

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

I’ve been writing this blog for several years now, and most topics I write about roll onto the page with very little effort. However, I appear to have a hit a wall regarding the post I’m attempting to share with my reader. Nevertheless my editor (which is me by the way) has given me an ultimatum: write or resign.

The ineptitude on either side of the pond has almost run parallel lines for the last two or three years. In June 2016, the UK held a referendum on whether to remain or leave the EU. Nobody was more shocked or stunned than Prime Minister David Cameron when the British people voted to leave. He immediately resigned and was replaced by a “remainer” Theresa May. From the outset she did a credible impression of Emperor Nero, fiddling while Rome burned. March 29th,  2019 was the date set for UK to leave the European Union, but very little appeared to be accomplished to initiate Britain’s exit for the first two years. However, a new word entered the Oxford English dictionary: BREXIT.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump was elected President of  the USA in November 2016 against all the odds. He had never been active in politics, and was a billionaire from his dealings in real estate. That’s an oversimplification of his business interests, but suffice to say he ran a multi-million empire. The Democrats were so  mortified that their candidate, Hilary Clinton, (that paragon of virtue) had been defeated by a man who has been called misogynistic, a racist, homophobic, arrogant, narcissistic, and egotistical that they refused to accept he had won. Aided and abetted by the Liberal biased media, they attempted to obstruct every element of his agenda.

This was brought to a head when the Democrats accused Trump of colluding with the Russians to win the election. In 2017 a Commission, headed by FBI Special Counsel Robert Mueller, was directed to investigate these claims. On March 22nd this year, Mueller completed his report and gave it to Attorney General William Barr who in turn presented a summary of Mueller’s findings to Congress which confirmed that Trump was not guilty of any collusions with Russian that may have affected the outcome to the US elections.

The Democrats were not content with the Attorney General’s summary and demanded that the full report be published. They will be granted their wish next week, and whether it cools Trumps ardor remains to be seen.

Meanwhile  Theresa May attempted to make up for lost time by  scurrying around Europe these past few months attempting to get an exit deal done by the allotted deadline. Complicit with the way Brexit has been handled she first had to have the EU approve her Brexit agreement which they did. Unfortunately for Theresa May she also required Parliament to approve her deal, but they rejected her deal for the third time on March 29th, ironically the appointed date that the UK was designated to leave the EU . It was a much closer margin (286-344) than the previous two votes in March and January, but still short of the majority.

May tried a new tactic to get her deal through Parliament this time: offering to resign if MPs backed her plan. I don’t quite understand the double entendre here. Surely if her deal was approved she would continue to see it through, and only resign if it was duly rejected for a third time. So why doesn’t she resign? For the love of God, go woman. My son claims that the UK did not have a qualified negotiator to steer BREXIT through troubled waters, and the man they should have appointed to that post should have been Nigel Farage who led the campaign to leave before the referendum was taken. Bearing in mind that Farage was not a member of the Conservative Party, let alone the Government, it would have been tantamount to giving an inmate the keys to the asylum.

We can vacillate over the incompetence of Theresa May’s handling of BREXIT, and debate over whether there was sufficient evidence to set up a Commission to investigate Trump’s possible collusion with the Russians. But what is lost in all this mess is the damage done to Democracy. The British people voted to leave the EU, albeit by a small majority, and the Government was consequently honor bound to comply with the people’s decision. Similarly, Trump was elected President, and love him or loathe him, the Democrats should have accepted the decision of the American electorate. Instead they behaved like an infant throwing his dolls out of the pram.

When the Democratic Party  won back Congress last November their remit was to obstruct any piece of legislation introduced by Trump. Case in point, Trump requested $5 million to build a wall on the border between the USA and Mexico. Congress predictably rejected his request. Trump declared a State of Emergency which is not surprising when it was recorded that 76000 migrants illegally attempted to cross the border in the month of February. Trump has subsequently transferred money from the Military Budget to fund his wall. Needless to say, Barak Obama gave the green light to build a border wall during his Administration with no opposition from Congress.

Unless you advocate anarchy, respect the ballot box and the Rule of Law. People may argue that they were voted differently if all the facts were made available. That maybe so, but there is sufficient information in the media and on the World Wide Web for voters to make an informed decision. Trouble is I can’t vouch for the intelligence of the average voter.


Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

I just returned from spending two weeks in the UK. Before flying back to Atlanta my last day in the old country was dominated by the breaking news of  Prince Harry’s engagement to American, Meghan Merkel. Dreary stories of Brexit, immigration, housing shortage were put aside by the tabloids, and the Daily Mail led the pack with saturation coverage of the happy couple’s betrothment.

I picked up a copy of the Daily Mail on the air plane, and I decided to share with you some of  the headlines that came bursting off the page:

  • The stars were all aligned…..this beautiful woman just fell into my life
  • Harry went down on one knee over a roast chicken dinner..
  • Even the Queen’s corgis took to her straight away
  • What a gal! Ermine edged poise and a creamy dollop of pure American vivacity
  • He knew she was The One the moment he saw her…
  • His bride’s a divorced American actress who’s older than him-and is not afraid to speak her mind. But Harry loves breaking the rules…..
  • Divorcee to wed Harry in church
  • Meanwhile, Trump is conspicuously silent
  • How Meghan went from a seedy Los Angeles tenement to a Palace
  • A bride descended from slaves and why the Royal Family keep proving the sneering snobs wrong
  • All that yoga’s paying off!
  • What DID Harry see in the remarkable Ms. Markle?
  • TV roles she’d rather forget and the ones he’d rather forget…
  • Bride-to-Be is divorced American actress who will become first mixed-race member of Royal Family..
  • Modern Markle will banish the ghost of Ms. Simpson…
  • Prince’s passions and flaws have inspired genuine public affection…
  • Think again Meghan- your in-laws will eat you alive….

In Dreams I Walk with You

Friday, October 13th, 2017

I had a recurring dream the other night where somebody kept asking me in which year Lester Piggott won the Derby on Affirmed. Lester Piggott was one of the greatest flat race jockeys in the world, arguably the greatest. He won the Derby an unprecedented nine times, and I kept repeating that Piggott never rode Affirmed. Affirmed was an American horse ridden by an American jockey, Steve Cauthen, who won the triple crown (Kentucky Derby, Preakness Stakes and the Belmont Stakes) on Affirmed in 1977.

My tormenter then challenged me to name the horses that Piggott rode to win the Derby nine times. For the record Steve Cauthen won the Derby twice with Slip Anchor and Reference Point, making him the only jockey to win the Kentucky Derby and the Epsom Derby. I could only remember two of the horses that Piggott rode to victory; Nijinsky and Sir Ivor. I tossed and turned for the remainder of the night trying to recall the names of the other horses to no avail.

Mercifully, morning arrived and Google, aided and abetted by Wikipedia, came to my rescue I was able to look up an article  which listed the maestro’s winners and  Lester Piggott commented on his nine wins in the Derby:

1. NEVER SAY DIE (1954, 33-1)
He was a left-handed horse and not nearly so good when he raced right.

2. CREPELLO (1957, 6-4 fav)
One of the two best horses I won the Derby on. He took the 2,000 Guineas but had bad legs and was hard for Sir Noel Murless to keep sound. He broke down when training for the St Leger and never ran again.

3. ST PADDY (1960, 7-1)
He was good and we knew that before he ran at York first time out as a two-year-old. But he ran away with me on the way to the post and had a race before he started. Next time out they put a gag on him and he won the Royal Lodge by five lengths. He was fourth in the Guineas, won the Dante and took the Derby by three lengths.

4. SIR IVOR (1968, 4-5 fav)
He had spent the winter in Italy before winning the Guineas and Derby. He then got beat in his next four races, but ended up winning the Champion Stakes and Washington International. I know he got beaten a few times, but of all my Derby winners he had the most brilliance about him.

5. NIJINSKY (1970, 11-8 fav)
He was the last horse to win the Triple Crown with the Irish Derby and King George thrown in for good measure, but I never thought it was a great year.

6. ROBERTO (1972 3-1 fav)
His win was overshadowed by controversy. Bill Williamson won the Guineas on him but was injured and I got on him. I couldn’t see him being beaten in the Irish Derby next time, but he only beat two home.

7. EMPERY (1976, 10-1)
Probably just a middle-class Derby winner in an average Classic crop.

8. THE MINSTREL (1977, 5-1)
He was pretty good and went on to win the Irish Derby – but it was only a so-so year for three-year-olds.

9. TEENOSO (1983, 9-2)
He was a bit better than people gave him credit for. It rained all day at Epsom, which turned the ground soft. He won very easily and, as my last winner, is one of my best recollections of the race.

I never had much interest in horse racing save for a flutter on the Grand National and the Derby. My late Dad however enjoyed a daily bet. Once he retired, his routine for the day was to study the racing form in the Daily Mirror, select his horses, and walk up to the “bookies” and place his bet which was usually “a Yankee.” He would then return home and watch the races on television in the afternoon.  He never used to bet much, so gambler’s anonymous were never troubled.  My ex father-in-law roughly followed the same ritual as my dad.

His little hobby once embarrassed my ex-wife who I was dating at the time. She was staying the night at a friend’s house on the posh side of Swansea, the Mayals. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced Bouquet)  in the sitcom “Keeping Up Appearances” could have been based on her friend’s mother. Anyway, during a conversation the mother asks my ex-wife: “Does your father have any hobbies, dear?” She replied: “Yes, horse racing.” “Oh really, how many does he own and where does he stable them?” The mortified girl replied: “He doesn’t own any horses, he bets on them!”


Unanswered Questions

Friday, April 14th, 2017
  • Why do some people smother their steaks with ketchup?
  • Why do some Atlanta drivers refuse to use headlights when the visibility is almost zero?
  • Why do some Atlanta drivers feel that using blinkers is an affront to their masculinity?
  • Can you define the  word “schism” and use it in a sentence?
  • Why does hair sprout from unusual places but ceases to grow on your head when you are older?
  • Why didn’t my parents warn me to take better care of my body to offset the wreckage of old age?
  • What is the difference between refugees, asylum seekers and migrants?
  • Do Germans and Greeks really dislike each other?
  • Why do I regard myself as Welsh first, British second, and European a distant third?
  • Who is John Ossoff and why has he been foisted on people living in the Sixth District of Georgia when he doesn’t even live here?
  • Why are spectators referred to as Patrons at the Masters?
  • Why does CBS’s Jim Nantz assume everyone is his friend?
  • Would I rather be ugly and rich, or poor and good-looking?
  • Would you rather always lose or never play?
  • Would you rather be forgotten or hatefully remembered?
  • Would you rather get even or get over it?
  • Would you rather kiss a horse or lick a cow?
  •  Why did it take a homeless person to do what transit planners, engineers, and consultant could not do…..get the attention of politicians to start looking at transportations options in Metro Atlanta.
  • Why aren’t Americans familiar with the phrase “curate’s egg?”
  • Why do Swansea City’s American owners remind me of Steptoe and Son?
  • Why did the Atlanta Braves win only one world series  when they had three Hall of Fame pitchers in Smoltz, Glavine and Maddux?
  • Does 14 successive Division (which only comprises 5 teams) Titles  achieved by the Atlanta Braves define success, mediocrity, or missed opportunities?
  • Why is Easter, the most important event in the Christian Calendar, no longer a public holiday in America?
  • What is more important to the average sports fan, a winning team or a “state of the art” ultra modern stadium?
  • Why don’t we have a colony on the moon bearing in mind Neil Armstrong landed there in 1969?
  • Why are my compatible with certain individuals, but not others?
  • What is the criteria for defining a good friend?
  • Which of these three songs has been covered the most by other artists: George Harrison’s “Something,” Paul McCartney’s “Yesterday,’ or John Lennon’s “Imagine?”
  • Which is most likely to happen in my twilight years: Swansea City returning to the Premiership, or the Atlanta Falcons winning the Super Bowl?
  • Why is my neighborhood in Atlanta beginning to resemble Puerto Rico?
  • In an attempt to avoid the dreaded drop, will the Swans go gently into the good night, or fight the good fight?
  • With apologies to “The Clash,” should I stay (in America) or should I go (to Wales?)

What Wine Club?

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

A few years ago, my wife and I became founder members of a local wine club which we helped to establish in our neighborhood. Initially there were five of us with the admirable intention of preparing dishes that we didn’t eat on a regular basis and pairing them with a selection of wines using the expertise of Elizabeth at our local wine store.


The wine club gradually grew in numbers to eleven, and it was agreed that one of the four couples would host the dinner on a rotational basis approximately once a month give or take holidays and Christmas. The hosts provided the entrée, while another couple compiled a starter and someone else made a dessert. The last couple to join were ironically the first to bow out. The lady had readily admitted she didn’t like cooking, and had joined the club in the hope of stimulating some culinary interest. She appeared to be adjusting to a semblance of cooking sanity until she hosted a dinner comprising “spam casserole.” Naturally, the prime ingredient was spam but the overriding flavor was ketchup!! It was disgusting.

Some of the lady members voiced their contempt via e-mail, and the lady did the decent thing and fell on her sword, and quietly withdrew from the wine club. Now I’m not sure whether it was this incident that set off a chain of events, but the wine club and its original concept went rapidly downhill.

Four, possibly five of the members, gave up drinking wine for no apparent reason, or were reluctant to share with the group their reasons for sudden abstinence. Explanations and discussion on the choice of wines paired with the meals frittered away. One of the members casually announced that she could only eat items that were gluten free; quickly followed by her partner who  claimed she was lactose intolerant.

I believe the final straw for me arrived last week. It is our turn to host the dinner, and I have chosen to prepare Hungarian goulash with dumplings. Two reasons spring to mind:

  1. It is simple to prepare for a group, but also delicious.
  2. It is good winter fayre.

What could possibly go wrong? It wasn’t long before an email  arrived from one of the lady members, enquiring whether goulash contained red meat. Is there a goulash which doesn’t use red meat? The lady was quickly informed and she claimed that she hadn’t eaten red meat in over  a year. She was magnanimous in insisting we do not change the menu which I have no intention of doing anyway.


Some things in life run their course: TV series, relationships, hobbies and even wine club dinners. So, as far as I’m concerned this could be my swan song. Bon appetite and yachi da.


Goodbye to an old Friend

Friday, October 7th, 2016

I recently received news that an old friend of mine, Barrie Jones, had passed away on 17th August. I hadn’t seen Barrie in over 40 years, but for nearly 2 years (1972-74) he, David Owen and myself were virtually inseparable on weekends.

We must have hit practically every night club in South Wales. Our favorite haunts were usually Stoneleigh’s in Porthcawl on a Friday night and Jack Mason’s in Gorseinon on a Sunday night. I asked a girl to dance there once and she replied that she was “sweating a bit so ask me later when I’ve cooled off.”

David was a weightlifter and had represented Wales while Barry was a body builder. To say I looked puny in comparison would have been an understatement!!! We went on a  fortnight’s holiday to Yugoslavia  together in the summer of ’73 accompanied by another macho man Les Hale. Les was in his forties and was totally crestfallen when a young girl asked him if we were his three sons.

We stepped off the plane and walked down the stair case onto the blazing hot runway. The three amigos were wearing matching blazers while I was wearing my much maligned salmon pink denim suit with flared trousers and wide lapels. I should have worn a sign around my neck proclaiming: “I’m not gay, I just look pretty in pink!!!”

My memories of that trip were taking a hydro foil across to Venice for the day, and eating fabulous kebabs at a local restaurant. Oh, and the Germans nabbing all the deckchairs around the hotel pool first thing in the morning. I was later to discover that that they weren’t Germans but Danes.

Barrie didn’t say much; he was the strong and silent type. He had a fabulous sense of humor whenever he lowered his shield. He use to chauffeur us around in his ford Cortina to all the night spots in South Wales without a murmor of complaint.

I was with Barrie one Sunday night when he met his wife  at one of our favorite haunts, Jack Mason’s. David had broken the band of brothers by going on a date that evening and was not with us on that momentous occasion. Barry’s wife took an instant dislike to me probably because Barry and I were like chalk and cheese. I might also have been wearing the pants from my infamous suit  which would have been sufficient to put off any self respecting female.

Barrie had an unusual technique for a chat up line. He zoned in on a girl he was attracted to, and proceeded to stare at her in Rasputian fashion. Invariably the girl would  stomp across the floor towards him and demand: “Who do you think you looking at?” He would calmly reply: “You!!!” The bait was cast and the prey was caught.

Not to be outdone, I attempted the same method one night and began staring across  the dance floor at girl I thought reasonably attractive. Next thing I know, a great brute of man is snarling in my face: ” If you don’t stop staring at my girlfriend I’m going to punch your lights out.”

Barrie had a  blazing smile and a wicked laugh  and once he realized there was more to me than that damn pink suit we became great friends. Inevitably, it was not long before we were all seriously dating girls, and the band of brothers quickly disintegrated. But it was  a fun period in my life, even for such a short time, and I was grateful to have known Barrie and proud to have called him a friend.


It’s Olympic Time Again

Friday, August 5th, 2016

It’s difficult to comprehend that it’s four years since Britain won a record haul of medals at the London Olympics. As I write this piece, the opening ceremony to the Rio Games is less than two hour away. And yet the Olympics are already shrouded in controversy.

Some of the star golfers, Spieth, Johnson, Day, and McIlroy  pulled out of  the Games because of concerns over the Zika virus and an apparent lack of security in one of the World’s most dangerous cities. The Russian track and field team are banned from the Games because of drug and substance abuse, but the IOC in their infinite wisdom decided to leave the fate of other Russian participants to the individual Sport’s Governing Bodies who promptly decided to allow Russians to participate in all the other sports.

Participants in water sports such as sailing, rowing and canoeing could be at severe risk since Rio’s sewage system is pumped directly into the ocean. It sounds mela dramatic, but it was reported that body parts were recently washed up near the beach volleyball venue. It was also determined that the air quality would not meet the standards of the Western World.

Two or three athletes were mugged in the Olympic Village, and yesterday a Moroccan boxer was arrested for attempting to rape two chambermaids in the Village. Meanwhile Team GB athletes have banned Brazilian cleaners from entering their rooms after kit was stolen.

A Greek athlete has been expelled after failing a drugs test, and Olympic athletes from several nations have posted videos in the internet showing horrendous conditions inside the Olympic Village. It’s not surprising then that the multi-millionaires of USA’s Dream Team (basketball) have chosen to stay on a luxury cruise ship moored in Rio Harbor.

Day one of competition is yet to begin and we already have had sufficient drama to provide material for the complete works of Shakespeare, a Greek Tragedy and a British “Carry On.” Indeed it is a farce. The Olympic competitors are mere pawns in what has become a giant financial circus; lining the pockets of drug barons, media moguls and fat cats in the financial capitals of the world.

It was rumored that Brazilian football legend, Pele, would light the Olympic flame, but he has declined the invitation due to ill health which is very convenient, so has not to tarnish his reputation with this debacle. Another significant individual who will not be present at the Opening Ceremony is Brazil’s President. She is currently suspended from office facing impeachment over allegations she manipulated the Government budget.

But despite the pollution, security issues, muggings, and allegations of sexual harassment, the IOC has buried its head in the sand of the beach volley ball court, and declared that the event is to celebrate ecology, diversity and joy. Fingers crossed, let’s hope we are not counting body bags on a daily basis.



Ten Years a Charitable Pro!

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016


This post is to celebrate; no I would be too kind to call it a celebration, to commemorate then?  Not really…to put it in a nutshell, I’m taking stock of 10 years working part-time for a well known car/commercial vehicle rental/leasing company. That’s a mouthful in itself. The pay is derisory, the working environment is sometimes dangerous and often claustrophobic, and patronized by a meager 25 cent an hour raise once in a blue moon. We receive no benefits, but have some consolation in taking a small slice of the Company’s profits.

But wait, I have visited several exotics places during the course of many a working week: Athens, Rome, Macedonia, Cabbage Town, In Between, and Ducktown, all of which can be found in Georgia, USA. I am usually the chase car driver whose job it is to pick up fellow drivers following vehicle deliveries to customers.

There are normally 12-14 drivers on the payroll at any given time, but 41 individuals have passed through the system during my tenure. Most of them had successful careers in following other pursuits. Many of them were sales executives, one or two were teachers, a printer, a chemist, banker, lawyer, engineer, art dealer, musician and yours truly a town planner. It is certainly a diverse mix, and several characters have emerged over the years.


Who can forget Dennis with his appropriate phrase for every occasion? Several times senior management had the temerity to call us the face of the Company; to which Dennis replied: “If we were the face of the Company, I’d shave my butt and walk backwards!”

His response in missing out on a 25 cent raise was to lament: “we are lower than whale crap on the bottom of the ocean!” At the end of the day and 4-6 sweaty, weary, men have shared the inside of a mini van for 8 hours, he was heard to say on exiting the vehicle: “it smells worse than the Morehouse Track Team in a goat barn!” Dylan Thomas eat your heart out.

Quinton was the wrinkliest  man I have ever laid eyes on. I swear he appeared in Benny Hill sketches as the little bald old man who Benny frequently tapped on the head. He was at least seventy years old, married and divorced three times, living back home with his aged mother. She insisted that he was home at 4.00 pm when his dinner was placed on the table without fail. His ambition in his twilight ears was to do as little as possible which he achieved without breaking sweat.

Heckle and Jekyll, aka John and Ronnie could start a fight in a phone box. Ronnie would supply the bullets and John readily fired them; mostly at me. They would regularly sit together in the middle row  of the mini van taking umbrage with the unsuitability of a route, a lunch destination or the rising cost of belly pork.

Tony was a giant of a man standing a little over 6′ 7” and weighing in at a princely 300 pounds. There were many vehicles he couldn’t drive because his frame couldn’t fit into them.  He also had a penchant for consuming 2-3 hard boiled eggs as a mid-morning snack within the friendly confines of the mini-van which became an unfortunate ritual for fellow passengers. Tony and I were once deployed to pick up a vehicle 200 miles away in Knoxville, Tennessee only to be informed on arrival that the vehicle didn’t exist. That was not quite true because the vehicle eventually surfaced in Charlotte, North Carolina; thanks to the investigative efforts of a retired FBI agent!!!

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Driving the chase car requires physical resilience as well as mental fortitude. One of our drivers was at the wheel of a pick up truck which he was delivering to a customer when he rear ended me  attempting to  exit a gas station. Ronnie once fell asleep at the wheel of a car, crashed into the safety barrier; converting his vehicle into a heap of scrap metal. Luckily, he escaped with a few cuts and minor bruises.

Some of our trips have taken unexpected twists. Terry and I were transporting a car down to Savannah one day, and we left Atlanta before daylight to get an early start. Terry was following me in the customer’s car or so I believed. When the sun came up there was no sign of Terry. It was a case of mistaken identity because he followed another car, which he assumed to be me, off the highway into an office park and ended up down a blind alley while I was merrily cruising down the interstate.

Bob and I were driving a convertible to a customer and we eagerly put the roof down to let the wind blow through the few strands of hair I have left. We were nearing the customer location and reluctantly agreed it was time to return the roof  to its prone position. Unfortunately we couldn’t locate the mechanism to close the roof. Actually, that’s not strictly true since we managed to get the roof into a vertical position. Luckily the manual eventually came to our rescue.

Quik Trip is one of our favorite gas stations for fueling and coffee, but one incident almost led to a lifetime ban. Joe likes a dollop of whipping cream on his coffee and approached the dispenser with eager anticipation. He sometimes underestimates his own strength and inexplicably pulled the lever from the machine. A stream of whipped cream hit a startled Joe in the chest and then erupted like Mount Vesuvius. I was reduced to tears of laughter while employees were running around like headless chickens desperate to stop the flow of the stream of cream.

George, accompanied by four other drivers, was driving the chase car  to South Georgia to pick up some lease turn-ins. We were between Albany and Neverland when the red light appeared on the dashboard indicating a shortage of fuel. George continued to drive claiming it was merely a warning and there was a good 30 miles of fuel left in the tank. Two minutes later, the chase car ground to a halt with not a gas station in sight. I grabbed a gas can and began walking angrily down the highway in pursuit of fuel. Fortunately, a sympathetic motorist stopped and gave me a ride to the gas station located four or five miles down the road, and mercifully brought me back to the chase car and four grateful associates; one with egg all over his face!

Why do I stay in a job for 10 years that’s high risk, low pay, questionable working conditions and no prospects? Originally, I was staying for a few weeks while I carved out a new career in real estate appraisal, until a lady in red shoes put paid to that. I then  realized the Company is very lenient with us taking time off. Flexibility is the key. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a day or a month; you can go and do your own thing, and you don’t have to work weekends.

I have made some good friends, visited places in Georgia I may otherwise never have seen, and earned a few dollars to waste on my golf game. Life is good.