30 May 2004

Every home should have some …

Moss Remover

The Door To Door Catalogue That Cannot Be Named is crammed full of helpful potions and lotions, such as, ‘Moss Remover’, ‘Tea Stain Cleanser’, ‘Plug Hole Shine’ ‘Rim Rub’ (bumping up hits from Google as you read) and ‘Skirting Board Scrub’. For goodness sake, relax, watch a bit of telly; who cared about what might be lurking in the toilet until the ad-men made us worry. There are enough things to stress out the human race without worrying about moss on your patio.

On the face of it, this collection seems to be an Al-Quida chemistry set, but on closer inspection, you realise most of them are just bicarbonate of soda in water.

Miracle ™ Carpet Cleaner Kit

There’s a ‘Before’ and ‘After’ photograph to prove the results. As far as miracles go it isn’t that impressive, it doesn’t rate with feeding the 5000 for example, because the stuff is made from the same kind of acid that courses through the veins of the Alien.

Sure, it will clean your carpets, but after three wipes you’ll be varnishing your floorboards.

Shoe Tree

“Finally, there is a solution to keeping your footwear in order.” Thank goodness someone is thinking about these things on our behalf. Instead of tripping over your discarded shoes you can trip over this instead for the princely sum of 19.99.

29 May 2004

Bank Holiday Bargains

Nobody reads this rubbish at the weekend, so for all the diehards I have a bank holiday special. Over the next couple of days I am going to take a break from watching the live-streaming of Big Brother (Jarvis Cocker has smuggled himself in dressed as a sailor-boy lesbian and a Martin-Bashir-a-like keeps mooching around like he’s going to kill them all as they sleep) and transform CCC into an infomercial.

The Catalogue That Cannot Be Named (for keeping my job reasons) is producing supplements galore at the moment with such tantalising titles as “The Garden Supplement That Cannot Be Named” and “The Heath and Fitness Supplement That Cannot Be Named”. If I throw “The Door To Door Catalogue That Cannot Be Named” into the mix it makes a heady cocktail of tat.

Summer is in the air and their customers cannot get enough of their life enhancing products. These are the All Time Top Five products that are doing brisk business this week:

Luxury Garden Hammock:

“Be the envy of your neighbours as you laze away the summer days…” it says in the catalogue.

Barney says, “I’d hate to spend the summer spread-eagled in a huge truss … not after the last time!”

The Head of Buddha:

There are various ‘garden sculptures’ available on a page that has quotes from actual historians; they really should know better than adding any authenticity to ‘Aztec Indian in Repose’, or ‘an Hindu lord making a blessing’.

These are neo-gnomes whose pseudo-religiosity cannot disguise the fact that they are crap. A gnome is a gnome and people who buy ‘garden sculptures’ are fooling nobody but themselves.

More follows

28 May 2004

The All New Call Centre Tony

Martin, from the Birmingham office, is to be Call Centre Tony’s replacement. He used to be in training and he now wants to work in an operational area for his ‘development’.

He came to visit today. Brenda acted as his chaperone, breezily introducing us to him, “Martin is joining us soon – for his sins.” Honk HONK Honk

He didn’t say much. There’s something creepy about him. Janice agreed, “He’s like that German cannibal …”

“Yes. Armin Meimes!” I said.

He was the guy who ate another guy that he met on the Internet. Apparently, as a child in Germany, he fantasised about munching on the boy who played Sandy in the TV series Flipper. I like seafood, but I can’t recall feeling peckish at the sight of the dolphin.

“’Armin’ can be his nick name.” I suggested.

Janice shook her head. “He’s already got one. In Birmingham they call him CTP.”


“Chocolate Tea Pot.”


27 May 2004

Eyes Down

I got the inevitable missive from SMAGELL about the state of the area following yesterday’s cutting and sticking:

“I don’t think that it is conducive to a good working environment to have all this clutter on the walls. I will tolerate it for the duration of the present campaign, but no longer.”

She might have a point, because the eye that Barney has created is terrifying. It could out-stare the team mascot: the scary gnome, with one eye and a ‘head set’ muff eye-patch.

Muff eyepatch? I cud make something from that, cun’t I?


Sorry. I'll try again.

26 May 2004

Innovation Station

In his determination to transform the Call Centre into a genuine ‘Sales Environment’, Bernard has given Janice a budget for buying sugar paper. She has created a huge, laminated, light bulb to hang outside of his office so people can pin their ideas and suggestions to it when the mood takes them.

I have decided to have a Big Brother theme for my team. Barney, the Big Gay Bear, has been cutting and sticking all day. He has created a huge eye and reconstructed a Diary Chair with some off-cuts.

Despite our best efforts, it looks like a reception class.

“Oh this year life inside the house is going to turn nasty,” Barney did his jazz hands, “there’s a stripper, two dykes and …”

“The cook, the thief, his wife and her lover.” John Doe interjected.

I can barely contain myself.

25 May 2004

“We’re knights of the round table …”

Bernard was wearing his new blue-tooth earpiece in the management meeting. In his flouncey shirt and glasses he looked like Morrissey circa 1984. He can’t sit down; he circled the table talking aggressively to someone laying his patio.

Once he calmed down he smiled at us all. “I know it’s a big ask, but I need an extra 20% from you all at the moment. We need to increase our FTE in double quick time and in the meantime we need to increase our throughput. Martin is going to join the team from the Birmingham office. I have decided that we need to spend some time off-site to re-build the team and re-create a genuine sales call centre. We need to refocus so we will be going to the theme park Camelot for the day.

“Camelot?” Janice repeated.

“Camelot.” Nigel said grandly with his index finger in the air.

“Yes, Camelot.” Bernard confirmed.

It’s only a model.

24 May 2004

Feng Sushi

My team has just about got used to the idea of sharing desks with the evening team. Thrush, however, is still on top form; he’s taken to locking away everything at the end of his shift: mouse mat, calendar, keyboard and mouse. Following a terse e-mail from Sarah Magellan, the evening Team Manager, I gave him the feedback. He insisted that he was only obeying the ‘clear desk policy.’

SMAGELL (as the system calls her) has hung a ‘dreamcatcher’ above my head.

I can’t pin up Dannii Minogue, but she thinks a hoop of tatty looking string and feathers is okay.

Dream catcher my arse - Dust Collector more like.

23 May 2004

Brought to Book

Joan had a panic attack in the middle of the office. It is not right for me to make light of such a traumatic event, so I’ll ask you to picture a middle-aged woman blowing into a grease-stained, paper bag from a pie shop and make up your own jokes.

I acted like a responsible adult and did the full Florence Nightingale role, and sat by her side as she lay in the medical room. While I was waiting I decided to have a browse through the Accident Book.

These are my favourites:

“Bill sneezed, something popped and he fainted.”

“During a focus session, Katherine was in the lead in a game of ‘Swivel Chair Races’ when the winning flag poked her in the eye.”

“When messing with a super-clip, Colin trapped the end of his tongue.”

One from Bernard: “While on company business, I ordered a flaming Zambuka and scolded my lips and upper palate.”

Move over Joan. I need a lie down.

20 May 2004

Screw Loose

A ‘skin job’ broke into the Call Centre yesterday. A real-life customer – in the flesh – appeared at reception demanding to speak to a manager.

Brenda went into panic and insisted that I went down to deal with the situation as she was dealing with an important ‘HR matter’. Years of training had not prepared for such an event and I was trembling, but Brenda insisted that it would be, “… good for development.”

A woman in an M&S mackintosh was clutching a Morrisons carrier bag.

I had barely introduced myself before she launched herself at me, “Right I’ve had enough of dealing with bleedin’ monkeys; I need the organ-grinder.”

I was armed to the teeth with platitudes that work on the telephone; something told me that they weren’t going to work when I could feel the heat glowing from her cheeks. Eventually she calmed down enough to explain her complaint. Her owl-shaped cotton-bud dispenser was catching the buds in its beak as she pulled them out. I made vague promises and sent her away.

I got back to my desk to grind a few more organs.

18 May 2004

The Last Post

Subject: How do son!

Greetings from Wigan,

You missed the big speech – I’ve got my feet up. It’s been cigars and deckchairs over here.

I’ve got my own kettle – no more ‘65 normals’ for the machine – I’ve brought my ‘Eric the King’ mug from home.

The canteen is free. I can have all the pies I can carry – it’s a good job that there is a hole in the top of them, because I pick up four at once.

Are you having that one son?


Tony’s gone.

Someone has moved the sweet-wrapper.

Too much change!

17 May 2004

Who’s on first base?

My cold has gone into remission. I felt well enough to go back to the jug again.

“It’s not like you to be off,” Thrush looked serious.

Simon, the Craig David looky-likey has come out in sympathy. He’s been off the phones for the past few days because his RSI of the jaw has been playing up. He’s been communicating by some strange semaphore all day.

Illness has been playing on everyone’s mind. Tizzy reported on the latest on her soap opera, “Dave did a test on the Internet last night and it said that he had that Asperger’s syndrome. He has problems relating to other human beings, knows the shape and name of different trees and should take up train-spotting.”

John Doe has been winding her up all day by doing the “who’s on first base” routine from RAINMAN.

Joan, who’s back from long term sickness, missed the point completely, “I don’t like asparagus; it makes your wee smell.”

13 May 2004


I feel terrible. My head's thick (no change there then); I have a fever; my ribs are sore from coughing and I feel very sorry for myself.

It is impossible to call the Call Centre – I know it seems ironic – but, years of preventing people from calling in sick has made it impossible to contact anyone. I tried to get through to Brenda to let her know I would not be able to make in to work and I was diverted to four different departments before I reached Bernard.

By the time I spoke to him, my croaky voice had worn off. I imagined him at the other end, dressed as an Amish elder, disapproving of my lack of industriousness.

Sod ‘em. I’m going back to bed until they find a cure.

11 May 2004

My precious …

The car did a limbo under the barrier as I entered work today. I was half asleep, as usual, when I noticed the car in front had one of those yellow signs in the window saying “Baby On Board”. I thought to myself “I have a half-eaten sandwich on board, I don’t see the need to tell everyone about it.”

I smiled to myself as I parked up the car.

“Hello,” the woman in the car seemed to recognise me. I quickly disguised my private smile as a response to the radio and trawled through my mental Rolodex. It whirred around and around until I remembered that I hadn’t bothered to fill in any of the little cards.

“I’m Sarah Magellan, from the evening team. I was on a course with you a few years ago.” She said.

I turned on my best patter; “I keep your seat warm for you.”

Not a titter.

She went on and on about how she had come in early to introduce a new initiative to increase the average speed answered for the advice lines. She referred to every little detail of the rota and tagging system she wanted to introduce as we walked to the office and she continued while I bought coffee from the machine, hung up my coat and picked up my mail. Her gums were still mashing as I went over to my desk and switched on the computer.

I was dying to say, “Baby, I’m bored.”

10 May 2004

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe …

Call Centre Tony leaves on Friday to work in credit control. Janice has been preparing for his send off and she collared me in the corridor in hushed tones, “You were close to him, would you like to say a few words as part of the valediction?”

He’s not bleeding died - although, after a few weeks in the Wigan office he may wish he had died - he’s moving on to better things. He’s mithering people who haven’t paid up for things they wanted to buy rather than mithering people who don’t want to buy things they can’t pay for. He’s shovelling up our mistakes.

Janice’s request got me thinking about some of Tony’s best moments:

… he rode around the office on a unicycle, in an Elvis suit, wearing a sign saying “Team Slave – use and abuse me” and collected coffees from the machine for the people on the phone…

… he devised a ‘feel the fear, but do it any way’ session for the Team Manager ’Away Day’ involving a dozen eggs and a tennis racquet. Janice made him pay for her dry cleaning …

… Bernard was impressed as he ‘revved up’ his team with a motivational rendition of Agadoo, failing to realise he was still leathered on WKD from the night before …

… the infamous butt-head incident …

… he made a citizen’s arrest of the bog-blocking terrorist and dined out on it for 6 months …

Credit Control Tony doesn’t have the same ring. We’ll never see his bike again.

6 May 2004

c off

The Assessment Centre is starting to come to an end. It has been a good junket while it's lasted because I have been out of the office, provided with a free lunch and seen people so bad that it makes me feel better. There’s only so many stringy spring rolls you can eat and I am dying to know what has been going on in the office while I have been away (have the cleaners found the sweet wrapper and picked it up? As anyone noticed that I still haven’t dealt with that important document that I have been keeping in my drawer? Has Thrush resigned yet? Well, I can hope.)

Some candidates have been recalled for interviews and I acted as ‘a scribe’ for Brenda today. The term ‘scribe’ makes the role sound important, but it is just ‘taking notes’ while avoiding dribbling as you fall asleep while some bloke in an Asda suit tells you about his career history in local government, trying desperately to make it sound interesting and dynamic.

Brenda worked hard to break the ice, “So, lets start with something a bit informal: what’s you favourite flavour of crisp?”

The candidate smiled, “I don’t eat crisps.” He patted his belly, “I’m trying to stay fit.”

“Don’t worry it isn’t a deal breaker.” Brenda laughed HONK HONK Honk

He started to tell us about how he once visited a call centre and it looked exciting, challenging and target driven, and he likes the idea of having a team and working in a dynamic environment (of course he does). Brenda looked across at me and indicated that I should be writing some of his answers down. Looking at my notes, they said “Doesn’t like crisps.”

I desperately tried to catch up, making up bits here and there to compensate.

A consumptive janitor walked into the room. He coughed, scratched his head furiously, and coughs again, before walking past us – as if we weren’t there – to put a sign on the glass door at the opposite side.

It said, “Interview In Progress. Do Not Disturb.”

4 May 2004

Boxing Bernard, Part Two

"I liked them." Bernard said at the 'drains up' about the Assessment Centre, "They showed some get up and go."

I tried to change the negative scores that I'd given on my sheet without Bernard noticing.

Wendy was unsure, "Why do you think they were so good? I'm interested in exploring your positive reaction."

Bernard put his hands in his Showaddywaddy-undertaker jacket, "I liked the way that they came up with interesting ideas - leftfield, off the wall - they were thinking outside of the box."

"Maybe, but their box was very small." I suggested.