If you have by any chance listened to Alan Bennett’s monologues than you will immediately have in your heads the soft Yorkshire voice that I listened to just the other night. If you haven’t, then take a moment to find one of his “Talking Heads” pieces and treat yourself to a soft but deep insight into life on the quieter side of town.
Perhaps the best way for me to try and let you enjoy a little of what I gleaned is to simply let Roy speak. First though imagine the soft Yorkshire voice and hear the words as Roy speaks to you directly.
“I never liked the foreman. When I first started out in the factory he was on the machine next to me and quite frankly he was slapdash and unreliable. But he learned fast who to talk to nicely and who to suck up to. In no time at all he’d made his way up to charge hand and that was when he really made an art of being a brown noser. It paid off and soon he was a shift foreman and a right bastard too!”
“He knew all the scams and short cuts; after all, he had been a past master at doing as little as possible when he had been on the shop floor. So he was especially hard on anyone he thought was following in his footsteps. Like any typical bully though, his real hatred was for people who he thought were cleverer than him. And basically that was about 90% of the people working in the factory, which meant he spent his life looking for grudges and finding them quite easily.”
“I called him Zeppelin Gustibus, because he was full of hot air, and always farted when he was in meetings with the Shop Stewards. He thought this was highly amusing, but I can’t abide people who act no better than animals.”
“Naturally he hated me for that, even though he had no idea what it meant, he just knew that it wasn’t complimentary, especially when the other men laughed at his new nickname. One thing was for sure, I’d made a lifelong enemy with very little effort on my part.
“He got so angry with me that he was always trying to find fault with my work and when that failed he made sure that I got the shittiest jobs to work on. He would give me the ones that never had any extra pay or a chance of taking things easy for a while. Oh no, Zeppelin was not happy with me at all!”
“Whenever he had to talk to me about something, the veins on the side of his head would start to throb. So I would tell him that he was looking under stress and to take things easier as he would burst a blood vessel or even have a stroke if he wasn’t careful. Of course that made him even madder and he would get redder and redder and get even worse, whilst I just laughed and got on with things.”
“He hated the fact that I was good at my job and, because I pay attention to all the details necessary, my machines always worked well and without too much hassle. Some people think it’s just being a bit pernickety, but I’ve always found that it pays to check everything before you begin and then again as you go along. You might not be the fastest on the machine, but your failure rate is always the lowest!”
“Of course that would never suit old Gustibus, he wanted things done quickly and he wanted people to jump when he said. I preferred to do things right, and leave the jumping to the quislings, toadies and yes men. That’s probably why he tried to get me fired one time!”
“It happened at the end of one particular night shift. We finished off at six in the morning but as I was getting ready to clock out he called me over and told me I had to have a disciplinary meeting with the shop stewards present! As soon as he said that I knew that something nasty was afoot. The only time they drag the shop stewards in is when they’re planning on something major and they want to show that they have been following the rules.
“Well the two shop stewards were pals of his anyway and so when he waved my job card at me and told me outright that I had been fiddling my work sheets they looked suitably worried for me. He went on and on about how I had been claiming to have worked on special higer paid jobs and that he knew for a fact that that wasn’t right as there hadn’t been any of that kind of work on the nights that I had put them down on my clock card.”
“Eventually he finished and stared at me in triumph. It was clearly such a major breach that the only course of action was for ‘Instant Dismissal for Gross Misconduct’. I stared at him and said nothing. That rattled him and he asked me if I had anything to say.”
“I asked to look at the clock card, and indeed it was my clock number alright. But then I asked him if he could remember ever setting me on doing any machining of the special parts. Or did he recall that he had insisted that I do the worse jobs until my skill levels were right.”
“He stared at me and agreed that he had indeed stated that I needed to get more skilled and faster too! And that was when I said to him “Well then in that case how on earth could I have got on with doing that kind of machining, let alone claim to be doing it when everyone in the place knew that you would never let me do it in the first place?”
His face grew purple with rage and the veins on the side of his temple started to swell. “What’s more,” I said. “It’s now half past seven and my shift finished at six, so I’ll be putting in for an hour and a half’s overtime, please make sure that you sanction it because this is your mistake. Good morning!”
“Some mornings are better than others, aren’t they? Especially when you put one over on good old Gustibus and he hasn’t got a leg to stand on. And what’s worse the shop stewards would have to make sure I got the overtime as well!”