Paul-O and The GWR Blues

The answer is yes, I’m still here, and yes, it’s still the shittest most absurd job ever. Me and Martin have settled into a fairly comfortable routine of not even attempting to converse with each other. Instead Martin opts for the inane banter and insipid r n b of GWR (Great Western Radio) to fill the room, along with the diesel fumes that is. GWR is awful – in the seven and a half hours of music that they play throughout my working day I can tolerate on average two songs.

In the mornings, the three idiotic breakfast presenters each select a song which isn’t on the station’s playlist, a personal choice in a special feature. Judging by the reaction of the listening public, a loser is determined who has to then make the tea. It just so happens that for the last two days one of the personal recommendations has been a good song. Yesterday, they played Noah and the Whale – Five Years Time – a fairly innocuous pop song but more interesting than the usual saccharine boy-band material. The public’s response to the track by phone, email and text is unbelievable:-

“I nearly crashed my car that was soooooooo bad!”

“I’ve never heard anything like it – it sounds like it’s from Wizard of Oz – truly terrible!”

“Awful!”

Today, they played Buffalo Springfield’s classic, For What It’s Worth and once again the vitriol spewed forth,

“That was so bad, I actually want the world to end.”

“Oh my God – what the hell was that? You’re making the tea.”

“I hated every second of it!”

Where do people like this exist? How could you be so offended by these songs?

In other news, Martin has taken to furiously spraying an over-sized can of insect killer around himself and his desk every few hours. I have no idea why. Despite several cursory looks, I haven’t seen any insects on his side of the office. Maybe he likes the smell. Maybe he hallucinates.

The cleaner situation is also looking up. Yesterday, a man with a pock-marked face and the look of a sex offender turned up with a young man and a mop trailing behind him. He was delivering the young man who was going to clean upstairs for us, including the toilets. The young man was shown upstairs where he spent two hours contemplating the unbelievable levels of filth; trying to avoid the stench and stains of months of shit and piss from unwholesome railway engineers. Obviously, he didn’t turn up today. Instead the pock-marked face was back, but this time with an older man from South America.

“This is Paulo. He needs a safety talk,” the sex offender man says to Martin.

Obviously, the state of the toilet has become a health and safety issue. I sit back in my chair mentally rubbing my hands at the prospects of Martin, champion grunter, explaining to someone who doesn’t speak English about safety regulations.

“What’s his name?” Martin grunts, hovering his pen over the sign-in book.

“Paulo.”

“P-A-L-O, Pal-o,” says Martin, concealing the letters in a series of deep West country burps.

“Uh, I think it’s P – A – U – L – O….”

Paulo removes some sort of ID card from his back pocket and hands it to Martin.

“Paul-O. That’s Paul-O then,” martin states with uncharacteristic certainty and clarity. Then turning to Paulo and slowly enunciating – “PAUL – O!” correcting the poor man on how he pronounces his own name.

Then for the next five minutes Martin grunts incoherently about where Paul-O can go and can’t go in the depot. Genius. It makes my day. Only one more to go before I am unemployed again.

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Tom Spooner

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