Imagine this, if you will. It’s the day of the big job interview in Birmingham, and it’s pouring with rain. I mean, hammering it down, water bouncing up off the streets like golf balls dropped from tall buildings. I’m driving down the motorway to catch the 11:16 a.m. train, just reached the Taunton junction, and it’s five to eleven, when I suddenly realise I’ve come out without my wallet because I’m wearing my heavy raincoat, not my regular jacket.
What to do? I call Margaret on my mobile and she can get to the station in 20 minutes, so there’s just time to catch the train if we’re quick. We can still do this. She sets off from home, and I meanwhile take a deep breath and drive to the station, and look for a park.
There isn’t one. The short stay car park is full to bursting, cars double parked, cars parked on the verges, cars double parked on the verges. I can’t believe it. The station’s never this busy. Never mind, I tell myself, there’s always the long stay car park on the other side of the station which, aha, even has an overflow car park. Leaving the other predatory cars circling like piranhas I sneak out, hoping they don’t notice and follow me, and drive round the corner…
…where I am aghast to discover that it’s even more full than the short stay was! This one even has a line just to join the circling cars. By now it’s well gone eleven. There’s nothing else for it but to bail out and head for the car and lorry park across from the cricket ground, 10 minutes’ walk away.
Now picture me there, standing in a pool of water as deep and menacing as the one before the gates of Moria, doing what Frodo never had to, namely feed pound coins one by one into a very picky ticket machine – while the rain cascades off my raincoat in torrents to soak my trousers and down into my socks, in a freezing wind so cold I have to keep chipping the ice to prevent it forming over the slot. Then I leave my mobile phone in the car and have to go back for it…
Margaret was waiting at the station with my wallet, but alas the train was not. I caught the next one, and eventually made it to the interview with ten minutes to spare, where my trousers steamed so much the interview room resembled a Turkish bath. (“What on earth’s that smell? Did you bring a dog with you. Mr Reid? A…sick…dog?”)
Did I get the job? Unsurprisingly, no.
Am I bitter? Not at all. You see, it sometimes feels like the body I work for has fallen under the control of a Dark Lord of the Sith, and everyone who was loyal to the old republic is being got rid of, much like the Emperor would have got rid of the Jedi if he’d had an HR department instead of having to organise all that messy killing. Under the circumstances, I’m just glad they asked me a series of general questions and then turned me down with a phone call – I saw what happened to Samuel L Jackson in the movie, and I feel it could have been a whole lot worse (“I find your lack of faith disturbing, Mr Reid…”).
Meanwhile, there’s always knitting… Should be finished by Christmas, with luck!