"WAKE UP AND GIVE ME THE SAT-YOU F***** M**** T***. WAKE UP!!!!" I shout, then repeat the exercise. Futilely, if there is such a word. I should rush to assure family members that the 'F**** M***T***" in question is not RHB, and this is not a retelling of the incident that occurred merely a week ago when, en route to a family party, we managed to get lost with a sat nav AND a map because she disagreed with the sat-nav. Alas, humourous as RHB's ability to get lost is, and as taleworthy as her ability to cause an argument in an otherwise unoccupied elevator might be, today's F******** etc etc is Icksy, my erstwhile work supervisor, who has not made an appearance in these pages for a while.
For those who dont know, I worked with Icksy for a period some time ago. He is small, with an appearance that, as a youth, would have been called 'urchin-like'. As an adult, a diet of pie, chips and beans, poor dental hygiene and stress levels through the roof mean that he looks more 'goblin-like' than 'urchin like'. His facial colouring travels through a palette of reds in the course of a day - from 'raw beetroot', through 'indigo sunrise' and 'sierra rocks' and back again. His dental hygiene is wanting, to say the least and his mood throughout the day(s) ranges between 'angry', 'belligerent', 'unhelpful', 'sulky' and 'unpleasant'. His digestive system appears non-functioning and he is apparently sick throughout the whole weekend with 'food-poisoning' (apparently a sandwich in the hotel), 'bad water' (apparently London's water is 'bad'), a bad cold (apparently different germs in London caused by immigrants)and a massive migraine (apparently a bad nights sleep and elevated noise levels in London). On top of all of this, and perhaps worse of all, he mumbles in his strong Yorkshire dialect, so not only can I not hear what he is saying, but I would'nt understand it even if I could. The whole effect, from my perspective, is that I have to spend 48 hours in the company of a dying Klingon with ill-fitting false teeth, the only difference being that where Klingons are (rightly) famed for their ruthless efficiency, Icksy is a walking definition of the word 'hapless'.
Why, you ask yourselves, would the joint second best academic in UK, (coincidentally Hull's leading scenic carpenter) be working with this specimen? Mostly, its because the company I work for has once again been re-structured. The trickle down effect of this is that instead of another freelance colleague being employed to travel to London on a mission essential to the company, regular workshop staff have been drafted in because they dont get paid overtime. I assume this seems a more efficient use of resources to the company (where people = resources. This notion is a misreading of human society so acute it deserves another post of its own about modern day project management) so at the end of a forty hour week, Icksy is informed that he is travelling with me to London to work the weekend. The results of this efficiency have been that I have had to work with a miserable, inefficient, error prone, bad tempered small person for almost 24 hours straight.
We are en route to yet another emergency pick-up of supplies (caused by him), this time a full hour's drive away across London, to a location neither of us have ever been before, Icksy has fallen asleep in the passenger seat of our 7.5 truck cradling the sat nav like a teddy bear. The visual display cannot be seen from the driving seat (my location)and because this is a big truck, and he is very little, he is too far away for me to reach over and slap repeatedly until conciousness returns, as this would result in an alarming loss of control of the vehicle. And, the stupid midget has disabled the volume, because, he said later, it was "distracting" him. We are on a motorway, approaching a junction where several options present themselves and I have no idea which junction to take. (Note: Our overseas readers should be aware that in the UK it is not permissable to stop on motorways, even with the stated aim of pummelling one's companion). The wrong choice, could add another hour onto our journey and we have a deadline to be back onsite which is already tight.
I guess recklessly, take the ramp and head in a new direction. Ten miles down the road there are services, so I swing in. Once in the car park, I line the truck up precisely with a row of trees and press the accelerator pedal. The resultant necessary hard braking nearly catapults Icksy out of his seat and through the cab window.
"Prick" I say, jerk the sat nav from his hands, and accelerate out the car-park. Icksy, fully awake now, looks confused, but that is the natural set of his face and I'm in no mood for explanations. Rejoining the motorway, the sat nav tells me that through sheer luck, I took the correct exit, so I continue en route. Five minutes later Icksy informs me, as he has at approximately fifteen minute intervals throughout the previous twenty four hours, that he has "bad guts" and needs a washroom. "We've just been to a services, why didnt you go then?" I ask him maliciously, and carry on. He starts moaning, holding his stomach, interspersing his groans, farts and burps with "Sorry".
The only redeeming feature of the whole weekend is that during it, Icksy actually has to try to install objects at the exhibition hall he has personally built. This is redeeming because my job is to try to install, at various venues, the objects Icksy has built in his workshop. Despite numerous debriefs, friendly hints and advice, he has consistently failed to consider my 'onsite' world in his construction techniques leading to every install being much more difficult than it should be. Naturally, one hates the sitcom phrase "Welcome to my world" but for once it seems appropriate as he rebuilds yet another desk.