Curriculum Vitae (Ad Absurdum)
I spent most of my three years ‘working’ in Manchester down the pub. When I was in my shared smoke-filled office, I was more often than not playing a very early demo of football manager (four free seasons, on repeat), or compiling a regular comedy fanzine for the five-a-side footy team I helped to found and run. They were crazy and fun times.
Every other weekend, I got a train back to Lincolnshire for band rehearsals, recordings and occasional gigs. Although these were more often than not simply excuses to drink to excess.
I forget how much I was being paid, but it seemed like a fortune (it wasn’t, but life was free and easy back then). My boss Terry was a quietly manic Irish gynaecologist who had somehow ended up leading European studies into vertebral osteoporosis. He had more faith in me than I had in myself. He would type things on to the computer screen and ask me to read them. I would say things like, “You need to slow down, mate. Use some spaces and punctuation.”
My main role was to input response rate data, which consisted of reams of handwritten register books from all over Europe containing names, gender, dates of birth, and what kind of fracture they had suffered, if any, and if they responded to our survey, or not. Thrilling work.
On the plus side, I got to go to a couple of conferences (excuses to drink to excess) in Bath and Prague. I remember watching Ireland beat Italy in the 1994 World Cup with a bunch of Italian bone doctors in Bath. And we stayed in a stereotypical concrete skyscraper communist-era hotel-cum-conference centre on the outskirts of Prague, but had enough free time to explore the gothic city centre in the midst of a wintry, thundery snowstorm while drinking Czech vodka.
As what felt like a last resort to motivate me, my boss sent me on a week long working holiday to Athens. My objective was imply to visit one of the research centres there and make sure they knew how to complete the response rate registers correctly. A two hour job, as it turned out. They sent me for a week, as it was cheaper than sending me for a day or an overnighter, flights only, I had to find somewhere to stay when I got there. When I arrived in the heart of Athens and got out of my airport taxi, I stumbled on to the street trying to catch my bearings. A ‘friendly’ local ‘took pity’ on my and asked me where I was from. “Manchester” I said. “Aha! Bobby Chalton! Nobby Sti-les! Come! Come! I have a bar! I will get you a drink!”
I walked into his dimly lit bar just around the corner. I bottle of cold beer was waiting for me. So friendly and welcoming! As my eyes became accustomed to the light, I looked around to take in my surroundings. A group of scantily clad young (and not so young) women giggled at a table opposite the bar. Red lights everywhere! I made my excuses and left!
After doing my two hours work, I spent the rest of the week walking all around the old town and seeing all the ancient sites by day, and drinking to excess in the evenings.