Tuesday, October 2, 2012

"Hello, I'm Frances..."

Travelling across the country on a tight timetable and limited budget took some thought. Coach was the obvious solution to get to London but I didn't fancy the pre-8am service! My first "real" job interview...

Obviously I set out booted and suited. The details I left to The Editor, one of whose many roles in my life is to ensure that I don't leave the house looking like Coco The Clown. I still smuggled my bush-hat out to help with the rain... Blackberry charged, netbook swinging under my arm, off we went to catch the coach.

The last time coaches featured in my life was "on the National", the weekly movements of prisoners around the nation on hired buses. Dreary wagons, as I recalled, and the prospect of 3 hours to Victoria did not fill me with joy.That I wouldn't be handcuffed to the person sitting next to me eased my concerns somewhat. In the event, I decided I like coach travel, the modern type with loo and power-socket at least. Even if mine wasn't working...

The journey to the Big City ended at Victoria bus station which I exited and promptly got myself lost. Having dumped a foot in a puddle that would startle even Dr Foster, I retraced my steps and went on my way to the relevant Tube. Popping up several miles away I found myself late, disorientated and scrabbling to find the right bus connection. A flurry of phonecalls to inform the Editor of my progress and the Howard League of my intent to arrive, I continued, pausing here and there to ask shopkeepers the way. Bless 'em, no one sent me the wrong way!

I arrived at the Howard League looking like a drowned rat and substantially late.Hitting the entry buzzer to plead for sanctuary, Frances Crook rolled up, skipped over the pavement and let me in. "I'm Frances", she said, offering her hand. "I know", I grinned, "I'm Ben Gunn". "I know", she smiled.

The interview panel was hoiked back from whither they had wandered and put me through a brisk Q&A for about fifteen minutes. Given the opportunity to ask a question of my own, I had the temerity to ask, "Are you giving me an interview just to get me off your backs, or is this a genuine opportunity?" That was, I thought, a ballsy move if not a daft one!

The Main Man took it well, saying he was half expecting that question. Reassured that this was not a mere patina of interest, interview over I retreated back onto the mean streets of London...

Coach trips taken in the dark have a profoundly different quality to those in the harsh daylight. There is a subdued, even intimate atmosphere, with hushed conversations and careful rustling as people tried to settle for a long journey. Approaching the West, I found myself barracking the driver as he made periodic stops - "At least give us a clue where we are mate!" My destination found, I exited outside of a local pub bursting for a pee.

Barreling through their door I found myself sharing the floor with an ageing rocker wielding a fearsome guitar and apocalyptic amplifier. Loo found and dealt with, I decided against remaining for the show for fear of being blown through the wall with every chord matey struck on his axe. On the pavement outside I tried to keep warm, smoking furiously and watching the pubs windows rattle in their frames. The rain began to fall with more purpose and I wandered the road. Finding a quieter pub,I nipped in for a Fosters and sat in the warm, yet again pondering the chasm between my life a mere few weeks ago and today. Home called.


  1. So, when do you find out if you got the job?

    1. Ben didn't get the job but was recalled for a final interview later that week.

      For someone just released on licence a rejection for this job shouldn't be viewed as a negative IMO. A burger flipper at McDeath then yes!!

  2. "Are you giving me an interview just to get me off your backs, or is this a genuine opportunity?"

    Good call Ben, but then I've earned my cynical take on quota filling interviews.

    Here is an mp3 recording of the last 12 minutes of a job interview I took with the 'enemy' at the local DWP:



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