Snapshots of a Meltdown.
First instalment in a small flash fiction series I’m working on. Snapshots of a Meltdown focuses on one character as bizarre things continue to happen to resulting in his abnormal behaviour. Give it a read sure!
My name? Jeez I think I’ve been asked that question ten times today. What’s with the sudden interest of my name? It’s not like this is a regular thing for me. It’s a one off, one time isolated incident. In some respects I can understand why that makes it more shockin. Those that know me, know I’m a patient, easy-goin gent. Those that really know me know this was a long time comin. Dominic always said I’m ‘one red wire snip away from exploding’ but what does he know? I’ve been sat in that room for the past two hours bored out of my skull. I’m sure that kid probably has his own overly dramatized version of events that could be made in to a three part mini-series. It’s not like what happened was even that bad, if anythin he should’ve seen it comin. Anyway you be the judge coz I’m tired of defendin myself.
So I’m walkin down the high street, loads of people are out coz the sun’s out and automatically that draws an extra thirty per cent of people out of hibernation. I get a phone call, instead of checkin the screen like I usually do I just answer you know. So I’m like ‘Hello’ and they’re like ‘Hi, I’m callin’ from some place you’ve never heard of to offer you some things you have no interest in, but first can I start by asking your name?’ (First time). ‘I’m just headin back in to work now so it’s not a good time’ and he responds in that stupid voice ‘No worries, I can give you a call back after work if that’s ok’ and like an idiot I say ‘sure thing’ and give him an actual suitable time to call me back. So I hang up annoyed at myself and that idiot who just called me, but coz I’m headin to the deli it’s not so bad. I reserved an order for my favourite sandwich, roast beef, red onion, pickles, lettuce, mayo and mustard. I reserve it every Thursday when they make roast beef and every Thursday the same woman answers the phone and asks me the same question. ‘Deli’sDeli how can I help?’… ‘Sure, what kind of bread?’… ‘Your name?’ (Second time)… ‘Ok it’ll be ready in ten minutes’. It’s never ready in ten minutes, I fall for it every time and then I end up being bumped around by these wankers in suits who are obviously managers in their office and treat their employees like shit therefore they treat everyone else the same way.
Anyway so I’m slipping my phone back into my trouser pocket when a street fund raiser just appears in front of me. He literally appeared out of nowhere, I swear, I would’ve noticed his stupid bright yellow jacket and hat. ‘Can I spare a second of your time?’ He asks in that ridiculous happy go lucky voice. I do the honourable thing and just act like he isn’t there you know, so I try and walk around him. But the little snake just shuffles in to my way. ‘Look you’ve stopped now so you may as well just hear me out. My name’s Toby, what’s yours? (Third time). ‘ I don’t have time for this I need to get my lunch and get back to work, sorry” I apologised out of kindness, fact of the matter is I had nothin to apologise for. I didn’t do anything wrong. ‘Did you know that over eighty five per cent of children in third world countries will never be able to say that sentence?’ Jesus Christ! ‘Why? They learnin another language?’ I joke back ‘No! Because they don’t have the resources to ever be as lucky as you’ he says like he’s about to cry. ‘Don’t you care at all?’ He asks visibly hurt by this. ‘Not really’ I respond again trying to walk around him, then that’s when it all kicked off. I tried to walk away but he stopped me by putting his hand on my chest then saying ‘How could you be so heartless? You’re nothin but a stuck up suit.”
Now in my book that’s an insult that warrants a complaint. So I start making a load of noise about supervisors and not being spoken to that way and eventually this short haired woman comes over to diffuse the situation. ‘Is everything ok sir?’ She asks me softly. ‘No, this little turd insulted me and continually gets in my way when I try to leave’ I complain hoping that she’s smart enough to just let me go and decide it’s not worth it. So much for my faith in humanity, if she was smart I wouldn’t be sitting here. ‘Can I just ask, what’s your name sir?’ (Fourth time) she offers a hand for me to shake. I look at it and think better of it, that’s how they rope you in. She withdraws ‘I’m sure Toby here was just letting his passion get the better off him’ she smiled; she had a cute smile to be fair. ‘What passion’s that? Gettin punched in the face for talkin to much?’ I react angrily. ‘Now there’s no need to threaten violence we only want to make people aware of our mission to help those less fortunate’ she spoke placing a hand on my arm. The bullshit meter was off the scale at this point, all that crap about helpin people was a load of arse. ‘The only help you want is the nine pound per hour you get for pissin people like me off. This twat couldn’t care if a kid in Africa eats a ham sandwich or not, he’s doin this coz his mum and dad don’t want him sleepin and wankin his days away.’ She was stunned when I said that, the look on her face was priceless. ‘Who do you think you are?’ Toby questioned. ‘Whatever’ I muttered finally getting around the two do-gooders and headin towards a roast beef haven until the little shit stain stuck his foot out and tripped me on the floor. Like literally on the dirty gum stained pavement, a charity worker.
So obviously my reaction was well deserved and instinctive. Sure he probably told the police that I tripped on the pavement while trying to storm off, and she would’ve agreed. I had no witnesses to back me up of course, but I was provoked. I don’t usually condone violence but every now and then it’s the only solution. I bet you he won’t be so pushy for starving children in Africa now. Of course the other do-gooders came swarmin in and it just turned in to melee. Eventually the police and an ambulance showed up, which was the last thing I needed coz it definitely meant I wasn’t gettin my sandwich. Also everyone who just happened to be walkin by all of a sudden was a witness, they didn’t want anythin to do with it before the police arrived, but now there’s a chance they could be on the news they’re all involved. The police put me aside round the corner; a six foot northern mammoth of man was questioning me, ‘What’s your name lad?’ (Fifth time) I spilled my guts giving him detail after detail and all he said was ‘Ok, wait here’ as if I was gonna hot foot it away. I’d done nothin wrong. A paramedic came to me while they were loading Toby in the ambulance. ‘Is everything ok with you?’ she asked. I ignored her trying to see if Toby was still breathin, ‘Can you hear me sir? Nod your head if you can hear me’ I nodded hopin it would shut her up. ‘Great do you wanna tell me your name? (Sixth time) I shook my head. She examined my wrist where there was a small cut. I didn’t notice to be honest but it must of happened when I was tripped. The giant officer came back with another cop and they loaded me in the back of a police car for ‘more routine questioning.’
At the police station they sat me in an interrogation room, the room was freezin, I sat with my jacket on and arms folded. It was about thirty minutes before anyone came in the room. This woman dressed in a grey business suit walked through the door and briefly introduced herself and the fella flankin her. Her name was DCI Richards or Roberts I can’t remember. ‘Can you confirm for the tape your name please?’ (Seventh time) ‘Great, has anyone offered you drink? Tea? Coffee?’ she asked, ‘I’m fine.’ The man stood against the wall facin me, he was doin his best bad cop impression and was just fixated on me. I wasn’t intimidated or anythin it was just weird. ‘Ok so this incident, tell us from the beginning what happened’ her voice was high and chipper, but I had the feelin like her partner behind her she could be a mean bitch if she wanted. I gave her my version of events which was the true version of events. ‘Just to let you know, we’ve had a slightly alternative version from Toby’ she said. ‘Well he’s lyin, I’m not hiding my part in all this, I did what I did and I’ll happily do it again if I had to’ I said. Her partner spoke up sayin ‘Do you know what remorse is?’ What a stupid question, I hate when people ask questions that everyone knows the answers to but they ask anyway in a poor attempt to make themselves seem smart. It was probably the wrong time and place to act like a smartass but why not I thought to myself. ‘No, can you explain this concept to me? It sounds very enrichin and may change my life’ I gave him a smile after to let him know I was only kiddin about but he didn’t take to kindly to it. DCI Richards or Roberts left the room and he followed slowly behind givin me the evils. They came back twenty minutes later and put me in another room. I saw two other officers take a dirty homeless man in there afterwards; they came out holdin their noses and laughin. Great fellas. The room they put me in was just by the exit of the station. I’m pretty certain I could’ve left if I wanted to but I didn’t want a nationwide manhunt being sent out for me. After about ten minutes sitting there I was already fallin asleep, people were walkin back and forth but none of them stopped to talk to me. I saw DCI Richards or Roberts partner leading the short haired do-gooder out. He was all smiles with her and made a point to show that to me. She caught my eye and quickly turned away. She probably just sold me up the river to save her nine pound per hour job and the little wanker she supervises. After two hours passed I was asleep on the seat, it wasn’t comfortable but I was so tired I would’ve fallen asleep anywhere. Plus the room was quiet warm, unlike that interrogation room. A man in a pink shirt woke me up, since when do cops where pink shirts to work? You couldn’t take him seriously as a policeman, I couldn’t. ‘You alright in ere mate?’ He asked soundin like he was fresh off a market stall. ‘Yeah I’m fine just waitin for them to get back to me’ I responded. ‘You in for that incident down on the igh street?’ ‘That’s the one I replied’ clicking my fingers and pointin at him. ‘What’s your name?’ (Eighth time) ‘Yeah mate you can go. I thought ‘arry told ya, the kid’s supervisor vouched for your story and e aint pressin charges so you can go.’ I sat dumbfounded.
It must have been around two hours I sat in the same spot and no-one told me I was free to go. I didn’t even call my job or anythin. They just let me sit there like I was in detention or somethin. ‘Yeah sorry bout that mate, go to the desk and get your stuff. He held the door open for me to walk out, he smelt like he poured an entire bottle of cologne on himself five minutes ago. Unless he’s an undercover agent he’s a serious cliché. There was a line at the desk, but I finally got to the front after the guy in front of me finished discussin last night’s game with the cop behind the desk. ‘Name?’ (Ninth time) he spoke without looking at me. I got all my stuff back in one of those see through plastic bags. It was dark outside now, I checked my phone no missed calls. Ironically I’d lived in London all my life but never been to this police station in this area. So I had no idea which way I needed to go. I just started walkin in the direction I saw a bus, to me that signifies a main road somewhere and that’s all I needed. My phone vibrated in my pocket, I was so tired that I just answered it. I figured it would be my job, or Dominic or maybe my mum or somethin. ‘Hello’ I mumble without checking the screen, the next thing I hear is ‘Hi I’m callin’ from some place you’ve never heard of to offer you some things you have no interest in, but first can I start by asking your name?’ (Tenth time) Jesus Christ.
Greg J Allman
The tall gentleman stood loomed over the half naked unconscious body. He decided against touching him, the smell of alcohol percolated through every one of his pores. Marjorie scuttled back on to the deck with a jug of water.
“Shall I drip some on him or pour it all Thomas?”
“Pour it all Marjorie; we want to wake him up.”
“Here you do it, I left my wine inside.”
Marjorie handed Thomas the jug and disappeared back in to party. Thomas let out a sigh before emptying the jug on the man’s face. He dropped the jug on him too for good measure. He peered back in to the party through the window, a crowd had gathered now thanks to Marjorie’s rambling.
The man finally awoke, grunting, coughing and spluttering his insides over the decking area.
“By here sir, are you alright?” Thomas asked.
The man nodded while sitting up. “The hell am I?”
“This is the Annual Gardener’s Gala.”
“Ok” he responded flatly. “I’ll be leavin’ now anyway. Cheers guv’” He quickly rose to his feet and fell back on himself just as fast. Thomas stepped closer attempting to assist the man to his feet. He reciprocated by throwing up over his best Savile Row suit. “Oh for God’s sake!” He shrieked. “Marjorie, I need a towel right this second!” He headed back inside. “How the hell did he get on board in the first place?” A voice asked from inside the party.
Good question the man thought to himself. He didn’t remember being invited to a gardener’s do. The last thing he remembered was that restaurant in Notting Hill. That’s where it all started.
The waitress guided him over to a small corner table next to the stairs. He ordered a straight brandy to cool his nerves. This was his first time doing something like this since he was about 20, 21. He hadn’t told anyone about this seeing as everyone has such mixed reviews on online dating. Though from the number of profiles he’d viewed it seemed everyone in London was taking part. He stayed up until the late hours of Saturday night typing out a template to message to each woman he found attractive. By Sunday afternoon he mustered up the courage to send the template out. His first response came a few hours later from Yvonne, a black social worker from Lambeth. The second was from Rachel, a redhead who works in sales. More and more responses came in over the next few days allowing him to make a choice on who he would agree to meet. He settled on Jeanette a Greek woman who was a few years younger than him. They agreed to meet in Notting Hill seeing as it wasn’t much of a commute for either of them. He set the date for a Friday evening.
He checked his watch again. He checked the messages back and forth on his phone. He was certain he got the time, date and restaurant right. Where the hell was she? The waitress had been over numerous times asking him if he was ready to order. He was on his third brandy now. 45 minutes had passed and not a sign of Jeanette. Maybe she got cold feet, or maybe she came in and saw him but didn’t like what she saw. He had on dark jeans, grey boots, a white t-shirt and his dark grey blazer. His hair was a bit shaggy and he hadn’t shaved since Tuesday. But most girls like the rugged look he told himself. He ordered one more brandy and decided to wait 15 more minutes. He messaged Jeanette on the website asking where she was tonight, and if he’d mixed up the dates. Although he was certain he had not. The waitress came over once more giving him a look of pity and asked him if there’s anything else she can help him with. He swallowed his pride, paid the bill and decided not to let this ruin his evening. There were a ton of bars, clubs and pubs in Notting Hill alone. The city was his oyster.
His first stop was a pub called The Elgin. Ok decor and an ok crowd. He decided to be a bit adventurous tonight and order rum instead of his preferred brandy. He mixed it with lemonade and sipped it slowly. He scrutinised the groups and couples around him, cutting a lonesome figure at the bar he continued fraternising with his drink. The pub was thinning out; the groups began moving on to some of the local nightclubs. He didn’t much fancy a nightclub in Notting Hill. From what remembered of his younger days the clubs in the West End were ten times better. He downed his second rum and ventured off in to the night. He sat downstairs on the bus near a group of guys and girls. They were discussing some house party they ditched in favour of a club. He leaned in to join their conversation but thought better of it. Besides he was disrupted when he looked out the window and thought he saw Jeanette. He checked the website on his phone again to see if she replied but she didn’t. By the time he looked up the group had gotten off leaving him downstairs with an old woman with shopping bags. He avoided eye contact in case she wanted to discuss politics or whatever old people talk about on buses.
Finally he hit the West End and the streets were buzzing. Girls here, there and everywhere. Asian girls, white girls, black girls, skinny girls and fat girls. He fancied his chances of pulling tonight. He followed a group of blondes in to a bar on a side street. The bouncer led them down some stairs in to a dark room with purple lights. The girls headed to a table while he walked to the bar. This time he ordered a brandy, he wanted to keep a cool head. He sipped it keeping an eye on the group of girls. Surely one of them was single and enjoyed the company of rugged men. He moved from the bar and stood near their table hoping to be involved in some of their conversation.
“Excuse me? Hi.” One of the blondes said.
“Hi” he responded.
“Are you with those guys over there?” She pointed to two men in shirts sitting at the bar.
“No, no I’m not.”
“Oh, never mind.”
She turned back to her friends and continued talking and giggling about the two men at the bar.
He ordered another brandy and downed it. He went to the bathroom and splashed his face. His eyes were bloodshot, plus there was a mysterious stain on his t-shirt. He checked the website on his phone, still no message from Jeanette. He headed back in to the purple haze and stood by the blonde table again.
“Anyone order a rugged man?” He slurred.
“Yeah she did” Blonde number 1.
“No! It was her” Blonde number 2.
“She likes ‘em ‘airy!” Blonde number 3.
“I do not!” Blonde number 4.
“Go on, ‘e ain’t ‘alf bad!” Blonde number 5.
“No thanks!” Blonde number 6.
“D’ya come wiv a receipt? Just in case I get a be’er offer” Blonde number 7.
“I don’t remember there being so many of you” He mumbled rubbing his head. His stomach rumbled sending a warm yet chilling message up his throat and out through his mouth. He covered their entire table with vomit. Some of it rebounded off pitchers and glasses over their outfits. Horrified shrieks rang out causing bouncers to come storming over. He was on his knees trying to use the table to balance himself. Two bouncers grabbed his arms and stood him up.
“Come on ladies, you won’t be sorry” he spat out.
“Come on mate, let’s get you some air.”
He was led out through the back and dumped in an alley way next to some bins. He was certain on the way out he saw Jeanette ordering a drink at the bar.
He cleaned himself off in some public toilets in Soho. The man standing by the urinals didn’t have any weed or pills to help him crank up the night. He found an off licence that was willing to sell him a bottle of vodka although they weren’t supposed to. He necked half of it in minutes. He found a group of lads loitering by a parked car and offered them some vodka. He soon realised there was about 8 of them and the bottle soon finished. They thanked him by patting his back and taking photos with him. One even videoed some of his dance moves. Telling him “I’ll post it on my blog mate. You’re a legend.” He left them to it; he had his own party to attend to. Instead of letting the night be an entire bust he decided to pay a visit to a place one of his work colleagues told him about a while back. A place where you don’t need to message women to arrange a time, date and restaurant, only to be stood up. Just a guaranteed good time, and that’s all he was looking for. He walked down a quiet side street until he came to a door with a man smoking outside. He approached the man but before he could speak the man searched his pockets and patted him down.
“Go on mate” the man pointed him inside.
He went down some stairs where he was met by an older woman with a pink wig.
“Ish dis where I picksh?” He garbled.
“Nah love, you give me 70 quid then you can choose any one of the girls in that room. How does that sound?”
He handed over the cash and the old lady led him through the curtain strings. She stood him in a room where three women were sitting on couches. Two were brunettes and one was blonde. They were all very skinny with bright bras on. He picked the meatier brunette as he had a bad experience with a blonde earlier in the night. The old lady handed the brunette some cash and he was led down the hall in to a bedroom. The bedroom had a mirror on the ceiling and one that covered an entire wall. He watched her get undressed and then lie in the bed. He leaned over to ask her a question.
“Do ya likesh rugged men?”
“Yes” she replied deadpan.
“Goodsh, some women don’t.”
She kissed him on his mouth and began to undress him. Jeanette doesn’t know what she’s missing he thought.
He found himself being shoved out by a 6 foot tree of a man 10 minutes later. His escapade with the brunette didn’t last very long, and the pink haired lady had no interest in his argument about representing value for money. Neither did the tree house. He was tossed back on the street with a bruised face and ego. He was tired now, the night had strung him disappointment after disappointment. He walked past thumping nightclubs and groups of fun loving people screaming at the top of their lungs. This was hell. He made his way down to Trafalgar Square where a few romantic couples sat and canoodled with each other. He went over to the fountain and washed his face. He wet his hair too just to give it a new look, and maybe give himself some better luck. Two community support officers shooed him on. He didn’t put up a fight, he had lost one too many of those tonight. He made it to the millennium bridge unscathed after nearly being hit by a black cab. The bridge was particularly cold, the motion of the ocean mixed with the amount of alcohol in his system made him queasy. He leaned over the barrier and watched the water. The cold blue streams rocked back and forth with every gust of wind. He stumbled on before tumbling over losing his shoe.
“Wheresh it gone?”
Passersby avoided eye contact with him casually but cautiously walking around him. He crawled the floor before seeing something in the water.
“There!” he shouted.
He stripped himself of his clothes and climbed on to the ledge. A Good Samaritan attempted to pull him down but failed. He leapt off the ledge in search of his missing shoe.
He landed with a thud on the deck of a boat. The boat rocked causing some to stumble off balance. The more intoxicated of the guests shouted “Iceberg! Right ahead!” This was met with raucous laughter. Thomas a reluctant partygoer decided to see what caused the thud. He stepped out on to the deck to find a half naked man lying unconscious. He had bruises on his face and torso. Marjorie caught up with him outside and was shocked to see the rugged man lying there.
“What happened to him Thomas?”
“I have no idea Marjorie, I think he’s had one too many though. Go and get a jug of water to wake him. Something tells me he’s not a good swimmer.”
Greg J Allman.
Upon spending my daylight hours in the library perfecting my craft! Or something like that. I always need to come out for air when my inspiration tank is running on empty. Or in other words I get hungry. Luckily for me I’m currently based in Central London (West London) where there is no shortage of places for me to fill my belly. However with a huge selection comes a huge responsibility. You don’t wanna balls up and end up eating a meatball marinara from Subway. You want something special. Something that’s gonna make you say “Thank You” and actually mean it. Something, despite it’s nutritional and health values will have you eating it damn near every day! Moroccan Box does just that.
I stumbled upon the Berwick Street Market by accident (I promise I wasn’t skiving) after short detour from sampling kicks in Foot Patrol. There were a few places to choose from, so naturally I got nervous and cowered in a corner wishing I wasn’t stuck with such a decision. You see I’m the sort of person that would have a bad lunch and moan about it for ever. I’m very food envious if I think you’re plate looks better than mine, I won’t be happy. So with cuisine choices of salads (hell no!), burritos and burgers (yawn!), Indian (Not gonna risk it at lunchtime) and Thai (I prefer Chinese). All that was left was Moroccan. At first I wasn’t fully sold, so I did what any one would do. Wait until someone orders from them and peek at what they got. Lo and behold someone orders and I’m right there casting an eye over the proceedings. Soon enough I am salivating at prospect of flat bread, salad, lentils, meat, cous cous, chilli sauce and wait for it…baba ghanoush. All wrapped in a take away box. I kid you not I raced back to the library to devour the contents of this box.
Now here I am telling anyone willing to listen to give this Moroccan Box a go. I doubt that I am their only cheerleader but I certainly am the biggest. Their hearty food gives me a second wind going in to dreary afternoons where I usually use the desk to sleep rather than write.
Thank you Moroccan Box!
Greg J Allman
For the first time ever I heard a phrase that I never knew existed. It was part of a headline for a news article I read. The bold line read “20% of Workers Earn ‘Below Living Wage’”. ‘Living wage’ is an actual term which I’m certain most workers are probably not familiar with. I only just educated myself on what it was which resulted in me educating myself on what it actually means. 20% of workers in this country do not earn enough money to actually have the bare essentials of living. The basic living wage in London is £8.55 per hour (£7.45 outside of the capital). That is considerably higher than what most jobs will pay. The national minimum wage rate as of October 2013 will be £6.31 per hour for those of the age of 21 and over. I’m not here to break in to mathematics and work out the difference between earning the basic living wage to the national minimum wage. But it’s as plain as day that it is considerably lower. Surprised? Well no, not really.
I used to work at Sports Direct from 2008 to 2010. My wage was £6 per hour. At the time I was still studying at university and being partially supported by my parents. Despite my wanting to be independent of them, I wasn’t. I also had a student loan to pay rent in an overpriced apartment I shared. At this time in my life the basic living wage had no bearing on me, although I was working to pay bills, rent and use whatever was left over on fast food and alcohol. The job wasn’t world changing or much to shout about but what did I care. It wasn’t a career path I was ever going to follow, no matter how much my manager told me “You got what it takes Greg.” I only showed up for the money, I wasn’t spending my days in the library as university took up 9 hours of my week. Also as a full time student I wasn’t being taxed. So at the end of the month I was bringing in a healthy sum of cash.
But there’s another side to a story like this. Whilst I’m living the university lifestyle spunking money on booze, there’s another worker who we’ll call James. James immigrated to England from an Eastern European country; he earns the same amount as me but has to save every penny to pay for rent, bills, travel and food. He doesn’t have a student loan, or student oyster card. So every hour he works it means a lot more to him simply because he is trying to survive in London on his own. Now most of the people currently working in retail would comfortably fit in to my shoes, there is a small percentage that don’t. James is part of that small percentage. Working at sports direct earning £6 per hour for a 20 hour week. That’s £180 per week. Now that’s definitely better than claiming JSA, in fact it’s double. However, that isn’t taking in to account the rent he pays for his single room in cheapest part of London. The travel card he buys every week to get to and from work, or the money for food and other basic living essentials.
Now a case such as James’ usually has the same reaction from people. They take aim at his self ambitions or claim he should move back to his own country. Now obviously James would if that was a feasible option, but it isn’t. He managed to find a job because he is a hard working individual. But Sports Direct will only offer him the national minimum wage on a zero hour contract. This means that Sports Direct is under no obligations to give him any hours to work. Resulting in James earning zero pounds for every passing hour that he doesn’t work. His manager pulls him aside and explains to him that the months after Christmas are really slow so some employee’s will have their hours cut. James is one of those employees, picking up a five hour shift here and there a week is no use to him. The cost of his travel exceeds the money he would make at work. Calling his boss on a daily basis hoping someone has called in sick racks up his phone bill. Although he sits in his room most of the week he is not unemployed.
The bright side of this free time allows James to look for work somewhere else. He doesn’t tell potential employer he’s currently employed, instead he informs them of his retail experience at Sports Direct. After numerous applications and interviews he finally lands a job at a supermarket. The pay is the same as Sports Direct but he has a set number of hours to work each week. Whilst picking up a few shifts here and there from Sports Direct, James is earning more at the end of the month. His customer service and retail skills are getting better and better along with his work ethic. His manager at Sports Direct notices this and wants him to stay on a bit extra one day because someone has called in sick. James can’t because he needs to get across the city to the supermarket. While going through the security check before leaving his manager notices the uniform for the supermarket in his bag. He question’s James loyalty to the company and informs him that “While you’re working here we are you’re number one priority. No one or nothing else.” He is expected to show loyalty to a company that has no intention of showing him any in return. A week later James’ hours are cut once again, in fact he hasn’t worked a shift for Sports Direct for nearly a month. He is back to budgeting very carefully his £180 per week. He works hard at the supermarket but the chances of a pay rise or a promotion are slim. He sometimes is able to pick up extra shifts but those are only on rare occasions.
A case such as James’ is where a difference between minimum wage and living wage shouldn’t exist. A case such as James’ may be rare but something should be done to support those who want to work but aren’t able to earn enough to live. As long as companies are able to offer their employees zero hours contracts on minimum wage nothing will change. I understand from a businessman’s side that it may not be possible to offer their employees more money or more hours in case of looming bankruptcy. But also think from your employee’s point of view. It doesn’t make sense for them to pay for travel that costs more than their wages. They may as well just sit at home all day and claim benefits.
Greg J Allman.
This is an extract from something I wrote a while ago. It still needs to be worked here and there but I thought I would post up the introduction. The piece is only a short, however I was reading over it and thought I should try and do something with it. It works as a bit of flash fiction also. I’m currently trying to adopt a new style of writing but I like to remain versatile in all aspects of my writing. Let me know what you think of it.
Greg J Allman.
Lunchtimes in the city resembled a parade or carnival, an unattractive dreary spectacle; costumes didn’t contain any character; however the characters in the costumes were some of the nastiest, trickiest droids the big city has ever seen. None more so than Eric Munroe, known as ‘Fast Eric’ in certain circles simply because of the sheer brashness he encompassed and his shrewd mentality to spot when a situation can turn in his favour.
He stood in line at a sandwich bar waiting for his turn, Eric had little to no patience and the ever present office small talk surrounding him did little to ease his mind. All morning he had been dreaming of a turkey, beef and bacon sandwich; garnished with melted cheese, mayonnaise and a drizzle of tobacco. Delicious.
His heart sank every time a slice of beef was selected; he tried his triple threat with chicken once and vowed never to do so again. His body flinched as the lady at the counter hesitantly pointed to the roast beef, the meat slab was getting thinner per customer. If Eric believed in bad luck he would simply blame on that, however he felt that you made your own luck, and his inability to avoid his boss talking his ears off about a French restaurant he went to last night or the charity worker in the street he had to avoid since he’s promised him twice he will save the tigers were major components which caused him to be standing at the back of a hungry line of workers.
Eric’s impatience got the better of him and he decided to take the matter in to his own hands, he swiped his phone out of his pocket and spoke in a frantic tone. “Darlin’, I’m doin’ my best, the line is ridiculously long today” He scoured the line and noticed he grabbed the people’s attention, and decided to up the ante. “The midwife’s there now, what’s wrong? What’s happened? Hello, Carol! Eric screamed down the phone, he gripped his phone, with his steady hand. “Shit” he uttered to himself, the grey haired woman in front of him turned and offered some support “Is it your first child?” she asked.
“Yeah, she wanted me to grab her favourite sandwich before she went in to labour.”
“Aww, listen go ahead of me and get back to your woman” she sympathised.
“Really thank you so much” Eric trotted in front of the woman and gave her a wide smile, his false gratitude made her heart sink. The rest of the line share the old woman’s sympathy and offer up their places, and Eric marched to the front of the line with congratulatory pats on the back.
The manager, who often worked the counter during busy periods, gave him extra meat and gave him the sandwich free of charge, which Eric managed to force a tear out for, he flirted with the idea of telling the manager his son will be named after him for his graciousness, but the ship he already set out to sail was steady and there was no need to rock the boat. As soon as that sandwich was in his hand he disappeared before anyone could bat an eyelid. However he wasn’t at the hospital attending to his heavily pregnant wife, instead he was sat on a park bench ogling female joggers breasts bounce and tucking into his favourite sandwich, the phrase no such thing as a free lunch had been made redundant. Fast Eric had pulled a fast one.
This came around simply because of a short I penned which is based on the subject of teenage pregnancy. But then it occurred to me that I know very little about teenage pregnancy or parenting. Why you ask? Simply for two reasons:
- I’m no longer a teenager.
- I’m not a parent.
But teen pregnancy is something that I’ve always found enigmatic. As a teenager I never knew anyone my own age that had a kid. I knew people who knew people who had kids, but that was as far as it ever went. My only interpretation of a teenage parent was Sarah Platt from Coronation Street (played by Tina O’Brien) who falls pregnant at the age of thirteen. At the time I remember being flabbergasted with the storyline, she was only thirteen. I never knew thirteen year old girls could even get pregnant. Obviously my sexual knowledge at the time was limited, very limited. I’m talking no internet limited, therefore my knowledge of sex consisted of Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct and whatever film Channel 5 were showing late on a Friday night. That’s not to say I wouldn’t watch television and feel sexually attracted to women. Christina Aguilera, Cameron Diaz (in The Mask) and Kim Cattrall (Don’t act like you didn’t skim through episodes to see her sex scenes).
Sure we learned a bit in school about how babies are made and stuff. But in all honesty aside from giggling at hearing my teacher say ‘penis’ or ‘vagina’; I had no interest in the subject of babies. I didn’t want any nor did any of my male friends or girl friends. Back then, well at least in my eyes it wasn’t a thing. Fast forward ten years and literally it is really not that uncommon to see a teenager pushing a pram. Apparently teen pregnancies were at a record low last year according to the BBC, but I still feel the number is quiet high.
Now I’m not here to judge or condemn. I understand alluring factors in having sex. I was a teenager once and I know what those desires are like. I would look at girls in school and think about all those sexual desires that raced through my mind during Science classes. Every guy has had that unfortunate incident of having his mind run wild only to result in an erection under the table. In our minds we are Gods of the sex arena but in actuality we are ashamed and there is no way in hell we want a girl to see it unless she promised two things.
- Not to laugh it.
- Not to compare it to someone else’s.
Those are deal breakers in any agreement!
I guess the main negative connotation that comes with teen pregnancy is the fact the parent’s are still only kids themselves. According to society they aren’t supposed to have firsthand knowledge of parenting duties. The struggles that adult parents live through are almost doubled when it’s a teen whose worries should mainly focus on GCSE’s and college choices. That’s not to say teenage parents are no good at doing their job. I love hearing stories of teenagers who have had babies and still managed to pass their GCSE’s. My point through all of this is that teenagers should just focus on being teenagers. Easy for me to say being a balding 24 year old man, but I was a teenager too. I remember what it’s like.
Greg J Allman
Sonnet 18. One of the most famous pieces of creative writing to still be held in such high regard, generations after it was originally penned.
To this day we are still comparing things we cherish to a summer’s day. Or in my case things I hate as the sun doesn’t shine in a British summer. The first time I properly read this was back in March. I studied Shakespeare in school but the main focus was on his plays. Back then I had no idea what a sonnet was. As a matter of fact up until March I never knew what a sonnet was. But after reading Sonnet 18 a number times on a Friday evening, I was inspired.
Not by William Shakespeare, although I’m sure he’s inspired a fair share over the years. But I was inspired by what inspired Shakespeare himself to write this sonnet. Love. His love for the summer and his love for whomever he is writing about. Shakespeare captures the reader’s imagination painting images of “the eye of heaven” and a “gold complexion”. He was always way ahead of his time. In my mind I imagine beat boxing as he wrote the lyrics for his sonnet; just to ensure his rhythm and pace were right.
I decided to use something, or rather someone I love very deeply as inspiration much like Shakespeare did and compare her to something just as astounding as she is. However she isn’t too fond of the comparison. Although she likes the sonnet and was flattered by my spontaneous romanticism she would much rather be compared to something else.
My short fling with romanticism shan’t be short lived. Every day I am given more and more reasons to pen sonnets. But for now I shall leave you with my debut piece.
Greg J Allman.
Are you comparable to a London skyline?
Well I’d rather gaze upon you.
Crackers, Roquefort cheese and some wine
A picnic on Primrose with beautiful food.
You’re taller than any skyscraper,
The sole attraction of my heart
Can’t be defined by words on paper;
Cross the bridge where the water parts.
Your glow outshines any star in the sky,
And this light will never go out
For you’re to be desired by a London eye;
Standing amongst the city’s best no doubt.
Through rain, fog and snow your beauty remains clear,
And long after these buildings fall you’ll still be here.