I’ve been interviewing recently for a Project Management role. The last question I ask is always ‘what are your hobbies?’ I do this for two reasons i. No one puts them on their CV anymore, and ii. It gives a good insight into what a person is really like.
On one particular occasion the candidate replied with ‘scuba and sky-diving. I’m an adrenaline junkie and love danger and excitement.’
After the interview my colleagues and I agreed that the man in question was a nice, competent guy, and decided to offer him the job. The following morning he declined the role stating that he had been mugged outside the office, and that Southwark was too dangerous a place to work!
A few days later another candidate was asked the question ‘How do you deal with conflict?’ to which he replied ‘I don’t. I avoid it like the plague. I’m a politician. I weave around conflict.’
‘But surely there are times when conflict is unavoidable – for example – when you’re dealing with a poor supplier or a lazy employee?’
‘Well there you go. You’re in conflict with me now.’
‘No I’m not.’
‘What are your hobbies?’
‘I’m in a theatre company.’
‘Oh great – What was your last role?’
‘I was a clown.’
On Saturday a friend and I were in Howth – a small seaside town a few miles north of Dublin. We’d cleverly chosen our little break to coincide with an Uber-tsunami and were feebly making our way up along the wind-battered docks when we saw the saddest of sites – an accordion playing busker belting out a jolly jig whilst being pelted with everything the weather could throw at him. Despite the ordeal he wore a wax-work grin that slipped periodically into constipated angst.
A short way along the dock a second man opened a case to reveal an alto-sax. As he did so he scowled at the accordion player. The accordion player scowled back. Even in the downpour it was clear for all to see:
This town ain’t big enough for the two of us.
We spent the afternoon holed up in a bar speculating on the history of animosity that had obviously (probably) built up between them. I feel a short story brewing – perhaps entitled ‘Busk This.’
Venturing further north we arrived at Malahide castle. It was sobering to find a proud building that had weathered many Atlantic invasions only to be conquered by Starbucks. Complicit in its downfall we sat nursing a brew when a man was pushed into the room – wheelchair bound, his face covered in bruised and abrasions, tubes running along both arms and up his nose, blankets warding off the cold and a face that screamed defeat. A waitress approached, and in her chirpiest voice said ‘You’re looking well. How are ya?’
The man stared her down and replied: ‘As you see me. In what possible way do I look well?’
I shall call this story ‘Euphoria…’
The closing date for entries to the BBC short story competition is about to expire. I had my submission ready – ‘Method Acting’ – a story about a man who gets the starring role in a Broadway play and becomes so immersed in the character that he loses his sense of self. Just before posting it I read the small print and discovered that you had to be previously published, and that self-publishing didn’t count. I thought about writing a strong letter of complaint to Henry Kelly, but then reasoned that one 15 minute interview several months back probably doesn’t constitute an unbreakable sacred bond.
As stated in a previous blog – I don’t feel hard done by with the stigma that seems to be attached to independent/self-publishing, but it’s still worth mentioning whenever doors remain closed to me as it’s all part of the journey.
On the 5th of next month I’m heading up to ‘The Flask’ pub in Hampstead to take part in a reading group’s discussion about The Melting Pot (6-8 people) – quietly excited whilst mildly petrified at the prospect of meeting readers in the flesh, but then as I keep telling myself – why else did you get it published!
I’ve also started to approach reading groups outside of the London / M4 corridor. My initial thoughts were that people would be more open to taking on a book by someone who was vaguely local, but emboldened by a few successes I’ve decided to branch out a bit.