I introduced my housemate to Black Books and Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby this weekend. The former was a cult classic dark comedy tv series from Irish comedian, Dylan Moran. The latter was a Kiwi comedy tv series with a deeply bigoted central character, Mr Gormsby, relief teacher at a fictional low decile boys’ high school. Both series centred around the anti social/antiquated white male protagonists and their interactions with people they encounter in their respective workplaces: book shop and high school.
I was amazed that my housemate had not encountered Black Books, former resident of old Blighty that she is, hadn’t seen it as it was originally aired on Channel 4. She was more of an ITV viewer, whatever that means. I had enjoyed a stint living in London (Camden) and outside of Cardiff (St Athan) for some months in 2002 and during that sabbatical enjoyed many trashy, racy and entertaining British shows.
Upon my return to Australia I realised the lack of quality comedy shows that really pushed social boundaries. Perhaps it was the grim political climate of that time period, but we as a comedy producing nation weren’t doing any heavy lifting in the tv series department (exception being the wonderful and very un P.C. Life Support with Abbie Cornish and Brendan Cowell). Things did improve in the mid- late noughties, but I digress…
This is the second time in six years when I have shared a residence with this housemate. Many things have changed in this time frame, however, our shared sense of black humour is as caustic and virulent as ever. It has been a pleasure for me to renew my fervour for Bernard Black and to snicker at the very politically incorrect behaviour of the students and staff at Tepapawai Boys’ High School.
We may have evolved as people, becoming mothers/homeowners (her), and traveled academics (me) but as friends enjoying comedy shows we can still be young, dumb, carefree and wholly un P.C. tv viewers. Just don’t tell anyone, okay?
I managed to score a job interview for a marketing department position with a 2nd tier university. Im sure said institution would not care for that appellation, however after seven years working at universities (or not, as the current case may be) I know what the pecking order for universities is in my home state. I thought I might have been punching above my weight and post interview, it seems I was, however not for the same reasons I had first thought. My concerns revolved around my lack of experience working in a marketing department. Turns out I probably wont ever work in a marketing department if they all follow the same method of evaluation when conducting interviews. I am going to be wearing a guernsey for team fail every time if they do…
One of my corporate high flier friends explained to me that they would use the STAR system to interrogate interview me. Situation Task Action Result. I’ve never had to participate in this sort of ritual before, however marketing department manager types seem to be strict adherents to this extremely limiting form of communication. I found it limiting because when I arrived at the third and occasionally fourth letter in their special test the next question was fired at me from one of the other interviewers. I don’t like being interrupted when Im telling a story, especially if it’s a story someone else has asked me to tell.
Needless to say I didn’t get the job, I was called up the day after the interview and given the the chop by the head honcho who had been on the panel of three firing squad. She asked if I would like some feedback. I knew that the interview hadn’t gone as well as it could have, but again I was surprised to find out why. Turns out they really liked me for the job, they’d had over 80 applicants for the position. I’d made it to the top five and got an interview because I had international experience (head honcho interviewer was American transplant bringing new ideas to the university.) Where I fell down in the interview the disembodied heavily accented voice told me was eye contact. Not that I didn’t get to finish any of my examples of being a fine leader who balances the needs of staff and demands of the brand perfectly. No, it was eye contact when my head was snapping backwards and forwards between the three members who sat on one side each of a rectangular table that I was placed at the head of, instead of where I had chosen to sit which was obviously not part of their behavioural analysis handbook examples. When head honcho dropped the culturally inappropriate eye contact ‘bomb’ I almost guffawed down the phone. Indigenous people aren’t big on prolonged eye contact, there are a myriad of reasons applicable. In Maori culture it can be seen as the equivalent to a declaration to fight. I was also stunned by the fact that I was meant to maintain eye contact with them all even though my neck was oscillating between the three interviewers whenever a new question was fired at me by someone else. It’s a shame I didn’t get further with this position, I think I could have been a good match for the evolving needs of their department but they are going to stick to their strange white collar/ white fulla rules so a shambolic storyteller like me with sneaky focal tendencies gets the phone call, picks a nice outfit, gets one (20 minute) dance to prove their suitability but no second date.
Went to a birthday celebration on Saturday night. Was going to blog from the event, however the sterling conversations, excellent entertainments and abundant comestibles hooked me Lionel Ritchie style – all night long. ‘If it bleeds, we can kill it’ was the theme of the evening, military/ nerf warfare with the occasional foam sword flare up kept the lads happy. Some girls joined the foam bullet battles but were mainly ensconced in animated conversations around the main heat source, the bonfire.
Almost all partygoers had some form of military inspired apparel, the best by my judgement were the army green ‘onesie’ / jumpsuit which caused difficulties during bathroom pitstops. With the plummeting temperature the outfit saved a life later in the night. The other honourable mention was a barbarian body armour ensemble that had been accessorised by foam swords and fanged foam skull morning star, hung with hip insouciance from the belt.
The birthday boy had a great night, I talked to people I hadn’t seen for years and the evening managed to be an unmitigated success without drawing the attention or ire of neighbours or enforcement agencies.
Boys playing war while drinking copious amounts of booze did make me think of the one time I engaged in the higher art of paint-balling. I’d had no interest in this pursuit however my participation was guaranteed by the organiser – my then boss and housemate.
We travelled over the border into New South Wales as paint ball had been illegal in Victoria at that time. After a big evening of swimming in the motel pool, drinking dubious quality vodka, we rose early (and gingerly) so I and my fellow patrol mates could be encased in heavy duty overalls, chest, head and hand protection and sent scurrying through the Australian Bush in 36 degree (celsius) heat.
In no time at all I was shooting friends in the face and having some deep philosophical conversations (with myself) about the futility of war, humans’ unending ability to wage such pointless activities and deriding myself for not refusing my boss/housemate. Probably a bit upset that this transcendent moment was being played out under the merciless sun with only last night’s Bad Life Decisions fueling my existential dilemma. But I digress. The rest of my troupe had fun shooting each other, the boss/ housemate even managed to ‘pull’ a date from a stag party fighting us. With a full face mask on I’m guessing it was the saucy Cockney accent that clinched the deal.
Enjoyment is what I experienced, albeit vicariously by watching this group of partying nerf gun toting friends on Saturday night, six years after my fraught foray into the realm of mock warfare had seen me have a partial A.N. Redux moment…
No true fatalities, though there were a bloody swathe of ‘dead soldiers’ strewn across the lawn and fallen ‘heroes’ cluttering the kitchen. This made making my breakfast cheese sandwich a precise manoeuver the following afternoon. Amazingly clear headed and no chattering philosophical monkey on my back, I let the boys be boys with their attendant urges and didn’t over-think the event too much.