Friday, November 18, 2011

The Interview

Having worked tirelessly to get back in the “normal” workforce recently, it came as something of a pleasant surprise when I was asked to attend for an interview. That in itself isn’t so surprising, what was surprising is that this job was top of my wish list and to get the opportunity to interview for it was a great…. opportunity.

I prepared myself the best I could for the big day. I went out and bought a whole new outfit. I suited up to the nines so sharply I resembled a younger, Welshier Don Draper.

It's like looking in a mirror!!
All that was left to do was present myself and rock their socks off with my witty, intelligent and concise interview technique, which basically involved me stealing Don Draper’s entire persona.

Yes, I like Mad Men.

I entered the interview room to be confronted by four middle aged women with bad haircuts, cheap clothes and skin that was the wrong side of ripe. 

Enter our lair!
This was the kind of scenario that ol’ Don lived for. Within seconds he would have had them eating out of his hand and asking him to be their boss. I intended to follow the same path. If Don Draper had taught me anything, it was this: "You want some respect? Go out there and get it for yourself."

However, there was just one tiny flaw in my otherwise flawless plan.

As I was introduced to the cast of the Bitches of Eastwick, I felt a slight unease and realisation running through my mind. People generally look for traits in others which they possess in themselves. It’s a fundamental rule of human nature. I may have many enviable character traits, but being able to relate those to four forty something former house wives with a maxed out Primark store card was a big ask. Short of starting the conversation by asking them if they had watched some angry working class soap or a brain numbing realty TV show last night, I was already on the back foot.

No matter. As soon as the interview questions start, I would give them little option other than to consider me the front runner for this position.

Then shit got serious.

Question 1:

"Quantify using your strategic analysis review experience, how you correlate the subject matter of the primary criteria within the confines of the agreed employment description, emphasising the essentially required person specifications relating to previous performance and subdivision parameters."

My mind raced. Wait, was that question even in English??

No, can’t have been? I only caught about a third of the words she actually said. To be honest, I think she was using an Elvish dialect I was not totally familiar with.

My mouth opened and vague, jumbled words spilled out.

If pie charts had had anything to do with the question I have no idea, but she seemed to pick up interest and wrote something down when I said the phrase “core management liaising skills”. However she seemed less interested when I talked about “like..patient confidentiality stuff, you know?”

I have no idea what my answer sounded like to them, but to them this is probably the kind of answer I gave and how I looked giving it:

Deciding to tag team me into submission, the questioning moved on to the next battle-axe in a blouse.

I could feel the blood rushing around my head. Had it started to drip out of my nose yet? I couldn’t be sure. I reached for the plastic cup of water that had been set in front of me and took a nervous sip. I resisted the temptation to throw it over them to see if they would melt. But my guess is yes, yes they would.

Surely the first question was just a tester. A kind of “no win situation” or “Kobayashi Maru” if you will, that would show them how a person reacts under duress and extreme pressure. I was wrong.

Questions 2:

"In response relating to the objective status of information queried, you are presented with misleading or nonmisleading recognition measure assessed information. If you are required to ascertain the validity of said information in a time structured manner complying with the employer’s code of conduct, do you feel this is systemic of a client testimony compromise or due, in part, to the previously mentioned queried information disassociation parallel?"

I started to sob a little at this point.
The question was longer and more confusing than the first. I quickly scanned my memory for key words and cues that could help. I sat there with my mouth open staring at the ceiling. I had to say something.

A long and exasperated sound seeped from my larynx. I wasn’t totally sure, but I think I might have been having a serious stroke at this point.

I started rambling again. A half remembered reference to “conduct” lingered in my brain as I checked off meaningless phrases and platitudes relating to this subject. I rubbed my now numb face in the hope of sparking some semblance of life into my answers, but all that came were stories of “client interaction” and “petty cash…reimbursement.. bus tickets..photocopy chart, list, prescription doctor”.

They witches cackled and sneered as they wrote down notes on their little forms. Their writing too small, far away and upsidedowny for me to read. But I knew what they were writing. I KNEW!

“HAHAHA. Can’t believe this guy is actually trying to answer these questions! He’s not even a 47 year old woman! Why would we hire him?”

Almost unbeknown to me I had stopped talking and they had moved onto the third woman and her question. By the time I had I had stopped talking and she had started, she was already half way through her question but I decided that I would at least try to get one question reasonably understood and give a decent answer.

Question 3:
"How do you feel, empirically speaking of course, you can respond to a work scenario that is conceptually heterogeneous in appearance, but displays homogeneity characteristics upon further effective and target led investigation."
I sat there and thought about it….. 

For what was a VERY long time
I had nothing.

Literally NOTHING!

Not a single word of her question made any sense and I had already used up every single reference to my skills and experiences that might otherwise allow me to tread water for a few minutes.

As Don Draper would have said: 

“I'm glad that this is an environment where you feel free to fail.”
I stroked my hair and started rocking back and forth in my seat. 

They all just looked at me for what seemed like an eternity. I now knew how those poor bastards in Dragons Den felt when they cracked under the pressure and couldn’t even remember what invention they were trying to sell.

I had no choice but to ask lady number 3 to repeat the question. She looked at me with an almost palpable level of disgust and contempt and then proceeded to repeat the question like she was trying to teach basic reading skills to a retarded 3 year old kid who grew up a middle child in a pack of wolves.

“HOW….. Do you.. That’s YOU!!! FEEL, EMPIRICALLY SPEAKING, of….………Course………
She gave me no hints or help as to what the hell she was talking about, but just repeated the question word for word in a much slower and patronising identical manner. 

This brief rest bite did give me a brief opportunity to leave my body and observe the car crash that was happening before my eyes. It was not a pretty sight in all fairness. Whoever that guy in the suit is sitting behind the desk should really wipe the dribble from his chin.

I feigned new and appreciated understanding of the question and gently nodded in some sort of realisation that the words she said now made sense.

I did not.
But the penny had not dropped. I was as lost as I had been at the start of the question, but at least now I had been given enough time to formulate some sort of answer. I figured anything had to be better than just sitting there like I had been struck down by a severe and sudden case of “locked in syndrome”.

Again I prattled on about “people skills” and may have even given a short speech on how.....

At this point, I was seconds was from reciting the lyrics to Shiny Happy People
More scribbles on their notes as I continued to give them a show of bewildered false conpentence not seen since they banned the circus from training Apes to ride Horses. 

Which is probably a good thing
The one thing I clung to during this time was the knowledge that my torture was almost over. I wondered if they used similar techniques on terrorists? They probably should. I was so confused and dumb struck that at this point that I would have happily run out of the interview room screaming about “Firm but supportive management styles” and “Database information review process” if my legs had worked. But this was the last question, so how bad could it be. It would be asked by what seemed to be the most friendly and senior interviewer. She even smiled at me and gave me a reassuring look.

Question 4:
 "Please give me your definition of avocation oriented success in which you can specify the techniques used in interdependence of conceptual targets in which you exceeded the agreed upon supposition of the work environment without having to rely on presumption of duty."

I started to shake. My breath came in short deep grunts, interspersed with the primal howl of a wounded animal. I rutted the floor with my shoe. Some sort of reply came from within. I had no idea what I even said, but I think I may have cursed her house in Klingon at one point.

Then it was over. 

I had worked on a funny joke regarding the “What are your weaknesses?” question, but they didn’t even have the good grace to give me the opportunity to use it. In case you’re wondering, it was something about being a “bit of a racist”. There was a whole setup and punch line thing that doesn’t make sense out of context. What you think you could do better? 

Needless to say I didn’t get the job. I have requested some feedback from the interview panel. A little bit in order to pick up some hints, but mainly to try and remember what the hell I actually said.

I’m quite annoyed and dismayed why people would want to turn an already tense and nervous situation into a full on mental torture session. We all have access to a thesaurus, but that’s no reason to take the piss. I really don’t know what they hoped they would get out of their petty and silly actions? Maybe the job had already been “promised” to someone else and this was their way of just stacking the deck, or maybe they were just jumped up, self-important fish wives who needed to try and make themselves look better than they actually were. Either way, their loss.  

Never mind. Plenty more interviews out there, meaning I get to do this all over again in the near future.


Wednesday, October 26, 2011


what can be has been

it has happened,

it will happen


& never again.

it begins at last/

ends after.

the trip is the dots we connect

the radiance of our choices and intellect

the respect to our peers

and those we neglect.

the whole aspect is suspect,

and though adjacent in all bisects

its complacent



taking each emotion you feel and putting it into play.


I can tell its just a faze.

but to me its a wonderful haze

lazzie fair

I spare words down by the lair

im full of scarce

childish fears

only diffrence is im aware.

this fare skined chariot will be the life of me


I let my wisdom show at various zeniths

but its so unclear and worthless to this journey i lead

in a time of great unceartinty

true colors bleed...


in peril

the trumpets blow

and bellow

Im in tune with the hum and


but I only brought 2 cents

& I've got a contienet to roam.

it intense how much I fear this

feel this.

need this.



Its what I began as and its what I shall end with

all is forever in eternity

Ill sleep when Im dead

but I refuse to choose when.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Chess and the Eternal Sleep

TV sounds coming through the wall, noises of my mother in bed trying to get to sleep, the sound of the TV helping her, but hindering me. I look at the chess set on the table at the end of my bed. It was a wedding gift to my aunt and uncle who divorced before I was even born. She died a few years ago and I took the chess set to remember her by. I have other things of course, the pictures we took together, trinkets and my memories, but this chess set is something I can look at and remember her by.

It actually has an interesting story behind it, concerning a sales man from the middle-ages in Scotland who buried it in the sand out of fear of being mugged, only to never return for it, leaving to be found nearly a thousand years later. The chess set became quite a big deal. Lots of reproductions were made, including for use in the Harry Potter movies, which I remember well because I was watching it when I spent that magical night with Elizabeth. I loved her so much, but I never know what was going to happen next with her. We spent the night together and made love many times. As she slept in my arms, I laid awake and watched Harry Potter on the cheap hotel TV and noted that Harry and Ron were playing chess with the same pieces as the one I had from my aunt. I thought about waking Elizabeth and telling her, but somehow I don't think she would feel that it was that interesting a story. Maybe she was right, maybe I was wrong, but it’s funny how these things turn out. When she did awake, I told her the story of my aunt and Harry, she looked me in the eyes, kissed me hard on the mouth and then went down on me, so perhaps the stories of chess sets and recently deceased aunts is more exciting than I give it credit for. But that was Elizabeth; you never knew what was going to happen with her from one day to the next. She somewhat spoilt one of the best nights of my life though by later accusing me of taking advantage of, even though she was the one who invited me to the hotel. And she wonders why I have no confidence with women.

But my aunt is gone now; the magical pea and ham soup and walnut sponge cake that sustained me through my first 20 odd years of life has now vanished forever. I wish I still had a load in the freezer, waiting to be defrosted and eaten as I have never had soup like that before or since in my life! It’s funny the things you miss most about a person. Sometimes it’s their laugh, other times it’s their bad attitude, and sometimes it’s a steaming hot bowl of pea and ham soup. But she's gone now. Dead, along with my grandfather. Where they go after their body ends is a mystery that I often ponder into the small hours. As much as I would like something special and amazing to be waiting for us after we end our normal lives, deep down I know that there is nothingness. Just a soulless empty void that swallows us whole. A girl I once went out on a first date with asked me about my views on what comes after death once. I told her about my beliefs and how it would be just like falling asleep. Once asleep you remember nothing and you have no concept of time. Sure, occasionally you have vague and fleeting dreams, but for 97% of your sleeping time, you are mentally and physically non-existent. You have no recollection of it, you are not aware you are asleep and essentially you cease to exist for those 7 or 8 hours. People often wonder what happens after you die, and for me this is the most likely answer. No 42 virgins waiting for you; no loved ones from the past waiting to welcome you in to the pearly gates. Just an eternity of peaceful sleep and quiet. In a way I think that has its own beauty, to become one with the stars again and drift off into space. Your body going back to the dusts of space and time as you end your short stay on this planet.

I don't know. I'm making everything up as I go along. For all I know, maybe Zeus will welcome you back to Mount Olympus and give you his well-worn speech on how he has no idea why everyone is worshiping all these false Gods now a days.

I never saw that girl again. She told me she just wanted to be friends. Maybe Elizabeth had told her I was a "sex fiend", or maybe it was because her grandmother had recently died and she held strong beliefs of magic clouds and harps waiting for her after her passing. Or maybe it was because she was a stuck up bitch cunt whore who deserves to get her car smashed up and wrecked. That would teach her to reject me. I don't know where my passive aggressive nature comes from. We went out on a date, she didn't feel anything so decided to move on. But for some reason that pisses me off. I'm a nice guy, I have a good sense of humour, I’m young free and single, so what is this bitch’s problem? I tried asking her in the days, weeks and months that followed, but being one of the beautiful people I guess she has to deal with this all the time and is now an old hand at ignoring losers like me. Still though. Bitch....

Time for bed now. I hope I wake up tomorrow morning. It’s a funny feeling knowing that one day I will most likely go to sleep and then never wake up again. Will I be aware that I am dying? Lots of people seem to have a sixth sense when their time is up. Will I? Will I go to my bed willingly or will I freak out and attempt to out-stay death with lots of Redbull. How long will it be before I leave? 1 day? 100 years? I don't know.

Maybe I’ll play chess with my aunt, or maybe I’ll drift through darkness, oblivious to the silence around me.

Maybe that bitch will change her mind.

Monday, October 3, 2011

 entangled (the physics of love)

there are particles
and there are waves and fields.
there are you, here is i.
sometimes - individual electrons

remember each other, connected forever through the sub-etha        dancing to the same song

but it wasn't that way with us
I don't burn every time you
stir your coffee with your thumb and you don;t
cry every time I think of you:

not faster than light, not two

just one, missing you.

 ©2011 Peter A. Greene.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

...And I Don't Feel Fine

On the 21st September 2011, REM announced that they would be going their separate ways. Coming so soon after the release of their 15th studio album, this announcement left me distraught and grieving.

As REM would say, perhaps we should begin the begin. At 33 years old, REM have been around since I took my first step and could say my first word. I first became aware of their presence when I was 12 years old and walked into the bedroom I shared with my brother on one idle Sunday afternoon to find him trying to tape a catchy song from the radio onto cassette tape (as was out way in the early 90s). Having never paid much attention to music up until this point in my life, I distinctly remember being moved and hooked on the epic catchy tune that was Losing my Religion.

Throughout the 90s my love affair with the Athens rock Gods grew. I listened to them on Dylan’s car stereo as he seduced Brenda in 90210, I watched their videos ad-nauseum on MTV, VH1 and the raft of new music TV stations that populated satellite TV in the mid-90s.

When I went to college in 97 I remember picking up New Adventures in Hi-Fi while on a class outing in Swansea. It was to be the first of many points where I can relate the big and memorable moments in my life with my beloved REM. When I went to America to work the following year, there was just one CD that I took with me and that was Out of Time. I played that CD a thousand times on the kids’ boom-box. Even though they were from Athens, Georgia, it was a little taste of home that I had brought with me.

In 1998 I finally got the chance to see REM live. Taking the train to London by myself and finding my way to the concert venue was one of those magical moments you have when you’re young. They were my favourite band and this was my first concert. The stars aligned perfectly to give me one of the best nights of my life. An epic three and an hour set resulted in my hurdling crowd protection barriers in order to catch the last tube to my connecting train to South Wales that was leaving in five minutes. A series of frantic running, ticket turnstile avoidance and the prospect of spending the night on a park bench in London resulted in me catching my train with 30 seconds to spare. I had fallen up some stairs, was covered in sweat and had cut my trousers, but as I collapsed on that train seat, almost passing out from dehydration, I could only smile like a grinning idiot as I remembered the amazing night of music and passion I had just experienced.

I remember so much from my time with REM. I remember the time I drove over to the shops with my cousin to pick up the new REM single Imitation of Life, playing it full blast on the way back home, windows down, singing along for all we were worth.

Whenever I listen to music in the car, 90% of the time it’s REM. I have had to purchase several copies of some of their albums as I tend to wear them out from repeated listening and less than stellar storage conditions in my glove box. I remember my brother dropping an entire large coke over my Fables of the Reconstruction album when we were in a McDonalds Drive Thru. I still have that CD and the crinkled coke sodden album sleeve reminds me a time now long gone.

Through thick and thin they were always my favourite band. While some people may change styles and affiliations as they get older, with me it was just the opposite. I became a bigger and bigger fan of the guys. Now working and with a disposable income I quickly purchased their entire back catalogue and began familiarising myself with their earlier IRS years’ work. The only time my faith was ever shaken was during the Once Around the Sun period. I had loved Up and Reveal, and considered them worthy companions to their more commercially and critically well received work. But with Around the Sun, even I, a massive fan and supporter could find very little to recommend or to like. Sure, Leaving New York was a great song, but the rest of the album is best left forgotten and removed from the almost perfect annuls of REM history.

Driving to and from work in the 00s I would have REMs later hit albums constantly on rotation in my car and would anticipate every new release like it was Christmas Morning. I even remember setting up Night Swimming on my car stereo when I quit my job and drove away for the last time, taking one last look in the mirror as I left my old life. It seemed fitting somehow. I also remember singing that song with a drunk Canadian woman in the back of a mini bus coming home from a night out on the town. One way or another, REM always seemed to be part of my life.

I got to see them live again in Cardiff twice; the most recent concert in 2008 was probably the greatest gig I have ever been to. REM were on top form and being right at the front of the stage, the sight of Michael Stipe looking right at me while singing Stand was electrical and for those brief few seconds he made me feel like I was the most important person in the room.

That is how I want to remember REM. Fun, fit and kicking ass. Somehow I always thought that they would just do a Stones and keep going. They have been around for as long as I have been alive and I assumed that they would always be with me. Making new music, coming to town touring and producing their particular brand of alt-rock awesomeness.

When I heard about the news from the official REM Facebook feed, at first I assumed that it was some kind of prank. As my eyes scanned the words… I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I clicked on the link and found further comments from the band members detailing their decision. I don’t mind admitting I was heartbroken. It honestly felt as though someone had died. I suppose in some ways I was having my 13 year old girl/Backstreet Boys breakup moment. There had to be some kind of mistake, REM can’t break up, they’re REM! They invented alt-rock. I quickly posted the news on my Facebook feed, but none of my friends cared. No one commented or “liked”. At that exact moment I felt so down. Why wasn’t there mass posts of their videos? Why were people not talking about this? The greatest band in the world were no more and none of my so called friends gave a damn. That was the hardest part. I just wanted someone to share my loss with, but no one was there and now even the people who I had relied upon to get me through the tough times were leaving. When someone asks me at what point did your youth die, I think this will be it.

You really don’t appreciate what you have till it’s gone, but the sudden and out of nowhere style of the announcement is what really hit me. They should be sorting a tour schedule right now, not going their separate ways. But they made great art and they made my life so much better.      

But REM were that kind of band. They made you feel like every song was written especially for you. No matter what mood I was in, there was an album and song to fit it perfectly. They were my band, they were the soundtrack to my life.

They were my friends.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide: Part 1

“Damn it! Damn it all to Zombie Hell! You finally did it. You finally unleashed the end of days.”

Who can forget that classic quote from Charlton Russell from the classic motion picture: Rise of the Zombie Apes. Who knew that it would so accurately foreshadow the future apocalypse in which we now potentially find ourselves. Having seen this event coming for so long, I took it upon myself to prepare a Zombie Attack Survival guide for you, my dear reader, cause let’s face facts here, it’s just a matter of when, not if, this guide will be needed.

Please note that much of this guide can also be used in the event of an alien invasion, nuclear war, the Germans having another go or uprising of underground dwelling monster race of Crab-People.

Chapter 1: Preparation

Forearmed is Forearmed. The more armaments you have at your disposal, the better chance you have of coming out of this alive. It’s no good popping down to your local hardware store once the Zombie apocalypse has hit because it's probably going to be clossed. You need to prepare yourself now.

The best weapon in dealing with Zombies is a good old fashioned “lobo”. A lobo is a lobotomising weapon that can be used in combat by just about anybody. It is the only real option when fighting the Zombie hoards. A gun will run out of bullets and quickly attract other Zombies with its noise, and while a bow and arrow or crossbow is a good medium/long distance weapon, it too suffers from the same animation problem as the gun, along with its slow reload time leaving you open to close quarter attack.

There are many different types of lobo you could invest in. This is mine:

I call it "The Re-Deadinator"
It covers all bases. You got the broadsword for your traditional skull cracking. The gun for your close combat head shots, when you got no other choice. And finally a sharp knife that can be used to stab through the eye of a zombie, into the brain in case you run out of bullets.

I highly recommend that you choose something heavy and strong. While a baseball bat might seem an obvious choice, it just has very little weight behind it and you will need a swing like Babe Ruth to destroy a Zombie’s brain with a single swing. The best choice of weapon would be a sledge hammer/pick axe combination deal. This will provide the weight of a heavy hammer, with the brain piercing power of a pick. 

Here are some basic Zombie killing techniques for you to memorise:
The Sword Skull Crack.
The Gun Brain Splat.
The Knife Eye Kebab.
Where to get food?  Your first instinct during a Zombie apocalypse will be to run out to the supermarket and fill up a trolley. DO NOT DO THIS! 

A typical Supermarket 4 minutes after an Apocalypse.
You must avoid large congregations of people at all costs as everyone else will have had the same idea as you, leaving you to battle it out with other healthy humans in a fight for what little resources are available. During the Zombie attack you must start thinking differently. You must forget the “rules” of society and think outside the box.

Old people are easily confused, overpowered and stolen from. You most likely have many elderly neighbours and relatives who will have cupboards chock full of yummy food. 

As old people are pretty much dead anyway, you will be doing them a big favour by taking their food and denying them the curse of Zombification. However, should you wish to end their suffering quickly and humanely, this is a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and not just get a healthy supply of food, but to also test your lobo Zombie killing skills. Old people are perfect to practice on as they are 80% Zombie anyway. The moan a lot, suffle along like they've been dead for a week and eat things that would make a billy-goat puke. So hack away good reader and be sure to take a moment and acknowledge the sacrifice these elderly people have given you.

Be at peace innocent ones.
Fortification: Having got the jump on many of your competitors for what little resources remain available, it is now time to baton down the hatches and wait out the first wave of Zombie attacks.

A good cushion fort can withstand anything up to a level 3 Cloverfield attack.
You must proceed to your home, lock all doors and windows and bunker down for a minimum of 2 weeks. With careful rationing you will have more than enough food and water to last this time. Make sure to keep curtains and blinds closed at all times as you do not use any lights that can be seen from the street, less you attract Zombies or gangs of marauders.  

There is always time for Disco, but we must all make sacrifices.
Always have an escape plan in case of home invasion however. I highly recommend having a second story window from which you can escape in an emergency situation. Always keep your essential supplies in a bag next to this window should you be forced to flee in a hurry.

Clothing. As the Zombie virus is spread through bites and sylvia, it makes obvious sense to try and protect yourself as much as possible when presented with a Zombie attack. Even basic cotton clothing is enough to protect your limbs from Zombie bites, so be sure to cover up your arms and legs at all times. Another top tip is to wear tough, thick gloves. You will most likely be doing a fair amount of hand to hand combat with Zombies so it makes sense to protect the area of your body that is going to be in closest contact with the Zombie mouth. 


Coming in Part 2: The Hoard Arrives.....