I need to get a job. Nanny Pam hasn’t put the rates up for helping out on the car-boot since I was eight, and I can’t live off a fiver a month forever.
My cousin’s mate, Michele, works pot washing in the local pub and said I could take one of her shifts on Saturday night. I guess it’s because she’s got a new boyfriend and needs extra time for dry humping him outside Happy Shopper.
On Fridays I sometimes go around Nanny Pam’s for tea after school. She’s a pretty bad cook, but she has two TV’s, which means I don’t have to fight with anyone over what I want to watch. Nanny Pam usually watches the same as me anyway: Neighbours, Home and Away, Emmerdale, EastEnders, Coronation Street and The Bill. In that order.
I watch the end of Blue Peter while I wait for Neighbours to come on. Some kid’s getting a badge for tap dancing with his pet dog at an old people’s home.
Nanny Pam shouts from the kitchen,
‘I’m making scrambled egg on potato waffles tonight love, with a Marie Rose sauce.’
You’d think no-one could mess that up, but you haven’t met Nanny Pam. She brings our little trays into the living room with dinner on. The waffles look alright, but on top is a chopped up hard boiled egg with a grey yolk, covered in a mixture of mayo and ketchup which people call Marie Rose, so it sounds like it’s not just mayo and ketchup.
Nanny Pam starts tucking in, ‘Ooooffff these scrambled eggs are deeevine!’
‘Erm, this isn’t scrambled egg Nan’
‘Yes, it is’
‘It’s a chopped up boiled egg.’
‘Yeah, making it scrambled, scrambled egg!’
‘No, it’s a hard boiled egg, that’s been chopped up, scrambled egg is…Oh don’t worry, thanks, Nan’
Neighbours starts, and it ended on a real cliff-hanger yesterday; I’m not missing out on Susan finding out about Dr. Karl’s affair to teach Nanny Pam how to be Gary bloody Rhodes!
After tea (and Susan going absolutely ape shit), I use Nanny Pam’s phone to ring the number Michele gave me for the pub. I speak to the manager who says I can come in for an interview tomorrow.
I put the phone down and tell Nanny Pam about the interview,
‘An interview to wash up? For God’s sake, even Bonnie can wash up!’
I think about Nanny Pam letting her fat old Yorkshire Terrier, Bonnie, lick all the food off the dishes before Nanny Pam puts them in the dishwasher. I like animals, but I think even Michaela Strachan would struggle with Bonnie. She’s proper narky, and smells so bad that once, when Dad was mega hungover, he threw up when she waddled into the living room.
Nanny Pam bought Bonnie before Grandad had an affair with the lady who works in 8tilLate, and they got divorced. Apparently, one night just before she kicked him out, Nanny Pam left Bonnie’s dog food on the kitchen side, and when Grandad got home drunk from The Saracens Head he ate the lot thinking it was left-over lamb hotpot. Nanny Pam still laughs her head off a bit too much when she tells that story.
When I get home that night, I start preparing for the interview in my bedroom that I share with Jenny, who’s lying on the top bunk listening to her Discman and eating a packet of Tomato Snaps. I lay my jeans, t-shirt and Kappa tracksuit top out on the floor in a person shape to see if it works as an outfit. Jenny looks down at me from the top bunk and pulls an earphone out. I can hear Radiohead quietly being miserable.
‘It’s just washing up, Hol!’
I ignore her and route around under the bed for my Record of Achievement that the teachers have been banging on about at school. It’s a fake leather folder, where you put all your awards in and that. My form tutor said we could take it to interviews. I pull it out and Jenny pipes up again, ‘I don’t think they’re gonna be interested in your cycling proficiency certificate and ten metre swimming badge!’
She’s probably right, but I don’t say anything. Anyway, I think she’s just jealous because I’ll be getting on the career ladder before her.
‘You know Mikey Fitzpatrick’s the manager there now. Didn’t he get kicked out of school for lighting farts in the Geography huts?’
I feel sick. Mikey was one of the popular lads in year ten at my school when I was a massive loser in year seven. On my first week of seniors I fell up the stairs and one of my shoes fell off. Mikey was behind me and he nicked it until the end of the day. To make things worse my daft old form tutor bollocked me for wearing incorrect uniform when I hobbled into afternoon registration.
Mikey’s wearing a baggy short sleeved blue shirt, tucked into even baggier black trousers and has something crusty and yellow on his massive purple tie that reaches all the way down to his half done up fly. I don’t think he recognises me and I decide not to remind him of how we know each other.
He picks up a manky piece of paper off a desk that has half a pint of flat Tango and a massive calculator on it. Then he swallows a burp and starts reading out questions on the paper like a reception kid in a Nativity play.
‘I wash up at home sometimes and I know how to use the dishwasher at my nan’s. ‘
‘Can you give an example of when you’ve been a team player?’
‘I’m not very good at sport.’
‘How do you handle stressful situations?’
I think about when I get stressed out at home…I lie on the floor put Oasis* on, and stare at the ceiling, but Mikey might not be an Oasis fan so instead I say,
‘Erm, I just try not to get stressed about stuff and that.’
‘Can you give me an example of where you have delivered excellent customer service.’
‘Erm, yeah, well erm, at my Nan’s car-boot once this woman lost her dog, and I tried to help her find it.’
‘Did you find it?’
‘Do you have any questions?’
I think, Yeah, do you have egg or English mustard on your tie?
‘Okay, we’ll let you know later, you know the way out right?.’
I get up and walk to the office door, pull it to open, then pull again, and again, and again, then realise it’s a push.
Mikey rang back in the afternoon. I didn’t get the job. I get dead upset for some reason and walk up the garden to be on my own. I sit on my little brother, Josh’s, Space Hopper next to my dead cat’s grave and think about how tragic my life is until I start crying
Jenny comes out, squeezes inside Josh’s red plastic car on the garden path, and wheels up to me.
I say to her through sobs, ‘Even Bonnie can wash up!’
Jenny says through the car windscreen, ‘That pub stinks of farts anyway, and Mikey looks like he’s fallen out of someone’s arse these days! Totally not worth missing Gladiators for!’
I think she’s right and that Mikey probably had Coronation Chicken on his tie, because I remember seeing it on the menu.
*Ok M People too, but that’s only because Oasis is really scratched.
**It’s not that scratched.
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Cover image courtesy of Coventry City Council via Flickr