I’m back in Leeds after a three night hiatus in Dunstable in the company of two old friends; brothers in arms of whom I wrote yesterday in Pineapple Days. A sojourn, which among the events arranged, saw me re-united with several former work mates/colleagues during a surprise retirement presentation for a long-standing buddy of mine (Alan).
The event an informal get together at the offices of the financial institution who’d employed my old mate for the past thirty one years. A company for whom he’d left his home in the north east of England in winter of 1987.
Although not a consequence of the advice, Alan’s move tapping into former 1980’s Tory Trade & Industry minister Norman Tebbit”s advocacy of career advancement by ‘getting on your bike’; relocating to where employment pastures were more fertile.
As a staunch Labour Party supporting Gateshead lad, I’d venture the former Chingford MP would’ve been amongst the least likely of lifestyle mentors embraced by the Mudster….. As no one has even called him!!
Mr M, though, did share my intrigue*** as to whether avenues in the south east of England were, as Dick Whittington had told, indeed paved with gold.
However, the question was, would we young northern English lads be able to hack it in the capital of our nation? Especially during an era our economy was seemingly run by young professional persons (yuppies) in the city of London. People whose lifestyles were the very antithesis of our then political beliefs.
*** – I’d relocated there from Gateshead a month earlier to take up the same computer operators role Alan was about to embark on.
Spending a successful thirty one years darn sarf perhaps answering enquiries about his powers of alchemy. The Geordie fella’s cockney walkabout can only be described as a success.
In no way selling out his political beliefs, Alan’s longevity at working for three decades in Middlesex and Bedfordshire a consequence of a maturity and the consistency of thought and deed I lacked at that time. My capriciousness leading to me returning to the north of England after nine years service with BACS (as Vocalink was then known).
Post speeches, after consumption of the buffet and drink provided by his long-term employers, I spoke to Alan about the tribute laid on by his Vocalink colleagues. In particular, I’d wanted to known if the presentation had been a surprise, or if alternatively he’d been tipped off about the secretly arranged retirement party. And enquiry causing him a brief pause before replying “I’ll say it was a surprise, I didn’t even know I was bloody retiring!!”
At this get together, held within the Bedfordshire based company’s meeting rooms, it was heartening to see some old shift colleagues amongst the congregation. Men who’re IT Service Management titans, including one of my former shift deputies Tony Coates.
Tony a tall fellow Yorkshireman, whose thriftiness, penchant for looking disenchanted and frequent use of the word “‘Appen!” characterising him as the archetypal Tyke. In fact, it’s mooted the Halifax lad’s legendary frugalness inspired the adage “You can take the bloke outta Yorkshire, but you’ve no chance of taking money out of his wallet.”
Mr Coates upbringing in the Calderdale minster town leaving him only a name change to Thruxton Thacklethwaite away from becoming named Yorkshire Cliche of The Year 2019. His refusal to pay 5p for a supermarket carrier bag meaning that since 2016 Tony has dropped/broken 144 eggs and had to chase 17 errant toilet rolls around Sainsbury’s car park.
It was good to see Tony in reasonable spirits (well, not flaming whinging for a change!!). Behaviour I took to be a consequence of being close to his own retirement, along with that morning’s news Sainsburys are planning to give a free carrier bag with every half dozen eggs and four packs of Andrex.
Being a boss who always treated me decently, and being also born in god’s own county, I’ve a lot of time for Tony Coates. On asking his aspirations for retirement he dourly responded in his trademark Halifax lilt “To be honest, all I want is a bloody egg sandwich and summat to wipe me arse with, lad!”