Saturday, September 09, 2006

Meet. Not So Great

So, I had the Deranged Maniac accost me one afternoon in Soho, wailing about how he had reached out for the Great Graphic Design Dream and been sent tumbling back to earth. It hadn’t quite worked out for him and, gee, that was tough.

In another instance of a chance meet, perhaps I was the bozo. Although in my defence, I have to say that the consumption of alcohol played a factor.

The Producer of the animation studio liked to be liked. It’s nice to be liked, I won’t argue with that, but it doesn’t bother me that much in the workplace. Foolishly, I think it’s all about getting the job done, on time, within budget and to the very best of your abilities. Follow those simple rules and in my experience more work tends to come along.

(There are obviously other ways of getting ahead, but they tend to involve putting someone’s penis in your mouth. So I stick to what I know. And like).

Treating the animators as artists to be cooed over and coddled, The Producer came out and suggested that there were times where I would have to be the Bad Cop to her Good Cop. Which was all right for her. Actually, it was pretty good for me.

Obviously I didn’t enforce draconian rule in such a way that I would more than likely have ended up hanging from a lamppost if we had gone on any longer, but I didn’t take any excuses. But boy, did the ass-clown pencil-monkeys get in a snit. Which created some tension. And some times, quite a lot of tension. Especially on the last big project before the studio folded.

Once that happened I had some time off. A relationship had just ended, so things actually weren’t terribly great for a while. Still, I gradually picked myself up, dusted myself down, and started writing about television for a website. Which involved getting invited to programme launches and the like. So it gave me something to do and got me out of the flat, which was starting to fill with preview tapes.

One of Channel 4’s new season launches was in a large townhouse just north of Soho, in Cavendish Square. The presentation kicked off midday with a typical speech from the head of programming. While clips ran on the big screens the waitresses started to circulate. Typically there was more drink than food available for the hacks. Which meant the champagne kept coming while the nibbles lagged behind in a distant second place.

Hot food at lunchtime makes me sleepy. Alcohol does the same trick. Especially on a hot day. But when it comes to free fizz, what can you do? Ah, what the hell.

As the presentation wound down, I wended my way back home. By this time I was pretty loaded. I never get to the fall down drunk stage, but I was at the stage that made things just a little fuzzy around the edges. Fuzzy enough for me to cut into Soho. Chiz.

Ambling along one of the side streets I see a familiar face through the glass of a sandwich shop. There, sitting and staring blankly out of the window as he chewed on what was possibly a tuna roll (or something equally as bland) was one of the little pencil monkey’s from the studio that was.

As I came level with his face I waved (or at least jerked my hand around in some flailing motion) and saw a brief flicker of recognition, though no welcoming smile. Ordinarily I would have happily continued on my way. But fuzzy logic was at work. And I went inside. What a dick!

A year or two after finishing his animation course, the little pencil monkey still looked like he should have been wearing his school blazer and tie. There was no real personality to him either as I remembered, although it wasn’t like his mother had been frightened by a donkey.

Although his work as an in-betweener/clean up artist was competent if he tried hard, he compensated by laughing at the right jokes told by the right people, hanging on their every word of every anecdote, and without making it too obvious, puckered up and smooched the requisite amount of arse. At the studio that was, the big butt in question belonged to one of the animation directors, so he was shielded.

There in the sandwich shop I found out that he was working at the studio the Producer’s old assistant was in charge of. And after an awkward silence I mentioned that I was writing now and had just been at a new season launch party. To prove it I breathed alcohol on him. Although since I had removed the name badge, I could have been a liar with a drink problem.

During the next awkward silence his girlfriend, who worked in some aspect of the music industry that allowed her to get free CDs for the animation director, returned from the counter with her lunch, waiting for me to vacate the space I was standing in so she could sit down beside him and eat.

I stared at her. She glared at me. I breathed alcohol fumes on her. What a schmuck!

All I had in common with the kids on my degree course was we spent three years together at The Esteemed School of Art. Apparently, all I had in common with the pencil monkeys at the animation studio was I didn’t want to see them and they didn’t want to see me.

Moving on...


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