Monday, February 28, 2005

Further Adventures of Stuart Special Edition

Originally this blog started with a song made by Chris (Alistair) Kydd when he didn't think anyone was using the Nintendo in his room.

Make me a cup of your tea,
But do not pour it down the sink,
Where it would end up in the drink,
What a waste that would be...

However in a George Lucasesque fashion I didn't really think this was the first blog post I really wanted to make. Granted the iambic pentameter and rhyme scheme is fine but it just don't think it was the blog post I set out to make. Much like George's wise move of revamping Star Wars to include Greedo shooting first, or a gratuitous appearance by Jabba the Hutt and Boba Fett I feel it necessary to revise the first post to include lots of background information not included in the original four line classic first post.

Obviously I mean no disrespect to Chris, so I've kept his original poem in, though I've played with the punctuation a little, tidied up the font and made it inferior to the original work. I plan on releasing the original post as a limited edition extra on the fifth or sixth DVD of this blog in ten year's time.

Some time in October-November 2004 I was sat at my desk rather bothered by the fact I was viewing my last PhD stipend payment and that I'd spent the last few months looking round for a job rather fruitlessly. Unlike when I graduated in 2001 with my BSc and decided to leave Dundee, go to the other end of the country and work, which ironically ended with me working in Dundee on a PhD, I decided this time to stay in Dundee or Scotland at least and not apply for any jobs darn sarth.

I then noticed a job for Demonstrators at the University of Leicester. I remember rather excitedly telling the guys in the office as it read like quite a cool job and ideal for me to do while finishing up my PhD. How naive I was back then.

I applied, and with most academic posts was told that if I didn't hear back in 1 month I was to simply assume I'd not been shortlisted.

Naturally two months later, on the 23rd of December, I was contacted by Leicester's personnel. I was leary about going to the interview in January, but they sorted me out a hotel. I'd been to Leicester for two Student Nationals, so I wasn't a complete noob to the place. It was, as I recall, a bugger to get to from Dundee, especially by public transport while the train ride was 8 hours I had picked up a copy of The Earthsea Quartet from the library Lesley used to work in, Arthurstone Community Library, so I was occupied. I honestly didn't expect to get the job and given it wasn't in Scotland I wasn't too bothered.

I got off the train and there was a 60 mile and hour sprint up the London Road to the Gables Hotel via taxi, which ended with me musing briefly on how I didn't really need to have taken the taxi, but I was on interview expenses (despite the letter's veiled threats that they would not honour them if I decided not to take the job).

The hotel didn't exactly fill me with great hope. The next hotel along was far bigger, shinier, nicer and didn't have police lights from police cars all buzzing around it. Nor, did I expect, did it have a desk clerk bearing a worrying resemblence to Peter Lorre. It was a little dingy, dusty, run down and the architect didn't believe in Euclidean geometry or the need for straight lines when hanging pictures, mirrors.

Compared to some of the places I stayed in Leicester after this interview it was a palatial mansion.

I also, at 7:45pm decided to get some dinner. Being as how I was near a university I reasoned there would be many takeaways nearby. This would also allow me to get acquainted with my surroundings and find where I was going tomorrow.

I should've asked Peter Lorre Jnr. which way the Uni was, as by following the directions in my info pack I found myself at the Oadby/Manor Road. The man at the garage insisted the university was further up there, but I felt I was leaving town very quickly and turned back. I think Peter Lorre Jnr. pointed me in the right way eventually, telling me the garage guy was an idiot and that he thought I wanted the uni halls of residence.

My journey to the University campus was devoid of takeaways and it was now 9pm, well past my dinner time. Nonetheless I had found the Computer Science department and knew where I was going. I was also quite tired and hungry and decided to keep walking to the city centre...

... by a route still devoid of takeaways. It was about 9:30pm by the time I stumbled into the Last Plantaginet, begging them to still be serving food and praising Mr. Wetherspoon's name when they said they still served. I ordered a massive meal, for it was on expenses, and ate in lonely silence in a massive student pub. I was so stuffed after my expenses-paid desert that I wabbled to the bus stop and took an expenses-paid bus back to the expenses-paid hotel to sleep for the interview.

In the morning I took an expenses-paid bus trip to the department and was shown around, being the only person being interviewed on the day. I met and chatted to lots of staff, and eventually met the other demonstrators. One of them, with a Brummy accent, told me the job was what I made it while the other two looked at me with great suspicion. This was also the case over my expenses-paid lunch in the staff room before my interview.

As you've no doubt guessed that interview went quite well. I do recall there being 6 people interviewing me, and that I had to tilt my head to weird angles depending on who was doing the questioning.

By 2:30pm I was doing my rounds of the shops, readying myself for the train ride home. I got a call offering me the job and asking if I wanted to return to the department. As I'd spent 5 hours there, and was now back in my jeans and t-shirt enjoying a Macdonalds I thought it best to make the excuse I was now awaiting my train back to Dundee. Thankfully the personnel person forgot I'd told her my train was at 5:30pm, so I was able to continue shopping for nothing much. I accepted the job though, and thus the story that is chronicled in this blog began...

With the usual vague lack of communication that is now standard working practice the department and I eventually worked out a start date of March 2005, giving me plenty of time to say goodbye to virtually everyone I knew, eat a lot of fine lunches, and celebrate my birthday in the company of people who actually knew me (birthday 2006 was quite duff by comparison).

And so this blog began...

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