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Rebuilding King Bobby's Sovereign Wealth Fund


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After the Saxon Hall debacle, I realised that I needed to make amends for the cost of the damage to the hall's ballroom floor, estimated at £50,000, which I'd been responsible for.


Perhaps you saw the news item in the Hereford Journal?  It's lurid headline read: 'Stonebow committal for man who trashed Saxon Hall'.


It went on to report that the man (who couldn't be named for legal reasons) had been committed to secure accommodation in the Stonebow Unit, pending psychiatric tests.  His defence to the charge of digging up the entire dance floor of the Saxon Hall, Bullingham, with a pick axe was that he'd received a message via the internet telling him that a Saxon treasure hoard was buried under the building, containing a gold, jewel-encrusted effigy of Zsa Zsa Gabor.  The individual was the legendary poster Bobby47.  And I'd posted the message.


With the help of a friendly local solicitor I managed to secure his temporary release, pending the trial.  Then Lady Luck smiled on us.  There splashed across the Jobs Vacant section of the Hereford Ad Mag was this announcement:  "Following the major restructuring of Heredordshire Council's senior management, Hoople is pleased to invite applications for the newly-created post of Director, Transmission (Urban & Rural) Delivery.  Salary: £165K + benefits; 29-hour week; 10 weeks paid holiday; starting date: immediate."  The acronym seemed somewhat unfortunate, but I downloaded the paperwork and by lunchtime had created an impressive job application and c.v.  The icing on the cake was the box at the end which stated: "In no more than 200 words, please tell us why you believe you are suited for the post advertised."  I managed to use the words 'deliver' or 'delivery' 37 times, plus 19 fit-for-purposes.  Bobby happily signed the application and by teatime we'd handed it in at Plough Lane.  We cracked open a couple of Carlsberg Special Brews.


I was confident he'd be offered an interview and wasn't too worried about who he would be up against: the usual public sector dullards who traipse around the country looking for career advancement and more money.  We'd tower above them.  It would be a shoe-in.  But was Bobby up to the challenge?  Having been on an enforced Stonebow diet of Weetabix, unsweetened yoghurt and powdered Diazepam for the last five days, he wasn't exactly sparkling with bons mots.


"Let's bring on a substitute" suggested my friend Simon Brown.  "An actor who'll give an Oscar-winning performance.  Know anybody we can ask?"


A friend of a friend knew Derek Jacobi, who regularly visits Hereford.  It just so happened that we was booked to give a poetry reading at The Courtyard the following week.  Derek agreed to see us between rehearsals.  I took a thespian friend along for moral support.  After we'd outlined the idea, Derek seemed keen to impersonate Bobby.


"I could do you my 'I Claudius' role if you like: come on in a Roman toga perhaps?"


"No luvvie - more low-key, more twentieth century," said my friend.


"Then how about my Hitler from 'Inside The Third Reich'?"


"Less hostile, sweetie: this is a man who wants to be a highly-paid, paper-pushing 'suit' - not a megalomaniac mass murderer!"


We settled for the character from 'Last Tango in Halifax' and Derek went back to rehearsals.


The job interview was a doddle.  The interview board comprised John Jarvis (chairman), the Dean of Hereford and the Salvation Army lady who sits in the porch of the Butter Market.  Of the three other candidates, one had to withdraw after police discovered child porn on his office computer's hard drive; one was rejected because of a pendinng charge of embezzlement of council taxes; and the third missed her appointment because her train into Hereford was cancelled.  By all accounts, our substitute played a blinder, peppering his answers with 'fit-for-purposes like a parakeet.  Result!  We celebrated in The Barrels with a brace of Special Brews.


Stage Two, of my masterplan to rebuild Bobby's Sovereign Wealth Fund, was to get him unscathed through his first days work on the Plough Lane treadmill.


At 9am sharp we were met in the lobby of the council's palatial hq by a woman who'd make a Holloway jailer look as attractive as Katie Price.  Black-died pudding basin hairstyle; West Mercia police-issue blue shirt; black serge trousers; Doc Marten boots; three security lanyards; and a plastic-coated clipboard with a Hoople logo.


"For your first morning's induction," she barked, "you'll be shown all fire exits and assembly points; you will be taken on a tour of our toilet facilities; and you will attend a one-hour seminar on the correct useage of waste paper baskets.  After a coffee break, you'll be briefed on the correct procedure for filling in our triplicate stationery requisition forms.  Then it'll be lunchtime".


Lunch turned out to be rather good.  In the canteen on the 9th floor (they've built themselves a high-rise extension at the back) we enjoyed a 5-course meal plus a bottle of Chateau Lafite.  All for £1.95p.


At 2.30pm the black-haired harridan returned for Bobby's one-on-one 'Computer Familiarisation' session.  She ushered us into a space the size of a five-a-side football pitrch.  "This is your office," she snarled.


"What's that in the corner?" Bobby asked.


"That's your computer."  Turning to a nerdish young man who had followed us in, she snapped: "Derek - take Mr Bobby through the controls, will you please?"


We walked across to admire the electronic monster as Derek began a nasal diatribe.  "It's a twin-cam, turbo-charged Pentium Drive HP6000.  Ninety-three trillion megabytes.  This baby's so fast it can create a 96-page report before you've even thought of the title!  He patted its side lovingly.  "Cross-dressing widgets in all modes."


"Any questions?" barked our guard.


"Err...what exactly does it...err...do?" asked Bobby.


"Do?  DO?  It's a bloody computer - YOUR computer!"


"Sorry, I'm probably not making myself clear here.  What exactly IS a computer?"  You could've heard a widget-pin drop.


Derek broke the silence.  "Have you...err...not used a computer before?"


"Never even seen one.  Neat isn't it?  Can it get 'Match Of The Day?"


The guard dropped her clipboard on the carpet and screamed "Jeeeez!"  Then swiftly regaining her composure, she snatched up the desk's phone from its cradle.  "Tracey?  Sabrina here.  I need an urgent video conference call with the chief executive.  When?  NOW!"



Half-an-hour later, after much toing-and-froing, phone calls and paper shuffling, we found ourselves in an overheated, windowless conference room in the basement, seated behind a large oval mahogany table.  Opposite sat Sabrina, a legalistic bloke who never spoke and a man I recognised as Alistair Neill, Herefordshire Council's Chief Executive.  With a nod from Neill, the legalistic bloke slid three sets of documents across the table in front of Bobby.


"The papers on your left," said Sabrina, "are your Severance and Remuneration Package.  The one in the middle is our standard Non-Disclosure Undertaking.  You will discuss this matter with no-one, not even your cat!  The one on the right is an Official Receipt for the return of your security lanyards, car parking disc, luncheon vouchers and all council-owned paperclips.  Please sign them all immediately."


"Did you say something about remuneration?" Bobby asked plaintively.


Neill coughed nervously and whispered to Sabrina who replied curtly: "An electronic credit transfer for one year's salary - £165,000 less deductions - will be made to your bank account by the end of the day."


"Deductions?" I queried.


"Your lunch!" she snapped, reaching for a calculator.  Two persons at £1.95p.  So the net payment works out at...........£164,996.12p."


At 4.50pm - less than eight hours since we'd walked in, and almost £165K richer - we strolled out of that Plough Lane lubyanka and into The Plough Inn opposite.  We were the first customers.


Bobby approached the bar.  "Got any Chateau Lafite, guvnor?"


The landlord bellowed down to the cellars through the opened hatch.


"Oi Doreen - has that 2010 Chateau Lafite Rothschild come in yet?"




"Sorry gents, we're waiting for a delivery from France today.  It's all them buggers in the council offices over the road.  Anything else I can get you?"


"Make it two Carlsberg Special Brews," said King Bobby. (The author wishes to make it clear that this is a work of fiction).

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Oh Gridknocker!


This has not disapointed!

I have been looking forward to reading this all week!


Absolutely brilliant - I just love all the "factoids", that lend themselves to such a realistic portrayal of life at Plough Lane HQ!! Your attention to detail is breathtaking!

The acronym, the interview, the lunch, the payoff!!

Wonderful, simply wonderful!!

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No No Ubique!!

You are forgetting something!

Should this jaw dropping story have found its way onto HT on-line, comments would never, ever be allowed!

Far too contentious.....there could be complaints, about the mendacious types who rather enjoy this sort of thing!

Leave it here, in the safe haven of Hereford Voice!!

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Brilliant! Brilliant for two reasons. Firstly, because its about me and its allways been a subject that I find interesting and secondly, it ain't to far away from what actually does happen when these public servants grab a hold of our money and start dishing it out.

A brilliant piece of writing from a retired journalist. I thoroughly enjoyed it Gridknocker and anyone who didn't enjoy this cleverly crafted literary offering, didn't enjoy this cleverly crafted literary offering.

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