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The unsure of what actually happened diaries Part Three: The Chunder Years

More things I can barely remember By Alison T. Bond

The Chunder Years The Fine Mess I spent many a year at Fine Co. in a little town just outside Leeds that few people spell correctly upon the first attempt. Or indeed any other attempt. It’s pronounced nothing like the letters contained within the name. Like a lot of British towns, it was probably something to do with the Romans. Or the Vikings, could have been the Normans. Anyway, it’s to do with our varied and interesting heritage. At first our little art studio was located in a cubby hole in the corner of the cellar. Working late and eating pizza in what seemed to us like a dungeon. Then we moved up into the attic, which was a just another dungeon, but with sky lights. They put us anywhere where visitors could not see or hear us. We dressed badly and talked rubbish, not to mention the foul language. I remember it was painted in grey and a garish yellow. We spent many a day with Chris, Shaun and Caroline throwing jobs at us and Me, Jane, Steph and Simon throwing finished artwork back at them. Manila envelopes flying around everywhere. The newspaper deadlines were the worst to make, clients always want last minute changes that nobody else can see the point of. It’s just how it is. Panic is usual and pretty much a perpetual state of mind in advertising. In and out of a hellishly hot dark room doing 150 prints on a Friday tea time in summer, made you sweat so much, you could be 6lbs lighter by 7pm. No wonder we all took to drink, and we took to it heartily in a pub up the road. Everyone went. Director or lowly admin smurf, all handsa-shaking as they poured their tonic into their gin. It was where we remembered that after all the shouting, swearing, throwing stuff at each other, not to mention storming off in a huff, we were only human. And mostly, with the odd exception, we quite liked each other.

The Techno Revolution So here we were, clinging to our drawing boards for life, as if they were life rafts on a stormy sea. But all the while, the monster that is Apple waged its cunning war on the old ways, the Titanic that had been conventional artwork. It tried to sink us and finally we let the ship go down and succumbed to the untreatable disease, Macintosh-itis. Not the modern, slim, fancy, fast things you kiddies know and love now, but a slow, clunky piece of crap with a screen so small we developed headaches and required heavy duty, prescription spectacles within the space of six months. We employed a young nerd (who already wore unwieldy spectacles) to enrich our nerdiness. We were surrounded by unreliable, flimsy floppy disks, and vast amounts of cables that health and safety really would’ve had a problem with. We remained un-nerded for many years however. If it had been up to us we would still have been slashing the tips of our fingers off with scalpels, then perhaps going home with bits of unrelated typography spray mounted to our trouser bum area. I once found ‘Power Assisted Steering’ in 7pt Helvetica floating in the bath water with me.


The Chunder Of Reality I had a really good time in my twenties. I think. Of what I can remember. There was a lot of going out with my pal Sharon. We painted the town red and probably every hue of some other colours too. We were mistook for wearing fancy dress one New Year’s Eve, even though we were dressed in our normal going out attire. Such a reputation. So much so, Sharon had to change her name! That’s what I tell everybody anyway. It was like witness protection in a way, but you can still send postcards to your family. I had a soft spot for a mixture of Brandy and Babycham. I frequently had to defend myself about it. Blame peer pressure if you like, but it soon became clear that lager was cheaper and I had lots of nights out to pay for. I don’t really know how we managed to get home in those days, I really don’t. We were not responsible adults at all. There were some hangovers which will live in my memory long after all the good times which caused them have faded into oblivion. I hate throwing up. It was usually after getting dreadfully drunk to cover the emotional let down of a less than successful amorous attempt. There were a fair few of those let me tell you. The beginning of fabulous times was learning to drive, me and my little battered Vauxhall Nova, Nora, travelled 22 thousand miles in our first year together. I seemed to go everywhere via the coast or at the very least skimming the North Yorkshire Moors, even if I was just going to get a few things from Sainsbury’s. Freedom was mine and it was a time of true elation.

The Stalking Weasel During my time at Fine, I became the victim of stalking, by a rather pathetic entity, who I later found worked at a company just round the corner. I received love poems and flowers, not to mention a tape recording of a musical artist who I unfortunately disliked intensely. This went on for approximately two years. He was probably harmless it has to be said, but you never know who is ‘the nutter’ in this world do you? It is not tattooed on their forehead, nor do they carry a placard stating their benign or harmful intent. My boyfriend at the time, in his inimitable laid back style just said, ‘Don’t worry, it’ll be reet’. Musicians! Who’d date ‘em? Stalking is very upsetting for the object of desire. So, I should clarify this: to any really famous souls, who, in the unlikely event of happening upon this diary and lowering yourself beyond reason by reading it, please remember that if I‘ve tweeted you via twitter or like you on facebook – I may think you are great and wondrously talented, perhaps even visually attractive, but I am definitely not stalking you. I am not rummaging in your bins, because I don’t care what flavour yogurt you like. I am not sleeping on your doorstep, I prefer a more comfortable place to snooze. I am not creeping about trying to take snap shots of your everyday life, as I imagine it’s way more boring than most people could possibly imagine. I mean if you want me to stalk you – well ok – let me know. I’ll try find a window for 3

you. But I can only do weekends, I’ve got a living to make you know. And I’ll have to bring my dog, so a park or somewhere rural would be preferable. So anyway, don’t hassle me, or I’ll report you as a stalker. Weirdo!

The Light Goes Out There are moments in life when everything changes. You cannot remain immune. You cannot stay young. And the day you become an adult for the first time is the time your mother dies. In my case, my Nan, but that’s just a technicality. One day my Nan was fine, the next she was a strange shade of yellow. Not the hue of the healthy. She refused my offer to take her to the hospital, she wasn’t the kind of woman you argued with. A couple of days later she had to be taken in anyway. The diagnosis was cancer, a tumour just outside the liver, which was making bile leak into her bloodstream, hence the jaundice. Two to eight years. The medical profession, in their wisdom, always give you two dates. In reality they mean almost certainly the first date, the second is just an off chance or a glimmer of hope. My Nan was a tenacious little devil and even when suffering, carried on to the best of her ability. Probably it is the old cherry of surviving the war; surviving rationing, or maybe it is just that her generation didn’t take anything for granted in general. Their ability to make the best of everything. Rationing had certainly had its effect. There was never less than four tins of rice pudding in the pantry, or she had to rush out and get another, just in case something happened. I tried to reason that in these times of nuclear warheads, a tin of rice pudding was unlikely to save any of us, but it was ingrained within her. So we always had four tins. Of quite a few things actually. We went shopping every Saturday afternoon. Iceland freezer shop usually. It wasn’t too big for her to make it round. She was a happy shopper, it was her chance to get out of the house, away from Poppy and his sport. There was always a moment of her feeling the softness of the Battenburg Cake or a bread roll to see if it was the one to buy. Little idiosyncrasies which I still miss to this day. She died in early December and all the lights went out. They never really came back on again to be honest. The family gathered and I should have been there, but I wasn’t. I couldn’t bear to watch her die. Probably the only regret I really have. But you can’t change the past. You can only move into the future. Six months later, Auntie Gladys, Nan’s older sister, had a stoke and died too. I think it had been all too much for her. We ran out of little old ladies in a very short space of time. It was time to grow up.

The Responsible Adult So, I bought a house. No longer the free spirited hippy chick, flitting around, bunking down in a shabby flat in the inner city. I was a home owner in a really nice area. I was at last an adult. And I have been impoverished ever since. I had moved employment to a company more local and with less stress involved. Also 4

with a lot less money involved. I’ve never really been that driven by money. The type of work suited me and I stayed, better to be happy than rich. Although as an addition to that statement I should say that I have been happy and poor, also I have been unhappy and poor. Please note that ‘poor’ is the constant here. I’ll wager that unhappy and rich is much better than unhappy and poor any day. At least you can be miserable in much nicer, perhaps even luxurious surroundings with staff to do stuff for you, like pour you a drink and then keep topping it up. No glass half empty but half full as it were. Anyway, upon moving back to the village of my childhood, I started to drink locally. Something I had avoided up until this point, because of Pops previous ability for being banned from every pub he ever went in*. I could try blame it on his Welsh genes, but that is a bit unfair on the Welsh in general. I too can take my drink, so I shouldn’t judge anyone else. My other granddad was Irish. The mix of both can be a bit explosive. I was told recently by a colleague in conversation relating to my heritage, ‘Well, that explains quite a lot’! Local drinking was done with some of the girls from the village. We sat in the pub, often huddled by the log fire, because we couldn’t afford to heat our own homes. We could make a pint last most of the night, so long as we talked incessantly. Probably about men. I was not married or divorced so had little to add. The girls, were all divorced. And once the lawyers get involved, you learn how even very lovely people, do the most horrible things to each another, and their kids in the process. It makes you wonder if you are better off not treading that path at all. Also, around this time, I hooked up with John, the only gay in the village. At the time he was a self-proclaimed ‘widowed woofter’ having recently lost his partner of thirty something years. We had some terribly jolly times just going out at tea time for one drink and then wondering what that ringing sound was. It was last orders. How time flies. After a while I found out John was not the only one and that there were a few other gays in the village. It was a village of many closets with men (some married with children) cowering inside them. Some may never emerge from their chrysalis to spread their wings in the sunlight. How terribly sad. * An example of my family, forever seeing the practical side of things: Poppy died one Thursday afternoon, with myself, Mum and my youngest sister Stephanie sat beside him. As we chatted away we nearly missed his passing, the old bugger slipped away so quietly. I suggested to Mum that we should sprinkle a spoonful of his ashes on every pub doorstep he had been banned from, she replied, ‘Don’t be silly love, there simply wouldn’t be enough of him to go round’.

Part 4 will be coming soon. It’s a more recent time, so I have a better chance of remembering what the hell happened. Possibly.


Š Alison T. Bond 2014 Contact:

The Diaries of the Unsure Part 3  

Yet more things I can barely remember