I had the idea for this post whilst watching Big Match 6 at Twickenham on TV yesterday afternoon – I’ll explain a bit later if you can manage to stay with me whilst I waffle on putting my thoughts into some sort of context (that’ll be a first then).
Well, here goes – sometimes in life you get an additional job you didn’t ask for or maybe want – you don’t usually get paid extra for it – sometimes it’s something you’re better at than others – but just as often it’s not!
When I worked at Brooke Bond Foods, the office had 8 floors and each one for some reason had to have a first aider and a fire warden. I understood the fire warden – it was important to make sure everyone on your floor got out (although only when the alarm went off obviously – not every day at 5pm). They then had to try and count the bodies (the live ones anyway) when we were all shivering at the designated point in the car park.
The one time I was unable to avoid being made the warden I told everyone to meet in the pub opposite – it was warmer and they were pleased with the extra business. This made me popular with the department but not the head of Personnel who promptly sacked me (fortunately just as fire warden).
Another good reason for not being warden was that you were supposed to be the last out of the building – it was the one time in m y life that I actually lead from the front.
I can’t for the life of me see why you would need a first aider on every floor – it wasn’t like we were selling bacon sandwiches on the Gaza Strip, a bomb disposal unit or judging ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ – we were marketing tea bags for fuck’s sake! The most dangerous it got was ducking quickly when the chimps threw poo at us.
Inevitably the ones given the job of dispensing first aid were the most intellectually challenged – everyone else buggered off when Personnel came round looking for volunteers or anyone who’d got a first aid badge from Cubs. I think they had to attend classes on how to open a tin of plasters and were given the ‘Dummies Guide to Open Heart Surgery’. Neither of which would have helped much I imagine. However, had they also been given access to prescription drugs I expect there would have been plenty of takers (in every sense)
I avoided being a first aid monitor but there was one prank involving myself John Nic and Gordon George (or maybe it was George Gordon – as in I might have got it the wrong way round not that there were two of them).
We decided that we’d change who was the designated fire warden on our floor – we picked on Twissy – he was a senior sales guy and a lovely man. His one flaw was that he was extremely easy to wind up. To our predatory natures this was a source of endless amusement.
We constructed a memo (e-mail was a figment on ‘Tomorrow’s World’ at the time) which was supposedly from The Purchasing Director, Norman Parsons informing Twissy that he was now to be the official fire warden for our floor.
This in itself would have annoyed him – what made him apoplectic was the additional obligations that he was now supposedly to be given –
- To change his company car for a red one (with a detachable blue flashing light)
- He had to have access to a small axe at all times
- His office would be equipped with 3 fire buckets and he had to ensure that the sand was always topped up and clean
It never occurred to us that he would take any notice of the note – so we just pissed ourselves outside his door as he ranted.
What we failed to do was stop him storming down to the Director’s floor to see an astonished Mr Parsons.
Needless to say the three of us got severe bollockings (not for the first time) – although our boss did see the funny side of it.
Enough of this – back to the match at Twickenham between Harlequins and Exeter Chiefs.
Quins were ahead and looking comfortable but one of the commentators kept saying that they’d now be out of sight if Nick Evans hadn’t missed several kicks a goal.
I thought this a bit unfair – the former All Black was playing well and had scored the first try – but it was his ‘extra job’ that was given focus in the commentary.
Admittedly kickers do get a lot of plaudits (more than a fire warden anyway) when they are on target and they win games more than they lose them.
However they can have an off day and then they are vulnerable to criticism for doing (or not doing) something that the rest of the team don’t have to worry about (except hoping that he’s on target).
When I first played it was always the full back who did the kicking (as in place kicks not the shoe-ings that everyone did). It was just the accepted norm – like the wings threw into the lineout and the captain tossed the coin.
Graham was the kicker when I first made the 1stXV – he was a class act who also kicked for the County. When he retired and I was moved from centre to full back it gave everyone a bit of a pause – me not being renowned for my kicking (of heads or either type of balls)
Luckily Les took over as both captain and kicker (good multitasker our Les). It was a bit unusual for a forward to do any kicking (except for the obvious) although John Eales and Peter Brown made a pretty good fist of it.
I played for the 1sts for something like 17 seasons and in all that time I think we only had four regular kickers – Graham, Les, Bush and Paddy – all were bloody good and had excellent records over the years.
None of them had the benefit of a kicking tee however and I’m not sure when they were first introduced – our guys just had to dig their heel in and try and stand the ball upright in the dent. If the ground was too hard then some poor sod had to hold the ball up with the tip of his finger as the kicker ran up and hoped that he didn’t slip and convert his head. This job usually fell to one of the front row who were less likely to notice (or worry about) a set of studs taking out one of their few remaining teeth.
Personally I think the idea of a remote control car sending out a bit of plastic that looks like it came out of a giant Christmas cracker is rather demeaning to the game.
It has also robbed us of the hugely entertaining sight afforded by seeing a couple of front teeth sailing between the posts and totally confusing the touch judges.