My normally humdrum weekday existence is interrupted, and spectacularly, by a night out in Sheffield, to take in Sleaford Mods, a twopiece of fortysomething geniuses from smalltown wrong-side-of-the-tracks forgotten-miningtown Nottinghamshire, who I discovered being featured by that nice Marina Hyde on Newsnight sometime in the run up to the election (because this is where all the happening young kids on the block find their musical kicks these days, on Newsnight for God’s sake) and whose apparently-chaotic-but-on-closer-inspection- lovingly-crafted three-minute offerings- gaunt and actually not very healthy looking keyboardman Andrew’s minimalist pre-recorded crescendo-rising electro backbeat (it comes out of what looks like my sister Abby’s old Bontempi keyboard stacked ontopof a colourful pile of beercrates, and the aforementioned genius composer spends the gig stationed behind it, swaying in time handsinpockets and swigging liberally from bottles of Budweiser handed to him by admiring members of the audience, which tells you all you need to know about the band’s ‘aesthetic’, not to mention their audience) heavensentedly counterpointing Jason’s perplexing, hilarious, madhouse lyrics ( which for their part emerge seemingly unbidden from his gurning motormouth and which rage variously and sometimes allatonce against the everyday irritants and crosses-to-bear of the popular classes: hangovers from hell; earlymorning drunks obstructing the too-narrow aisles in the Co-op Local; zero hours contracts; the McDonalds McFlurry; or, in the case of my current favourite, the unbeatably-titled ‘Jolly Fucker’, your wanker of a boss with his crap haircut, overseeing a soul-corroding office life beset with unspeakable peril .. ‘at the workstation/ forced to engage in flirtatious conversation.. ‘) – I’ve been quietly but irresistibly obsessed with ever since.
The boss-bashing anthem- introduced by our frontman, drolly and to frenzied acclaim, by the words ‘This one’s about your manager. Don’t be a manager. And if you are a manager- stop being a fucking manager’- is the clear highlight of a night attended by perhaps 250, the attendance made up of an intriguing mix of Leadmill indiepop/muso/bohemian regulars in stripy shirts, trendy middleaged sociology lecturers in buttoned-up casual shortsleeves who presumably watch Newsnight when that nice Marina Hyde is on, and- bouncing maniacally about at the front and knocking seven bells out of each other and clearly oblivious to their surroundings- a travelling hardcore Sleaford Mods fanbase of lads from out of wrong-side-of-the-tracks smalltown Nottinghamshire, scary-looking but sweet and tender skinheads from Scunthorpe, Doncaster and Skegness, losing themselves in rapture to ‘Jobseeker’ and other alltotrue songs about the dolequeue.
Two days earlier- with the impeccable if entirely accidental poetic timing longtime followers of these pages will no doubt recognise- I’m in a job interview for a manager’s position at my current workplace on Manchester’s fashionable Westside, which I have applied for/been armwrestled into applying for in a moment of workaday weakness and for reasons which now escape me. Fortunately (and despite actually trying quite hard in the hourlong interview, being, for reasons which also now escape me, keen to impress ‘the panel’) I stumble fatally over several of the questions fired at me within the airless glasspanels - notably ‘what would be your plans for the first six months in the role?’ and ‘can you describe when you have had to deal with a difficult individual’? and so come a clear second out of three contestants in the challenge, the position which had seemed designed for me being offered instead to a colleague, a young ex HR professional with a breezy no-nonsense air and (this is the difference I think) no at least apparent trepidation at taking on and managing up to ten fullsize humanbeings of varying levels of ability and attitude to their work and possessing various ingrained animosities towards each other liable to get in the way of doing said work- a prospect which in the dead of the pre-interview night had filled me with utter sleepdepriving dread.
As the news of my nonselection is broken to me by the jollyfucker sorry I mean the boss, with practiced professionalism and eversosoftly – ‘…plenty of opportunities for you to develop in your current role… loved your calmness under pressure in there, didn’t quite get the passion coming through though, I have to say’… I’m not really listening. My relief is obvious (perhaps from the way I say, at the close of the prescripted let-down, ‘I’m relieved, actually’). I don’t think we’ll be going back to the glasspanels in a hurry my friends, although if it seems I might be about to, do step in and stop me, won’t you?.