Up

MARTIN HEYES

rotating weathers

between 5 and 7 every afternoon

and between 7 and 9 every morning

the shifts change.

those with bleary eyes walk in

saying nothing

and those with bright eyes

walk out

saying that there's a whole heap of shit

to sort out

but because this happens on a rotational basis

no-one ever has bleary eyes for too long

or bright eyes

for long enough

material

Susan

the little buxom 40 year-old Jewish princess from sales

would come into the controlroom every now and then

wiggling her arse

and tell us about all the problems she was having with her

client base, with her children

with her Lexus-driving husband

and with her Porsche-driving lover

she'd stand in front of you

with only the space to slip a five pound note

between you and her tits

and she'd watch your eyes

as you tried mammothly to keep them on hers

then when she'd finished she'd swing her wriggling everything

around

walk out of the controlroom

and back up to sales

it was a shit job we all agreed

but it was great going home after all those hours

and having something to actually think about

torture

yes

the sun shall rise

once again

yes

walking under a ladder

is anathema to most

yes

the boat should not have sunk

with all those people on board

and yes

the gods

or whatever it is you call them

can be cruel

and yes

when you come out of a printing shop off Clerkenwell Rd

after cycling your guts out

to get it there

in time for the press

to find the one and only thing

you need and hate most

in this world

gone

the blank space where you left it

there

in front of you

the snipped padlock in the gutter

you start to realize

just exactly what it is you're up against

games

Horse the mechanic

likes to phone up the controlroom

and tell us that the rider we've been telling him we

need so desperately for the last hour

is going to be another couple of hours in the workshop

because Horse has just dropped his bike on the floor

and cracked its exhaust pipe

while trying to drink a can of cider

and smoke a joint

after we've made phone calls to clients

telling them that their jobs are going to be late

due to an unfortunate accident

Horse gets back on the phone

and tells us that he has made a terrible mistake

that the bike is in perfect working order after all

and that he hopes he hasn't caused us too much

trouble

levels

on the top floor

you had the offices of the MD and the sales reps

with their brown and cream decor

executive toilets

and 25 by 10 mahogany soaked boardroom

on the next floor

you had the hive of the telephonists

with their computer screens

with their pictures of many children

blue-tacked to their borders

and the supervisor's office

and the controlroom

with all its many flashy computers

that went down

as often as our performance-linked wages

and on the bottom floor

you had Horse

running round with cider in his veins

running round with a fuel tank on his head

and his pecker out

not trying to keep the bikes on the road

but always somehow

managing to

our mechanic

at the end of his shift

he comes up to the controlroom

in his oily dungarees unwashed hair and 5 day beard

and enquires who's coming for drinks

on Mondays

and Tuesdays and Wednesdays and Thursdays

most

say no

or else make excuse

he leaves

calling us tossers

and little soft scaredy-cat controllers

those who occasionally say yes

usually turn up the following morning

in straight-jackets with dying eyes

while he saunters around the workshop

slapping people on the back

telling them how no-one can hold a drink

like their mechanic can

 

the lucky ones

when our head supervisor

has nothing to do

he likes to come out into the controlroom

and terrorize the new recruits.

he likes to stand over them

letting them know he's breathing down their necks

winking at us every now and then pulling them up on a technicality

before retreating into his office and getting one of the telephonists

to make him a cup ofcoffee.

the new recruits are in a state of terror anyway

what with being thrust in front of a computer system

they've had only 2 days training for but it doesn't stop them trying

and the more they try the more our head supervisor likes to come out

and tell them where they're going wrong.

sometimes he swings his head around

and shouts over to the rest of us

that he doesn't think this fella is going to make it.

which isn't such a bad thing

considering that if he did

then he might end up loosing his fire and dignity

become a drunk spend money he never had on coke

get bombarded with eviction notices

develop piles and sometimes think about committing suicide

just like the rest of us.

 

 

freedom

the self-employed cycle couriers said that 
this was the most freedom they'd ever had in a job 
and that they felt more a man
not having to bow, jump or lick the arse 
of some suited-up boss;
the self -employed van drivers said that 
this was the most freedom they'd ever had in a job 
not having to bow, jump or lick the arse 
of some suited-up boss;
the self-employed motorbike couriers said that 
this was the most freedom they'd ever had in a job 
not having to bow, jump or lick the arse 
of some suited-up boss;
and I think they all believed this
as they raced through the streets at ridiculous speeds 
dodging trucks, buses, pedestrians 
evading death by millimetres
10 times a day
so that the parcels they were carrying 
would reach their destinations on time 
and that same suited-up boss 
they were glad not to work for 
could relax.

lonesome cowboy

despite his performance record, 
which was ridiculously perfect 
considering the antiquated tools and machinery 
he had at his disposal, 
despite his ability
at keeping everyone up, 
despite his encyclopedic brain 
that could define an engine's problem 
merely by the sound of its revs 
and despite his jokes and banter
that seemed to be the only thing that kept us sane 
most of the time
the management decided to give Horse notice 
after they heard about him 
breaking Kilo 38's hand in a vise 
for calling him a cowboy.

innocent

after it was recognised 
that we had 8 bikes in the workshop 
that should be on the road by now 
I was sent by the supervisor 
down to the workshop
to find out why they weren't answering their phone.
I smelt the pungent smoke and heard Cobain pounding out 
as I neared it
and when I walked in
the 8 riders that should have been working 
were holding hands and dancing around in a circle 
as Horse
sitting in a corner
filling out one of the many forms 
looked up at me and shrugged 
as though he had had nothing to do with it.

confidence

every now and then 
we are sent by our supervisor 
down to the workshop
to find out how long a particular bike will be 
before it is back on the road.
before we even get 20 feet close 
we can smell the smoke 
rising up from the basement 
and when we walk in 
everyone is holding hands
and there is some Seattle band banging out.
we look around for someone to ask.... 
then Horse jumps out 
with a gear system in his hands 
and a tyre around his neck 
telling us not to worry 
that everything, 
as far as he can see it, 
is going according to plan.

the great trance

when you wake yourself in the middle of the night
shouting out riders' numbers
asking them whether they've got their details,
when you answer your phone : Courier Systems
rather than the usual: hello
when you take walks through Regents Park
unable to tear your mind away
from office politics
or how secure your job might be,
when you sit down for dinner with your girlfriend
only to be shouted at and amazed
that she's been talking to you for ten minutes solid
and you haven't caught a word of it,
when you go to the cinema
and immediately fall into a deep sleep
only to wake up when the lights come on
happy that at least you'd got away from it all
for a couple of hours
and when you stand in pubs with your mates
only to be nudged back from a great trance
and asked what the fuck is wrong with you
you know you have finally crossed the line
and it will only be a few more years
before you wont even be able to fall asleep
at all.

undelivered from evil

when Yankee Seven-Two was sacked
for refusing to do one too many jobs
than could be tolerated
he came up to the office
and listened to the supervisor explain why
he had to go
then
when the supervisor had finished
he hurled his helmet through the hatch at him
and threatened to fire-bomb the office
that upcoming weekend.
we came in the following Monday
expecting to see the burnt-out wreck of the office
only to find it all up and still running.
yet again
someone with big promises had failed to deliver us from evil.

LAST RITES

the look of laid-off 53 year-old men
unable to stop the tears
welling up inside their battered eyes the sight
of their broken bodies
walking out into the sun
for the last time the stink
of death as they start to split mocking us
that at least they are now free again the pain
ripping them up the three kids and woman
they haven't told yet the nine years left
on their mortgage and endowment payments
the collection
handed over in a manilla envelope and the hurt
and utter uselessness they try to block out
as they buy large tequilas for everyone
in the pub across the road waiting
for the last of the last bells to arrive
and everyone to walk away
from them this time
for good.

THE NEW CONTROLLER

we didn't know what to make
of the new controller
what with her blonde hair
long legs
and killer blue eyes.
when the supervisors brought her in
and introduced her to us
we didn't know what to make
of the new controller,
we didn't know whether it was a joke
or a test;
we got even more confused
when they sat her on the push-bike box
and she proceeded to control it
for the whole afternoon
effortlessly
then when she was put on channel 2,
our third busiest circuit,
we just sat back and waited
for the log-jam to arrive;
but it never came
and she got through it
with minimum problems
and a good deal of flair
on her fourth day
just as we were about to have to redifine 
our opinions on the opposite sex,
she phoned in sick
some of the controllers cheered,
wasting no time at all
in getting out the old "time of the month" jokes,
laughing out loud about "the painters being in",
as though this one day off
had confirmed their "told-you-so" attitudes 
about never totally being able to trust a woman 
to do a man's job.
you could sense their relief,
they were not going to have to change
or redefine
anything,
which after all
was just how they liked it.

 

on the other foot

some days a controller phones in sick
he has food poisoning
or a fever
or diahorea
and some one will have to move from one control-point
to another
to cover for him

other days
normally on a Monday morning 
after a particularly hot weekend 
more than one or two will phone in 
sometimes you will get three or four 
all with food poisoning 
or a fever 
or diahorea

this causes a lot of problems in the controlroom
as their just arenít enough controllers
to go around all the control-points	
so sometimes the supervisors have to hop on
and it isn't long
before they start sweating

it isn't long
before they start swearing down the radio
at the drivers

it isn't long
before they start pulling those £80-a-piece headphones
that they normally tell us controllers to look after
like they were our own kids
off of their heads
and begin chucking them at full force across the controlroom