I’ve always enjoyed poking a bit of fun at pompous management executives and establishment figures who are a bit full of themselves. For the most part, I’ve managed to confine myself to the small stage but it’s always caused me trouble at work. Back in the days before the Internet, when the world was a collection of bulletin boards, I got my first written warning for claiming that Princess Micheal of Kent’s father and a fellow blogger had SS uniforms cut from the same cow. My boss thought it was funny and was reluctant to enforce company policy, but considering I’d used a modem that was registered to the CEO of a major UK computer company to post my comments, he felt he had little choice. “Don’t get caught next time,” was his advice.
I got in a lot of trouble at an American debit card company for saying horrible things about the management team in an internal non-official newsletter (frankly, they deserved it). The company collapsed before I was shown the door. After that, I remembered those wise words of my first boss. Working for a UK stockbroker, and following a spate of public complaints, I pinned an anonymous notice to the notice board one Monday morning, based on Jessie’s Diets (Fast Show) stating: “This week we are mostly being investigated by the FSA (Financial Standards Authority)”. I didn’t know this was true, but when the FSA pitched up later in the day to suspend the company’s trading licence, all hell broke loose. I survived the ensuing witch hunt, but chose to leave after getting the canteen shut down for poor hygiene. One of my pals found half a dead mouse in his pizza. The canteen manager’s reaction was to accuse him of putting it there. In my opinion, an injustice had been done and a wrong had to be righted.
By now I was writing articles and reviews for a series of computer mags. In an anonymous capacity, I began to publish short stories about the exploits of my pals, which was all OK until I chose a recent event, pertaining to the job I was in, where a senior manager had had the wool repeatedly pulled over his eyes. The story got back to him. Another stink. Time to leave again.
Shortly after that I began working for government on a series of MOD projects. For the next seven years I kept it all reined in, until the opportunity arose to make a series of short videos for team building purposes. I persuaded a group of senior managers who worked for a well known IT company to dress up as gangsters, the story arc being that the entire IT business in the UK was run along mafia lines. Much hilarity ensued until news of the videos (22 in all) found its way up to the seniors, who promptly blew a gasket and demanded that all copies of the videos be destroyed. By then it was too late. We’d sold 100s for charity. A recall was demanded and a massive bunfight ensued. Once again, I was shown the big blue door, my career being effectively over with said company.
This was the point at which I decided to write a novel. It’s taken me a damn site longer than I thought it would and it’s been a hell of a slog. The result is The Ferret Files, which mixes up high finance, a clandestine government project gone awry, drugs, fashion, pop, celebrity culture and a bonkers secret society – all held together by the murder of the hero’s father, who just so happens to be a management consultant. I’ve taken the opportunity to poke lighthearted fun at all of these areas of modern life. The illustrations are by my pal Richard Argent. For the record, I’m not the hero. Ferret knows who he is. We’ve discussed his antics to death. My lips are sealed.
If you enjoy the style and content of Popbitch as much as I do, then I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy hanging out with Ferret and friends. I’m also pretty sure that once Ferret gains traction, the next time I go for a job interview I’ll be asked to pee in a bottle. It will certainly make a change to be shown the door before I’m even employed.
A happy new year to you all.
PS One of my 2016 goals was to pay Popb!tch for services rendered with used, gak-covered notes, secreted in a brown envelope; we were to meet in a lay-by used by doggers, around midnight. Sadly, we failed to find either a lay-by or a bunch of willing doggers in central London, but I did achieve the rest of the goal in settling the ad bill. Cheers Chris & Camilla!