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  • Writer's picturePeter Smith

THURSDAY 23rd DECEMBER 1999: Night-time Excitement and Football Humiliation

I am fast asleep in bed at 12.40 a.m. when the phone rings. Jane answers it as unluckily, it is on her side of the bed. It's for me. It is Denis, the Operations Director of Card Services. He is highly apologetic, but needs W's home phone number urgently. He can't raise him on his mobile.

Denis and W have been involved in final negotiations with G&D, a German company, about them taking over our Card Personalisation Centre, where credit cards get the names and numbers stamped on them. It is a sensitive contract, as staff are involved, as well as supply of services and product. Negotiations seemed to have broken down for the evening at around 10 p.m., and Brian headed for home. Somehow, before the G&D people disappeared for the night, Denis found a way through this, and suddenly the deal was on again and Brian was needed. Apart from his role in the negotiation, the contract needs a Business and a Purchasing signature. Denis is desperate to get it sorted tonight so it can be tied up by year-end.

I am not at all annoyed at being woken - a bit dazed perhaps, but not annoyed. Denis is an excellent guy, a fellow North-Easterner, and a great supporter of purchasing. And if we want to be involved in these key contracts, we have to be prepared to work all hours. Having said that, I'm glad it is W having to trek back into the City from home and not me - sorry mate! Luckily, I can find my emergency list of home numbers, so I give Denis the number and (eventually) get back to sleep.

In the office, I do our end of year Awards Ceremony. We have categories like Sports Personality of the Year, won by Alan for his starring performance in the one and only appearance by the Group Purchasing football team back in March. We turned out a team with an average age of 30-something, and an average time since last played seriously of about 5 years. Our opposition (thanks for organising the game, Liakim!) turned out to be a bunch of super fit 20 year olds who were unbeaten for 2 years.

When they did tricky little passing exercises in the centre circle to warm up, I knew we were in trouble. Simultaneously, two of my team were trying to find shorts to wear, three were having final fags, and I was desperately running up and down to try and warm up to avoid the inevitable pulled muscles.

I finally substituted myself (i.e. staggered off unable to breathe) after 70 minutes with the score at 9-0. Luckily, a freak sleet storm caused the match to be abandoned soon afterwards, saving us the humiliation of double figures. The real star was Andy "The Cat" in goal, and the villain was David, the referee. David was a contractor, which meant I was paying him a substantial daily fee for his Millennium preparation consultancy. So when I dispossessed an attacker, beat one man, and hit a pin-point 35 yard pass for Alan to run onto and score, I was not best pleased to see David whistle for offside! For God's sake, David, we were 7-0 down at the time. It was hardly going to make a difference.

There are other awards for Worst Supplier of the Year (starts with a B, finishes with a C), Best and Worst Dressed person in the office (for which I received just one nomination) and other hard-fought categories. I have some Champagne and a few specially chosen CD's (they were in the sale) as prizes, and all in all, it is a good way to effectively finish what has been a difficult year. Like many, I am not going to come in tomorrow, and most of the team will take the whole holiday period as leave. Motivation is still remarkably good really considering everything. However, I don't know quite what to do with the 3 CD's left unchosen as prizes: Tony Bennett, The Best of Wham, and Light Opera Favourites. Does this show great taste or poor judgement by the prizewinners?? More to the point, what on earth possessed me to buy them in the first place?

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