Monday, December 05, 2005

Ghosts from my working past

Sixteen years ago I was working at ICL in Reading. Ten years ago I was at Sanlam in Cape Town. A year ago I spent a few months at Skandia Life in Southampton.

Within days of arriving at this new job in Northampton, I was in a meeting with A whom I’d worked closely with at ICL. A few days later I bumped into R, one of the project managers whom I’d worked with at Sanlam. Today I saw someone who annoyed me intensely at Skandia Life. It’s not that unusual bumping into various past colleagues in the much smaller IT world of Cape Town but bumping into 3 of them in the huge British IT world in a rather insignificant English provincial town does seem unusual.

A looked very much as he did before except that his hair is greying now. He’s a bit too large to be wearing off-white suits – they make him look like a slighter Pavarotti. I asked, tongue-in-cheek, if his kids were still reading Swallows and Amazons having remembered how much he liked reading them those books. He was rather taken aback that I could remember that.

‘Um, no,’ he replied, ‘my daughter has just finished uni and my son is in his second year at uni.’

R was one of those larger than life characters who always seemed to have a new scheme up his sleeve. I think that the conservative management at Sanlam were unsure on how to handle him and he didn’t last that long. At one stage he owned an indoor cart-racing track just off Voortrekker Road and, for a while, he co-owned a nightclub in Long Street. I think that the nightclub got into trouble with the police over some issue or other - I may be wrong but it's the sort of thing that would happen to him.

He looks sleazier than ever – he even has a greasy, greying mullet now – and still walks as if he’s tilting backwards ever so slightly.

‘I’ll be in Cape Town over the festive period.’ he said. ‘You can borrow my Jag if you want.’

This was said in reference to my thinking of buying a car to commute between Nottingham and Northampton. It’s a strange thing to say to someone you don’t really know that well and I’m sure he didn’t mean it. Perhaps it was his way of letting me know that he drives a Jag? There’s been no mention of it again.

The Skandia person irritates me too much to discuss him.

Update: And yet another one! Just bumped into someone who worked with me at Boots in Nottingham last year. Also a bit of an oddball so doubt that we will spend cosy times in the coffee shop reminiscing about old times.


Blogger BUDDESS said...

That is one of life's little pleasures I enjoy. I love to bump into old friends, ex boyfriends, etc. Just to see how they have handled the ageing process. I have been fortunate so far and hope it stays that way.

10:08 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

True, it's great bumping into people from the past but I find that I seem to bump into those that I'm not really keen on bumping into.

Those that I'd like to see just don't seem to be the ones that do the bumping.

4:10 pm  
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