Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Bastards Thump: Another Story

Here you are.  Another story.  I've succumbed to the immense pressure.

Have you any idea what it's like to open your front door and have groupies scream, "Calum.  Love you. Give us a story!" ?

Have you any idea what it's like to have to go out in disguise just to take your kids to school? 

Have you any idea what it's like to get masses of emails saying, "We love you but we'll love you more if you give us another one?"

Well!  Do you?  Of course, you don't.  But this is what I've had to put up with since my three previous stories appeared (1, 2 and 3).

And until now I have resisted the temptation to give them another one but  .... I crumbled.  I am a normal red-bloodied male and I couldn't resist making these women happy.  I don't feel good about it but ....  I just couldn't help myself.  Sorry!!

But will this story make you happy or laugh or is it a sequel too far which bombs.

Here it is then, my new story, "Bastards Thump" but  .... just before I start I need to say that "Bastards Thump" has nothing to do with the NHS or what, in my wilder moments, I might have dreamt of doing to some of the doctors involved in Mrs Carr's (lack of) care.

At the third time of asking I think I'll manage to start.


Many years ago, after the phase of personal growth courses, came the next big thing - teamwork and making teams function better by identifying and resolving underlying issues.  I think just about every team and department I knew went through this sort of rigmarole and I'm going to tell you about just one such course.

My little team - well not my team but the team of which I was a member - toddled off to Peebles Hydro for a three-day love-in under the care of a highly-paid consultant.  "Consultant", Christ, why can't I escape from these medical terms?

I managed to get down early enough to get breakfast before we started.  I always had to stuff my face when I was away from home.  I ate far more when I was away.  Don't know why.  This probably partly explains my shape now; a love for the fatty things in life.

My team.  Who were we?  We did have a lot of issues.  I wouldn't say that we were dysfunctional just not hugely successful in the functional stakes. I have changed names to protect the guilty.  Firstly there was:

Angry Andrew:  AA thought that he should have been the top dog but, fortunately, having only 3 legs and little brain he was overlooked.

Big bad bossy Billy:  BBBB was the boss - unsurprisingly - and he was shit hot at his job but he wasn't great at taking people with him.  Mind you that might be because of those whom he was leading.

Charming Calum Carr: CCC - that's I. Note the perfect grammar what I used there! "That's I"  sounds bloody silly doesn't it?  Charming I might have been but I carried a lot of baggage - not clothes - into that huge meeting room.  No, I wasn't charming at all but it is my story and so please just go with my writer's licence.

Death-inducing difficult Dizzy: DDD was the most difficult person I have ever encountered anywhere.  A time-bomb primed to explode often at, apparently, random times. God, just thinking about DDD has me shaking in disbelief.

Easy-going Erica: EE was our secretary who didn't need to be there with us because none of the issues involved her but the pc thinking was that all team members must attend.

That's us.  Sorry, that's we.  Fuck this proper grammar. It sounds stupid. I'm giving up on it.  That's us. OK!

Hey, I can see this story running to a Part 2 because I've barely started, and there's been no mention of "Bastards Thump" yet.  I need to cut out lots but that's not my style - as I'm sure you have come to hate.


The first day and a bit went by without any real problems but that is down more to a lack of openness.  Only EE and I were being open, the other 3 were closed tight as a duck's ....  You know what I was going to say there.  Tight, closed that's what they were.  This reminds me of someone I know who, as a student teacher, meant to say, "I want that desk shut tight". Unfortunately Dr Spooner intervened as he said, "I want that desk shite tut."  Huge embarrassment!

Despite the closedness of AA, BBBB and DDD, I felt "things" moving inside me.  Anger, which I was holding about the team, some members and some beyond, was rising.  I could feel it.  After lunch I said that I might need to ask everyone to leave me alone in the room.  Then I could bear it no longer.  "Please leave" and they did.  I remember BBBB touching my shoulder as though to say, "Good Luck".

Why did I need to be alone?  I had no idea.  I knew only that I must be alone.  Rather than being subdued the anger was exposing itself.  I was getting more visibly angry now.  I needed to express this anger. 

I know you're racing ahead now thinking, "I can see where 'bastard' comes in but what about 'thump'?"  Be patient, please!  Another 30mins reading only and you should know!

I needed to channel this anger but how? Where?

Then I knew.  I had to start throwing "things", somethings, not just anythings but the right things and I had so little time.  My actions had to fit in with the anger. I had to find something to throw before I exploded but what ......


There it was, part of a previous exercise in which we had to make a physical representation of our group in plasticine.  A big bloody ball of plasticine with drinking straws, I think, stuck into it.  That'll do.  That'll have to do.  I grabbed the ball, pulled out all the straws and hurled the ball with all my might across the room hoping to bounce it off the wall.  In the act of throwing I let out a massive cry  "B..A..H..S..T..A..H.. R..D..S!!  I know that's not how to spell the word but I'm trying to get across the feeling with which the word was uttered.  This was no use.  The ball was too big to reach the wall.  Why didn't I go closer?  Don't know. Never crossed my mind.  I needed something closer but what?  Yes!  A flip-chart easel - the three legged kind. This was ideal.  I quickly set this up. 

Now I was ready. Again, I hurled the ball with everything I had and again I shouted  "B..A..H..S..T..A..H.. R..D..S!!" in the act of throwing.  This time the  "B..A..H..S..T..A..H.. R..D..S!!" was followed by  THUMP as the ball clattered in to the easel and then with CRASH as the easel, unsurprisingly, crashed over.  Now even my less intelligent readers - and there are many of you - will realise that this story is called "Bastards Thump" and not "Bastards Thump Crash" and so we haven't yet reached the story's title.

I needed to make more changes. Not only was the ball too big but the sequence I was in didn't match the eruption of anger.  I needed to throw more balls more quickly and minimise the doing nothing time.  Therefore, I made 6 balls from the plasticine, held three in my hand, with the other three at my feet.  Now I was ready.

Hurl, "B..A..H..S..T..A..H.. R..D..S!!", THUMP

Hurl, "B..A..H..S..T..A..H.. R..D..S!!", THUMP

Hurl, "B..A..H..S..T..A..H.. R..D..S!!", THUMP

Pick up the other three balls and then:

Hurl, "B..A..H..S..T..A..H.. R..D..S!!", THUMP

Hurl, "B..A..H..S..T..A..H.. R..D..S!!", THUMP

Hurl, "B..A..H..S..T..A..H.. R..D..S!!", THUMP

Then I gathered the 6 balls, kept three in my hand and put tree at my feet. This sequence continued for I don't know how long punctuated only by the occasional

Hurl, "B..A..H..S..T..A..H.. R..D..S!!", "SHITE"

whenever I missed the easel which, I'm glad to say was infrequent because each miss meant that I had to walk further to pick up the "missed" ball.  This might seem trivial but when every action fits in with the flowing anger any change in routine is difficult to cope with hence the extra expletive.

Twice, I think it was, BBBB poked his head round the door and asked if I was OK.; the second time I was winding down. "Getting there". 

I was throwing less hard, shouting with less anger, and moving more slowly.  Eventually I had nothing left, nothing driving me on, nothing to shout at, nothing to throw for.  This was over.

I must have taken an hour all in and, I tell you, by the time I finished I was all in.  I had never thrown with such force  - not even once  - but here I must have thrown a couple of hundred balls. My shoulder muscles were aching, my energy levels were low from releasing so much emotional energy but this did work.   All my anger had gone.  I was able to be a fully paid up member of the team - probably the only one.  I have never experienced such a feeling since.

Having gone trough this experience I didn't want to invite the others back into the room until I had tidied up, got the room back to how it was.  That certainly wouldn't happen now.  Tidy!  A four letter swear word.

Everything was back in its place, the floor tidy when I noticed an open window! 


What if I was overheard?

What if I were seen?


All that time and the window was open.

Why did I not check this out?

How did I not see this?

God, the embarrassment!

There was nothing to do but close the window.  I walked gingerly across the room, closed the window.


The window opened onto a small internal area with no access and none of the other windows was open.

What a relief!

My embarrassment now pulled back in.



Through the newly closed window I saw into another room: overhead projector, a presenter, rows of seats, each seat occupied.

This room and my room were separated by only a locked wooden door.




  1. You made I larf.

    So nicely told, too.

    Groan, how I remember those straws...Only we didn't have the plasticine. To build a bridge with. A tenner each to go down the pub with would have done far more for teambuilding.

  2. Calum is this the same person we have come to know and love?

    I must say it made me larf too.

    There is probably as much money wasted in the corporate sector on these things as the NHS wastes. What am I saying, they have these stupid exercises for those people too I'm sure. We had them in our hospital, all the management off on these ridiculous weekends.

    Our hospital pharmacy manager was the worst person for people skills on God's earth and she was always off on these management lark courses.

  3. At least you felt better for a while!

  4. ha ha ha. Very good - does it continue? It feels as if it should. I want to know if DDD (I had lunch with a DDD yesterday) et al get to open up and let fly too.

    It must have felt good throwing those balls. I recall one time the only thing I could do was hit myself. That hurt too! But not enough to be of any use.

  5. And don't forget about that barbecue and the bench in Scotland ...

  6. Errrmmm, Liz, that wasn't a magistrates' bench was it?! (Mind you that's probably what criminals get sentenced nowadays for mugging old ladies etc: four Sunday lunch barbies, a massage and a manicure).

    Gosh, you must have been soooo frustrated to be hitting yourself. I hope you left that employment.

  7. I wonder if they have it on camera???

    I am with Liz, we need to know about the bench!!!

  8. CherryPie, Liz

    The bench was nothing really. Much funnier having you all think about it.

    I sat on plank while holding a glass of red wine. The plank and small stools tipped slowly backwards as did I. I held onto the wine glass but not the wine. The wine looped in the air and landed on my neck.

    As I slipped slowly backwards, my left shoulder grazed the barbecue which didn't fall but it rocked backwards and forwards a few times.

    I lay on grass hee-hawing at another silly accident.

    Happy now?

    Was it worth the wait?

  9. Yes happy :-) It made me laugh, I did wonder if it was to do with the bench!

    Just glad you didn't hurt yourself on that barbecue!!!

  10. Wasn't it caught on camera? In slow motion, the wine sailing through the air, you going backwards and trying to catch the wine in your glass as you did so!