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Everyone knows a Kate

Phil: I’ll admit I’m not a big chick-lit reader, what with not being a chick and all, but according to my research (a couple of movies and reading the backs of books), novels in the genre tend to revolve around a female character who is looking for love. Either she has it, loses it and has to find it again, or she doesn’t have it and needs some. Personally, I find that if I lose something it’s probably gone down the back of the sofa but that’s not where you find love apparently. The remote control, some old biscuits and 34p in change, yes, love, no. Apparently all women are looking for is love. They don’t have real lives, never go to the supermarket, don’t hold down jobs or climb the corporate ladder, they just wander around like some airy fairy Jane Austen heroine trying to trap blokes into marriage.

This is of course, rubbish. It’s also patronising and if you suggest it to a real woman you’ll probably spend the next few days tending to your black eye. Serves you right.

The character I understand less than most is Bridget Jones – I’ve read excerpts from the books and seen the films in the spirit of curiosity. Apparently, women will identify with her. Really ? When I asked female friends the general reaction is that someone needs to grab her, and suggest that she ought to grow a pair instead of mopping around after Hugh Grant and the other bloke. Why she bothers when he’s going to end up with Lizzie Bennet and then become King of England I don’t know. By the time she meets him he would be around 220 years old and while he’s looking good on it, that’s a whopper of an age difference.

Anyway, our thoery runs that in the book, Kate is a good character because everyone knows a Kate. They know someone career orientated who might have sacrificed some personal life to achieve other objectives in her life. The stereotype involves a beautifully furnished, lonely flat, cat and red wine. There’s something else in the bedside drawer according to a friend of mine but this is a family blog so we’ll gloss over that.

Mind you, I wasn’t 100% convinced until last Sunday.

Then I saw Kate on telly. Strictly speaking, this Kate was called Helen and she was one of the candidates on the TV game show “The Apprentice”. I normally enjoy the programme but thanks to working Wednesday evenings in the film industry, I’ve not seen many episodes of the current run. However, Sunday was the final and one of the lizards (come on, you can’t really like any of them can you ? It’s 12 w******s from management wearing suits and shouting at each other. String them up, it’s the only language they understand except that they would probably call it vertical neck separation exercises) was called Helen and she proudly boasted that her personal and social life meant nothing to her – “’I see my job as my complete life. I work 24/7. There isn’t a cut off”. This level of focus had taken her to the very highest levels of management in Greggs the Bakers where presumably she gets to try swan flavoured pasties or really fresh iced buns covered in hundreds and thousands.

I’m not alone in this character assassination, Margaret Mountford, one of Sir Lord Sugar of Amstrads right hand aides, commented that Helen appeared to have no real life. More damming still, is the fact that on her website in the list of outside interests, one of the first items is “reading”, which is the same thing suggested to anyone at school filling in an application form when the teacher realises that they don’t actually do anything other than watch TV and play computer games. Follow it with “travelling round the country seeing family and friends” and you have the very epitome of a 1 dimensional character. I bet “buying food in the supermarket” nearly made the list too.

Of course this might be a completely inaccurate character summary. Helen might be a warm, wonderful, fully rounded human being who has been badly let down by the guys in the edit suite and the version we see on-screen as fictional a character as our Kate. It was such a shock to me to a younger version of our creation on telly though, I momentarily became a 12 year old girl and used the expression OMG on Facebook !


Filed under Phil

Games without steak bake

Kelvin wouldn’t admit it to anyone, even under threat of water boarding, but as with Tracey, for him the best part of the job was the location. The building housed a branch of  Games workshop, and he could nip in in his lunch break and talk with like minded individuals about Dungeons and Dragons to his hearts content before returning to the sterile office. If he wanted variety there was also a branch of Maplin around the corner where he could sate his need for gadgets and gizmos, right next to a Greggs bakers for his favourite steak bakes. This all seemed to his mind, very neat and efficient.

Phil: Those who know Solihull will recognise the office that we’ve put KOD into. There really is a block containing a Games Workshop and it is just around the corner from Maplin and Greggs. Mind you this isn’t that much of a surprise, you could say the same in may towns especially the proximity to a Greggs.

I used to look out on this building while sat in the cafe area of the second employer Candice and I shared and while my game playing tastes never stretched to Orc and Golbin fighting (apart from a couple of games as a teenager which I put down to being young) but Maplin – yep I was there. And occasionally the bakers too, although the appeal of the steak bake escapes me. It’s far too messy for me, like tomato in a sandwich, let me lose on one of those and I might as well smear the contents all over my shirt.

Kelvin and Tracey are a pair of second tier characters in the book. They do some important stuff but this isn’t really their story. I’ll leave her for Candice to explain – he was my problem. Having working in IT for years I think I know what the people who live in the corridors that normal people fear to visit are like. Despite the stereotypes, they aren’t all a bunch of weirdos with no social skills and a tenuous relationship with soap. Most (note, not all) are perfectly decent chaps who care about what they do and exist in a rapidly changing environment. For some reason they do all wear light blue shirts. I’ve never fathomed the reason for this but it seems to happen wherever I’ve worked so I guess that something about proximity to banks of flashing lights and network cables must be responsible.

Whatever you feel about the guys in IT, you know you need them. Yes they use a lot of jargon, but then so does anyone with an interest in fashion or who works in any specialist environment. They say Cat6, you say peplum frill. Get over it. Anyway, when your computer breaks down or something weird happens, who y’gunna call ? And how many of us can work without a bunch of technotools nowadays ? So, if we write anything involving an office, it’s going to need some computer power and web stuff. A laptop plays an important part in one story strand – not a big surprise there and so Kelvin is an integral part of the tale. Sometimes he plays comic relief when we need to lighten things up. At other times we get to feel his pain or at least embarrassment.

Oddly, he never gets a flat pasty in the text. Perhaps in the sequel. Mind you, we have a lot more good things lined up for him there…

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