One red nose & a few red faces

posted in: Family | 0

Red noseAs Red Nose day is upon us once more, it seemed only fitting to dredge this little story onto the blogosphere…

March 1988.  I was the proud owner of a bleached & highlighted mullet hair-do, not for charity purposes simply because I thought it was cool 😎 and I was also the less proud owner of a rather grim factory job at British Rail. I’d been in the job over five years and I’d pretty much detested every single day of it. The place was noisy, dirty, smelly. The staff were obnoxious and the work was tedious to say the least. I’d staggeringly needed qualifications to get this job as well, and yet all I basically did was hit metal with a big f@#K off hammer!!! My factory job back in 1988 was as far removed from the arty farty stuff I now do, as it’s humanly possible to be… Friday 5th February however offered a bit of much needed light relief. For once I was actually quite looking forward to my day in the factory.

It was Red Nose Day, the very first in fact. Comic Relief had been around for a few years, but this year they’d introduced the now familiar red noses. Well I was keen to show my support so I hit the shops and went in search of an illusive red nose. It was a search that proved fruitless. Back in 1988 those red noses were highly sought after little items and I couldn’t get one  for love nor money 🙁 But hey, I’m arty, I’ll make one. So I did… Ping pong ball, red nail varnish & a Stanley knife. Hey presto I had a red nose 😀

So Friday morning at factory HQ I donned my grubby overalls and proudly plonked my homemade (and bloody painful) red nose onto my nose. I then went and did noisy stuff with metal. After about 15 minutes my painted ping pong ball was hurting pretty badly, the sharp plastic hole I’d cut into the comic nose was beginning to dig into my own human fleshy one, but this was comic relief, I was doing this for the starving Africans. The nose would stay. Cue more noisy metal work… Well after a few hours, tongues had been wagging and word had spread throughout the factory that someone was wearing one of those new fangled red noses. Soon after a smartly suited supervisor was sent to investigate…

Supervisor: ‘What’s that you’re wearing?’

Me: ‘A red nose.’

Supervisor: ‘It looks silly.’

Me: ‘It’s supposed to.’

Supervisor: ‘Take it off.’

Me: ‘Why?’

Supervisor: ‘It looks silly.’

Me: ‘It’s supposed to. It’s for Comic Relief.’

Supervisor: ‘For what? Take it off.’

Me: ‘Why?’

Supervisor: ‘TAKE IT OFF.’

Me: ‘Not unless you give me a good reason to…’

We stared at each other. My ping pong ball was hurting like f@#k. We stared some more. Then Mr Supervisor stormed off… I suspected I’d not heard the last of this and I wasn’t wrong. About an hour before the end of my shift, Mr Supervisor marched towards me and thrust an envelope at me. I’d been put on a disciplinary charge and had to report to the manager’s office at once.  So with a Union rep in tow, I made my way through the now cheering factory to the manager’s office. Still with my now brutally painful ping pong ball in place 😯 What happened in the manager’s office was basically a re-enactment of the above conversation. Mr Supervisor put his side of the story across and I put mine (as best I could with sharp plastic sticking into my nose!!!). A rather bemused manager needed time to decide what punishment awaited me. Court was adjourned and I was free to go home…

As I made my way from the still cheering factory towards the car-park, it became immediately apparent that word had spread far beyond the confines of the factory. Local newspaper reporters stood waiting at the gate-house and beyond them I could see TV outside broadcast trucks 😯  My 15 minutes of fame awaited…

The local TV stations all ran features of the story later that nght. The local press had a fairly hefty article in their Friday evening issue and on Saturday morning the story of my painted ping pong ball had reached the national press!!! For one weekend I was the talk of the town… ‘Hey you work in that factory don’t you? Did you hear about that knob with the red nose?’

The management at factory HQ had also been interviewed and apparently my homemade nose was deemed a health risk that the factory couldn’t tolerate. One stray spark could’ve easily ignited the nose and who knows what life threatening damage that might cause?  Their words not mine 🙄 Well by Monday morning my charges were un-surprisingly dropped and ‘normal’ service was resumed… The little scar on my own nose remained for a few weeks and I’m sure the management winced every time they saw it. I was also seen as quite the hero for quite a while in that noisy, smelly factory, which almost made the shitty job bearable for a bit 🙂

So happy Red Nose Day all… Thankfully they’re a lot less painful to wear now than they used to be 🙂