A book of Jobs
From the story "The Nadgers tunnel"
" “CMON YA BOLLOCKS.” he shouted, “WE HAVEN’T GOT ALL FUCKING DAY. HERE TAKE THIS!”
He threw a fifty-pound bag of Rugby cement at me that felt like a punch in the stomach.
“OOOF!” I said.
“FASTER YOU CUNT …C’MON. “ he screamed, as I took the weight of the cement and hopped from one boat to the other like some dirty slapstick clown in a forgotten circus of hell.
As I dumped the first sack and was coming back for the next I could still hear him yelling like a banshee in the dark.
“FASTER! FASTER! DO YOU WANT THIS FUCKING JOB OR NOT?”.
When I got close enough, he threw the next sack at me, which I only half caught, my one flailing hand clawing at the paper bag, ripping it, and spilling the fine grey dust of good old Rugby Portland cement all over myself.
“YOU CUNT” he screamed, “WHAT ARE YOU FUCKING DOING?"
I picked up what was left of the bag, ran, and dumped it with the others while he carried on yelling a storm in the darkness. Next thing I knew, he was off the boat and running towards me like a maniac carrying another bag of cement, which he hurled at me as soon as he was close enough to hit me with it. “FASTER,” he screamed again, like a man whose head was about to explode."
And there, dear readers, is a pleasant introduction to the world of "dogging".
Not dogging like people do in carparks, but Dogging as a kind of inspirational, morale building excercise used to toughen up new recruits on the building site to make sure that they focus on the job in hand or that they go home crying. You get used to it after a while...or you go home crying.
A Book of Jobs is largely concerned with describing low-end jobs in Britain in the eighties and nineties. There are toilet cleaning stories, egg poaching stories, slaughter house stories, and stories about stacking boxes in the back of lorries.
There are a couple of stories about being in a band.
From the story "the Hotel Edge orth"
"How deep is the ocean?
How high is the sky?
How far would I travel to be where you are?
How far is the journey from here to a star?”
We didn't know the answers and neither did she, but it didn't matter because the answers were the questions and we were as drunk as Lords in our low rent flophouse. The night had softened us till our laughter and the music spilled out into the Tenderloin and the street heard the gentler sound of Lady Day from our little window up in the run down Edgeworth hotel. She blessed every last one of us, no matter how down and out, drunk, or disgraced we might have been. Billie was a saint of the night and a grand consoler who had been as far down as anyone could get and still sound like honey tastes.
A hooker at fourteen, five bucks a shot, and what had she got to show for all her troubles? A busted lip, the clap, a habit, and 'The United States of America versus Billie Holiday’ but I didn't know all of that then.
So, with the whisky and and whatnot, we gradually got more raucous and carefree as Billie kept on singing and Lester Young's sax wound round her voice like a golden vine on a bough made of moonlight.
"The stars that shine are yours and mine, the rainbows in the sky are yours and mine. The song of springtime, the lullaby of fall, the sunshine of summertime, belongs to us all ".
I made the book myself. I laid it out, spellchecked it, edited it, and designed the whole thing. I handcut and handpressed fourteen lino prints and bound them into each of the books.
The cover was handprinted onto hand marbled paper.
Here is a little video that shows some of the marbling process. It was made by James Masson who was unlucky enough to be living with me at the time.
When they had all been made and sent out to the people who bought them, I asked people to send photographs of the books.
Despite its huge popularity with cats everywhere, the book is currently out of print. If I ever make any more, or if any become available somehow, I will let you know through the mailing list.