Sunday 1 September 2019


Who says you can't have elephants on your CV?

Watching the rain lash down outside my office window, three little words transport me to a place in my past I hadn’t thought of for yonks.

As the weather moved in this morning, I measured it silently in grades of wetness.
Wet Wet
and then Wet Wet Wet.

And that was it: the band; the interview; a time when your colyoomist lead a very different life altogether.

At 25 I was impetuous and eager with the courage of youth, free from aches and pains and unburdened by fear. I’d done the world circle and felt as immortal as I ever could, were it not for that fear of death thing.

It was the summer of Live Aid, 1985, and back home in London I needed a job, because London demands it.

I had tasted good job. At 23 I started working for a Japanese company, and experienced what life could be like, when you’re grafting hard, yeh, but being paid fairly obscene amounts of dosh to do what comes naturally.

Great money easy peasy. Soul destroying too, the utter pointlessness of it in the order of things, but it didn’t hurt in the way that bad jobs hurt.

Hoh no. Bad jobs came in many forms but all delivered deep tedium. 

Even if you really want to express your creativity, show initiative or work with the team blah, when you’re rushing around a warehouse the size of a small suburb, or unloading an endless stream of trucks, you just do the job.

Nothing wrong with trucks and warehouses. 

Good honest work, but there are few ways to shine.

I’d done a crazy amount of varied jobs, survived the tedium and invested my wages rashly.

Having tasted good job, I knew I must return there.

Sofa-surfing in London was exhausting. I needed a wage pronto, so I asked my friend, the cartoonist Martin Rowson, to inject a little magic into my CV.

He obliged with his customary flair, adding climbing vines and a benign elephant, like you do, and I printed out 20 frankly extraordinary CVs.

If they didn’t work, I’d not print any more. 

The brazen arrogance and artistic ability on view said what I intended: that I knew how to market myself, and therefore could market anything or anyone.

Colyoomistas know I can be weird, and hands up, I’ll admit it. I love interviews.

You’re all squirming, and I’m here saying bring it on.

Wasn’t always so keen on the job, which is why I work for myself, but I always found the theatrical thrill of interviews great fun.

Those CVs worked a treat, cutting through queues and application processes, straight to oak-panelled board rooms, where I enjoyed testing and brilliant interviews for jobs I’d only dreamt of.

Looking down at the Thames from the top floor of London Weekend Television Tower, being asked questions about football in a job interview, it was hard to feel things were going wrong.

LWT were pretty cutting edge 34 years ago. They wanted someone to head up their new technological marvel team, that allowed footballers’ pictures to appear on the TV screen as they were being talked about.

I fessed up that I was no technological marvel, and suggested that somebody else could do the job better. I wasn’t looking to settle for less and neither were they.

Then there was the head office of English Heritage, for a fascinating chance to work in the history of my native nation, and there was ICL, representing the cutting edge of the computer world at that time, and then there was Polygram.

That was the doozy; the best interview I ever had, and the only interview I can think of that I failed at against my will.

All I’d been told about the Polygram job was that it absolutely wasn’t being Van Morrison’s manager, nor his assistant, but somehow seemed to have elements of both.

Mostly it sounded an exceptional and thrilling challenge. I knew Van was a complex man, so I was ready to be asked about how I might deal with his foibles

What I wasn't prepared for was the barrage of quick-fire questions shooting out from the meedja haircut three man panel.

Not yer usual where do you see yourself in five years yawn stuff, but fast, random explosions, demanding opinion.

“What’s your favourite book of the last year and why?”
“Best punk single and why?”

“Top three films of the last decade?”
“Most influential band of the last 25 years?

This was exciting. The prize was great and I was enjoying myself, in touch with pop culture enough in those days to play their games,

But then I went and spoiled it all.

“What does the album cover look like?” he asked, as he put on an LP.

I listened to a few bars of laid-back shmoozy intro and offered:

“Late night half-empty jazz club.”

It was a new band they’d just signed, called Wet Wet Wet.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

There was no hiding it in the room.

I think they’d been enjoying the fact that, up until then, I’d been well able to surf their wave, but my ride came crashing down.

Looking back, I wonder why more people don’t make their CVs different? 

That one broke every rule in the book. After Rowson’s delightful title page comes another with one tiny paragraph about me, while all subsequent pages were memos, letters and testimonials to my work.

Just a different way of doing it: letting others speak for me.
Doors opened wide.

Wet Wet Wet indeed. 

 Bit past the rock’n’roll lifestyle now.

It’s still raining out there.
Great writing weather, I call it.

©Charlie Adley

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