Thank You For The Opportunity

It’s a big weekend on the BBC, what with the final of that dancing competition and the annual Sports Personality of the Year Awards.

But there’s one other series finale happening tonight: the conclusion of the 14th series of The Apprentice.

It’s a show I’ve watched for many years now, introduced to and hooked on it by my old flatmate Llyr.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept: sixteen business people compete through a series of tasks for a £250,00 investment in their business. Each week, ineptitude is exposed and (at least) one is “fired” from the show.

As with my post earlier about Paul Heaton and The Beautiful South, I’m very aware that it’s a show which divides opinion, and that many consider it to be a tired format, ready to be put out to grass.

But.

This series has been really funny, especially the interview episode which aired this week.

The interview episode, the penultimate one, is always a highlight, as the remaining five candidates are grilled on their business plans, their performances up until now, their characteristics, and, frankly, anything else which is of relevance.

This year’s interview episode threw up a truly great piece of TV as last standing guy Daniel floundered under the interrogation of Mike Soutar, giving us, as @benjamincutting said on Twitter: “The best 52 seconds of TV in 2018” (link posted with Ben’s kind permission):

When each applicant is “fired” it has become tradition for them to shuffle out of the boardroom, thanking everyone for “the opportunity”.

It’s something that always irked me; why thank them? They’ve given you nothing in return for your efforts! Why not go out with a screaming tirade against them, rather than saving the soliloquy about what they’re missing out on for the taxi ride home?

But.

Several years ago, I was offered a position at a firm of solicitors based in Cheltenham. They predominantly made claims against insurance companies and, having worked for one for almost ten years, I had pitched my interview schtick in the “I know how to get their money” camp. I got the job, and spent just shy of three months commuting from Cardiff every day.

Just before my three-month probation was up, I was chatting to the CEO of the company, who gave me the nod that I was going to pass my probation and that maybe I should think about moving more locally to save me having to commute every day. I duly did, signing a six-month rental agreement on a flat within walking distance of the office.

And then, one Monday morning around three weeks later, I was called into the office by the main partner of the firm who told me that things “weren’t going to work out”, that they’d had many other ex-insurance employees and it was always the same, and that they’d have to “let me go.”

What was particularly galling about this was that he was the one who had interviewed me, had hired me on the basis of my insurance background and experience, and now was firing me for exactly the same reason!

But what annoyed me even more was that instead of pointing this out to him, I meekly shook his hand and heard myself say: “Thank you for the opportunity.”

There’s only one song to post:

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Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities (Let’s Make Lots Of Money)

More soon.

Sunday Morning Coming Down

This morning, back to one of those songs which has a title which you would only find in country music (and, I know I’ve committed some fashion atrocities in my time, but there’s also nowhere else you’d find a jacket quite like Conway is wearing – matched with a white turtle-neck! – on the album cover):

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Loretta Lynn & Conway Twitty – You’re the Reason Our Kids are Ugly

More soon.

Late Night Stargazing

More TV music documentary-inspired loveliness tonight.

The other night Channel 4  showed an absolutely fascinating portrayal of Paul Heaton, main man of The Housemartins, The Beautiful South and…er…Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbot.

Broadcast to coincide with the recent release of Heaton’s best of album, the self-deprecatingly titled The Last King of Pop, there’s some wonderful moments in it, including Norman Cook shock when he finds out that he’s won an Ivor Novello award and Heaton hasn’t.

The documentary shows Heaton in an honest, reflective, often self-critical mode, confessing that:

  • sometimes he had missed the mark with some of his lyrics, chiefly on 36d
  • that when Jacqui quit The Beautiful South to have kids, he could have done more to help her and allow her to keep performing
  • he has battled with alcohol in the past
  • that he should have called time on The Beautiful South six or seven years before he finally did.

I’m with him on the first point (and you could happily add Perfect 10 to that too), and the last; I lost interest in them after their fifth studio album, 1998’s Quench. They soldiered on without my support for a further four albums and eight years.

I’m aware that The Beautiful South are one of those bands who divide opinion; I love a lot of their earlier stuff, but the majority of my friends would recoil in horror when they spotted them in my CD collection.

But give this a listen; a single from 1994, a poignant tale of a couple who still love each other after being together for many years. It’s just lovely.

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The Beautiful South – Prettiest Eyes

Ahhhhhh……

If you’re in the UK, you can watch the documentary on 4OD, or by clicking here (for a limited period).

More soon.