Blogging Up The Works

Friday, February 10, 2012


Inspired somewhat by Mashers post for the day it reminded me of Helen, one of the admin ladies I used to work with in the dim and distant past.

At the end of the 1970s I worked for an insurance company in Ealing. My department was on the top floor along with the Surveyors, one of which remains a friend to this day. They had two support workers. Firstly, Doug, who was a miserable old bugger but inspired me, in as much as just to shut him up, to enter the British Dominoes Championship. But that is a story for another day. The second was Helen, in her 60's I would think, and spinster of this parish. As my mate J.C. would say, when she died she'd be going back "unopened".

As mentioned in the comments on Mashers site, Helen looked after the tea machine on our floor. It was a standard vending machine but it didn't cost us money. Along with tea and coffee, and in those days you just got coffee, no skinny latte chocatino or americano nonsense for us, you also had Bovril and also a cold orange squash. Helen both restocked the machine as well as cleaned it. she also had the job of getting drinks for Doug and the surveyors throughout the day.

She had the endearing habit of getting up for drinks and shouting "anyone for a beefy one?", then collapsing with laughter. It was endearing for about a day. By the time she'd done the same thing 10 times a day, day in, day out, it paled somewhat!

I've mentioned elsewhere about the cleaning habits following the route of floor, nozzles, hoppers. It certainly added to the piquancy of each selection. The other problem was she wasn't much good at filling the hoppers with care, so quite often the orange squash might have some coffee in it, and if you fancied a beef tea there was a good chance that's what you'd get.

Apart from mis-filing everything, she once tried filing company's in the L folder for Ltd because she knew you filed things under the last name, she also answered the surveyor's phones. Now, to be fair, when she was young I doubt she ever used a phone so you could forgive her getting things a little muddled. Unfortunately it would be rather annoying for the surveyor concerned as she would answer the phone and the client would ask for someone by name, she would then put her hand over the receiver and ask if he wanted to speak to them. Unfortunately, what should have been straightforward, turned awkward because a) she would cover the earpiece instead of the mouthpiece, and b) she'd say " it's those annoying lot at ^^^^ Brokers, do you want to speak to them or shall I say you're out?". Many a surveyor was seen to wish the floor would open under them. It made no difference how many times they told her about it, she still got it wrong.

I'm sure by now she is tending the big vending machine in the sky, so be warned, if you get there and you hear an angel running around shouting "Anyone for a beefy one?", ask for a transfer downstairs!


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