Blog Blast: Inhuman Resources by Pierre Lemaitre

I’m very much a fan of Pierre Lemaitre’s books, and in particular Alex and Blood Wedding, so was delighted to be approved to receive an advanced reader copy of his new book Inhuman Resources and to be asked to take part in this blog blast.  I’m sharing with you chapter 2 of Inhuman Resources but if you’d like to pop over to Always Trust In Books first, who is sharing chapter 1, you can then come back for chapter 2 to whet your appetite a little more!

Chapter 2

Initially, I took the morning job at Pharmaceutical Logistics as a way of keeping myself occupied. At least that’s what I told Nicole, but neither she nor the girls fell for it. At my age, you don’t wake up at 4.00 a.m. for 45% of the minimum wage just to get your endorphins going. It’s all a bit more complicated. Well, actually it’s not that complicated. At first, we didn’t need the money – now we do.

I have been unemployed for four years. Four years in May (May 24, to be exact).

This job doesn’t really make ends meet, so I do a few other bits and bobs too. For a couple of hours here and there, I lug crates, bubble-wrap things, hand out fliers. A spot of night-time industrial cleaning in offices. A few seasonal jobs, too. For the past two years, I’ve been Father Christmas at a discount store specialising in household appliances. I don’t always give Nicole the full picture of my activities, since it would only upset her. I use a range of excuses to justify my absences. As this is harder for the night jobs, I have magicked up a group of unemployed friends with whom I supposedly play poker. I tell Nicole that it relaxes me.

Before, I was H.R. manager at a company with almost two hundred employees. I was in charge of staff and training, overseeing salaries and representing the management at the works council. I worked at Bercaud, which sold costume jewellery. Seventeen years casting pearls before swine. That was everyone’s favourite gag. There was a whole load of extremely witty jokes that went around about pearls, family jewels, etc. Corporate banter, if you like. The laughter stopped in March, when it was announced that Bercaud had been bought out by the Belgians. I might have been in with a shout against the Belgian H.R. manager, but when I found out that he was thirty-eight, I mentally started to clear my desk. I say “mentally” because, deep down, I know I wasn’t at all ready to do it for real. But that was what I had to do – they didn’t hang about. The takeover was announced on March 4. The first round of redundancies took place six weeks later, and I was part of the second. In the space of four years, as my income evaporated, I passed from incredulity to doubt, then to guilt, and finally to a sense of injustice. Now, I feel anger. It’s not a very positive emotion, anger. When I arrive at Logistics, and I see Mehmet’s bushy eyebrows and Charles’ long, rickety silhouette, and I think about everything I’ve had to endure, a terrible rage thunders inside me. Most of all, I have to avoid thinking about the years I have left, about the pension payments I’ll never receive, about the allowances that are withering away, or about the despair that sometimes grips Nicole and me. I have to avoid those thoughts because – in spite of my sciatica – they put me in the mood for terrorism.

In the four years we have known each other, I have come to count my job centre adviser as one of my closest friends. Not long ago, he told me, with a degree of admiration in his voice, that I was an example. What he means is that I might have given up on the idea of finding a job, but I haven’t given up looking for one. He thinks that shows strength of character. I don’t want to tell him he’s wrong; he is thirty-seven and he needs to hang on to his illusions for as long as possible. The truth is I’ve actually surrendered to a sort of innate reflex. Looking for work is like working, and since that is all I have done my whole life, it is ingrained in my nervous system; something that drives me out of necessity, but without direction. I look for work like a dog sniffs a lamp post. No illusions, but I can’t help it.

And so it was that I responded to an advertisement a few days ago. A headhunting firm looking to recruit an H.R. assistant for a big company. The role involves hiring staff at executive level, formulating job descriptions, carrying out assessments, writing up appraisals, processing social audits, etc., which is all right up my street, exactly what I did for years at Bercaud. “Versatile, methodical and rigorous, the candidate will be equipped with excellent interpersonal skills.” My professional profile in a nutshell.

The moment I read it, I compiled my documents and attached my C.V. Needless to say, it all hangs on whether they are willing to take on a man of my age. The answer to which is perfectly obvious: it’ll be a “no”. So what? I sent off my application anyway. I wonder whether it was just a way of honouring my job centre adviser’s admiration.

When Mehmet kicked me in the arse, I let out a yelp. Everyone turned around. First Romain, then Charles, who did so with greater difficulty as he was already a couple of sheets to the wind. I straightened up like a young man. That’s when I realised that I was almost a head taller than Mehmet. Up to now, he had been the big boss. I’d never really noticed his size. Mehmet himself was struggling to come to terms with kicking me in the arse. His anger seemed to have abated entirely, I could see his lips trembling and he was blinking as he tried to find the words, I’m not sure in which language. That was when I did something for the first time in my life: I tilted my head back, very slowly, as though I were admiring the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and then whipped it forward with a sharp motion. Just like I’d seen on television. A head-butt, they call it. Charles, being homeless, gets beaten up a lot, and knows all about it. “Nice technique,” he told me. For a first-timer, it seemed a very decent effort.

My forehead broke Mehmet’s nose. Before feeling the impact on my skull, I heard a sinister crack. Mehmet howled (in Turkish this time, no doubt about it), but I couldn’t ram home my advantage because he immediately took his head in his hands and sank to his knees. If I had been in a film, I almost certainly would have taken a run-up and laid him out with an almighty kick in the face, but my skull was aching so much that I also took my head in my hands and fell to the ground. Both of us were on our knees, facing each other, heads in hands. Tragedy in the workplace. A dramatic scene worthy of an Old Master.

Romain started flapping around, no idea what to do with himself. Mehmet was bleeding everywhere. The ambulance arrived within a few minutes. We gave statements. Romain told me that he’d seen Mehmet kick me in the arse, that he would be a witness and that I had nothing to worry about. I kept silent, but my experience led me to believe that it definitely wouldn’t be as simple as all that. I wanted to be sick. I went to the toilets, but in vain.

Actually no, not in vain: in the mirror, I saw that I had a gash and a large bruise across my forehead. I was deathly pale and all over the place. Pitiful. For a moment, I thought I was starting to look like Charles.

Book links: Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository

I hope that sharing this chapter with you will encourage you to pick up a copy of Inhuman Resources!

Many thanks to Ella at Quercus Books for inviting me to take part in this blog blast today!

My first knitting project

So back in March I decided I was going to re-visit knitting as a new hobby: you can read about that here!  Not long after that first post I started my first major project in over twenty-five years and chose a scarf as a nice easy starter.  Well, not so long ago I finished it!

It’s not perfect but I’m proud of my achievement, the skills that I’ve refreshed and the new ones I’ve learned.

This was my first attempt at casting on, and after trying to decipher the instructions in the Ultimate Knitting Bible I have, I had to resort to YouTube for the best way to do it.  The stitches in the first image aren’t particularly tight and are very loose.  I also found my first stitch on the needle to be always exceptionally loose.  I don’t know of a way around this – is there, when using larger needles?

After knitting approximately half of the scarf and being 2 balls in I realised I’d made a mistake with the pattern and decided to start again.  It wouldn’t have made much difference to the finished scarf but I wanted to do it properly.

I also had the benefit, the second time around, of my aunt to be able to show me how to cast on using the thumb method.  This was so much easier and made the stitches so much neater and tighter.  It’s all very well having a book or video tutorial but there’s nothing better than having someone, who’s been knitting for years, sat next to you teaching you how to do it.  If you have older generations in your family, make the most of them!!

My second attempt was much better, and as I managed to follow the pattern properly as well, it all went to plan.  But then I had to teach myself to cast off.  I knew how to reduce stitches so this was easier for me than casting on.

But again…I found it easier to accompany this book with a video demonstration.  Sometimes I think it’s better to actually see something being done to understand the process.

Pleased as punch with my new scarf!

 

To be fair though, the scarf is about a foot too long for me, it does wrap around a few times!  If I’d have put some extra thought into it I could have finished it off earlier rather than sticking to the pattern religiously – this was just like when I first started baking.  I’d always stick to the recipe 100% rather than putting my own spin on things but with practice….

I used a Hobbycraft knitting pattern which was free when you register and log in.  On to my next project, a hot water bottle cover, which is still very much at beginner level but will also be useful for next winter!

Have you started knitting or any new crafty hobbies recently? How’re they working out for you?

What’s in a blog name?

When I started my blog, way back when, it was only ever meant to be a book review blog.  A place to share thoughts and vent, with never any expectation that other people would ever actually read what I’d written.

I came upon the name Bookboodle by using one of these random name generator websites and, so far, it’s stuck across all my social media sites too.

However, I’ve extended my blog posts to include baking, national trust visits and life in general posts, which all have been ticking along quite nicely.  And now I have a new hobby of knitting so will be posting about that too.

I recently blogged about having (or more pointedly not having) Pinterest or Instagram (you can see that post here).  I’m not going to bother with Pinterest but am 75% sure I’m going to have a go at Instagram.  But before I register for an account, do I change my blog name, keep it as it is, should Instagram be in my name or the blog’s? What does everyone else do?

So my question today is, does it still matter that my blog is called Bookboodle – should I change it to more about me and my name or something else personal?  Does it really matter, does anyone really care apart from me?

Would welcome your thoughts! 🙂

Do I really need Instagram and Pinterest in my life?

This post is prompted by a blog I read via a Sunday Blog Share link a couple of weekends ago, whereby the writer suggested that if you don’t have Pinterest you’re losing out on potential readers who are not bloggers.  I’m not gonna lie, I’d like to grow my readership, who doesn’t want a few more views on that post we worked really hard on, but do I really need Pinterest and Instagram in my life?

On a daily basis I struggle to keep up with Twitter and rarely check out my blog’s page on Facebook for different posts and ideas.  I have a Bloglovin account, that again, I automatically post my blog posts to, but rarely go and have a nose about because there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

I am aware that the majority of my readers and commenters tend to be other bloggers, which don’t get me wrong, that’s great, I appreciate every view, like, and comment.  According to Hosting Facts, there are over 2 million blog posts every day, so competition is pretty fierce, so I ask myself, and you, this question am I missing out on new readers, finding new blogs and inspiration because I don’t currently have either of these apps.

Would it become another platform that I’d eventually neglect?

What are your thoughts, as fellow bloggers, readers, human beings with lives to live – do I really need Pinterest and Instagram in my life?

20 Quirks and Strange Habits – The Weird Side of Writers

Today I am sharing with you an infographic designed and written by writer and blogger Jack Milgram.  It’s full of fascinating little habits and peculiarities of some well-known authors.  So here you go, for your browsing pleasure:

Great stuff Jack, obviously being a massive Agatha Christie fan this was my favourite but I also love the idea of Lewis Carroll and his purple ink – why follow the norm when you can go purple!

Connect with Jack Milgram via

Website | Twitter | Facebook

 

If you like infographics, check out Compelling First Lines