It was Christmas.
Last day of work.
That meant having a fuddle.
A fuddle is getting pissed at work.
On the sly.
Everybody knew a fuddle was going on, but blind eyes were turned.
Six in the morning.
Everybody had a mug in their hand, but the kettles were cold.
A fuddle was going down.
Brandy was popular, for some reason.
Some had whisky, others had potcheen.
I was seventeen.
I had lager.
Tasted like shit at that time in the morning, but a fuddle was on.
By ten, we were pretty fucked.
Word came round.
“Fucking Hell! God is showing customers round! Abandon fuddle!”
God was the boss. Outright owner of the company.
A tough business man.
Didn’t take any shit.
He didn’t fuddle.
We knew he would head straight for the studio.
Start at the start.
God loved the studio.
Most printworks sent their reprography out to trade houses.
We kept it all under one roof.
From the artwork stage, to printing, to delivering, to landing on your doorstep, to being hurled into the bin with frustrated disgust, it was all done by us.
We couldn’t blame anyone else for the shit we turned out.
God loved the studio because of the fancy equipment.
Tables that lit up.
The mystery of the darkroom with its red light.
Unfortunately the darkroom was littered with tins and bottles from the fuddle.
We had to clean up, and quickly.
Bin bags, hasty scrabblings across the floor, a quick mop of spilt ale, air freshener.
Sytex was pissed on potcheen. We tucked him in the store room to sleep it off.
We pretended to work.
Just in time.
“This way gentlemen, this way. here is our in-house studio, carefully regulated to keep corporate colour correct and turn around times down.
“Film proccessors, blah blah,
“Printing down frame, blah blah,
“And here we have the darkroom!”
Isn’t it dark, etc.
In they all filed, into the pitch blackness.
God shut the door.
They couldn’t see their hands in front of their faces.
God triumphantly flicks the light switch, bathing the customers in eery red light.
In the corner was a pot sink.
Sytex stood there, trousers round his ankles, pissing into the sink like a racehorse.
Nobody said a thing.
God turned off the light, opened the door, and everybody filed out.
They walked back through the studio in silence, and as he left God muttered;
“I need a bloody drink…”
What he really needed was a fuddle.