There’s a hierarchy within the factory.
Director look down on managers.
Managers look down on office staff and shop floor staff.
Office staff look down on shop floor staff.
Printers look down on machine assistants.
Machine assistants look down on floor sweepers.
The studio department doesn’t figure in this equation so much.
If a print works is a prison, then the studio is the nonce wing.
Isolated, locked away, misunderstood.
I wouldn’t ask any of my studio work mates to babysit, that’s for sure.
The relationship between printer and machine assistant is the most interesting one.
Similar types of blokes.
Similar knowledge of the machine.
but the printer can kick the machine assistant’s arse and make him wash the machine up while he fucks off early to the pub.
Because of this, people think machine assistants are thick.
At least, not all of them.
I admit, some of them are the stupidest cunts to ever shamble the Earth, but it’s not the rule.
I’ve known some pretty smart machine assistants.
The difference between a machine assistant and any other worker in the factory is ambition.
For example, you’d win at blackjack if you played a machine assistant.
They’d stick at the first cards they were given.
Even if they were a two of hearts and a four of clubs.
They’d be happy with those cards, the cards would be just right for them, thank you very much.
Perfectly good cards.
Not a winning hand, though.
The thing is, they would be HAPPY wit those cards.
Generally speaking, most machine assistants are happy, contented characters.
No responsibility, no ambition, beers on a Friday, footy on Saturday, roast on a Sunday.
A simple life.
If you have ambition, you end up grumpy, fucked off, disillusioned, greedy, nasty, Machiavellian.
Who has it best?
Sometimes, it’s the bloke holding a two of hearts and a four of clubs.
At nine, I made a cup of tea.
Third of the day.
Old Stan the machine assistant was leaning against a silent print press, tea in hand, nibbling a biscuit.
I brought my tea over to him.
“How do, Old Stan.”
“How do, Lucifer.”
“Press not running?”
“Not at the mo. Romeo’s supposed to be running it. He had an appointment with the doc this morning.”
“What’s up with him?”
“Dunno. He wouldn’t say.”
“Something wrong with his cock, then.”
“Aye, lad. It’ll either be his cock or his arsehole. The two unmentionables. Ey up. Here he comes now.”
Old Stan lobbed the last of his biscuit into his mouth and glugged his tea over it, slurping the mouthful of mush. He was ready to work.
“Now then, lad!”
Romeo didn’t speak.
His face was white.
He got into his work gear and fired up the print press.
Old Stan shrugged and set to work.
I slowly drank my tea.
Things looked interesting.
They worked in silence for a bit, then Old Stan spoke.
“So, is your cock alright then?”
“Fuck off, just fuck, off you horrible old cunt! Mind your own fucking business or I’ll stick this…this… teaspoon in your eye!”
“And you can fuck off too, Lucifer, you fucking nonce!”
I’d rather not have that label stick, to be honest.
We left Romeo alone for a bit.
Old Stan wasn’t fazed.
He’d seen it all before.
He’d minded machines for dozens of printers, if not hundreds.
He knew Romeo would come out with it when he was ready.
So did I.
That’s why I hung around.
Sure enough, a spanner clattered to the ground.
Old Stan and I looked up.
Old Stan winked at me.
“Is love a tender thing? It is too rough, too rude, too boisterous; and it pricks like thorn!”
“Itches like fuck, more like, the cheating fucking whore!”
This was shock news.
Romeo and Juliette had been an item for a good while now.
She’d never seemed the cheating type.
Romeo was bitter, to say the least.
“The cunt! The fucking cunt! Wait till I get my hands on her…”
“Steady on now, lad. What’s the doctor said then?”
“It were me knob, Stan. It went all red, and started itching, and it stung like fuck when I went for a piss! I was getting really worried so I went to the doctor.”
“Very wise, lad, very wise. And what did the quack have to say?”
Romeo looked away. I thought he was going to cry.
“He told me SHE gave me it. Sexually, like. He’s given me some cream. SHE’LL need more than cream when I’m through with her!”
Old Stan patted his back.
“Steady now, lad. What is it she’s given you then?”
Romeo dropped his head into his hands.
“Thrush. She’s given me a dose of fucking thrush! Bitch!”
Old Stan and I looked at each other.
“Thrush? Is that all?”
“Is that all? IS THAT ALL?? It doesn’t matter what she’s given me, Lucifer, but that fucking cow had to have been doing something to catch it in the first place!”
Old Stan looked uncomfortable.
“Listen, lad. It’s not as it seems. Your lass hasn’t been cheating on you. You see…”
“Not cheating? Course she has! That night she was late in from town, now I know what she was doing! It’s over. Over!”
“No, no. What it is, with some ladies, it’s just, sort of, well….”
“…cheating cunt, that’s all there is to it. Dirty cheating…”
“…bit of a ladies problem, and their bits get all kind of, well…”
“…gonna find out who’s fucked her, and smash his head in…”
“…no! Just a bit of cream, and…”
“…chuck her out on the street, burn her fucking cloths…”
For the first time ever, Old Stan lost it.
“Romeo! For fuck’s sake, will you listen to me? She’s not been fucking around, she’s got thrush cause women get thrush sometimes! They don’t get it off another bloke! They get it cause they sometimes get a sweaty fanny, and it get’s all yeasty and goes off, and if you fuck them when their fanny is like that then you’ll get it too! Now put the cream that the doctor gave you on your fucking cock and stop being a fucking baby!”
Old Stan walked away, and started inking up the print press.
Romeo stood still for a bit, blinking.
“Fucking Hell… so she’s not been cheating, Lucifer?”
“Seems not, Romeo.”
“And thrush is just one of those things, women’s stuff, like?”
“So everything will be ok, as long as I take this cream?”
“Oh true apothecary! Thy drugs are quick. Thus with a kiss I…”
“What the fuck are you talking about, Lucifer?”
“Oh. It’s Shakespeare, you see, and…”
“Shut up, you nonce.”
“Fair enough. Hope your cock gets better, Romeo.”
“Thanks. I hope Juliette starts washing her fanny more, Lucifer.”
“How silver-sweet sound lovers’ tongues by night…”