When I founded my previous company along with a business partner in 1983, I quickly realised that taking on a trainee, who could learn about the products would be an advantage. Little did I realise what this would lead to.
Richard arrived under the YTS banner, a Youth Training Scheme set up by the government and similar to the old apprentice scheme.
We already had a Richard working for the company, so to differentiate between the two , the original Richard became known a Big Dick and the YTS trainee became Little Dick.
Little did we know what we were letting ourselves in for.
Richard quickly settled in and was quick to learn about our products. He had a strange affection to all things VW and he was proud of his VW Valiant which to our amusement even sported a cover to protect the front end from stone chips. We soon learnt that this was known as a bra. Yes his car wore a bra !
We soon became aware of Richard’s humour, sometimes very strange and we learnt very soon not to take the bait even if it was dangled in front of us.
Here is an example. One day Richard was obviously setting us up for something, every time he moved around the office or workshop, he would raise one of his arms upwards. When he stopped at his bench or desk, he would lower his arm only to raise it again if he went to another part of the building.
The rest of the staff were curious as to what he was up to but were not yet ready to take the bait.
After lunch, Richard was seen to walk back from his VW and once again he raised his arm and this strange behaviour carried on throughout the afternoon.
Something had to give and when he came into the office someone took the bait.
“Richard, why are you walking around all day with your arm raised?”
“Ah! funny you should” ask he replied, “This is my pet camel Ishmael and I had to take him to the Vet at lunchtime.”
“What was wrong with him?” someone asked.
“Nothing serious , the Vet said he’s just got the hump” Richard replied.
Following this episode, everything returned to some sort of normality until the day Richard found something in the warehouse.
Why we had it I will never know but one of the companies sharing the warehouse was involved in exporting to developing countries.
The article in question was a full nuclear/chemical/bio-hazard suit consisting of a large, one piece coverall, boots which were as big as a clowns shoes and a full protective headgear complete with mask, goggles and a hat.
Richard put it on….
To say that the image was hilarious was an understatement and we dared him to go outside while wearing it. Richard took up the challenge and walked up to the main road which lead to our industrial estate.
At this time, an advertising representative called and parked his car just outside our office window. He had not seen Richard yet but we were all at the office window waiting to see what would happen.
A grass bank separated our office from the main road and it's down this bank that Richard decided to walk very slowly and directly to the Reps car. We could see that the Rep had spotted Richard as he made his way slowly to him but he made no move to get out of his car. Richard by now had reached the car and was standing motionless by the Reps car door.
After a few moments which must have seemed like an eternity to the Rep, Richard slowly raised is arm and with his gloved hand spread his fingers out to form a large V
The Rep just sat their motionless.
“Hail Tharg” we heard Richard boom and he slowly turned and walked away, disappearing behind our building.
Nothing was said when the Rep eventually entered our office but his complexion looked unnaturally pale . However Richard had not yet finished with him….
My office was separated from the main, open plan office by a half panelled glass door and anybody sitting in my office was able to see through this door and the people behind it.
Richard took it on himself to extend the previous torture by repeatedly passing in front of the glass door and walking down the stairs. Later he would appear again, walking up the stairs.
Nothing wrong with that you may ask except that we didn't have any stairs !
I often wonder what happened to that Rep… but I know what happened to Richard.
He is now the Commercial Manager of a large plastics company and I often wonder if his staff know of his former activities ;-)
It also appears that he is still a fan of VW’s but this time they come with a Porche badge ….
Having just read the above, Sarah, who was also at my previous company along with Dave, has told me of a few more japes ...
"Ha, those were the days. Yes Dave was there, when he first started we were super mean to him - putting cold tea bags in his apple turnovers, draining his can of Lilt through a hole in the bottom of the can then refilling it with water & gluing the hole closed so when he opened it he was quite surprised!!! And Colonel Hurnell - we used to replace his hard boiled eggs with shell on for non hard boiled with shell on, all very amusing & good times! "
Both Sarah & Dave are at my present company PVL Ltd I'm pleased to say...