Friday, December 20

My First Mistake


An amusing story about the first mistake made on a job. Such is life son. I remember mine. I was left in charge of the overnight support for a software company. And a call came from a bank at 12 midnight that the batch had failed. So I called Philadelphia which is where our main support is and they investigated and recommended rerunning the batch which I dutifully relayed. 

It buggered up the database because id forgotten to tell them to go to backup first. 

This was 24th dec. you were just born. And I spent the next 4 days at the bank. With countless others. Working to fix the issues. That was a bad bad situation. Not something that I'd like to repeat. 

Nobody blamed me. I was hardly 3 months into the job. But there you go. 



My First Mistake


    The victim of the first big mistake I ever made was a gentleman to whom I had never been properly introduced (and whose name I still do not know) but who was possessed of three singular qualities: he was alone in a room with me, he was without his trousers, and he was very, very dead.

    Some context might be useful. It was the winter of 1962. I was eighteen years old and had taken a year off before going up to Oxford University. I also had a girlfriend far away in Montreal, and in the superheated enthusiasm of my puppy love, I had promised to visit her. The fact that I then lived in London and she three thousand miles away meant that fare money had to be amassed: I had to get a job, and one that paid well enough to allow me to get away to Canada as quickly as possible.

    London had two evening papers back then, the News and the Standard. It was in the classified columns of one that I spied the advertisement: “Mortuary Assistant required,” it said. “Eleven pounds weekly.” The bar to entry was hardly Himalayan. “Some basic knowledge of human anatomy an advantage, though not essential. Telephone Mr. Utton, Whittington Hospital, Highgate.”