Sunday, 31 May 2015

The Actuary - From Russia, With Love by K T Bowes

My latest novel, The Actuary is on pre-order. It's 99c and 293 pages long and is my 13th published novel.

The Actuary is based in the English town of Market Harborough in Leicestershire where I spent six very happy years. There's a handsome Russian who isn't what he seems, a feisty Englishwoman with enough spark for a decent fire and a precocious six year old who knows far too much for his age. 

Enjoy Chapter 1 with my compliments.

Chapter 1 The Actuary

“Congratulations, Susan!” The dark haired woman leaned in and kissed her friend on the cheek, her pretty skin flushed with the heat of the room. “You look so content at last, I’m pleased for you.”

“Oh, Emma! It’s been a long time coming. I finally feel lucky.”

Emma wrapped her arms around her friend, trying not to get lipstick on the delicate fabric of her ivory wedding dress. Over her shoulder she saw Susan’s new husband, Frederik. He was handsome and sophisticated, his salt and pepper hair suiting his courtly appearance. “He’s pretty fit,” Emma whispered in her friend’s ear, laughing at Susan’s squeal of delight.

“My sister says he is,” she sniggered, covering her mouth with her hand.

Emma felt hot breath on her leg and looked down. She smiled and offered her hand to the fluffy white retriever at Susan’s side. He smiled back, his tongue lolling sideways from his mouth and he sat abruptly on his backside, yanking the harness from his blind mistress’ hand. “Oh Jay!” Susan complained. “I know you’ve had enough but this is my wedding day!”

“He did a good job of escorting you down the aisle,” Emma joked, stroking the soft, downy hair on the top of Jay’s head. She smoothed her thumb down the bridge of his nose and the dog closed his eyes with a dreamy expression on his face. “You’re such a flirt!” she chastised him, ruffling his feathery ears and shaking her head. Dark curls cascaded down her back and bounced with the movement.

“It’s been a beautiful day,” Susan sighed. The strobe lights caught her red hair giving her an ethereal glow. “You’ll stay a bit longer, won’t you?” She couldn’t see the uncomfortable look on Emma’s face as the other woman battled with issues Susan could not contemplate. The borrowed green silk dress bit into Emma’s waist and the rental car outside needed to be back at the hire company by midnight. The three hour drive south in the dark was daunting.

“Just a little while,” Emma promised. “But then I have to get Nicky home. We had an early start this morning.”

“Well come and say goodbye before you go, won’t you?” Susan’s face pleaded with her as Emma nodded and squeezed her hand. “I wanted to talk to you about your work in the school archives. I need to tell you what we’ve been doing with ours. I thought it might help.”

“I’d love to, but I do have to go soon.” Emma winced as the band started up after their intermission, deafening everyone nearby. The guide dog whined and looked like he wanted to stick his paws over his ears. “Would you like me to take you to Frederik?” Emma yelled over the din and Susan nodded.

“Yes please. I think if I ask Jay to take me, I’ll end up at the car.”

Emma laughed. “Oh gosh, yeah. Remember the time you told him to take you to the vets and he walked you around for hours and then took you home?”

“Pardon?” Susan shrieked back and Emma shook her head, leading her friend by the hand towards her tall new husband over at the bar.

The place was crowded with bodies and Emma sighed as she recognised one of them. Her six year old son stood at the side of the buffet table, paper plate towering with food. His blonde wavy hair spilled over a face covered in chocolate. He grinned displaying brown teeth covered in goo and waved, his bright blue eyes sparkling with mischief. His plate tipped and a sausage roll bounced to the floor. Not realising it fell from his plate, he looked up at the ceiling to see where it came from and then back at his mother. She held her free hand up in the air, fingers splayed and mouthed, “Five more minutes.”

The child nodded with enthusiasm and began cramming delicacies into his mouth, making use of the time left to get his fill. Emma cringed. Definitely time to leave. She weaved through the bodies, navigating Susan and Jay towards the landmark of Frederik’s head, standing high above everyone else’s. 

As Jay realised he was going back into the throng, his feet ceased their happy padding along the wooden dance floor and he stopped dead. Susan yanked on Emma’s arm in warning but Jay made a valiant rush for the open door, hauling the two women after him. He cut through the dancing crowd like a heat seeking missile, making his bid for freedom with the women as ballast. Susan had no choice with her wrist caught in the strap of his leash and her fingers clamped around the handle of the harness, but Emma held onto her friend’s other hand for dear life, clopping along in the borrowed heels.

From the corner of her eye, Emma saw Susan stop sharply as Frederik’s capable hand seized the harness and halted Jay’s unauthorised kidnapping of his bride. Unable to stop, Emma sped past the knot of man, woman and dog, feeling herself tilt dangerously in the open doorway as Susan let go of her hand. Too late, Emma remembered the stairs down to the entrance. She let out a strangled scream as a body stepped in the way, taking the full brunt of her hasty exit. The male figure grunted and grabbed her upper arms, keeping her upright and allowing Emma the dignity of a few seconds in which to collect herself. “Thank you,” she gulped, spying with horror the awful sight of her buttons undoing themselves over her cleavage.

“Are you all right, Emma?” Susan’s voice sounded concerned and Emma nodded as she fumbled with the fiddly pearl buttons, failing miserably to get them closed.

“Yep, yep. I’m fine thanks. Just catching my breath.” She heard Susan behind her, admonishing her furry companion.

“You made it!” came Frederik’s voice and his hand appeared next to Emma, shaking her saviour’s with enthusiasm. “Awesome! I’ll just sit my wife down and then we’ll catch up.”

“Oh, bloody hell!” Emma breathed as another button sidled out of its hole as soon as she put the one above it back in. A male snort made Emma’s head whip up as familiar fingers brushed her shaking hands away.

“Here, let me, dorogaya.”

Emma gulped and closed her eyes. If she didn’t look up, then it couldn’t be true. It’s not him, she told herself. It can’t be. It’s someone else with a Russian accent. You’re tired and imagining things. An unexpected flare of disappointment took her by surprise and her cheeks flamed with embarrassment. “I’m fine. I’m leaving anyway.” She pushed the fingers away as their buttoning action brushed the soft flesh of her exposed breasts. Emma dared to look up with indignation in her eyes and her heart bounced in her chest.

The tall blonde man in front of her was every bit as striking as she remembered, a strand of the disobedient blonde fringe flipping over his left eye, bumped sexily by the action of his long eyelashes. Vibrant blue eyes stared at her with question, bright like azure diamonds. “Hi, Em,” he said, his voice seeming to touch the deeper, buried parts of her soul.

“I don’t think we know each other,” Emma ventured, drawing her shoulders back and looking sideways at possible escape routes. To her irritation, the blonde man threw his head back and laughed.

“I think I know you better than you know yourself.” He smiled but the expression failed to reach his eyes.

“I need to go!” Emma stated firmly and stepped sideways, desperately looking for help. Frederik and a disgraced Jay were busily settling a shaken Susan on an armchair in a seating area. Susan wagged her finger at the wilful dog who looked around the room and purposely ignored her.

Emma took another step sideways and the blonde man blocked her. “If you want to dance, we need to be over there.” He pointed at the dance floor. Foolishly Emma looked and while she was distracted, he seized her wrist in a vice-like grip and led her to the throng of gyrating couples. Emma groaned as the music dropped to a slow dance and the man smiled, settling his hands either side of Emma’s neat waist. He fixed his penetrating blue eyes on her face and pulled her in close. Emma stood in front of him like a log and he sighed and grasped one of her hands in each of his, placing them carefully around his neck.

“Just like old times.” He smiled. “So, how have you been?” His voice was raised against the music, his mouth very close to her ear and Emma closed her eyes against the rising flood of emotions which fought for dominance in her heart.

“Good,” she lied. “Lovely to see you, Rohan, but I really should be going.”

“Stay.” He fingered a lock of her hair, watching in fascination as it wound round and round his finger and then plummeted down her back. He selected another one and repeated the exercise. Emma whipped her head from side to side, trying to locate her son. She didn’t have to search far. He sat on a chair next to the deserted buffet table with a half-eaten mountain on his plate. He looked sick. Fantastic. A three hour drive with a vomiting child.

“I really need to go.” Emma withdrew her hands from around the man’s neck and turned her body to block the amazing sensation of his groin so close to hers.

“Ok.” He sounded sad and resigned and Emma’s breath caught in her chest. He gave her a tiny smile, revealing the dent from a scar above his lip and another under his eye. Emma’s brown eyes made the mistake of straying from his brilliant blue ones, to his full lips and back again. His smirk was instant. He caught her up in one easy movement and put his hand at the back of Emma’s neck. His lips on hers were gentle and paralysing. Emma opened her mouth and his tongue slid in like it was only yesterday, , familiar and dangerous. She reached up and put her arms either side of his chest, feeling the rippling muscles under her hand. He felt taller, stronger, older and definitely different. But then so was she. With a huge act of will, Emma broke the connection, inhaling sharply as she put the back of her hand to lips swollen by the familiar kiss.

“Em!” she heard him shout at she fled the dance floor. She gripped her son by his wrist and ran for the toilets, remembering another exit at the end of that corridor.

“Night, miss,” the doorman said and she nodded in acknowledgement and ran, dragging the small boy after her.

“Mum!” the child complained. “Don’t bounce me. I’m gonna puke!”

“I’ve got a bag,” Emma insisted, hurling her stiletto shoes onto the back seat of the car. “Get in the front and you won’t feel so bad. I’ll put the cold air on.”

“But my booster seat’s in the back!” he grumbled and Emma uncharacteristically snapped.

“As soon as we get away from here, I’ll pull over and sort everything out,” she promised. “Please, Nicky, just do as I ask.”

“Ok then!” he complained. “But if a policeman tells you off, it’s coming out of your pocket money, not mine! I was havin’ fun talking to Harley Man before you ruined it!”

“Nicky!” Emma exclaimed, panic making her cruel. “Harley Man isn’t real! He’s just a character you’ve seen in a comic or on TV. He can’t talk to you.”

“He can, Mum. My friends have seen ‘im. He stops and talks to me back home and he was here tonight!”

“Ok, Nick, ok.” Emma fumbled with the car key and ignition in the darkness, banishing talk of her son’s imaginary friend to the back of her mind as she dealt with the more immediate issue of escape. She started the engine on the rented saloon car and spun the wheels. The lights glared on at the last minute as she sped by the front doors of the hotel, blinding the doorman. The handsome blonde Russian emerged from the doors at a run, his suit jacket hanging open and his tie flapping in the breeze. His face was ashen and distraught.

“That’s your friend what you was kissin’,” Nicky informed his mother as they careened past. “Harley Man saw him kissin’ ya and he said, ‘Uh oh, that’s not gonna end well.’ Funny hey?” The child lifted his tiny hand and waved at the blonde man, who stopped and gaped. His face was a mask of agony at the sight of the small carbon copy of himself on the front seat. 

Bile leaped into Emma’s throat as she navigated the minor roads until the motorway, feeling sicker than she thought possible. Her hands shook on the steering wheel and she gripped it until her knuckles shone white against the lights of oncoming cars. Emma glanced sideways at her small son, hoping he didn’t notice her anxiety. “There he is!” Nicky squealed and dipped forward in his seat, craning his neck to look in the side mirror. Emma swerved and swore.

“Don’t do that!”

“But he’s behind us, Mummy, look.”

“Who is, Nicky, who?” Please, not Rohan?

“Harley Man! Who else?”Emma peered in the rear view mirror at the motorcyclist two vehicles behind. He kept a steady pace, his visor blocking out any facial features. He stayed where he was, keeping a neat line in the centre of his lane, unconcerned with passing either vehicle. Emma kept an eye on him, cursing herself for buying into Nicky’s overactive imaginary world, but then the bike took off at the next roundabout, taking the outside lane and moving off ahead. Nicky sat back in his seat looking disappointed. “You scared ‘im off! Coz you kept starin’. It’s rude to stare!”

Emma sighed as her petulant son sulked in the oversize seatbelt next to her. Thoughts of the blonde man overrode any feelings about Nicky’s grumpy mood and she battled with images of his soft hands caressing her skin. Stifling an involuntary sob, Emma pressed her fingers either side of the bridge of her nose and Nicky was instantly contrite. “Sorry, Mummy. I’m sorry. S’not your fault. Harley Man will come back, he always does.”

“Yeah, he certainly seems to.” Emma kept the sarcasm out of her voice as she fought the inner tide of misery, focussing on the road and grateful for the tiny hand which stretched over and gently rubbed her thigh.

At the first service station they stopped and used the bathrooms. “I can go in the big boy ones,” Nicky insisted, veering off towards the men’s toilets.

“Er, I don’t think so, buddy!” Emma grabbed the back of his shirt and pushed him towards the door adorned with a female silhouette. 

Nicky turned to face the door while Emma used the facilities, disgusted with his demotion to child status. “It’s oomiliatin’,” he complained.

“It’s life!” Emma retorted. “Did you really think I was gonna let you go into a gents’ toilets in the back end of nowhere in a service station, with every nomad weirdo passing through?”

“I can take care of myself,” Nicky said, his voice filled with touching sincerity. “When Big Jason jumped me last week, I kicked him in the jewels.” He turned around as Emma flushed, his blue eyes alight with victory.

Emma righted her dress and looked down on her son. “Big Jason is a forty year old midget!” she said. “I could defend myself against him!”

“He’s not a midget!” Nicky insisted with indignation. “He’s just got delicate bones.”

Emma bought Nicky a bottle of mineral water to help him look a little less green around the gills, although much of his sickness had passed. She topped up the car with petrol and prayed it would still look full when she dropped it off at the rental place. More excitement ensued at the counter, as Nicky spotted a leather clad motorcyclist in the other queue. He smiled and waved and Emma looked away, embarrassed. 

The male had a neat physique and looked as though he was poured into his protective leather gear. He stood at the till with his legs slightly splayed and Emma found herself staring at the outline of his pert backside. He kept his helmet on but the visor raised and Emma looked guiltily away as he turned. 

“See ya later,” Nicky intoned with a beautiful smile and a wave.

Emma cringed, ignoring the tugging on her skirt from the small boy. “He ruffled my hair,” Nicky said confidentially and Emma smiled and nodded, her mortification complete. Her son’s fixation with Harley Man was bordering on the need for a psychologist, not that his underfunded, forgotten primary school had access to such professionals.

Emma fixed Nicky’s booster seat into the front of the vehicle, settled him in and left, heading south to Lincoln and the government owned house on the notorious Greyfriars Estate.

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Saturday, 23 May 2015

Teenagers and the Career Minefield

I woke up at 4.15 this morning having worked through a very strange dream. I was trying to give careers advice to a young man who plainly didn’t want it. He’s probably about 22 now and in the cold light of day, I have no idea what he might be doing, but in my dream it was his mother who wanted me to talk to him.

In my dream, the conversation went something like this;

“Are you working, Tom?”
“Do you have a car of your own?”
“Do you like your job?”
“Na. Hate it.”

And dream-me thought, what’s the problem?
Dream-me said to his mother, “He’s perfectly fine.”

As far as I could see, the major booby wasn’t that he hated his job, because presumably he still kept going there every day to fund his car. No, the major booby would be that he still lived at home. But apart from that, in the walls of my dream, he really was fine.

This dream is still reverberating around my brain hours later.

Because it’s just not me. 
The real me wouldn't think he was fine at all!

I worked in a Careers Department of a college for enough years to know what’s available to young people when they spew out of the education system and nowadays it’s heaps more than I was offered. For me in 1980’s England I  worked hard at school, enjoyed the slog of study and was the first in my family to go to university. But my path was dictated by the fact I didn’t actually know what I wanted out of life, just that I loved writing and fancied the idea of doing that for three more years.

So I did.

My university choice was a literal lottery. At school we were given half an hour in the careers department, which was a freezing cold caravan propped up on bricks. I went in with a good friend who had a cast iron plan and while she picked her science degree, I bit my lip and looked out of the window. We weren’t allowed to remove the brochures, there was no internet and universities hadn’t gone so far as to advertise on TV. Five minutes from the end, my friend poked me.

My life choices became smash and grab.

I knew I wanted to read English and had to pick four universities for the clearing form. So here goes;


Yep. I’m ashamed. My life path was dictated by the old favourite - alphabetical order.

I accepted the first unconditional offer after visiting Mid-Wales on a cold, wet, blustery August day. We drove five hours to get there and five hours home. I loved it. After seeing it, I wanted to be nowhere else on the planet. Aberystwyth it was.

I finished my degree and screeched to a halt.
What now?
I was back there in Indecision Town again, only this time there was no caravan.

I applied for jobs and lurched into the next thing.
For the next two decades I fell from one thing to another. Only one of them was ever a career choice and that was the first one, BC, Before Children.

I was forty-two when I started working as an archivist and forty-three when I started publishing my novels.

Now I’m doing what I love.

Bringing up my own children, I made several mistakes in helping them with their career choices.

1. I pushed them to find something.

What’s wrong with that? Well I didn’t find my thing until I was much older, so what made me think they would be any different? Yes, I wanted them to avoid the trials of cleaning jobs, waitressing jobs and other things I got trapped into by necessity. I didn’t insist they become doctors, lawyers or teachers but I wanted them to make a plan and stick to it. Not like me. 

I marched them around careers events and expos from a very young age, my mantra, the thing of horror movies.

“Don’t come out until you’ve picked a career!”

As adults they still do impressions of me, during which I am not laughing.

2. I thought anything was better than the Terrifying-Nothing.

The Terrifying-Nothing is the teenager who sits at home and plays play station all day with no idea where he or she wants to be in twenty years’ time. They have a go at several different things but finish nothing. They have no interest in doing much, other than sleeping lots, eating lots and disappearing out with friends. The problem is that none of my children were this person. My husband is completely hyperactive and has passed that on to his offspring. None of them can sit for longer than a few hours without rattling, so why did I ever think this would be them? Growing up, we didn’t fund them; we couldn’t afford it. Pocket money would be instead of feeding them. So, they mowed lawns, made coffee, waited tables or cleaned other people’s houses.

The Terrifying-Nothing was a stupid fear. It would never be my reality.

3. 18 is no age to be choosing a future.

At 18, I was still trying to pluck up the courage to go to town on the bus. New things have always sent me into a spin. Yet it’s the very age at which we expect our children to make incredibly hard life choices and stick to them. It worked out ok for me, but that was luck and the divine hand of God, who surely must have switched Aberystwyth with Aberdeen that day. Some sloppy kid put the brochures back out of order and I fell for it. 

In the New Zealand education system, subject choices begin narrowing at 16, when lessons get harder and students can’t take as many. By the last year of school, they’re already locked into a narrow path and half of them don’t realise it. They took all the arts subjects from Year 11 because they were easier, but now they want to be a vet. Ain’t gonna happen, sorry. Well, not without a lot of bridging courses and blood, sweat and tears, while the other candidates swan past clutching the right subjects. It can happen, but it’s harder.

4. U-turns are fine.

My life is full of U-turns, but at the time, I saw them as jobs and salaries and ways to contribute to the groaning financial requirements of four children and a husband, who provides without complaint and always has. I’ve worked in law enforcement, call centres, cleaned toilets, been an out-of-hours answering service for a local council, waited on tables, poured pints, cared for children with disabilities, taught special needs children English, dished out careers booklets and played with old photos. And written and published novels. I’ve been hungry, but I haven’t completely starved yet. It could come. I’m a realist.

Perhaps my problem was in NOT wanting my children to be like me. I wish I’d found my mojo at 18, then I could have spent the last 27 years doing that and completely skipped something else (please God expunge the call centre horror from my life.) But those experiences are all valid. They must be because I write about them in my novels. I am them and they are now me.

I went to a talk by an emerging leader, who I remembered being 18 and scared of the future. I pushed a university brochure into his hands back then and he seized it with white knuckles and graduated 3 years later. By the time I met him, he was off to Africa, had dumped the degree he managed to finish and thumbed his nose at the numerous job offers. He was doing a U-turn. And terrified all over again.

I was horrified. I could hardly sit in my seat. What a waste of tuition fees, loans, study and heartache. What would he do? Where would he go? How would he pay for it?

I just Googled him. Phew! He’s fine. He’s doing exciting stuff and I’ll follow him on Twitter along with the millions of others because he’s actually very interesting. He doesn’t look starving but if I notice him get thin, I could send him anonymous care packages to assuage my guilt for his wrong career choices.

5. It’s not about me.

It’s about them. Honestly.

If there’s a fear of them hanging around your home indefinitely, living off the fat of your land, then make it clear it ain’t gonna happen. Only sick people stay in bed in my house all day and perhaps it’s time to go flatting. My sister and I were out by 18, living independently of my parents and I’m a firm believer that they shouldn’t still be hanging around my house on a permanent basis much after that. We don’t do them any favours thinking food is free and the clothes fairy is real. We just set them up for failure later. Now my children are gone, I love sending parcels filled with goodies, the odd bank transfer and listening to their news. They’re beautiful and independent and I’m proud of them. Sometimes they don’t really start their journey until they’re out from under our authority. It’s a big scary world out there, but it’s much scarier through the window.

Sometimes we keep them stuck without meaning to, through expectation,  fear and kindness.

So the upshot of my dream was that the woman’s son was fine. He needed to get out of her house, but he would find his mojo and ride off into the sunset. He would do U-turns but hopefully nobody would die. He would cause her sleepless nights and one day make her proud. It was a valuable insight for me, the eternal planner, perpetual worrier and anticipator of dreadful things.

If they get to old age having supported their families, done a good day’s work and paid their way, what more can we ask? If they had their aha moment and found their mojo at least once in their lifetime, hallelujah! 

If they're still hanging around you, draining your resources, filling your stomach with that uncomfortable sense of foreboding and pushing their twentieth birthday, then perhaps you're the problem. I know it's harsh, but so is life out in the big wide world. One day the clothes fairy will have arthritis and the food fairy will be on a pension. Drive and ambition do come from necessity after all.  Get them out there, making their mistakes and doing their U-turns. Applaud from the sidelines and remember, they'll be fine.

#lifechoices #teens #career

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Slaves to the Social Media page - the anonymous workforce

I run a few social media pages. I have my own Facebook page and media relating to my author role. For that, I have a Facebook page, a Twitter name and a Google+ page. In addition to those, I also act as the admin on another Facebook page relating to my paid job. That’s quite a bit of posting, commenting, monitoring and deleting on a weekly basis.

For a long while, I was the only administrator on my work page and the role was not valued in the slightest. I was asked to claim the page already created by Facebook, to prevent anyone else having inappropriate fun with it, but after a couple of years nobody seemed to remember that ‘urgent’ meeting or the name of that poor admin woman who came out with all the minuted action points.

I set up the page, added the photos and started communicating with the unknown people ‘out there’, giving them the kind of chat and banter I hoped they’d like. Thousands and thousands of ‘likes’ later and I’m still doing it - yeah, temporarily.

“Who the hell runs the Facebook page?” my boss will periodically yell, hearing some rumour about links to strip clubs or posts begging for money. He doesn’t have Facebook, doesn’t understand it and doesn’t want to; so people enjoy winding him up about what may or may not be on it. When he turns up at my office door periodically, we have the same conversation. “Do you run our Facebook page?”

“Yep, for the last four years.”

“Well, I was told there was this post about blah blah blah...”

“No, absolutely not. Who told you?”

“I don’t know. It’s just there.”

“Well, it isn’t. Would you like me to log on now so you can check? It might run a little slow as our internet is crap and I run it from home.”

“No, no. I don’t need to see. Just get it off.”

Then there’s the occasion when someone actually wants to post. Employees run around like headless chickens, pecking at the ground and searching for the unlucky worm who runs Facebook. When they find the poor hapless individual who scratched their head at the wrong moment and got landed with it, they rap out their orders. They want this thing posted and they want it now.

“What do you mean you’ll do it later from home? It’s your job isn’t it?”

Well actually, no it isn’t. It began as a favour and now it’s a damn great, time consuming nightmare. I spend snippets of my precious family time thinking of jolly things to post. I’ve had to get out of the bath before now as the notifications on my phone made it almost jump in there with me. That was an interesting evening of wiping death threats out of the ‘comments’ section of a photograph by some moron who couldn’t even spell the name of the gang he alleged was ‘coming to get us.’ Messages pop up day and night, demanding an answer immediately for something they forgot to check during business hours. I’m faceless, so they can abuse and threaten me, because it doesn’t count. I flick their urgent messages on to colleagues and try to rally the troops. Unfortunately they aren’t as vested in it as I am at midnight on a Saturday and don’t respond. Who gets yelled at in capital letters with an abundance of top line characters?


Social media is awesome and terrible. It’s awesome as a marketing tool and terrible for the person managing it.

I’ve overheard conversations at work in which someone higher up will beam at a client and say, “Oh yes. We’ve got a Facebook page.”

I can’t help listening in while the client admits to having ‘liked’ the page and comments on some random photo I put up there of a kitten wearing a tutu. They’re greeted by a blank look and then the resounding cry. “Who the hell runs that?”

I’ve run the page with the help of other admins once or twice. That’s ‘help’ in the loosest of terms. They change the cover photo and add a few posts and then go back to sleep. But in the staffroom they’re the leading authority on our Facebook page and what’s worse, when the message button shows red with some urgent enquiry, they can’t resist peeking. Obviously they don’t answer the messages. I mean come on! That would involve work out of hours and they might have to email or ring someone. The trouble is, the flashing red light goes out once they’ve peeked and I don’t see it either. So it doesn’t get answered and nor does the complaint or the one after. It’s me who cops the full brunt of the misery when I stumble over their next red flashing message icon and they’re thanking me for being useless.

Everyone wants to have social media attached to their business, but very few are willing to put their hand in their pocket to reward those poor suckers who actually provide the public face of their company. Surely that’s stupid with a capital ‘S’ as in STOOPID!

When every other aspect of their business is probably logged and audited, every role is catalogued and documented, they rely on a tired volunteer to present their professional face to the world.

I don’t always post kittens and I actually love the establishment I work for. I wouldn’t do anything to bring it into disrepute and for a while at least, will continue to point panic stricken patrons in the right direction at nine o’clock on a Friday night through Facebook messenger. That’s just the kinda girl I am.

But next time you message a page or post a comment, spare a thought for the person on the other end. Chances are, they won’t get paid for being there for you; they won’t receive any thanks from their employer/ organisation/ club or charity. Most people won’t even know their name.

We are the anonymous workforce.
What will the business world do when we no longer like our job title?

And we quit without notice. Possibly after posting something a little rude...