"This is the book of life I should have read before leaving university in London.
It's got it all.
Sex, sex tourism, drugs, alcohol, alcoholism, prostitution & suicide.
In my search for sex and sobriety I travel from London to Amsterdam; to San Francisco, California; to Bangkok & Pattaya in Thailand and to Manila, Angeles City & Subic Bay in the Philippines.
Don't end up a loser like me.
Read this book."
- Paul Pisces
Chapter 9: Brothel Diversions
After 5 years working on the P6000, I am getting a bit bored and I am casting about looking for a new job using Unix.
After I lost my driving licence, I bought a house on the Fernlea estate off of Bergholt Road so that I could walk to work. I got the license back after a year but now that I live in town, I can party and then get a taxi home. No more drink/driving. At least that’s the theory.
One day my current boss, who is a great guy called Joe, calls me into his office and says he’s heard that I might be looking for a new challenge. He explains that there is another range of Philips’ computers called the P7000 and the support team in Marlow (West London) is being restructured. There is an opening for a new UK support person to help with the migration to Unix. It would mean a company car, mobile phone plus training, more responsibility and independence.
"How do you fancy it?" Joe asks.
"Company car? Where do I sign?" I reply.
Restructuring. Fucking restructuring. If you ever hear these words run a fucking mile. I get my company car and drive the two and a half hours around the M25 motorway to Marlow to meet the guy who’ll show me the ropes on the P7000 range of computers. His name is Graham and he’s a salesman (or account executive) but he used to be a trainer so he’s a bit more technical than your average salesman.
"Are you any good?" he asks after we have introduced ourselves.
"Yes I think so; I am one of the best technical specialists at Elektra House."
"Well I hope so because they’ve sacked everyone technical at this office except me. That means it’s you and me to look after over 100 customers all over the UK."
"Why did they sack everyone?" I ask.
"Some sort of office politics. The bosses here and at Elektra couldn’t get on so Elektra booted the Marlow guys out."
Joe hadn’t told me about this.
"Got a company car?" Graham asks.
"Good, you'll need it - it's gonna be fucking chaos."
I spend a week with Graham at Marlow. I read everything - technical reports, bug fixes, known patches, manuals. Fortunately the documentation is good and the development systems have been well maintained. This is (was) a good team they have fired - I am impressed but also very worried.
It is virtually impossible to take on a completely new mini computer system when you have an installed user base of 100 customers and zero training. Graham is good and I work very, very hard. The hardware guys supporting this system are also excellent. Maybe, just maybe, this impossible job can be made to work.
Finally I get a weeks training in Apeldoorn, Holland where the European support centre for Philips is based. This helps a lot and now at least I can get telephone support from a bunch of Dutch guys who know this system inside out.
The weeks turn to months and years. I drive the length and breadth of the country meeting the customers, fixing problems and doing upgrades. I live in hotels, eat on expenses and drink heavily. Graham likes his beer too and we get on well together socially and with customers. He’s a big guy full of largesse and salesmanship. I am his technical wizard. He sells, I deliver. However, there is a problem. The migration of this proprietary system to the Unix environment is not going well. In fact what is supposed to be an automatic process just doesn’t work. Also the technology has moved on and Windows has appeared in the market as a serious competitor to small mini-computer systems.
At this time Graham and I are joined by another P7000 wizard who has been working at a big P7000 installation at a Philips’ factory in Blackburn. His name is Mike and he makes my drinking habits of the time look like small beer. Mike and I decide to go to Apeldoorn to get a complete briefing on the Unix migration problems and to see if we can help. We also intend to get very drunk and to get laid if at all possible - Mike has been reliably informed of the name of a brothel in the town and we’re going to try and find it.
We arrive at our Tulip Hotel in Apeldoorn late in the afternoon. Our meeting with the Dutch team is tomorrow morning. This gives us all night to explore the seamier side of life. Mike is older than me - late thirties probably but he is heavily-bearded and world weary looking so it is hard to tell his age. He is married with one small child but still likes to play the field if given the chance. After a shower, we meet in the hotel bar about six in the evening.
"Two large Southern Comforts, on the rocks," Mike tells the barman. It has become a tradition for Mike and I to begin a drinking session with large Southern Comforts.
Together with Graham, we support over 100 customers paying software license fees totaling nearly one million pounds a year. Hardware support is extra. There are only three of us, we cost virtually nothing and we are doing the job previously done by 7 or 8 people. We are a very profitable team and we can do pretty much as we like so long as our customers are happy. And after several years hard work by the three of us, our customers are happy - except with the Unix migration.
Several Southern Comforts later, Mike and I venture into town. We eat at a steak house and then visit a bar where we find Dutch girls are quite interested in a pair of outrageously intoxicated English computer experts with a ribald sense of polite conversation. We ask two girls where we can find our brothel. They giggle and ask us how much we are prepared to pay. Unfortunately we need a receipt (for expenses purposes) so we decline their suggestive offer and make our way to the taxi rank.
Life tip: If you are ever in a strange town and want to know where the brothels are - go to the taxi rank.
We hop in a taxi and Mike tells the driver the name of our brothel. In a few minutes we are delivered to a large, heavy wooden door with what looks like a peep hole facing the street. It’s a normal looking residential area. I ring the buzzer and, after a prolonged pause, the door is opened by an aging woman wearing a negligee who escorts us inside and asks us where we are from and how we are doing tonight. She ushers us into a large bar area on the ground floor of the house where there is a small stage and a few tables and chairs. Seated at one table is a man who is talking to and caressing a scantily clad girl. There are several bored looking girls sitting by the stage. Lets be totally honest about this; Mike and I are both drunk but years of drinking mean that we can function like this and appear relatively normal. We sit at the bar, order Southern Comforts and wonder what to do next. We glance over at the girls but it is quite dark and hard to tell which ones might be good looking at this distance.
We make small talk with our aging hostess who, on realising our inexperience in this process, prompts two of the girls to approach us. My one is pretty enough with dark hair and tanned skin but a bit plump. Mike’s is thinner, almost skinny, with slightly afro hair and bad teeth. He seems happy with her. We buy them drinks and negotiate a price. Mike hands over his credit card, which is kept behind the bar.
Upstairs my girl takes me into a bedroom, undresses me and then takes off her bra and panties. I ask her about her life - it is a sad story. She plays with my dick. Somehow she gets a condom on my flaccid weapon and begins sucking. My heart isn’t in it. I feel sad and empty. I feel sorry for her and stroke her gently. She gives up sucking.
After a while we go downstairs and I buy her another drink. Mike and his girl appear a short time later and we buy more drinks and order a taxi. When the taxi arrives, we pay our bill and get a receipt. ‘Diversions’ is apparently what we did upstairs. I think it’s Dutch for sundries. As we leave I think I see a copulating couple in the corner of the bar. A man is sitting in a chair with his trousers down while a girl, facing and astride him, bobs up and down. Maybe it’s a trick of the light. The door closes behind us and the world of sundries is over. Until the next time.
"Yeah - I fucked her good," Mike exclaims once we are safely in our taxi.
"Yeah me too. Fucking brilliant," I concur. Actually I have just realised that I am bursting for a piss but we’ll soon be at our hotel - I hope.
At the hotel I get my room key and hurry to the lift. Room 455; fourth floor, right? Wrong. I explore the entire floor and can’t find my room. I am very drunk and desperate to pee. I explore further but, overcome by a full bladder, and by now completely lost in the large hotel complex, I find myself unzipping my fly on some well-polished wooden backstairs and pissing down them in a never ending waterfall, which cascades onwards and downwards to I know not where.
I am later found wandering in a hotel kitchen by a night porter who escorts me to my room - number 455 on the second floor extension.
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