A few hours ago I made a slight error of judgement and timing. It almost meant being dragged into a factory car park by a hundred men wearing little more than my underpants.
To clarify, I was the one wearing little more than my underpants, they were not being shared by a hundred men. Who do you think I am, the Labour MP for the constituency up the road?
I thought it a damn fine idea to put a "read more" in just there. And I cannot wait to see what CC does in the way of images to go with this post!!
So what the hell was I up to? Well, all I did was overstay the time I planned to spend eating my lunch. I don't know why, I just did. And worse still, I took a leisurely stroll rather than a brisk walk to the area allocated to divest myself of the protective clothing I have to wear each day and change into my own gear to come home for the day.
And so it was that I was perhaps five, perhaps ten minutes later than I normally would be performing this daily ritual. Ten minutes later than I normally would be on a Friday lunchtime. Slap bang in the middle of a factory that works a 4.5 day shift so as to have time, should the need arise, to work the final half day when production demands it.
Above my head as I removed my protective boots, four little chimes - like you hear on an aircraft telling the stewardess to arm the door chutes - went off.
And thirty seconds later bedlam broke out.
You see, earlier that day, when my own shift had clocked off for the day, instead of going home straight off I decided I'd have the fish and chips on offer in the company canteen. And because my time was my own, I took my time eating it. And then I took my time wandering off to change because after all it was now my time to waste
So there I was standing pretty much alone in a changing room the size of a football pitch in which some 3,000 odd lockers are fitted back to back with about the same amount of room between them as the seamen on HMS Victory got to sleep in.
I heard the hubbub before it hit. But there was nothing I could do. It was too late.
I JUST managed to get my trousers on before "day shift 2" - which clocked off at the fourth of those chimes - "arrived". The best part of a thousand souls, all intent on just one goal. Getting out of the same protective gear as I had to wear, getting their own clothes on, and getting off home for the weekend after a hard, but satisfying week's work. And I'm standing between a hundred of them and the door leading to that weekend.
I'm so pleased my games master all those years ago gave you "two minutes to change into your kit and get your ass onto the rugby pitch or face the cane".
As I joined the throng to exit the factory gates walk across the car park (properly attired!!), get into my battle bus, fire up the (diesel) engine and point its nose homeward, a thought struck me.
I bet there cannot be more than a hundred thousand people in this country right now who know anything about the inside of a factory, the routine, the conditions, the heat, the sweat, the work, being "on the line".
Because I tell you now, there was an atmosphere in that changing room. Well with close to a thousand hot sweaty bodies all clocking off there was going to be; -(
But I mean something else. You can't see it, feel it, touch it or smell it. There's something THERE when a factory shift clocks off after a hard day's - or as it was in this case, a hard week's work making stuff.
It's a shame that thanks to the actions of the last three, no four, five or maybe even six governments the number of people in this country who know what I am talking about gets fewer and fewer each year.
Because these days all we're good for is manning call centres and selling stuff other people made.
Enjoy the weekend, people. I damn well will, but then I have to be up at 5:30 Monday and firing up that diesel engine soon after to go back for another week of it. But I know I'm the lucky one.