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Wednesday 23rd July 2003

Within about two hours of putting up the last entry Alex Ball emailed me to say he is willing to provide some "Relax Your Shoulders" merchandise. That's the power of the internet. A man comes up with a stupid idea at 2 o clock in the afternoon and by 4 that idea has been manufactured and is ready for sale.
Controversially Alex has chosen not to parody the original Frankie Says T-shirts (possibly because he is too young to remember them, or maybe because he's working to an existing template), so there's room for someone else to do it properly.
I am assuming no-one will buy them which is why I have given him my blessing for the moment even though I do not stand to make any money, but if you want to purchase a garment (or mouse-mat) with the words "Richard Herring says Relax Your Shoulders" on it then please visit

I was out for a drink with friends tonight and maybe (sorry mum) had a few more drinks than I had intended. We ended up in a pub in Soho. On our table someone had left a prospectus for a temp agency called Tate. I drunkenly read some of it out and made a girl on the next table laugh. I can't remember what I said, or imagine how I was able to be amusing, but it was going down quite well. Then her boyfriend came back from the toilet and he didn't find my temp agency prospectus based antics as amusing. He seemed unimpressed with my ability to amuse his girlfriend. The couple shortly left.
At kicking out time the barmaid was clearing up the tables near us, whilst the other bar staff asked us to leave. She looked at us sadly as she cleaned the tables, "What a job this is, hey" she said in a European accent, "This isn't what I thought I'd be doing."
It turned out she was from Poland and was studying to be a doctor. She was clearly a bit unhappy that she'd ended up working in a bar.
Unfortunately being a little drunk (in both senses) I decided it might cheer her up if I reprised my hilarious temp-agency-prospectus routine. I said something along the lines of, "Well if you're looking for a new job, why don't you give us a ring at Tate," and handed her the prospectus. In hindsight this was already a fairly insensitive and stupid thing to do and almost entirely devoid of humour.
What made it worse is that she was really pleased to be given this opportunity to escape a job she obviously despised.
It's all a bit hazy, but she started asking questions which I comically tried to answer (but unfortunately without any real comedic content, especially for a Polish person). She noticed the name of the firm and thought that it was something to do with the Tate gallery. "Oh this is perfect," she gushed, "because I love art. I would love to do something involving art."
I was torn between leaving (which we were being prompted to do by everyone else) without telling her the truth or having to burst her bubble and tell her I was messing about and that now I came to think of it I wasn't being very funny (where was the disapproving face of the first girl's boyfriend when you needed it).
My harmless joke had suddenly turned into quite a cruel trick that wouldn't be out of place in some hidden camera stunt in a porr quality late-night Channel 4 show. But I didn't even have the get out clause of "Look, there are the cameras." I was just a drunk man, giving false hope to an impoverished, foreign student and who was half thinking about leaving and letting whoever she talked on the phone to at Tate the next day to sort it out.
The decency that my parents have hammered into me against my will overcame my instincts to flee.
I ended up interrupting her and telling her that I'd just found the prospectus on the table and it was nothing to do with me or art.
She seemed to take it reasonably well, given that I had been such a dick and things were slightly repaired because one of my friends gave her a genuine number she could ring where she might get a more interesting job.

One of these days I will give up drinking.

But only when I have given up on living.

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