In the Shards of Night

The Situational Test

You will work in a fast-paced, challenging environment. The following set of tasks is designed to test your suitability for the role you are applying for and represents such a kind of situation as you will find yourself facing on a number of occasions every day. Be yourself. Respond intuitively. Select the kind of action which is, firstly, most appropriate and, secondly, least appropriate to the situation. Do not be nervous. Your time is not being measured, but be aware that the average time taken to answer all 30 questions is 30 minutes.

Question 21/30: You are working a busy afternoon shift. Each member of your team is busy doing their individual task. You have hauled a cage full of tiny oddments onto the shop floor, and it is clearly obstructing the aisle. You know that you must process this stock before 16:53:27 and there is approximately one quarter of an hour left but you are not allowed to wear a watch or phone for your own protection. A customer asks you where to find houmous, but in the corner of the eye you spot a suspicious pair perusing the coffee range. Their hands are in their pockets, and you are sure they are spies working for a rival retailer waiting for their opportunity to take a picture of our range. Customers have now clogged up the aisle, and you know the only way to release them and facilitate great customer service beyond the dairy department is to remove the obstructing cage. The customer wishing to buy houmous is beginning to get agitated. But then you hear a sound of shattering glass from the neighbouring aisle. You spot the spillage on the floor running in all directions like scarlet, sticky rivulets inviting customers to slip. The cage is obstructing the aisle. Customers are bumping into one another, knocking over stacks around them and one has almost reached the spillage. The customer wanting houmous is turning puce. The spillage has trickled into the neighbouring aisles now. The spies are looking more and more suspect. You have a deadline to finish your task.

a) Ask a colleague to help you brainstorm some ideas.
b) Find the shift-runner. Inform them about the development. Ask for advice.
c) Use your initiative and common sense to assess the gravity of the circumstances. Then prioritise on the basis of facts rather than a stupid fucking drama.
d) Crack on with the job and tell Molly all about it in the pub after the shift.

In the following task, you are asked to choose from a set of attributes a quality that describes you best and another that you believe applies to you least. Feel no pressure. Be intuitive. Be instinctive. You have as much time as you need, but do bear in mind that the average time taken to complete all 20 sets is 20 minutes.

Set 5/20: Choose what applies to you most and what applies to you least.
a) I am a dependable person.
b) I am a reliable person.
c) I am a diligent person.
d) I am a trustworthy person.

Set 17/20: Choose what applies to you most and what applies to you least.
a) I am a team-player.
b) I work with others.
c) I think of myself as part of a team.
d) I believe in working with people.

A Heart Surgeon

In a dalliance of two houses of learning
most unlike the human palette of suburbias,
hives of shades & underclasses on the breadline,

she stabbed him in the leg – literally;
she stabbed him in the heart – metaphorically.

Now she aspires to act in the theatre,
cutting into more sick people’s hearts…

More from the News Archive


A soup can has exploded on a bus.

The tin filled with malodorous liquid burst open on the top deck of a stationary bus at B—- station at 12:34 today. There have been no casualtues so far.

The liquid appears to be thick and viscous and has chunk floating in it. It is believed to be harmless, albeit nauseating.

The 1—- bus from  M—- to R—- was motionless at the bus stop when an attempt to access the contents of the container ended in the contents escaping with a pop. It splattered all over the young lady holding the can and the window shield of the bus.

The lady has been offered a packet of tissues by a co-commuter.

Our reporter is on site and more may follow.

From the News Archive


A man man is singing in G—- while being restrained by the police.

A gentleman, apparently of no fixed abode, is being pinned down on the pavement by five law enforcement officers wearing forensic blue gloves.

The gentleman, being thus immobilised and handcuffed, is singing the following lines in a catchy melody: “Fuckin’ pig/fuckin’ pig/fucking pig/fuckin’ pig!”

The situation is developing.

Occasional Transpositions

Writers ought, perhaps, to leave the protective cosiness of their homes and socialise every now and again, see other people so as to have more to draw on than their solipsistic selves; they may want to see a touch more of the tangible world beyond their doorsteps and escape the bubble of the hyperbolised world constructed by the media.

An event far down south drew me all the way from far up north the other day, one of the scarce outings I have done this year and the first one out of the pseudo-middle-class bubble I have found myself ensconced in. Having come too early to loiter in a pub without the intent to put down any brain cells with a sugar-laden beverage, I took a stroll around Deptford and explored with a lay sociologist’s eye the setting of Kate Tempest’s brilliantly disheartening novel, The Bricks that Built the Houses. I may have resided in places more or less grim, but as yet I have not lived in a place where the local high street has five betting shops huddling together next to their handy cousin, the pawnbroker’s.

It may be trite for a person who feels out of place everywhere to note how incongruous I felt in that street and how alienating the feeling was; but that was the effect of the place on me: a place left behind by the mainstream, local traders’ personal businesses in place of coffee factories; graffiti, tags, garbage, the otherness of the place’s commercial composition, the seedy, the beautiful and the beautifully seedy  were all inevitably interpreted in terms of deprivation. It engendered in me a sentiment of pretence and dissembled dissonance, perceived, churning and solidified in my oeasophagus, trachea, self-consciousness.

In my search for security, I recently dismissed the notion of displacement and moved into another borough in the north of the city. The move involved dealing with agencies bent on stripping and ripping off until the tenant has realised they have just signed a contract in blood and bony hand, their accounts have sunk into figures of an identically sanguine hue and their wrists have been tied tight behind their spineless back by an property investor living in a prosperous Far Far Away. The decision drove me into a flat in a dead-end road so secluded and soundless it cannot be overheard over the peace of the graveyard across the alley darker than the estate agent’s goodwill, a road whose rate of burglary stands at 80% higher than the average and whose disquieting quiet allows for no rest. It is a working-class dwelling at a middle-class price with two people in it trying to feel the security they’re renting while being too aware of its dearth. People of Deptford, at least, do not seek the illusion of stability, the faux-respectability and branded seal of approval in a life-style far beyond its worth. They live the reality with all its dreams, the realised, the unrealised and the abyssally bleak.

Autumnal Burnt Oak, 6am

I walked the length of the road from up at the junction to the station down the hill where the road caves in before rising again. The morning was inebriated with winter-crisp street lights refracting in a thin fog hovering between the two baleful rows of rundown terrace houses, & the shuttered store-fronts & rubbish strewn on the pavement & tarmac evoked a curfew in a B-list zombie flick. All were fled; the dross, debris, detritus – the evidence of a hasty flight – sat cold in a dewy coat, & the road was dead except for the languid motion of the apparently living. The dawn workforce was not plodding to work but rather prowling the pavements, straying, occasionally, off onto the litter-spotted ground beyond the kerb as if foraging for scraps like dawn-clad foxes sniffing the spoor of leaky refuse bags. Disorientated & displaced, I trailed a silent couple that broke its way through the haze of stagnant particles, following a purpose. […] This Burnt Oak was a postcard of the rare charm of the baited working-class posing against weary, dilapidated urbanity.

I mean that very sincerely.

Remember the good old days when you could grab a woman by her pussy? Ah remember when Ah came back from Vietnam; Ah grabbed the first pussy Ah saw by the fluff, and told it, Ah know you’re burning’ for that mah father thing like a napalm carpet!

Then Ah sat down my gran’son some time back and said, Son, we need to have a tawk. Like a grown-men tawk between a granpa and a gran’son.

Have ya, Son, Ah said, ever grabbed a pussy yet? Ah remember when Ah grabbed mah first pussy. But, Son, ya gotta use these con-domms, right? Otherwise ya’ll get yaself into tremendous trouble when ya grab a pussy bare, without one of these con-domms. Things start poppin’ out then, understand? There’s no end to it once it starts. Ya gotta be careful, Son, ’cause ya ain’t ever seen nothin’ like it in your life yet. It’s tremendously nasty then, so ya gotta be careful. 

But, Son, make sure it says yes once you grab it by the pussy. Because, Son, if it says yes, it’s OK. If it says no… Well, that’s when you’re sure it really, really means yes; it really wants it, then. But it never hurts to ask, Son. After all, Son, we ain’t no Mexicans, are we…