John Weak's Diary: Weak at the top

John Weak came to the notice of wary MT readers in April 1999 - and set the cause of decent behaviour back 40 years.

Last Updated: 06 Nov 2012

Our cave manager gave a sublimely biased account of his exploits as marketing director at Smokehouse plc until his last appearance in Feb 2004, when he discovered that the new chairman was a teetotal, born-again Christian who didn't believe in lunch - and was a woman, to boot. In a 'charm' offensive, he took her to a restaurant, drank too much and tried to grope her. She fired him. What happened to him next? Weak makes a surprise comeback for our anniversary issue ...


Since leaving Smokehouse, I've applied for more jobs than the entire Polish nation. My interview line is that I'm the business equivalent of Viagra, giving immediate uplift in all the areas that matter. HR girlies react to this as if a horse was trying to mount them, so it may be slightly counterproductive. I got to the point where I found myself looking at jobs in places where Rugby League still hasn't been eradicated. The low point was going for a job marketing prosthetic limbs. I said I'd give an arm and a leg for the role and was immediately shown out by security (strange limp - could have been lifting the stock).


Over breakfast in my no-star hotel - the bacon had more fat than a public-sector pension - I chatted to this Finnish guy. He said that the Finns were interested in only two things, fishing and f***ing. I liked the sound of that and when he told me the lake freezes over in September, I was mentally filing my application. I got online (you have to leave the North East to do that - they think networking is what you do in trawlers) and found myself a perfect job: marketing director of a vodka firm based in a little town on the Arctic Circle. I thought vodka, I thought women and I thought fur-farming.


I put together the perfect CV, writing the direct opposite of everything I've done, thought or felt: I loved working in teams, I was hugely self-motivated, and paying attention to detail was a constant source of pleasure for me. I told them I was a founder member of the Anglo-Finnish Friendship (in a non-sexual, nurturing manner) Society and was a big fan of Nokia.

They said I should join them in their annual team-building camp in the Arctic Circle. I packed my thick socks, half a ton of rubber-wear and some cigars for central heating.


I connected in Helsinki and flew north to Lapland, where my new team-mates were simulating Eskimo life. It took me eight hours to walk to our hut and four hours for them to stop laughing that I didn't have skis.

Turns out Eskimos have nine words for snow and about 60 for 'English prat'.

I thought their way of showing hospitality was to give you a woman for your sleeping bag. Instead, the special honour was to eat the still bleeding liver of a reindeer. When you've been to the rugby club dinners I have, this was a bit of light relief. They said we should drink till it got dark (in six months' time). Rock on.


Back in the office I was introduced to my team. They were all six-foot blondes with smiles that turned the sheets down and put a chocolate on your pillow. My first job was to photocopy the sexual equality policy.

I tried to get one of the uberbabes to do it, but it turned out that every one of them was senior to me. Eventually, I asked what my job title was.

It seems that marketing director in Finnish is very similar to photocopier.

I went to the product store for a little motivational sampling and a think. I suddenly seemed to be Weak at the bottom, but when all you've got above you is six-foot blondes, working your way up isn't going to be a problem. Cheers!

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