The Temp Pest

Rated 4.89/5 based on 9 reviews
The Temp Pest is the first e-book by Richard Batchelor, a comic, psychedelic, trip into the absurd, painful and strange world of temping, in which the 'hero' finds himself somewhat, shall we say, out of sync with his surroundings... More

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About Richard Batchelor

The Pelican School of Bird and Other Stories is Richard Batchelor’s second book and first work of fiction. His first book, The Temp Pest, a largely autobiographical half-comedy mostly set in warehouses and packing factories, is also available to download on Smashwords. Batchelor is also a musician and the front man in the longstanding rock and roll indie group, Ricky Spontane. The group have released three studio albums; Spontane Time, Hit the Town and Spontane 3, as well as a clutch of singles. A new EP, The Seeds of Doom, will hopefully be available to download by the time you’ve read this book. Batchelor has also released a solo album, Richard I.
Batchelor, who currently lives in Chartres, France, is a hypochondriac, a Fats Domino obsessive and a bungler. He is both imprisoned and liberated by his own imagination. It depends on the day. He can be contacted on:

Amendment May 2017. Though Morrissey is oft quoted and rightly so during my first book, any genius he had seems to have dissipated into idiocy and bigotry. It's a pity, but true. I have no time for the man these days.

Learn more about Richard Batchelor


(Work Is) An Extraordinary Waste of My Incredibly valuable time
A rock and roll song by Ricky Spontane written and oft performed live during the actual Temp-pesting, and recorded shortly afterwards, pondering on the possibility of a robot relieving the Temp Pest of his duties.

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Tim Kenny reviewed on on June 7, 2017

‘The trays of frozen bird limbs came thick and fast and there was absolutely no respite, variety, friendliness or hope whatsoever. The bloke opposite me was a psycho. He was staring me out, this fat, bespectacled Christopher Biggins doppelgänger. There was murder and hate in his eyes and there had been no greeting.’

Factory temping is a grim business, and an environment packed with monotonous tasks of varying technical competence coupled with suspicious (and sometimes malicious) colleagues no place for the impractical and painfully shy protagonist. In this debut novella, our Temp Pest does nothing to hide his many discomforts or ineptitudes as he reels from one random job to the next (sorting mail, packing fruit, ‘driving’ forklifts) in one random location after another (Liverpool, Manchester, Wales).

And the reader reels too! Batchelor wilfully distorts the linearity of Time in his presentation, and the manner in which we shift back and forth from one factory floor to another to be confronted with new tasks to master or return to former drudgeries thought left behind, deftly conveys the protagonist’s own disorientation and need to shift and adapt to his surrounds on his blundering quest for coin.

This could be a very dreary account of dreary labour and a story best left untold! Yet Batchelor makes it a success by bringing to it the same resources he used to cope and sometimes even enjoy himself: his imagination. In Batchelor’s work place, characters become ‘characters’. Drab realities are given a liberal splash of colour by the mind’s eye; his factories are inhabited by de Burghalan, Baldwoof, the Pink and Silver Vampire, we marvel with him at contraptions like the Snutzergrinder and wish we too could be a Mayonnaise Tub Collector and Stacker. Okay, perhaps not the last one.

Mishaps (of which there are many) are recalled with a wonderful combination of honesty and humour. Puns abound but so too do a wide sweep of references ranging from Greek mythology through renaissance literature into pop culture. It’s easy to be drawn along by this endearing and thoughtful bungler, to empathise with his pain and to be uplifted by his coping strategies; his reveries, his dice rolling under the desk, a quite brilliant football game played with names on envelopes…

Yes, it’s a book about temping but more so it’s a book about the creative spirit, and about how this particular individual summons his own very particular spirit to survive (despite the best efforts of a couple of psychotic antagonists). Batchelor does of course survive to tell his retrospective tale but in the telling, his creativity does more than that, it shines.

‘42 Van Cleef - c Malkovich b Ming the Merciless – 12’.
(reviewed 5 years after purchase)
fred batchelor reviewed on on May 28, 2017

After chancing upon this novel, courtesy of an email containing a link, urging me to read it, I did wonder if it was really my cup of tea. As someone who went to an all-boys school, and whose hobbies include shed and gate maintenance and collecting interesting stones, I’m glad I did, because it opened up a whole new world. It may not be a life-changer, but it is a rollicking good read, combining multi-layered degrees of pathos, eliciting by turn a variety of commiserating emotions, ranging from happiness, sadness, despair and hilarity. I found myself slipping vicariously into the author’s life-story, inventing imaginary conversations with the characters he introduces to defend his position in the wake of his own inability to always stand his ground. Exhausting and exasperating at times, but a very worthy and fully immersive experience; highly recommended.
(reviewed 5 years after purchase)
Anna Spencer reviewed on on May 27, 2017

The Temp Pest is the funniest book I've read all year. A mixture of melancholic fun and 'it could only happen to me' humour. Don't miss out. Buy this book now!
(reviewed the day of purchase)
ben rachel reviewed on on May 27, 2017

A funny, entertaining trip through the unexpectedly hazardous and comedic world of temping.

The book zips along thanks to Batchelor's engaging writing and cupboard full of tales. It's well worth a read.
(reviewed 4 years after purchase)
richard gill reviewed on on May 26, 2017

There was a time fairly early in my working life when it became apparent, possibly due to poor planning, that things weren't going according to plan. Among my friends whose lives were ticking along impressively in the material world, I became known as 'TempBoy'.

So I was eager to read an account of another ne'er-do-well from TempLand. Temping by its definition is not a career, but it can produce some interesting life experiences, as related by Bathelor's book. Where else would you suffer an aerial bombardment of CDs one day, and crash a forklift truck the next?

I was equally able to empathise with some of the characters, from the stereotypically malicious, vicious boss for whom the temp is a slave, to those salt-of-the-earth colleagues who can make a job worth getting up for. Thanks for an excellent read!

I would note that in my experience the most interesting people in any organisation I temped in were to be found in the smoking room. RIP the smoking room.
(reviewed 5 years after purchase)
Jo Lewis reviewed on on May 25, 2015

Batchelor's novella length debut is a hugely entertaining and enlightening read. Strutting his stuff largely in Liverpool, England, but also in less salubrious surroundings such as Runcorn and Warrington, the protagonist lurches from one dubious temp job to another, each one neatly described from the outsider's perspective. You do have the impression that the author would be an outsider in most jobs going, whatever colour the collar. Also that he's perhaps not quite wordly-wise enough (as well as being quite a large bumbler) and can only cope with these harsh doses of real life with his episodes of escapism and are what save him and make the book. It's less the jobs themselves than the asides and diversions that really entertain as the author's surroundings send him to other places, such as Greek legends, how to deal with awful music in the workplace and the dilemma of how to feel about someone who is clearly a bigot but is nice to you. I didn't find there was a job that was over or under dealt with. At least I can't think of one.

The structure is interesting in that it isn't chronological and is peppered with interludes such as a dream sequence involving two psychopathic co-workers, a night meeting which somehow comes together despite some double buffoonery of the highest order, and a poem in which the author is blissfully lost in reverie, the highest state of mind possible in a dull job, according to him. Batchelor has clearly put the order of the chapters together with the kind of care needed to make the difference between a good and a very good album; it's a similar process.

I have a distinct feeling that most of what takes place is true testimony - I would guess about 75/80%. It's quite fun guessing what is and isn't fiction or half-truth.

There are plenty of rich characters with delicious monikers; the lovable Pink and Silver Vampire, the basically decent but irascible jobsworth Baldwoof and the misleadingly named, sympathetic de Burghalan spring to mind. Highlights are plentiful, but if I must name three they would be a football match (involving the writer's beloved Aston Villa) concocted from ladies' tights order forms, the disturbing shenanigans of the aforementioned pair of psychotics, in which they transform the author's working day from one of peace, friendship and tranquility (albeit the job being as dull as ditchwater) into one of fear, and last but not least his brief sojourn in a meat factory, the horrors of which would make anyone with an iota of sensitivity consider a vegetarian lifestyle.

This book's a snip at three dollars. If you have a sense of humour that encompasses the absurd and a view from the wrong side of the road, you'd be foolish not to buy it.
(reviewed 3 years after purchase)
Beth Clapton reviewed on on May 21, 2015
(no rating)
Poignant, funny, bizarre.

Loved it. When's the next one due?
(reviewed 3 years after purchase)
Julian Masters reviewed on on May 10, 2013

I would never have thought a diatribe on the perils of temping could be such an entertaining trip. The horrors, absurdity, fears and occasional pleasures coalesce in this right riveting read which had me laughing out loud and aghast in equal measure. The author skilfully treats us to a deluge of scenarios that you wouldn't wish on anybody, and conjures the spirit of Morrissey, Monty Python and Buster Keaton as the protagonist stumbles and bumbles from one crap job to the next, occasionally finding salvation in a well earned coffee break. Very funny and highly recommended.
(reviewed 65 days after purchase)
Jackson Street reviewed on on April 1, 2013

The written word can take you to the edge of the Universe, and throughout history as far as the imagination takes the author. This author takes you as far as the warehouses and factories of the North West and Midlands through the eyes of a very urban spaceman.

From a seemingly privileged position of a bohemian musician with exotic French live-in girlfriend and indestructible Nissan Micra, lack of financial success and the British welfare system throw this artistic gent into the harsh reality of the humble temp worker...that essential cog in the economic system that appears to have progressed little since Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times.

As the story progresses it meanders in a Fellini-esque manner with short anecdotal stories ,and occasional philosophical observations, from a man seeking to swim against the tide in the midst of a sea of boredom and repetition, meeting a mixture of sociopaths and psychopaths, while making brief friendships with wise and gentle colleagues who would not appear out of place in an epic story by Homer.

As a resident of the UK, I found the story a pleasant and enjoyable read. Certain chapters were sharp,well written and full of humour as horror,the Murder in Sefton Park being a prime example, and signs of promise for future fictional works. Some areas did lack adequate exposition by the author. One example being the story of the two 'bumblers' in Gravelly Hill. Are they selfish sociopaths or Laurel and Hardy? Difficult to tell. The author writes about them with affection but the cavalier way one of them smashes their parent's car window would indicate a darker more selfish attitude in the character at odds with his sympathetic portrayal in the story. Perhaps I missed something?

This unfortunately cost the story its fifth star for this review. But despite these few flaws the story was an enjoyable read and thoroughly recommended. I look forward to future works with anticipation.
(reviewed 29 days after purchase)
Mikey Lee Ray reviewed on on March 3, 2013

For those of you who wish to bitch
About your nine to five job please spare a thought for Rich.
His humorous, painful tale's one of comedy and woe.
Drawing from Greek legends which some of you may know.
With biting satire, sarcasm and wit
One can only assume The Temp Pest will be a hit. (I do my bit). - Mikey

P.S. the football match had me in hysterics.
(reviewed the day of purchase)
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