Last night, I got another chance to flash my wares…

The Sunflower Sessions took place in Nealon’s on Capel St, Dublin. This time, I presented another flash fiction piece: Refresher Training Blues.

I have worked in the e-learning and education sectors for the last twenty(!) years. In that time, I have come to develop a great appreciation for the value and importance of training, continuous improvement and lifelong learning.

As will become apparent from this short snapshot.



Refresher Training Blues

Arthur hated training days!

Sure, there was always room for improvement. He got that. There were always pointless new procedures to master. And yes, it was a few hours off work.

But Arthur still always hated them.

The fact that Timothy the trainer was a complete tosser didn’t help. Timothy thought he was performing to a stadium of 80,000 fans, and not ten barely conscious colleagues in a shabby room. All that was missing was the twenty minute guitar solo.

The training had started at 8.30. Unfortunately, Arthur wasn’t a morning person. Or an afternoon person. He was more an evening person. He only really perked up when he wasn’t at work.

Anyway, Timothy was in the throes of another evangelical fit as he pondered his seventeen-step model for positive self-actualisation.

He declared, “You are your own masterpiece, friends! Every day is your blank canvas. Don’t settle for being a sketch on a napkin. Use bright colours! At high volume!”

How could a painting be at high volume? Arthur wondered. He also wondered if it would soon be lunchtime. He had, as usual, skipped breakfast.

“Why do we have targets?” Timothy asked, all frothy mouth and blazing eyes. “Because I know you can hit them.”

To Arthur, this was all nonsense. But it was better than getting bawled at for being a basket case. That was the regular routine in all his previous jobs. At least these guys were pleasant.

Timothy adopted his solemn monk voice.

“That’s why we feel sad when people miss their targets. There’s no magic bullet. Dig deep and optimise real-time solutions that synergise your human interface capabilities.”

Timothy had clearly started speaking in tongues.

Arthur zoned out, gazing around the room. Some of his colleagues were already comatose in their rumpled suits. In Reginald’s case, it looked more like rigor mortis. Malcolm was the only one who looked engaged. But of course Malcolm had no life – a presentation like this was probably the high point of his week.

Meanwhile on the podium, Timothy was building up a head of steam and frazzled hair.

“Hit the mark, people! Shoot from the hip. Always aim high. You have to dodge the raindrops if you want to build the rainbow. You are our crock of gold!”

Arthur would be the first to concede that his standards were slipping. He’d missed a few targets lately. Definitely losing his edge. In fact, they all were. Some argued they were just “keeping their powder dry”. Truth is they had no fire in their bellies anymore.

Timothy however was determined to inspire his weary team. So for six more hours, he cajoled, praised, pleaded, value-streamed, harnessed and empathised.

Then finally it was over. Time to get back to work.

A new list of targets. Fresh deadlines. Motivated action points.

Arthur barely had the motivation to get up from his chair.

As he slouched out of the room, he ensured his pistol was loaded.

Even assassin squads need refresher training…


(c) Pádraig Hanratty 2016


Don’t forget that copies of Flare are now on sale. Available from Books Upstairs or by contacting the Sunflower Sessions.


Who knows what blues November will bring?

See you again soon!


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