Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Charlotte Sometimes 

These days I tend to spend my lunch hour dining al desko, listening to music on headphones and trawling for amusing blogs. Today I’m enjoying the sublime electronic rhythms of Boards of Canada at blood letting volume, and engaging in a spot of scurrilous e-banter with Terry.
Charlotte, the CEO‘s personal assistant, today resplendent in a preposterous pink power suit and black shawl, hair and make-up by Robert Smith, has been charging round the office all day, timing herself with a stopwatch and recording her observations on a clipboard. It’s as if she’s in training for the hyperactive executive Olympics. Each circuit is more frantic than the last. Me and Terry have been recording our own observations via the miracle of internet chat.
On her final lap, she virtually hurls herself into our room, swishing dramatically like Barbie at a Batman audition.
“WTF???” I tap at my keyboard.
“WTF???” he responds, and looks up to stare at me quizzically. He shrugs his shoulders and mouths the words “What’s WTF?”
“WHAT THE FUCK!!!” I reply, a great deal louder, thanks to the headphones, than strictly necessary.

Monday, March 29, 2004


Email from CEO to whole office:
29/03/2004 08:28

On Wednesday guests from (major customer) will be visiting the company, and will be given a tour of the building as part of their visit.
While it is anticipated that the tour will take place after lunch, all staff should remain on VIP Code Red for the whole day.
The emergency code words for the day will be “My mother has recently returned from Bulgaria.“
Shoe inspection will take place on the drill ground at 8:45 am.
As you will be aware, we are currently negotiating contract renewals with (major customer) so it is essential that we create the best possible impression during their stay.

Can I also remind all staff at this juncture that personal use of the company email system is a privilege and not a right. Employees wishing to discuss further the exploits of a certain “Mr Love Pants” should do so in their own time. This chapter is now closed.

Bill Surname,
Chief Executive Officer

Bugger. That’s all I need. Appraisal time is upon us, and all team leaders will have been instructed to find the slightest excuse to mark people down. Could I make it any easier for them?
I pop into Neil’s office to book tomorrow off on leave, and generally try to gauge his mood, but I’m not certain he actually hears a word I say. He’s busy java-enabling his pie charts, and has already uploaded several of them onto the company intranet. Somehow he’s managed to make them disconcertingly interactive - those pie sectors really dance when he’s calling the tune. If anybody ever works out what they mean we could be in for some interesting times. I find it all rather endearing, like watching a small child absorbed in building a pyramid out of playing cards. I close the door very slowly on my way out.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Living In A Material World 

Rex the security guard is in chipper mood after an excellent week’s trading. He’s holding court to a gaggle of the newer staff outside the foyer, puffing on his pipe like the wise old sage that he is. They want to know how he does it. We all do, because if we did, we wouldn’t still be here.
He had a bit of a luck on Monday with coffee, made the most of it by ploughing into tomato ketchup futures on Tuesday morning, sold at the top price, and it was pork bellies all the way until Friday, when he cashed in his chips, so to speak. As far as I can make out, his investment decisions are led entirely by his stomach. He’s always tight lipped on the subject of how much he makes, but you can bet your buns it’s more than what he gets from the security firm. Porsches don’t come cheap and him and Mrs Rex have got one each.
“I have to say, having access to the net in that hut has turned my whole world around. Twenty sodding years of Spike and his sexual mis-adventures. Endless moaning about women and sodding North End, that's been my life for twenty miserable years. These days I come into work, plug in my ipod, get myself online and I’m away. He could be shagging Madonna for all I know, as long as I don’t have to hear about it, I couldn't care less. I hope they're both very happy together.”

Thursday, March 25, 2004

It's Just Another Day 

Email from Girlfriend:
25/03/2004 10:34

So have the nasty people stopped laughing at you now?

Reply to Girlfriend:
25/03/2004 11:15

Yeah, its been pretty normal so far. I’ve found two pairs of ladies’ pants in my cupboard. One pair of boxers, with Homer Simpson on them, smelling faintly of lavender, so that could have been worse. Two girls from apps support have asked me out, one who might have been serious, I’m not sure. One marriage proposal from lovely Kath in the kitchen, but I think that was a joke, because, well, I’ve already told you about Kath. We’ve both been invited to a bondage evening in Whittle-le-Woods by Mike and Sue Cosgrove (directors no less - you met them at the Christmas do, they‘re nice actually) and my Mum rang up and called me Mr. Love Pants, which is odd because she wasn’t included in the original email. I turned down the invite by the way. Its next Thursday and Friends is on.

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Oops I Did It Again 

Email from me to whole company:
24/03/2004 09:21

Hey Sexy,
I was supposed to have picked up the tickets this morning, wasn’t I? Can you drop me a line just in case you’ve got them, otherwise I’ll pop home at lunchtime to get them. You must be v. busy - your phone is constantly engaged.
Really looking forward to tonight.
In fact, you might be interested to learn that I’m wearing my special Pants Of Love. Just a warning.

Email from me to girlfriend:
24/03/2004 12:14

Is your email on the blink again today? This is my second attempt. I need to know if you’ve got the tickets. I forgot them. I’ll go home now and get them if I need to.

Reply from girlfriend:
24/03/2004 12:17

No, I’ve not got the tickets. They’re in the drawer.
Our email has been fine all day. What did your first one say?

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

All The Boys I Know Love Diana. 

Your swirly eyed business consultant would describe where I work as an SME, or Small-to-Medium-sized-Enterprise, for an extra charge. What this means is that the company is small enough for you to notice when there is a new face in the corridors - the stuttering disorientated gait is also a bit of a giveaway, not to mention the panic stricken “My God what have I done now?” expression in their eyes, as they claw at the padlocked exit doors. But the company has now become so large that you know there’s a good chance you will never speak to some people, your paths will never cross - Heads of Marketing and IT support staff seldom attend the same meetings, for example - so that whole groups of people will often be complete strangers despite spending their working lives under the same roof. In short, nobody knows everybody, and nobody cares.

This is a real pity, because Diana is a Category A Babe. No tears were ever shed over unmade friendships with the programmers - “That code is, like, bitchin’! Just one line? Awesome dude!” - but suddenly everybody is brimming with suggestions for the company’s marketing strategies. Call the printers - there’s been a rush on “Introducing Super Bollocks Customer Relationship Software - Alienate Your Client Base Faster Than Ever Before!” brochures like you wouldn’t believe. And there hasn’t been as much rubber necking in the restaurant since the time poor old Ted Williams completely misjudged the joke emails that were doing the rounds at that time about Naked Day.

Monday, March 22, 2004

Lovely Head 

Email from CEO to whole company:
22/03/2004 08:11

Good Morning,
I’m sure that you will all join me in welcoming Diana Surname to the company.
Diana is our new Head of Marketing, and comes with an impressive pedigree, having worked for (well known marketing firm in London) for the last three years, and (some other well known marketing firm) for a year prior to that.
Diana has travelled extensively, both in a professional capacity, and in the voluntary sector, where she worked in South America for (well known charity) after leaving university.
Please make every effort to assist Diana as she settles into her new role, and lets face it, she can’t do much worse than the previous sorry excuse for a Head of Marketing who was here before.

Shoe inspection will take place at an earlier time of 11:00 this morning, for medical reasons.

Bill Surname,
Chief Executive Officer.

Saturday, March 20, 2004

Subterranean Homesick Blues 

Email to Girlfriend:
19/03/2004 15:54
Do you have Pete Sunderland’s number?

Reply from Girlfriend:
19/03/2004 16:07
Is he the decorator? If so, no. It’ll be at home somewhere.

Reply from me:
19/03/2004 16:09
It doesn’t matter. Somebody was asking but he's gone now. It can wait til Monday.
Much more important news just in. Guess what? Call Centre Confidential Bloke has acknowledged my existence!!! I'm feeling a bit giddy.
Its tucked away in one of the comments to his entries. It’s been there for days and I’ve not noticed. It says:

“I'm not bitter it's a parody. If you want to see an EXCELLENT CCC parody. Visit:
It is surely the must extreme flurry of flattery.”

I’m really pleased he’s not bitter. I thought he might be a little miffed about it. Parody / plagiarism - it’s a thin line.
I ought to drop him a line to say hi, but I’m feeling a bit star struck.
I’m not sure if I’m in a fit state to drive home just yet.

Later that afternoon…
“I’ve waited all my life to possess mystique. I’m not going to let it slip through my fingers just quite yet, thank you very much!”
“Which pump?”
Long silence. Then again, a little more forcefully:
“Which pump was it, sir?”
“The pump don’t work ‘cos the vandals took the handles.”
“Are you alright sir? Would you like me to call the manager?”
“Oh, erm… Number ten, I think. Sorry about that. I was thinking about, well… Whatever.”
“Thirty pounds?”
“That’s the one. Thanks”

There are two points we can take away from the above exchange, gentle reader:
1) Praise from your peers is everything. Even the slightest snippet of recognition from a stranger whose writing you really like can transform an already mushy brain into a veritable peat bog. It's mad.
2) Sorry, I can’t remember the second point.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Days Of Speed 

Now there'd be a certain (not to say cheesy) symmetry if my bruise resembled Lisa Simpson. But it doesn't, or not yet it doesn't anyway. If the situation changes, you'll read it here first.

I've never been entirely sure what the difference is between an Account Manager and a Salesman. What I do know is that all our Account Managers are as snappy and insecure as jack russells on acid, while all the Salesmen think they are God's gift to industry. One thing is certain though: their common purpose is to re-allocate financial resource from other peoples' companies to ours with maximum haste and minimum effort. At the end of the game, the company with the most money wins.

Staff turnover happens at a head spinning pace with Account Managers. They have three months to prove themselves, and if they don't cut the mustard, bring home the bacon, they are shown the door. A lot of them don't even last that long, pressing the eject button themselves in order to be spared the inevitable humiliation.
They work stupid hours, all of them on a short fuse. They hurtle themselves around the country at terrifying speed, buzzing with adrenalin like footballers on the way to a strip club, whacked out of their heads on energy drinks and amphetamines.
The business deals they undertake are nearly always the ones that give you the most grief later down the road, long after they've gone and blown up.

Salesmen on the other hand are super cool. They've always got time to stand around and joke. Most of their days are spent dissing each other's cars, and they look and behave like they're living out some wretched Gillette advert fantasy. They are unapologetically flash, but much worse than that, they can be unspeakably rude, often to people who have done absolutely nothing to deserve their wrath, caretakers and cleaners included. They utterly believe in their own misplaced sense of superiority. There’s nothing in particular that I dislike about them most.
This afternoon there are ten of them sitting on the wall outside my window, lined up like the green bottles in the song. I take careful aim, and one by one, watch each of them accidentally fall.

Wednesday, March 17, 2004


From a certain angle, Terry's bruise looks like Bart Simpson in silhouette.
He arrives late this morning, and is behaving out of character. His vocabulary is littered with words he would never have dreamed of using before today. He facilitates this, and expedites that. He obfuscates all over the place. It's as if he's dislodged his inner thesaurus. I'm still concerned, and insist that I take him to A&E for a check up. Besides, it's a slow day in the office, and now I've had a taste of being somewhere other than my desk during daylight hours, I want more. But he demurs this idea, and my plans are repudiated.
"We thought we'd nearly lost you there, big guy" I tell him, and give him a thump on the arm.
"Yeah, I accede that", he replies and thumps me back. It hurts like hell.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

Days Like These 

We don't have tea stained mugs rolling about on the dashboard. We don't leer at the young women going so charmingly about their business. And we don't wind down our windows to exchange helpful driving tips with fellow motorists. But inspite of these shortcomings, me and Terry are, for one day only, White Van Men. Oh yes we are!
Our rented Transit van chock full of computer related goodies, we are making a sprint for the border, Huddersfield bound. We are on the road, the stars of our own buddie movie, a latter day Bob Hope and Bing Crosby. We sing along to a cassette of Bohemian Rhapsody, and do all the actions, Wayne's World style. Freedom never tasted so good.
We arrive at the customer site, and the van is unloaded with the kind of choreographed precision that would bring tears to the eyes of the most hardened Broadway producer.
With effortless aplomb, the kit is unboxed, plugged in, booted up and revealed in all its natural glory. Before we know it, we are back on the road, our mission accomplished, and the whole factory downs tools and comes to the door to wave us off.
Back at the base, we shift flattened cardboard boxes out of the van and dump it into the recycling bins. I turn my back for a moment, and when I return, Terry is lying on the floor of the van in the foetal position, motionless and silent, dead to the world. He stays like that for what seems to be an age. I get pretty worried.
Upstairs in the brew room, dampened paper towels moulded to his forehead like some kind of medicinal cabbage leaves, Terry tells me that he'd cracked his head while reaching for his jacket in the front compartment. I tell him how I thought he'd done got himself dead, and we all have a good laugh.

Monday, March 15, 2004

Meet The New Boss 

This morning we are introduced to Neil, who is our latest team leader. It's a shame - he seems like a decent enough bloke. He'll be our fifth team leader in the three years since I joined the department. They always start off bright eyed and bushy tailed, all pie charts and overhead projections, but it's never very long before their sunny dispositions have been all but squished out of them. They become ghosts of their former selves. At hometime we stampede all over them as we race to the car park, their broken spirits splattered under our feet like teamleader roadkill ("Not the face! Not the face!" they whimper). The robust approach to customer relations by certain team members surely plays its part. (Customer: "I wonder if you can help me. I can't find the file I was working on yesterday". Mike: "Are you on fucking drugs?")
I walk into Neil's office this afternoon to tell him that the colour printer is on the blink. He doesn't notice me standing there, but I can see that he's already ahead of me. He has printed out his latest graph in black and white and is contentedly preoccupied with colouring in the pieces of pie by hand. He softly hums a happy tune to himself and touches the tip of his nose with his tongue all the while. I tiptoe out of the room and leave him to it.

Sunday, March 14, 2004

Disco 2000 

While I'd been on the interweb on Friday night, my publisher, Dave, had left a message.
"Are you on that facking internet again, you bad boy, you'll go blind, ack ack ack! Listen, I'm at a really wild party so I can't chat long." (Sound of glasses clinking, people chatting, women laughing - probably a sound effects record, I couldn't swear to it.) "I've been talking to some geezer says 'e's the manager of some new indie band. Says they couldn't write a song for love nor pocket money, ack ack ack. They need something that'll get in the pop charts, but its got to be gritty, a bit dirty, you know what I mean? Bit like that greasy wotsisface. Jarvis Cocker. Call me when..." and then his time was up and the machine cut him off.
I said I'll see what I can do.

Friday, March 12, 2004

I've Seen This Happen In Other Peoples Lives And Now Its Happening In Mine 

I spend the whole day hypnotised by Derek's sinister screensaver. Once you make eye contact with it, its got you under its evil spell, and there's no point in trying to fight it. By the time you come round, everybody's gone home and you're sitting in a pool of glistening dribble, cold and alone in a dark, cavernous office. You're now in a place where even Rex the security guard fears to tread. Vital reports have gone unwritten, customers with forgotten passwords have themselves become forgotten, emails are ignored. Deadlines have come and gone down the pub, and are now slumped in a heap by the bar, lifeless, expired.
I switch off my PC, and faster than you can say Windows 2000, I'm out of the building and burning rubber. Then I release the handbrake and make my way home. Sorry about that.
Girlfriend is out on the alcopops tonight, so I grab something quick to eat and dash up to my Attic Studio Complex to create some Great Art. I strum a few chords while all the banks of fancy equipment fizz into life, but I soon remember that I've left my bloody muse on the desk at work and I'm useless without it. I spend the evening googlewhacking instead.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

It Started With A Kiss 

Email from Girlfriend:
11/03/2004 10:34

Our phones are all broke!
woo hoo!!!
ps i haven't got your email yet

Reply from me:
11/03/2004 10:50

Mmm, I wonder what became of it.
You can always just go to the Guardian weblog - a weblog that is a guide to
weblogs, as it were. If you're allowed.
Silence is golden.

Reply from Girlfriend:
11/03/2004 10:58

I spoke to soon.
those clever technicians have got it all fixed.
Still, it was one hour and 15 minutes of tranquil serenity.
ps how is your superior sense of comedy this morning.
i haven't made anybody laugh yet.

Reply from me:
11/03/2004 11:12

I haven't spoken to anybody yet, so I guess you're ahead of me there.

Reply from Girlfriend:
11/03/2004 11:12

That makes me feel sad for you!
ps shall i ring you up?

Reply from me:
11/03/2004 11:33

As soon as I sent that I had a small flurry of speakage.
Somebody called Lisa sent an email saying that I still hadn't corrected an
incorrect entry on last weeks timesheet. In fact I had, on three separate
occasions since three separate people had asked. So I rang her to get to
the bottom of it. I've spent more time on the issue of the incorrect time
entry than I actually spent doing the work that the time was incorrectly
entered for.
And I've just been to the brew room with Mike too.
And I have said hello to Harry who has made one his very rare trips
into the office today, although he's disappeared again now, so maybe I just
imagined it.
So no need for sadness related sympathy really.

Reply from Girlfriend:
11/03/2004 11:35

that sounds like a call centre confidential entry - you're not doing a
weblog are you?

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