Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Makers Make 

The power of good art is it’s ability to make you miserable for days or even weeks after witnessing it. Thanks a bunch.

On Friday Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, sat on my desk juggling my balls and said, “You’re quiet today, Tim. What are you thinking about?”
“Happiness squandered,” I said. “Potential unrealised. Unfulfillment.”
“God, tell me about it,” she replied. “When I was a kid I thought I’d be married and ruling the world by now.”
“That’s a blessing,” I said.

I’ve been teaching her how to juggle and she’s getting pretty good. She did this weird reversal trick which kind of threw me. It wasn’t like her.
She said “How do you eat an elephant? A whole elephant?”

I couldn’t think of anything to say. Neil, my former team leader, ran down the corridor, herded by a pair of sheepdogs.
“It would seem that I’m popping out, erm, somewhere,” he yelped. “Can I fetch anybody anything?”
“Not for me, thanks,” I said, knowing he wouldn’t hear me. “I’m trying to cut back.” They were already scampering across the car park.

“In small chunks,” said Stella, putting my balls back. “Bit by bit. You take on too much at once and you just panic.”
“Six days on,” I grumbled, “and I still can’t shake off sodding Brokeback ‘gay cowboys eating pudding’ Mountain.” She wandered off and I returned to drizzling yoghurt over my expenses forms.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

My Book Of Dreams 

Dream 14
In my dream there’s been a major fire in London, and I’m worried that it might have been me who started it.
I vaguely remember messing about in a disused newspaper works in Fleet Street, setting fire to bundles of old newspapers and dropping them down lift shafts. I didn’t mean anything malicious by it, I was just fooling around. The fire hadn’t got out of control or anything.

It’s big news. Large sections of Westminster badly affected. Casualties. The television reporters say the police have a prime suspect and are closing in. I don’t know if they mean me. I wait for the doorbell to ring and am very afraid.

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Thursday, January 19, 2006

The Roads Don’t Love You 

I’ll be spending next week in a far away county, working for a customer whose logo nobody can read.

When I was fresh faced and lovely, I sort of looked forward to trips like this, what with travel broadening the mind and all that, and I imagined it would be interesting to see how companies operated elsewhere. Perhaps systems administrators outside the PR postal district would be brimming with vitality and joie de vivre. Without the scariness or upheaval of handing in my notice and relocating, these visits to customer sites might - just possibly - reveal a tantalising sneak preview of a brighter, more sexy life awaiting me in, say, West Bromwich, or Wrexham, or Warrington and Runcorn. All I had to do was turn up and take a peep.

Nowadays, obviously, I’m sour faced and curmudgeonly and all too familiar with the disappointing truth that a roomful of Unix servers in Glasgow or Swansea is not much different from the one I know here in Preston. But I still live in hope that somewhere in the world there are systems administrators who are fun to be around. Who knows? Maybe next week is when I’ll eventually find them.

This morning Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, took a minute in her hectic schedule to remove her face from “You?! A Manager??!” - million selling prequel to the equally successful “No, Really. You?! A Manager??!” - to ask if I’d got my training manuals written, printed out and spiral bound in the funky if rather frightening spiral binding machine. It transpires I’ll be providing a week’s training, which is of course news to me.

I said “A window cleaner is nothing without a bucket,” and scuttled back to my desk to try and think up some interesting questions.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I Haven't Heard A Word I've Said 

Diana, Head Of Marketing, summoned me to the canteen this afternoon for a debrief.
For twenty minutes I sat happily scattering foodstuffs about my person while she told me about her new job.

“You look nice,” I said. “Been for an interview or something?”
“Yes Tim,” she replied patiently. “I just told you. I had an interview this morning. They’ve just been on to offer me the job.”
“Or maybe you’ve got a big date tonight?” I wondered. “Or you’re going to a wedding?”
“I had an interview this morning.”
“Nobody ever gets married in the evening, do they? You’d never find a vicar, for one thing. Too bloody busy eating crumpets by the fire, or helping people in trouble.”
“I had an interview this morning and they’ve just offered me the job.”
“Funny lot, vicars, you know. So where are you going tonight? Anywhere nice?”
“I’m thinking of accepting. What do you reckon?”
“I went to school with a vicar. He wasn’t a vicar at the time, obviously. But he is now. Last thing I heard, anyway.”

She drew a little stick woman on a paper napkin. The stick woman was walking through a door. A speech bubble bobbed above her head, which said “Bye bye Tim! New job! Bye bye!”

“Defrocked,” I said. “That’s a funny word, isn’t it? They don’t do themselves any favours, do they? With words like that.”

Not long afterwards, back at my desk, she sent me an instant message thingy. It said “I’ve accepted it.”
“Bloody knew it,” I replied. “I knew you’d be off this year.”
“Yeah, and I knew you were listening really.”

I told her that she’d be back, and all that stuff about the devil you know. Once she realised it’s even more rubbish on the outside. People always come back.

I wandered over to blab the news to Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, but she was too engrossed in a copy of ‘Ethical Intimidation For Dummies’ and didn’t hear a word I said.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Western Sky 

“These days are so long,” said Terry to nobody in particular. “They don’t last this long when you’re on holiday, do they?”
Mike glanced at his watch and sloped off for his 3:30 wank.

Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, had spent the morning in Ikea with a fair haired young Feng Shui consultant called Gruyere, buying bookshelves for all the self help manuals she’d received for Christmas. He had a large toolbox and only a rudimentary grasp of the English language when he stepped into her office at lunchtime, and they were banging away at the wall hammer and tongues all afternoon.

Outside my window the western sky changed from blue to red, then to a much deeper blue and finally velveteen black. Away in the distance, beyond the power station and the electricity pylons, traffic backed up along the dual carriageway in lines of red and white, pretty as a string of Christmas lights and a new moon swung into view, crescent shaped, a hook to hang your hat on, a big daft smile to guide you home. The Northern Star flickered like a pocket torch. Constantly in the darkness? Where’s that at? If you want me I’ll be in the bar.

Stella bought me a coffee and some kind of cake thing from the machine after she’d walked Gruyere back to his van. She grinned and said “That boy is an absolute star.”
I helped her with her books - Stand On Your Own Two Fucking Feet And Manage; It's Not You, It's Them - and said to her that the world gives off none of it’s own light.

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