Tuesday, June 20, 2006


“It says here,” said Stella my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader this morning, reading from some magazine article, “that all men want to be told that they’re funny, while all women want to be told that they’re beautiful. What do you say to that, team?”

Mike and Terry kept their heads down, poring over their Maplin catalogues which had just arrived in the post to much excitement and fanfare.
The question hung in the air, ignored, welcome as a Big Issue seller at a Bank of England banquet. Stella leaned with her back against the doorframe, arms folded, head cocked to one side, an “I can wait all day if I have to” expression on her face.

“Well,” I said, to break the silence. “I won’t be happy until everyone says I’m beautiful as well as funny.”
There was a vaguely detectable stirring - You? Funny? - then more silence.
I was about to ask Stella for her views on the subject when Creepy Keith from Accounts burst into the room, a noxious flurry of white noise and stale odours, yakking loudly into his mobile, and smirking from ear to ear.

“For the difference it made, they might as well have been ping pong balls,” he yelled. “No matter how many times I flushed, the little bastards just wouldn’t go away. Yeah, I know. Crazy!”
Me and Stella exchanged meaningless glances. Mike and Terry sat motionless.
“Anyway Chlorine, gotta go. Busy busy busy,” he said. “Can’t wait to meet you too, Babe. Eight o’clock, yeah? Cool. Later.”

He snapped his phone shut with an ostentatious flourish, casually mentioned to nobody in particular that he had a hot date that night, then left the room as abruptly as he had entered it only seconds earlier.

“Some girls get all the luck, hey?” smiled Stella.
“So anyway,” I said. “Beautiful or funny?” but she just stared over my shoulder into the middle distance towards the vending machine, still grinning, childlike, girlish - possibly the happiest I think I’ve ever seen her, beautiful even - then went back into her office to ring up her friend Becky, and didn’t bother answering me.

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