Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Christmas Time Is Here Again 

“It’s a wall chart with sheep on it,” I said.
Neil, my former team leader, beamed proudly. “Yes it is.”
“You brought me up here to look at a sheep wall chart you got free from a newspaper?”
“Yes I did,” said Neil.

Chaos has reigned ever since Neil took charge of the Help Desk. It’s like one of those experiments conducted by TV producers to observe how children - or in this case, a herd of Help Desk operatives - will respond to life without authority figures.

People flicked wet tissue paper at each other with rulers. Walls, filing cabinets, monitors, most vertical surfaces and many horizontal ones too, all encrusted with dried clots in a variety of pastel shades.
Others listened to their iPods and performed little dance routines.
At the back of the room, two young members of staff were having a snog, while a third was videoing it on his mobile and offering words of encouragement. On a nearby computer, a video of the same couple - presumably filmed not long previously, and still snogging - played on YouTube.

“Take a closer look,” said Neil. “There’s more to it than meets the eye.”
And sure enough, there was. He’d converted the wall chart into an Advent calendar. I opened today’s door - a North Country Cheviot - and revealed a picture of the three wise men offering gifts: gold, frankincense, and a Play Station.

“That’s incredible,” I said.
I couldn’t think of anything else to say. We stood in an awkward silence for a few moments. Awkward for me anyway. I noticed that behind previous sheep flaps were a blood orange spiked with cloves (Tuesday) and a bicycle (Monday).
Snogging Couple at the back of the room were becoming frisky and doing something with a streamer.
I had stuff I needed to be cracking on with.

“Well. Bye then,” I said. The conversation was clearly going nowhere.
“Don’t leave without having a mince pie,” he over-enthused, waving a festive plate towards me. “They’re from S&M.”

When the going gets miserable, the miserable get eating, so I took three: one for consuming straightaway, a second for consuming straightaway, and a third for later on, straight after I’d eaten the first two.

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