Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Charlotte, Bill Surname CEO's loyal PA, scoots round the building in the throes of a mid-week crisis.
“Oh my goodness, oh my kittens and bedsocks! Wednesday already and what have I done with my life?”
She buzzes like a dying wasp on your windowsill, frantic, desperate. You don't know whether to ignore her or do the decent thing, so you go fetch yourself a coffee style drink and sort of cake thing, hoping she'll have fizzled out by the time you get back.

Poor Charlotte - it's a difficult time for her, what with the FTSE dropping out of the sky and runs on the banks, panic on the streets of Carlisle, Dublin, Dundee, Humberside, the air thick with the possibility of negative equity and now this: this royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle, this biscuit nation awash with ruffians, immigrants and ne'er do wells. Fear stalks the land and we're sinking into the marshes.

In the day she flaps like a parrot on whizz, a squawking blur of stress in a pashmina shawl, clicking manically at a stopwatch, customers fleeing as if from an exploding volcano. She beats them back into the building with her clipboard, the consequences of doing nothing too drastic to contemplate.
Sea levels rising, icecaps melting, to procrastinate is to die.
The woman is a picture of abandonment anxiety, and she's out of control.

At night she self-medicates with Brasso, polishing Bill Surname's money long into the wee small hours.
A labour of love, a life measured out in farthings and guineas, the pounds, shillings and pence of unrequited longing.
Charlotte, we do whatever we must to keep ourselves sane but those sacks of coins sound like prisoners' chains. You've turned into a living ghost.

It wasn't always so.
Once she was wild and carefree and love flowed freely and the living was good, or maybe that was just something on the telly she fell asleep in front of.
She gets so confused these days. I was beautiful and I had choices. A woman with a good figure and a winning smile will always have options.
I'll wash the dishes tomorrow sometime; I'll just finish off this wine. Her eyes roll back into her head and she's gone again.
The dead light of the TV screen scatters like crumbs across her living room carpet.

The lights are all out at Valium Heights. Only the dying embers of the fire keep darkness at bay.
Crumpled Telegraph at his feet, glass of port by his side, Bill Surname's leather armchair squeaks and farts as he dozes restlessly in the library.
“Should have sold in 2000. Bloody fool.”
He dreams of sausages and secret passages behind oak panelled walls, of hidden treasure and missing homework and caned backsides.
“Won't get another offer like that now. Greedy bugger.”

Once there was a girl. What was her name? Christine? Collette? A womanly woman, would have moved Heaven and Earth for you, Old Boy. But you turned her down. Thought you could take your pick.

Rain lashes at the window and something spooks the horses. Away in her enclosure, Geraldine the Company X goat bleats cheerlessly.
“You'll be working 'til you drop, Billy Boy. You've been a bloody fool all your life.”

Beyond that, the datacentre: tape silos clunk and whirl, robots spring to life, backups run, contracts are fulfilled, money is made. Somebody somewhere in the world is waking up, logging on, running a report. A little less memory for the rest of us.

Bill Surname mumbles darkly, shifts in his chair. The last of the ashes burns out.
“Didn't know whether to ignore her or do the decent thing,” he murmurs. “Silly sod. Won't get another offer like that now.”

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