Thursday, October 30, 2008

Hey Look Me Over 

A smattering of frost all over Geraldine the Company X goat, the first of the season, and it was lunchtime before she’d completely thawed.

I spent the morning grappling with a vague printer configuration and a particularly difficult coffee style drink while outside my window, Rex the security guard swept leaves, red and golden and bronze in the muted sunshine, maple and ash and beech, all along Isolation Hospital Lane.
This is where Company X employees – help desk staff mainly, owing to their lifestyle choices – are sent to recuperate from scarlet fever or leprosy or genital warts or whatever is ailing them. The welcome sign above the door – Bill Surname CEO’s style all over it - urges new patients to “take a long hard look at themselves” and to use this time away to “dwell upon the consequences of their actions, before somebody else does,” but I’d surprised if anybody ever has.

The crackly bing bong public address system fizzed into life and Charlotte, Bill Surname’s loyal PA, hawked up a grolly before reading his latest pronouncement.
“Following the complete failure of capitalism as a viable economic model, Bill Surname has asked me to inform you that Company X will no longer be supplying employees with gel grip pens. Until further notice we will only stock cheap scabby biros. He has also asked that all staff use the stairs. Thank you and bing bong.”

Poor Charlotte – it’s a difficult time for her, what with global recession and the banks pissing away everybody’s savings and the terrifying, omniscient specter that is Robert Peston laughing with glee as he leads us all into the abyss, and now this: Bill Surname, the only man she has ever loved, if only he knew it, says if we don’t look smart quick sharp then we’ll all be in the soup, “and that means you, Charlotte. Erm, Siobhan. No, I was right first time - it’s Sharleen, isn’t it?”

I imagine her drizzling the midnight oil in her kitchen laboratory, green skinned under blinking fluorescent lights, with a bottle of good red in one hand and a Bunsen burner in the other: Charlotte the Alchemist, searching deep in her soul for a way to turn attention into affection. “If only I wasn’t so invisible, that would surely be a start.”

Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, is tackling the economic downturn head on through the medium of interpretative dance.
She “Ohmmms!” and she “Aaaghs!” and has taken to wearing brightly coloured leotards around the office in an effort to scare the negativity away.
“What economics boils down to is belief and promises – that’s all there is, my friend Becky says.”
“The only thing middle England is good for is paying the bills,” grumbled Creepy Keith from Accounts, who can’t even make an omelette without breaking a few promises. ”Gordon Brown doesn’t want you to enjoy anything.”
“The lady at the gate with the dreamy soft white baps is selling fireworks now as well,” Stella said, standing on one leg. “Now there’s a girl with self-belief. She’d only got one left when I went for my leek and potato.”
“Banger?” asked Keith.
“I wish. What do you think, Tim?”
”I think you can say what you like about Charlotte,” I answered, “but she stocks a mean stationery cupboard. This is going to hit her badly.”

Tonight in the rifle range at barbershop practice we will sing “I'm down and out today and you may say that I'm a flop,” with full gestures, and there’ll be an icy bite in the air, and grit on the road, and if last time is anything to go by, just a little tetchiness on the risers, coming mainly from me I confess.
While trying to remember the words and tune and dance routine, I think about belief and promises and coughing up to the bearer on demand, and the relative worth of commitment, up and down, down and up; corrections and fluctuations and the poor sods over at the isolation hospital; things which get better before they get worse; things which get worse before they get better.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Pet food conspiracy theorists used to witter on about Whiskas containing heroin.
It’s always seemed terrifically unlikely to me. I’ve no idea how much a scoop of heroin costs – is that the correct terminology? - but I’d guess that a tin of Whiskas is far cheaper, so how come you never see eight out of ten junkies slumped face down in a saucer of Tuna in Jelly?

I’ve been thinking about this because of the way our local sparrow community goes positively mental when we put their peanuts out. They’re eating us out of house and home.
At first it was a delight to see so many of them gathered around the feeder. How munificent I am! How very popular!
It's kind of thrilling to look out of the window each morning and see so many creatures enjoying the benefit of your goodness; the ornithological equivalent of opening your Inbox and finding yourself inundated with half a dozen Facebook friend requests.

We’ve put nuts out for the birds before now, but just lately consumption has shot through the roof. The little sods are getting through a full feeder's worth every five days. It used to be three or four times that, at least.
I’ve given the matter considerable thought and can only conclude that they've started coating peanuts in crack cocaine. It's the only explanation that makes any kind of sense.

We've created a ghetto in our own back garden. You should see the state of my pyjamas after I've been on a refilling mission, especially when the feeder's been empty for any amount of time. Angry little buggers. Those conspiracy theorists need to be careful what they wish for.

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