Friday, January 30, 2009


In the bleak midwinter frosty wind made moan, but not half as much as my stomach, which refuses to STFU.
“I'm famished,” it whinges. “Let’s eat.”
“Have you got worms? You’ve only just had breakfast,” I reply.
“Ooh! Ooh! There's still some of Creepy Keith from Account's old mince pies in the stationery cupboard!”
“You've got to be kidding.”

It’s been a dowdy old month. We gained Barack Obama but lost Tony Hart and John Martyn.
With every new day economic forecasters predict it’s going to be worse than what they said yesterday.
Bankers, bemused as they are baffled at how they’ve brought the world to its knees, help themselves to huge bonuses, because that is all they know. Then they're baffled by the outcry.
They’re striking at the refineries, the dole queue is lengthening with every news cycle, down and down and down we go into the murky depths of woe, nothing to be done but brushing twice daily and hoping that the crops don’t fail, and this morning we received the news that Creepy Keith from Accounts has broken up with Advantage, his lady friend from the Runcorn and Widnes area.

“Aww, that’s a shame,” said Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, when the story broke. “You liked her, didn’t you?”
“I liked her arse,” Keith replied.
“How about a sort of cake thing from the machine?” groaned my stomach. “What do you say we have early elevenses?”
“It was by mutual agreement,” sighed Keith. “Ours was a brief but passionate affair. We banged like fireworks in the night sky.” Stella sighed too. “It was an amazing journey for both us, but in our hearts we knew it had run its course by Charnock Richard.”
“Bollocks. You got dumped, didn’t you?”
“Get lost,” he answered. “I dumped her if you must know. It was costing me a fortune in petrol.”
“I knew it!” she laughed. “I knew you’d be too tight to sustain a middle distance relationship.”
“So anyway. Why don’t you and me give it another try, Stella? How about it? I’m footloose and disease free.”
“Let me think about that for a few minutes, Keith,” she said. “Time’s up. No freaking chance.”
“Oh come on. You’re not doing anything,” he pleaded. “Let me take you out tonight and I’ll show you what I’ve learned.”

At that moment my stomach made a rumble of Richter scale magnitude. The entire building shook. Car alarms hollered in the car park. From my desk, whole sheets of paper fluttered to the floor. Stella and Keith fell silent. They stood in the doorway staring at me.
“Oops,” I said sheepishly. “Must be feeling a bit peckish.”
“Here,” said Keith. He delved deep into his manbag and threw me a banana.

Keith’s banana felt soft and warm in my hands. I carefully peeled away the browning spotty skin then, with some trepidation, put the squishy flesh in my mouth. I wanted to eat it, I really did, but it tasted rank and I couldn’t go through with it.
“Nothing personal, Keith,” I gagged, “but that’s disgusting. Sorry.”
“What is it with bananas?” he fumed. “That was good and hard when I left the house. By the time I've come to work it’s soft as shit.”
“My friend Becky gives me one every morning,” said Stella, seeing her chance. She rifled through her handbag and pulled out a long, curved purple thing. “See if this is more to your taste, Tim.”

She handed me the strange plastic object and I undid the clasp, and there inside the casing was a perfect yellow banana. I devoured it slowly, savouring every bite. Stella looked delighted, Keith less so. Uneasy silence filled the room, all but for the sound of my joyful masticating.

“So do we have a date tonight or not?” he asked when I eventually finished. He picked up the purple case and examined it with a look of contempt.
“Not,” she answered calmly. “I would say definitely not.”
“I don’t know why I bother, Stella,” he shouted. “Same bloody difference at the end of the day,” and with that he stormed out of the room, slamming the banana case on my desk next to where his flaccid fruit lay.

“Duh, Captain Obvious. The difference is…” Stella yelled down the corridor after him. “…The difference is that my friend Becky’s never goes soft before I’ve come.”

I poured some coffee style drink down my shirt, threw the uneaten banana in my wastebasket, then set about picking up all the sheets of paper that had fallen to the floor, re-arranging them into the correct order. It took up most of the rest of the day, but didn’t really take my mind off it.

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