Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Blooming Heather 

Oh the summertime is coming and the trees are sweetly blooming, and the wild mountain thyme grows around the blooming heather, and the blooming crackly bing bong public address system fizz pops into life, you hear Charlotte, Bill Surname CEO’s loyal PA, clearing her pipes, and we’re on the air in Three… Two… One... and you wake from your reveries, wipe the dribble from your chin – Will ye go, Lassie, go? - and we’re back.

The theme of this morning’s announcement is Family.
“Bill Surname has asked me to inform you that we are living in 2.0 times,” she reads. “Internet 2.0: it's here, right now, in Preston 2.0, 2009 2.0. The Information Age is pouring down in buckets and we must all huddle together beneath the Company X umbrella and try to make the best of it.”

While we listen, Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, humming contentedly, arranges pies on a gingham tablecloth spread over Mike’s desk, who is away this week for corrective treatment.

“Customer loyalty is vitally bloody important, Charlotte,” reads Charlotte. “And to this end we introduce the One Big Family Project. From today, customers must no longer be called customers, but will instead be called Family. Common employees and directors alike are to be considered Family. Rex the Security Guard, the lady at the gate with the dreamy soft white baps, the nameless gentleman who removes stains from the upholstery in our sales-team's cars: all One Big Family.”

“These pies are Apple,” whispers Stella. “I made them. Now my friend Becky made these ones, which are Blackberry. And these in the middle, we’re not sure what they are, Tim, so for now we’re calling them Nokia.”

“A steering committee is investigating the creation of a Company X Twitter account, which will be in place by Spring 2010,” Charlotte continues. “And a Company X blog could be implemented as soon as Christmas after next. So on behalf of myself, Bill Surname, and the board of directors, we urge you to embrace clients old and new into the Company X Family, share ideas and innovations, communicate freely, and engage regularly in every kind of intercourse. Podcasts may follow. Bing bong.”

Poor Charlotte – it's a difficult time for her, what with the complete annihilation of all that is decent and good in the world: moral collapse in the Houses of Parliament; Swine Flu destined to kill more or less everyone; the International Banking System revealed to be little other than a shabby, grasping band of toffs whose greed is exceeded only by their stupidity - “Mummy, Mummy! They won’t let me have my pension!” “Well you broke the bank, Freddie. What did you expect?” - and now this...

“Oh cruel irony, why do you torment me so?”
Bill Surname, the only man she has ever loved, if only he knew it, expects her to cultivate an atmosphere of mutually matey kinship among Company X stakeholders, “Or,” he says, “it’s the stock pot for you, Charlotte, Tiddly Pom.”
“Oh my handsome Bill Surname CEO, why were you and I never Family?” she cries in the pitiless night. “Why did we never wed?”

But what can poor Charlotte do?
She decides that if Family is the goal, then Baking is the road map. With the help of the Company X sisterhood (Stella and Tabs, take a bow), she knocks up a triumphant flashmob of pies, puddings and baked goods to accompany the launch of the One Big Family Project.

“What do you think, Tim?” asks Stella, later on, after the going home bell has rung and everybody has cleared off.
“Social media will never take off,” I say. “Blogging? What a load of garbage.”
“No, I mean the pies. I think this is one of mine. Rhubarb and apricot, possibly?”
“There’s too many pies and too many fingers in them,” I grumble. “Twitter, I ask you? Who cares?”
Stella sighs.
“My friend Becky says I can stick my finger in hers whenever I like.” A dreamy expression falls upon her as she proudly surveys the empty dishes around the office. “We were at it all night.”

Her phone bleeps and she gathers up her things.
“Seemed to go down very well, though,” I say.
“Tim, that’s what my friend Becky is all about,” and before I can say anything else, Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader, is outside, skipping across the car park in the blazing afternoon heat, out towards the gate, where her good and true friend Becky is waiting with her engine running and her top off, soaking up the rays, the hopeful city of Preston shimmering behind them like a Hollywood backdrop in the golden Lancashire haze, dripping with sunshine, bursting with wholesome outdoorsy goodness, and we’ll all go together, to pick wild mountain thyme all around the blooming heather, will ye go, Lassie, go?

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