Monday, February 15, 2010

Figure 8 

A White Christmas, then an even whiter January – the whole country become a skating rink, everybody waddling like penguins and realising “Oh, so that’s why they walk like that” – and now Valentine’s Day has been and gone and there’s still no sign of a let up. Daffodils? Not-bloody-likely-dils.

“Did you get a Valentine’s card from Advantage?” crows Stella, my eighties style yuppie witch of a team leader.
“Nope,” replies Creepy Keith from Accounts.
“Aww, that’s a shame, Keith. She stole your heart, then she stole your telly and most of your furniture.”
“She didn’t steal them. She asked if she could have them and I said yes.”
“Same difference.”
“Her need was greater than mine,” says Keith.
“There’s a lot you don’t understand about women’s needs, Keith.”

Outside my window, Rex the Security Guard is sawing fallen branches from the beech copse then wheel barrowing them to the wood shed. A cheeky little robin perches on his chainsaw. Geraldine the Company X goat gambols playfully behind him, her dainty footprints in the snow resembling one of those illustrations you’d use for learning to dance, the Tango or maybe the Cha-cha-cha, if you were a quadruped.

The crackly bing bong public address system fizzles and pops into life and all work stops while Charlotte, Bill Surname’s loyal PA, lectures us on the energy crisis, on the importance of closing windows, of opening doors only when strictly necessary. Persons wishing to exit the building should only do so in groups of three or more, likewise re-entry, and especially at the rear.
Poor Charlotte – it’s a difficult time for her, what with the never ending recession and the death of all hope, and now this: Bill Surname CEO, the only man she has ever loved - if only he knew it! – says he wants to see a 10% reduction in heating bills or she’ll be in hot water.
“It’s the lobster pot for you Charlotte, splish splosh,” and clinging to his every utterance as if they were lifebelts and her life was a frozen lake that she’d just fallen through, frantic, gasping for breath, she believes him, poor stick.

Later on, after the going home bell has rung and everybody else has scarpered, Stella asks if we ever did come to a decision over the central heating question.
Keith had said he has his central heating on all day, even when he’s out. He said it’s more efficient to maintain a constant temperature than repeat an intensive cycle of heating and cooling, heating and cooling.
Everyone disagreed. No, no, no, the heating goes off before bedtime and only comes on in the day at weekends. That’s bollocks, Keith.
Debate raged for, oh, a good twenty minutes, until Keith played the “That’s What Hitler Would Say” card, as he always does, bringing the discussion to an abrupt end.

“Wouldn’t it be weird though, Tim? If Keith was right about something?” asks Stella, as she puts away her laptop and gathers her stuff.
“About having your heating on all the time?” I reply. “I don’t know. It seems unlikely.”
“He’s talking rubbish. When I stay at my friend Becky’s we have it off all night, and we’re always toasty.”
As if on cue, Stella’s phone bleeps and she puts on her coat and scarf. “That’ll be her now.”
“Probability would say he can’t go on being wrong forever,” I suggest, but by now she’s outside, figure skating across the car park in the dusk, lighter than air, joyful as a child, to where her true and good friend Becky is waiting in the car, engine ticking over, idling.

There’s a new moon in the sky and it looks like a smile.

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