Friday, 26 August 2005

The Scent of Summer

As I wandered happily through the Meadows, I found myself temporarily filled with Joi d’ Vive. A gentle breeze rustled through the trees and the air was filled with the scent of summer. True, on the odd patch of pavement, this consisted mainly of the smell of petrified dog turd, but in the main, my nostrils were filled with the odour of cut grass, sizzling barbeques and ice cream. As always in the city of Rottingham on Trent, this mood is often the prelude to the appearance of something abysmal.

As I wandered along I recalled in my head the eloquent verses of William Blake’s ode to summer

‘O thou, who passest thro’ our vallies in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer,
Oft pitched’st here thy golden tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy, thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair…….FUCKING PERVERT!!!!!!!!’

My train of thought had once again been cast asunder by a barrage of expletives. Usually these come from hooded teenagers outside the Bridgeway centre, but I sensed these came from something altogether more terrible. I turned in the direction from which the shouting had come and beheld the ugliest creature I had ever seen. Its head was completely bald except for a few straggly threads of hair and it was wearing what appeared to be a tea cosy. It’s ears were red in texture and pitched forward so that its face was oddly reminiscent of a dormouse. It wore a stained T shirt and ripped jeans, its head was held rigid in what appeared to be a neck brace. In it’s right hand it clutched a bottle of carbon white, the low budget alchie’s tipple of choice.

‘FUCK OFF, F F F F FFUCKING PERVERT’

The woman -at least I thought it was a woman, the thing appeared to be genderless- staggered ever closer, as she approached I detected that delightful cocktail of aromas that occur when you relive yourself in your underwear but can’t be bothered changing. I found it hard to determine whether she was addressing me, it seemed not to matter. Hurriedly I sped up my stride and wandered home as quick as I could. Later Katie saw the creature flashing her breasts at the bus stop, putting beyond doubt the question of her sex, and later investigations revealed her name to be Rita. Apparently she is a local resident of some note.

In the Office kitchenette, the laws of the frontier apply. Pathetic attempts to establish the rule of law through reproachful messages, such as ‘Please stop stealing our milk’, are completely ignored. Some of the more deluded members of staff attempt to protect their milk using the flawed policy of writing their name on the carton. In my view, this displays a tactical naivety not seen since the Mexican general Santa Anna decided it would be a great idea to make his entire army take a siesta in the middle of a war zone. The reality is that in the shared kitchen, any system of ownership is frowned upon and I have enthusiastically adopted the methods of plunder demonstrated by my colleagues.



And yet, the kitchenette has a certain set of regulations. When sharing this space with another person the unspoken rule appears to be that you must stare blankly in front of you and make no attempt to communicate whatsoever, all the while shuffling uncomfortably like a priest who has inadvertently wandered into a sex shop and found himself face to face with the Archbishop. I have noticed that this is also the correct procedure to follow when you are standing in the lift.

The main rule of the workplace is that you must be as incompetent as possible throughout your employment. A brief glance at the upper echelons of management in any office clearly demonstrates that being bad at your job is no barrier to promotion. Since it is against the law to write a bad reference, you need not also fear that your mistakes will linger like a black mark against your name. If you show even the tiniest shred of ability then you will inevitably fall foul of the process of ‘delegation’, whereby people higher in the office food chain than you, will heap all of their work on your desk and expect you to merrily plough through it. I find myself wishing I had worked out the peculiarities of this system before falling foul of it. I have decided that in the future I shall emulate the emperor Claudius by pretending to be a hopeless halfwit; who knows, In the topsy turby world of the council this might even earn me a promotion and an upgrade to a scale 2 salary.

The phone next to me rang ominously and, upon lifting the receiver, I found myself on the receiving end of a bollocking from a certain Mr Gentle – not the most appropriate of surnames, Mr Arsehole would have been far more suitable. The main focus of his complaint was that I had spelt his name as ‘Mr Grentle’ during one of my epic mail-merges. ‘It doesn’t say much about your organisation if you can’t even get my bloody name right’, he ranted down the line at me. Although I still have a certain amount of fear of answering the phone I have learned to deal with these situation by simply imagining that the person on the other end of the line is a truculent genie who has become inadvertently trapped in the receiver. ‘Oh Dear’ I replied, trying my hardest not to show even a shred of remorse. The letter I had sent him had asked him to write a reference for one of our clients and it was this, I detected, which was the real reason behind his anger. ‘Well what do you expect me to do, I’m far too busy to write a reference!’ he droned on incessantly. I felt this last statement was hugely ironic in view of the fact he had enough time on his hands to phone me up and complain about my badly spelt mail merge letter. After some negotiations he clamed down and the conversation ended with some attempt at a meeting of minds, namely that we both detested each other. The next series of phone calls I took came from outraged companies who were complaining that we had not only misspelled their name on their ‘Celebration Event’ invitation, but changed it beyond all recognition, and, as they rightly pointed out, we not did have the right to arbitrarily rename their company. Since these are the same companies we are trying to impress so that they take on our clients, this is somewhat unfortunate. Its amazing how much outrage a incompetent mail merge can create.

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