No, it’s true, honestly.
I don’t know I how I do it but when I’m here things are calm and reasonable. When I’m not all hell breaks loose and the agents of chaos roam free over the landscape doing whatever it is agents of chaos do. Unpredictable stuff. Wearing odd coloured socks. Driving their cars upside down. Forming coalition governments. Whatever.
Take last Friday. I take the day off. It’s my wedding anniversary. 6th if you must know. I’m not at work. Karen and I spend the day in Stowe-On-The-Wold and Moreton-in-the-Marsh (basically we like places with hyphenated names – it’ll be Horton-in-Ribblesdale and Langwith-Whaley-Thorns next year, mark my words).
We have a lovely time freed from the whip-crack and joy-ruin of work. We mooch, we shop, we eat and wonder why we can’t spend every day like this for the rest of our lives... curse you, mammon and the need for mammon!
When we return home I – as I often do – log into my work emails.
I’m not sure why I do this. Why I give up my free time to connect with an environment which over the years has become anathema to me. But I do it. I think I just want to be forewarned of any impending trouble before I return. Give myself loin-girding time. Because I have learned from experience that whenever I am not at work shit happens. Worse shit than would normally have happened had I been there to shit-manage it. (Are you noticing all these rogue-hyphens?)
So I log-in wondering what could have befallen the old girl this time (my place of work that is).
Will it be a flood again as has happened on previous occasions? Will it be a bunch of hoodies steaming the crowds in the foyer and having to be kettled off the premises by the local constabulary? Will it be an amorous couple of tramps in the public toilets getting passionate together and deciding to mix-and-match their fleas in the most intimate manner possible?
This time in my absence there was a fire. On the boardwalk at the back of the building that allows passersby to admire the River Leam. It seems that a bunch of daft school-leavers thought it might be a jolly jape to make a little pile of their now-obsolete school books on the wooden boardwalk and set light to them.
Some kind of ritual cleansing of their school days. Alma mater immolated.
Cue the bods in the office wondering what the smell was and assuming that the laminating machine had been left switched on. Cue black smoke coming in through the windows. Cue the fire brigade turning up and hosing down and cutting out and heading off, leaving a small black edged hole in the boardwalk right outside a ruddy fire escape.
Cue me laughing my dyed-in-the-wool socks off that something else stupid and mad has happened yet again the one time I am not on the premises to deal with it.
I swear I do not know how I do it. Some kind of morphic field manipulation perhaps? When I am here I exude a field of relative calm and order that envelopes the entire building much like the protective charm that the professors put around Hogwarts in The Deathly Hallows Part 2. The agents of chaos find themselves dissuaded from entering and causing havoc.
My pheromones have Zen-like qualities. All breathe deep and be at peace.
And in... and out... there. Feeling any better?
Either way I think my employers ought to review my fiscal remuneration in light of my chaos-soothing qualities or I might decide to take them elsewhere. I mean, I’m sure BP would pay a fortune for a guy like me that could greatly reduce their propensity for unplanned-for foul-ups. Even BSkyB would benefit from my becalming influence.
Now all I have to do is pay those bloody kids off. Sodding “hush-money” indeed. Right avaricious little buggers kids are these days, I’m telling you. We’d have set fire to stuff for free in my day...