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...
I can recommend Ashton-under-Lyne... oh, and nearer to home how about Kirky-la-Thorpe? Witney-Scrotum? Crinkly Bottom?
TheDotterel: Witney-Scrotum? I didn't even know the legendary soul-singing-diva had remarried!
A small black edged hole by the fire escape...ideal then. I don't recommend Newcastle-under-Lyme
Nota Bene: what about upon-Tyne?
I do hope you and Karen live in a cul-de-sac as that would make staying at home all the more enjoyable.
Are you sure it was local kids setting the place on fire and not your work colleagues having a jolly barbecue while you were off the premises?
Never-ever-check-your-emails-when-you-are-on-holiday!!!! Ciao. A.x
Trish: a barbecue to celebrate my absence?!? Perish the thought. Normally they just burn a little effigy of me... ah. I think I can see what happened.
Indispensable, that's what you are! No doubt this is reflected in your pay packet......
Martin: you were on target up to "No doubt..."
Quick! Before any repairs are done call a sudden fire drill in the office in order not to miss the chance of your dear colleagues using the fire escape.
The fly in the web: that's just mean and wicked.
(All booked in for tomorrow morning just before tea break.)
Now if you could only bottle that quality and sell it, you'd be a rich man in no time...
Perhaps Stratford-upon-Avon remains the hyphenated destination of choice, for literate citizens ?
Along with the mooching with your other half, I hope you squeezed in some smooching too into that busy schedule... (prounounced : SH-eduel)
Finally, lovely to see the word "mammon" being used ! The last time I saw that written was in one of Robert William Service's poems titled The Munitions Makers where he says, "Ye fools, be not by mammon cowed" ; a fine line of poetry if there ever was one. (The poem, btw, was set to music at one point by Country Joe McDonald, who performed at Woodstock...)
be careful or they may start cutting back on your holidays...seems they are dangerous things to allow...
Owen: fear not there was smooching a-plenty. And some of it was even with my wife. :-) As for mammon; it's such a great word but one, alas, that is used far too often. Perhaps if we all paid attention to the danger of mammon more often the world would be a much nicer place?
Heather: bugger. I didn't think of that. Maybe I need to reverse the polarity somehow? Only have disasters when I'm at work and peace and calm when I'm not there? Yes, that's it! That'll safeguard my job for the future!
Zen bringing is a great gift, with great responsibilities.... no wait, that's spider's webs from your wrists... well what ever, guard it well young Steve, and bestow it only on those worthy.
And I can vouch that Newcastle-upon-Tyne is a cracking place.
Although I am staying in a place just outside called Chester-le-street, which isn't quite as... cultural.
Keith: how can Chester-le-Street not be cultural when it has hyphens? They are the very moniker of high class breeding.
So what youre really saying is – a) Your day off on Friday in Stowe-in-the-Wold-Moreton-in-the-Marsh-with-Karen was your pre planned alibi. b) You checked your work mails ostensibly only to establish the extent of the damage caused by those young ninjas you hired sometime earlier. c) You’re now kicking yourself in the ear that you didn’t pay them the full tenner they originally asked for to get the job done properly, and raise the building to the ground.
Tut, tut, tut Stephen. You get what you pay for chap.
Bish Bosh Bash: 'ere gov, you been to Hendon or summat? You're good you are, no serious, like. Got me bang to rights and everything. Bleedin' Inspector Frost you are. Well fine. I'll cough to the lot. But you just know I'll be out in five with a decent lawyer and a doc saying I got PTSD...
You must be like a voodoo charm that scares away evil spirits. If I were your boss I would put you on a totem pole and let you make faces.
Gorilla Bananas: how.
We don't have hyphens here. Though we do have Dildo - lovely town, beautiful view.
I can't get the image of you masterminding this (somehow) out of my head, nor the vision of your colleagues leaving the fire escape and dropping down through the burn hole in the boardwalk one after the other. Like lemmings.
Readily A Parent: does it have its own generator or does it have to be hooked up the grid?
Being Me: mwah ha ha ha! *twirls moustache*
I always log in too - bad habit; must stop it... tomorrow will be my last day...
Mark: retiring or pastures new? Big congratulations either way.
Good to see someone else still uses hyphens - even if they are part of the landscape.
Lady Mondegreen's Secret Garden: land-scape?
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