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Steph was standing at the door getting ready to go home when I thanked her for organising permission to film in the office.
Then, because I had taken 2 Syndol for period pain and it had loosened my restraints, I told her I was getting married.
Next I went in to some detail about how unhappy Cathy's mother had been when Cathy had told her about the wedding.
I was still talking at her when the phone rang.
'Sorry, I have to get this Steph,' I said, pressing the ready button & saying, 'Good evening ......... Toni speaking, how can I help?'
Today, after we got the quote for the cutlery and crockery hire for our wedding, I went online and bought 200 self-composting environmentally friendly paper bowls and plates for £39.95.
Then Cathy went to PoundStretchers in the car and came home with 60 knives, forks and spoons. "Guess how much?" she said as she put the bags down on my office floor.
"25 quid", she said before I had a chance to guess.
I was in the middle of telling Louise about it at work when Carrie arrived and said, "The food for our wedding? About 6 grand."
I don't know if it was the espresso choc from the vending machine or the tension bought on by the film, but after Cathy brought my laptop in to work and me and Alex and Tina started watching that Australian horror flick, Wolf Creek, on DVD, I had what I might describe as a panic attack and, on deciding to take the film home and burn it lest anyone else might have to go through what I was going through, left them to watch the rest of it and went back to my desk and read Clare Shorts autobiography instead.
Today the plates arrived. A small pile, that’s what I noticed.
I was wondering how they would look on the table. Not very high. They wont be a high stack like if they were fired white clay.
They will look like what they are, beige self-composting paper plates that don’t require washing up. I thought briefly about getting one out and putting some food in it, a test run. But then the cat got in the box and sat on them and I started laughing because I realised the cat didn’t give a shit about what they were made of.
Going down to Carterton-
We went out this afternoon in the car. She was bored with her work and wanted to go for a drive and had been waiting for me to finish a lecture I was having online, for my course, with a documentary maker called Jeanie.
We got in the car, when that was all, over and after we went to get some petrol, weren’t really too sure where to go.
Then she said, “Let’s go to Carterton.”
I know a lot of people who live there and was excited by the thought because I hadn’t been there.
The first shop we went into didn't have,
surprisingly, anything that appealed.
The second shop we went in to was selling
embroidered shirts for a hundred quid that
looked like they were made of tissue paper.
So I didn't get one from there.
The third shop had a lot of plump boys on staff and all of them looked like Kelly Osborne.
The fourth shop had something that was almost appropriate but had the feel of dried fish against my skin.
In the fourth shop I began to lose heart and decided on something I'd seen back in the third.
I once worked in a hardware shop. When I took the job I thought it would be romantic.
Let me explain why. My father had been a builder and I grew up around tradesmen.
I thought that working in a hardware shop might bring me into contact with men like him and the men who worked with him.
It didn't. Because this wasn't really a hardware store. Not like the one where my dad used to go, where the people who worked there knew about screws and nails and drills and what a 4x2 was.
This was a fucking chainstore
When I get to work Jenny gives me a printed email someone has circulated about a kid in South Africa with a brain tumour. Its parents are appealing for cash to have the tumour removed.
I don't want to sound like a cunt but I say to Jenny, "Jenny, have you checked that this is valid?" She says she hasn't. "It could be a scam." I say. There's a photograph of them and their tumour baby. A tasteful black and white shot of them lying with the sleeping babies head sandwiched between theirs.
Not a nasal tube in sight.
Friday night nothing happened. We sat there the three of us doing nothing.
Then we talked about weddings.
Then I laid on the floor with my feet up on the wall to let the blood drain.
Clare stayed on the internet because she discovered she had it again.
Carrie read a magazine and gave us her wedding invitations.
She said I had to RSVP. I asked her how one went about that.
'Go to the shop and buy a special card.' she said.
'Fuck that.' I said and drew her a cartoon of her and Shaun in their wedding gear.
Because Clare had the internet again we could look at the films I make for my course so I showed Clare and Carrie.
They laughed seeing themselves. Like someone might giggle when the see themselves on tv.
I wondered what it was about seeing your own face in something that wasn't a mirror.
Was it the fact that it was public?
That someone might see them? Did it feel like fame? That someone who wasn't them would see them and think them someone important because they had stepped out of real life?
I reminded myself to remember to ask them.
I went on the bus to Oxford to get some trousers for my wedding.
At first I sat up the front of the bus but the window was dirty so I moved to the back.
Up there were some girls with a mobile phone playing tinny music, one ear phone in their ear each, saying fuck every second word and dancing in their seats. It made me think about a time I shouted at some teenagers who were playing their phone too loud on the 100 to Oxford.
Some people got embarrassed that I shouted, most of all them.
In the Primark in Oxford a sullen girl gave me a token so I could take a shirt into the change room and try it on. I had wanted to buy a shirt from GAP but being a student I felt it a bit frivolous when I could get one a lot cheaper somewhere else.
I do love GAP shirts, but I had already gotten the trousers there and I didn't want to spend any more than I did not have.
The sullen assistant 'tsked' me because I left the token in the change room.
Ill humoured wretched shop girl.
Tonight at work there's nothing to do.
I take 4 calls.
Alison even less.
We can't work if no one calls.
'Do you think we'll get laid off?' I say.
Carrie says she's skint.
'And me.' says Alison.
I say nothing but I am too but can't summon the energy to say it.
Alison gets up to get some water.
She asks us if we want anything.
Carrie says she wants some water and I'd like a tea but someone's thrown my green tea leaves away again.
'My feet stink.' says Carrie, putting them up on the desk.
The first thing I do when I get to work is ask Emma if she got Carrie's email about the snakes.
'Yeh,' she says, 'but I don't think him indoors would want an albino python.'
Then, because were talking about snakes and they go together, we start talking about spiders.
'You shouldn't be scared of spiders,' says Gillian in a fake Australian accent, 'you're from the land of spiders, cobber.'
We laugh for a while and then I say, 'They live under the handles of your rubbish bins and get you when you're least expecting it.'
And they stop laughing.
Someone calls up looking for the buying office. Alison puts the caller on hold and asks us if we know where it is.
'Tell her it closed down.' I say.
'Tell her it burned down.' Says Clare and we start laughing.
Then for something to do I get one of the magazines that advertises products we sell and find a picture of Elizabeth Hurley advertising useless face cream and cut her eyes out and stick them on my closed eyelids and tell Clare and Carrie to look at me and we laugh until Al says it's still only to 7.
The dream I had last night- part one.
Last night I dreamed that I was failing my course. My 2 lecturers came up to me at school and told me and at that point I realised that in fact I hadn't done any work and wasn't capable of doing any.
So I went for a walk, in my suit, to try to work out how I could get some of this work done.
During the walk I passed a train station where some university students were harassing a newspaper seller and his legless wife who were both dressed in rags.
The dream I had last night- part two.
I felt so sorry for the newspaper seller and particularly the wife who was down on the ground on a skateboard trying to shooh away the university students that I became enraged and attacked the students, tearing their clothes off in an attempt to humiliate them.
Then I shoved them through a barrier, naked, and picked up my notebook and left the train station and walked toward the beach which, even though it was night, was full of swimmers and people having parties. I felt out of place in my grey suit.
The dream I had last night- part three
I walked in the sand for a bit, behind the swimmers so I wouldn't be noticed, and then walked on toward the university campus, where I supposed I would find the answers to why I didn't have any school work done and therefore was about to fail my course.
On the way there I ran into three women and a child. They were all black and the child had a doll in it's hand and the adults were dressed in large skirts and head dress and they were talking quietly and laughing.
At 24 past 7 I say to Alison, "Al, its not even half past 7" 'I know. Awful.' She says. 'I might look for another job.' I tell her. 'But where else pays 7 pounds an hour for doing nothing?' I look past Alison toward the back of the office where the more important members of staff sit. There are 2 of them left, clacking on their keyboards at half past 7 when they don't even have to be here. 'I couldn't work here everyday,' I say. 'Imagine living in this 8 hours a day, says Alison, 'seeing no sunlight.'
Tonight is the first time since just after christmas that I start thinking it might be time to move on, workwise.
There's only me and Alison in tonight and I spend the evening with my feet up on my desk reading Friday's copy of the Daily Mail.
On the front page is a story about a policeman's daughter who has died from an overdose of alcohol. There's a picture of her smiling and wearing glasses while inside there's a picture of her distraught father. I wonder which cunt on the staff of the Daily Mail decided this was national news.
When I get to work Maria comes over and says, 'Ask Alex how to do catalogues before he leaves.' 'Why?' I say, 'don't you know how to do them?' She laughs.
I look over at Alex who is sitting at one of the computer islands putting catalogues and address slips into envelopes for mailing out to customers, wearing a mauve shirt and black slacks.
He told me once that he'd worked in a bank for 13 years before he came to the call centre.
And that he enjoyed it.
Despite that, Alex is popular and well known for his burping.
On Thursday Clare, Alison and I spend the first part of the evening putting catalogues and discount inserts into envelopes ready for mailing.
Clare sits on one side, Alison in the middle and me to the right. I insert the discount flyer into the catalogue and then pass it over to Alison who inserts another flyer and places the a4 sheet with an address on it over the top and then passes it to Clare who puts them in an envelope.
'What were the names of the 7 dwarfs?' Clare says and starts whistling the theme tune to the film.
Tonight at work there's nothing to do so I start thinking about a framed page that hangs on the wall of my office.
It's a picture of my high school basketball team that my best friend had torn out of the yearbook and mailed to me.
In it, the boys stand in line as if they're waiting for the music to start for the cha-cha and features two boys with whom I had sex and 2 with whom my best friend also had sex.
Underneath them she has written, in black felt pen, '8 Good reasons to be a lesbian.'
Cathy doesn't want to move the cat.
The cat lies between her legs and she feels bad about making it wake up.
She feels bad because she accidentally punched the cat in the face today while cleaning some fluff off the stairs.
“The cat thought I was trying to play, it was behind me and jumped at my hand and I punched her in the cheek.”
The cat also got bitten by a bee in it's mouth this morning when it tried to catch one that was taking off from the fountain.
It's been a violent day for the cat.
Cathy goes into the kitchen when she gets back from the bedroom with her book.
'Having another gin are we?” I say to her.
“No,” she says, “I'm having some water actually.” Cathy likes gin and is a moderate drinker. Unlike me. Me in the old days, not the new days of now when no drink passes my lips.
Her dad likes a drink. He's 89 or something and gets drunk everyday. He is much more lucid when drunk. Recently he had a heart attack outside a cardiologists office and they fitted a pacemaker.
Obviously not right there and then.
The mother is a different story.
Less likely to get pissed.
In fact she probably has not ever been pissed in her life.
She's an Englishwoman, and he, her dad, is an American who was born in Italy but went to Brooklyn when he was a boy.
Then the whole family went back to Italy, where the mother died and then back again to New York.
He is a big tall Italian American who worked for the airlines. Pan Am, I think, in the days when it was glamorous career and not like a waiter in the sky.
Tonight at work Alex started telling me about his wife but ended up explaining to me that he thinks the reason he doesn't have any ambition is because of his motorbike accident.
“Were you in a coma?” I ask him.
“Yes. Three weeks,' he says.
'Jesus, did you have to learn to do everything again?' I say.
'I was 7 stone at one point,' he tells me.
'Pre crash I was 11 stone. They kept me on at the bank though, which was good of them.'
'How old were you?'
'17,' he says, 'I am so lucky to be alive.'
I wake up.
I have green tea.
I go to work.
I make phone calls.
People says 'Yes.'
People say 'No'.
People say 'Maybe, send me some information.'
I get on my bicycle.
I come home.
She goes out.
I sit down.
They guy brings the tiles for the fountain so I stand up.
She comes home.
I get some orange juice.
She goes upstairs.
I sit down.
I get up.
I don't know where she is.
The cat's on the chair.
I rub its guts.
Then I sit down in another spot to write this.
'Clare will be late'
Clare's in Milton Keynes
Carrie's moving her mouth, telling me
No sound coming out
Sharon is standing behind her
Sharon is then moving fast around the office
There's been drama today
The client didn't get something the client needs
Sharon now stands in the middle of the office floor
Hands on hips.
I say to Carrie, soundless
Milton Keynes she says back soundless
Then out loud to Sharon
'Stuart isn't at home'
'Men' Sharon laughs
Carrie looking at me says, soundless
'Clare, you goose'
When we got to the Indian on Corn street Veronica was already there, reading her book and drinking a glass of white wine. Some people were talking at her when we walked in and she had to finish up her conversation with them before paying full attention to us. She had said her good byes and we were escorted to our table by a waiter. After he seated us everyone ordered drinks. Veronica must have been there a few times because the waiter addressed her as Mrs Wood and before we left said, “Say hello to Mr Wood from me.'
The fountain in the yard needs tiling. The paint is peeling off and is looking like the wall on a neglected Italian villa.
There's so much wind today that tiling would be a real chore so the task is put off until Wednesday when the forecast shows the wind will have calmed.
It's one of those winds that makes you nervous, blowing up bits of grit from the footpath that stick on your eyelids and fall in your eyes later on in the evening when you're not expecting it and you think, 'Where the fuck did that grit come from?'
The Tip Jar