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Tonight Clare is horny so her and Alison spend a lot of time talking about sex but are eventually distracted by the new copy of the magazine that's just come in. Then, next thing I know, I look over and they're down on the carpet, Alison on her side with one leg hoisted ceiling-wards, demonstrating the position she likes to 'be taken' in. We all start laughing and I say, 'Shit, be careful that Zsolt doesn't see you.' Zsolt the Hungarian cleaner is still on the premises somewhere and I'm worried he might find this all a bit too much.
It's Saturday today and, unusually, I'm at work. Clare has called asking me to cover the lunch hour because Tina's called in sick. 'Mate,' she says when I answer the phone, 'you couldn't come in for a couple of hours over lunch could you so Jenny can go to the bank and I can get some food,' 'Certainly,' I say because I'm sat at home in front of the computer wasting the day anyway. 'I'm right in thinking I'll be getting paid,' I say to Clare. 'My oath, friend,' she says, laughing. 'See you in a bit then,' I say.
Tonight is Monday and, unusually, I am at work. Tonight I'm working with Alex, one of my favourites. The first night I became truly aware of Alex it was because of his burping but now, both of us being step parents, we have much more in common. Tonight Dave quizzes on being what its like to have step-children. 'What are you going to say when he says he's not going to do what you say because you're not his dad?' 'Tell him you might not be his dad but you're fucking his mum so he'd better do as he's told.'
Today was shit. Today was one of those days when not everything goes wrong, that's too banal. It's like one of those days of remorse for nothing in particular. That feeling of dreadful remorse for not having done anything that warrants the paranoia. Of course, it really is a luxury to feel that and only that. It could be worse. I could be hungry also or in a war zone or have had one of my children stolen from me and not know where it is. I don't have children but what could be worse than that if I did?
The first call I get tonight at work is from a man who has not only received the wrong order but to add insult to injury the replacement was sent to the wrong address. 'If you look at my order,' he WHINES, 'You'll notice it's been a series of disasters.' I listen on, giving the receiver the finger while the others laugh. I sit patiently listening, becoming more infuriated by his self-righteousness tone and the triviality of his complaints. 'The guy is obviously housebound,' I say when I finally get him off the phone, 'and his television's broken. Fucking prick.'
There was a guy sitting opposite me on the train to Leicester. At the same time I could hear music playing, and seeing he had a nice face I leaned forward and said, 'Is that music I can hear, is it coming out of your pocket,' He smiled at me and said 'No,' and tilted his head toward the woman in the seat behind is and said, 'I think it's coming from there.' He was right. I could see in the reflection of the window a sullen looking pouting teen who I assumed had her fucking mobile phone on loudspeaker.
I went down to the buffet car to get myself a newspaper because I was bored and wanted to do a crossword. I'd done one the night before that I had ripped out of the Daily Telegraph while I was having some coffee in the Costa on the Leicester High street. I was there because I was waiting to talk to Kate about my dissertation. I sat down to do it on the stairs of the café at the university opposite the IOCT where my meeting was going to take place at 5 pm. I finished it just in time.
Tonight we are going to a barbecue. It is quite rare for us to be invited to anyone's house to eat. I don't know why we don't get invited out very often. I don't think we are disliked, it's not that we are hated, we just don't have any friends like us. I'm not sure if it's a gay thing either. I wonder if I should bring it up in the middle of dinner, ask our hosts if they think no one invites us into their home because we're homosexual. Cathy thinks that it might be that. I don't know.
Today the sun came out in full force though not until midday, more or less. We were at the car boot sale when it made it's first appearance. The wife had spotted a set of Shakespeare's plays, bound in leather, 30 or more of them. We got those for ten quid, paying for them on the spot and then passing to get them later on our way to our bicycles. I got a miniature leather bound English dictionary for 10p and a silver necklace from the same stall for 20p. It was a bargain hunters paradise today, I must say.
This afternoon we had a barbecue, the sun still being out and the evening being free of wind. I don't like the wind, it spoils the calm. It annoys me by blowing cold air on me on an otherwise perfectly hot day. I dislike even more clouds when they pass under the sun and disrupt the perfect flow of the afternoon heat. I once wrote to a weather agency asking what place on the planet had the least wind and the most heat. They wrote back saying Hawaii. Most people I spoke to said that this response was probably untrue.
Tonight we drove to Leamington Spa, or 'Lem' for short. It's a nice town, wide main street and Georgian town houses that house Boot's and W H Smiths and all the other high street shops that sell high street stuff. We ate Thai. Divine. After dinner we drove Cathy's son home to beyond the railway bridge where everything changes, like driving into a ghetto. No more Georgian terraces there. Everything there is built long after the spa towns heyday was over and people had stopped coming to take the town's waters. Maybe because there weren't any waters there any more.
In the conference centre where we're staying there's a permanent art exhibition going on. The pictures line the walls that lead to the dining room. They are works by a mixture of amateur and professional painters and drawers. There is a quite spectacular painting of Doris Day and one of the head of a horse. The others laugh at me when I say I like them. 'You know what I like about them?' I say, 'I like that they're not pretentious. A painting of Doris Day and a painting of a horse's head. They don't pretend to say anything else.'
Tonight coming into work I feel like stranger. I haven't been in for 8 days. As I pass through the door I feel like things are going in slow motion, like it's a scene from a Tarantino film where I walk to the teller to make a bank raid or something. I'm sat down at my desk and ready to go before anyone says hello to me. Then Gilly breaks the ice and says how much she liked her website and then says something else that makes me laugh and suddenly I'm right back where I belong. Existentially, that is.
Tonight I find out that Sharon has given me the extra weekend shift that had suddenly become available, which means I will be working with Clare every Saturday until October when I quit for good. 'Oh, by the way, I got the Saturday shift,' I say to Clare a few minutes after she arrives. 'Oh, she gave it to you then did she?' she says, smiling. 'We better not fucking fall out now,' I say. Clare has a tendency to fall out with people/workmates, and usually lets us know in minute detail the progress of the failing/friendships as they destruct.
Yesterday we took the bus to Oxford to see the film Taking Liberties. It is a film about the destruction of freedoms in the UK. Things like the right to protest have been taken way. Things like torture have been if not condoned then not condemned either by the UK government. All because they like to lick George Bush's arse. What an extraordinary turn of events. To have to follow the lead of such a thick human being as George Bush. There's a lot to be said for revolution. That's what will happen now hopefully in the UK. Bye Blair.
It was a weird weekend after a very nice week. We spent the week in a conference center which was like being in a hotel but not as upmarket. I did like the rooms though. They were very plain, the kind you might expect in student accommodation. There was a lake there too, in the gardens so I saved up bread from the meals and took it down after dinner. There were more the ducks though. There was a small water dwelling bird with a red beak that darted out of the reeds and back in again, with it's kids.
The weather here in the UK has been, quite frankly, woeful. I get up and it is sunny, get in the shower and come out again and it's raining. I'm actually losing the will to have a shower because I am afraid that the sun goes away because I am washing. I might try not washing for a week or so and see if the sun decides to stay out. I am getting quite bored by the whole grey day in day out scenario that is occurring. I feel my heart heat up with happiness when the sun is out.
Today is the EnviroInitiative meeting and I'm on the EnviroInitiative team so I come in to work even though I'm not rostered on. There are some unfamiliar people in the meeting room so I make a green tea and then walk over to Jenny's desk. 'Who're those people in the meeting room?' I ask her, just as they get up to leave. 'Clients,' she says. Then I see someone pick up a tray of food and realise that all those snacks I see laying around when I come in at the end of the day are for clients, not staff.
When I get to work my head hurts and my eyes are so itchy I'd like to rip them out and sandpaper the holes. Instead I go into the kitchen, boil the kettle and then stand there dabbing at the corner of my eyes with kitchen towel. Next, I drink a big glass of water and then go back to my desk. Alex gets up and goes past me on the way to the toilets to change into his cycling gear to ride home. 'Alright T?' he says. 'Fine,' I say. Because, apart from the itchy eyes, I really am.
Tonight at work Emma and Clare spend the first hour gossiping about something that I can't hear. Eventually I go over and ask what they're talking about because I've gathered from some of the words have drifted over, that Jenny has been fired. 'Not fired,' Emma says when I ask her to elaborate, 'her contract wasn't renewed.' Then Clare phones Caroline and I ask Clare to put her through when she's finished. 'Hi ya, Cazza,' I say. 'You know that film I lent you, the one on global warming, have you still got it?' 'It's in my draw,' she says.
I've gotten Jenny's number off Emma and call her up to see how she's feeling after being fired, or not fired, depending on how you look at it. 'It's not unexpected and really it will make me get off my arse and look for something else,' I'm glad she's taking it like this. 'Probably better then, Jenny,' I say, 'Because you were saying the other day that you wanted a change,' We talk about some other things and then I say, 'Call me and we'll go and have a coffee some time,' I say. 'Okay then,' she says, 'I will.'
When I arrive at work I sit down next to Gilly and start talking to her about whether she's moving to Australia or not. I'm encouraging her wildly. Then Michael from IT comes over and starts talking about the Enviro Team so I get waylaid by what he's trying to tell me. By the time he finishes almost everyone has fled the office or are standing in the doorway about to leave and I've only just had time to hand Caroline the keys to my house so she can feed the cat. 'Thanks Cazza,' I yell as the door shuts.
When we arrive, well a few hours after, the woman who runs the place comes over. She says she's going to feed the pig shortly, when she gets changed. 'I'll come with you,' I say. When she's changed she calls me over to where she's standing next to a trailer with a big vat on the back of it from which she is filling up a bucket. 'What's that?' I say. 'Whey,' she says, 'The pigs really love it.' Then we pass through a shed where she gets some pellets of pig food. Then we walk up the pig hill.
It started to rain tonight. Apparently the weather is going to be terrible. Today, though, before it got really shit, I started to do a drawing. I worked on it most of the afternoon except for when the little patches of rain passed over me and then i had to put everything back in the bag and go inside. At a certain point the sun came out beautifully and I was stripped down to my vest top, but then the fucking rain came again. And then shortly after that a family arrived in a small blue BMW. Bye bye peace.
We took the car and went into Lampter. That isnt the real name of the town, that's the Anglicised name. The real name is Lamb-something Pont Steffan. Or maybe St Steffan, I can't remember exactly. The remarkable thing about this town is it's charity shop on the high street. I bought some staplers from I don;t know what era and a box of untouched staples from the 50's, I think they'd be. I also bought a rolling pin and a set of 7 spoons in a velvet lined box. I don't know why I buy this stuff.
Today we have to go home. I tried to make deal with the wife. I said to her, 'Why don;t we call home and say the car broke down. Someone can take care of the kid for the night and I can call in sick from work. How would that be?' She smiles. If it was up to me I wouldn't go back. Back to that fucking suburban nightmare. 'I have that thing tomorrow, in Newport,' she says, 'If I didn't we could have stayed, but.....' and that's the end of that. We have to leave today. Too bad.
Today was the day of the film night at work. We were showing Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth. Even though I'd sent out 2 emails advertising the event, I knew that not many people would show up, but I really didn't think there would be only the 2 of us. In the end, after waiting for 20 minutes, we got disgusted, packed up the dvd player and went home. It slightly clouded what had been a generally good time I'd had working for the company. Now, in all sincerity, I just could not wait to get out of the fucking place.
Last night, after almost everyone else had left the office except for me, Caroline and Clare, Caroline tells us some really quite extraordinarily satisfying gossip about someone who used to work in the office who has now left, but who is still a 'presence' due to her friendship with some of the people still employed here. 'Obviously, you're not to tell anyone,' Caroline tells us, 'Not yet anyway,' And then she launches into a story rich in intrigue, greed and a fair smattering of arrogance, stupidity and childishness. 'I never liked her.' I say when Caroline's story comes to close.
Tonight, after we get bored counting out 25 balloons and bagging them, Clare turns to me and says, 'I was at my Mum's today and I thought to myself, I'd really like to be a sex toy tester,' I don't laugh at this because for Clare to put 'Sex Toy' and 'Work' in the same sentence is not at all surprising. 'Lou,' she says to Louise, 'Google it, Google 'Sexy Toy Tester' and see what comes up,' So Louise logs on to Google and types in 'Sex Toy Tester.' 'What comes up,' I say, 'Are there jobs in the field?'
Once upon a time, when there were only 5 channels on the idiot box and not the current 32343, there was shown an hilarious program called 'Designing Women'. Some of you lesbians might be old enough to remember it. Did you tune it thinking they were about to show you how to build your dream woman? Or that each week, just like in 'Grand Designs someone would take a hulking old wreck of a barn of a woman wearing a mullet and a checked flannel shirt into something more 'liveable', like Pamela Anderson or Emma Thomson?
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