Monday, 21 June 2010

Disturbing Resemblances, Yachting Directors of Global Oil Companies, and Uncharacteristic Empathy.

God, why do I look so different in photographs to how I imagine I look? The Boss' website is being updated, to allow him to blog - asking for trouble - and I have to have a new photo taken. The result makes me look like Mr Burns in The Simpsons. When did I become a hunchback? Charles Laughton had nothing on me. I blame it on the weird position I have to adopt while talking on the phone to Miss Chambers and trying to preserve an ear-protecting distance from the receiver. Last night's misguided attempt at pole-dancing didn't help my posture much either, but what's a girl to do when her husband and son spend five hours in a lap dancing club on Father's Day? (Max claims they only went to the pub and that Josh is winding me up, but he looks suspiciously cheerful this morning.)

My photo could be worse, though - Greg looks exactly like Patrick Bateman in American Psycho in his, which may well be scarily accurate. He says he thinks he looks "damned attractive" and will scare off lunatics, so I can't persuade him to change it, but I'm not letting mine go anywhere except into the virtual trash. Am going to suggest the web designer uses the EMO-style photo that I sent to Johnny Hunter instead. The constituents probably won't notice that I have my eyes shut, or will think I'm wincing with empathy for their plights.

Actually, I am feeling rather uncharacteristically empathetic today. Anti-Social Behaviour is the order of most of the day's telephone calls. Such an idiotic term, which doesn't at all reflect the utter misery that is wreaked on so many by so few. If there's one thing I blame the Labour Government for, it was their complete inability to call a spade a spade. ASB sounds like a toddler tantrum, which drastically understates the case if our constituents are anything to go by. Whole estates terrorised and, even if we eventually get a result for distraught residents by getting a nightmare family evicted, it's only a matter of time until their new neighbours contact us, equally desperate.

Whenever the subject comes up at at dinner parties - which is pretty rare anyway - our friends look at me as if I'm making up examples for the sake of entertainment. East Northwick might as well be A Tale of Two Cities, for all the awareness of the underclass that those who live in its richer parishes have. When I mentioned the horse and the burnt-out cars in the front garden of Steve Ellington's place, David said, "Oh Molly, you are funny." He should have seen Edmund Beales' bloody Doberman. Bet there were three pit-bulls inside that house as well - Greg and I escaped by the skin of our teeth. I didn't even recall Mr Beales' shotgun licence until afterwards, so I suppose things could have been a whole lot worse.

Anyway, I'm getting sidetracked, which is what empathy does to the brain. You can't afford too much of it in my job but, getting back to ASB, there seems to be no meaningful deterrent at all. If the nightmare neighbours have children, they'll be re-housed straightaway even if they are evicted - to protect their children. What's even more depressing is how so many of the Council's Housing Officers seem to take the view that the desperate, reasonable residents are simply "moaning minnies." I'd find this rather less irritating if almost everyone who worked in the Housing Department didn't live miles away in rural bliss, as evidenced by their complete inability to get to work at the first hint of snow.

Greg is still determined that we finish what we started with our DIY CRB checks, despite the Beales Dog Debacle. I have agreed to think about it, mainly because the new door is the only security improvement The Boss has approved. This is a bit rich, when you consider that even his favourite drinking den in Millbank has better security than we do. Last time I went to meet him there - ostensibly to participate in interviewing Carlotta LongLegs - I was overcome by claustrophobia when I had to step inside one of those glass tube things, which seemed a horribly snug fit. Then I freaked out because I thought it was never going to open again. Considering how tiny I am, God knows how they vet any fat terror suspects. I'm probably not allowed to say "fat" either.

Just before I leave work for the day, Johnny sends me another email asking if I'm not talking to him. He's apparently been back in the UK for the weekend, on a yachting trip, and says it's a shame I didn't reply to his last message as we could have arranged to meet up. I obviously should have paid more attention to those reports about Tony Hayward on his yacht. (What kind of man calls his yacht Bob, for Godsake?) Maybe I'd have spotted a Putin lookalike hauling the mainstay, or whatever you do on a yacht - apart from falling mysteriously over the side when a pensions scandal threatens, of course. Obviously Johnny's earlier email suggesting a massage was directed at me. I'd tell him where to get off, if I didn't really need a massage to alleviate the pain in my neck caused by trying to spin round the spare curtain pole last night.

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