Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Creative Thinking in the Face of an Emergency.

It's that hellish time of year again - Parliamentary Recess, when MPs return to their constituencies, and wander around like lost souls, irritating the hell out of constituency staff and making work for its own sake. The Boss is worse than most. He thinks he's so indispensable that he cannot take even a single day off, and that we need him to open the mail and answer the phones, despite the fact that these things get done every day whilst he's at Westminster - as if by magic.

I wouldn't mind so much if he'd just go and sit in a coffee bar somewhere and take his laptop with him, but he says he likes to be "in the thick of it", and takes over my desk and my computer instead. Then he decides that I need him to dictate incoherent replies to all the letters he has already opened, or at least, those that he hasn't already misplaced.

This means that I am forced to waste time writing down notes that I have absolutely no intention of making any reference to in the replies that I will eventually write, once he's not looking. To make matters even worse, he seems compulsively driven to start swearing whenever I am on the phone to a constituent - which is really embarrassing. I have to keep explaining it away by pretending that he's the boiler repair man, and has no sense of decorum.

The Boss has also adopted his usual Recess practice of sneaking into the office early so that, by the time Greg and I arrive, he's already rifled through our desk drawers, and the fridge. The most outrageous aspect of this - at least as far as Greg's concerned - is that Andrew has helped himself to Greg's entire secret stash of Twixes, and has used up all the milk.

Greg gestures for me to join him in the corridor for an emergency meeting.

"God almighty, haven't you arranged anything for him to do?" he says.

"I tried," I say, "But bloody Carlotta wouldn't play ball. She even cleared space in his diary so he could spend more time in the office with us."

"Bloody woman. Wasn't winning the sodding World Cup enough for her?"

Greg is pacing up and down the corridor like a caged animal, and I am desperate for a cigarette. Already.

"Well, you've got to do something. I can't stand this. I may have to kill him if you don't get rid of him soon." Greg almost looks capable of murder. He has an unhealthy dependency on chocolate.

Far be it from me to boast, but I do have an extraordinary ability to think creatively in an emergency.

"Go and find yesterday's local paper, then search through it for mentions of local organisations that are complaining about something, like lack of funding," I say.

"And?" Greg looks unimpressed.

"Then phone them up, and say The Boss has read about their plight, and is very interested in the valuable work they are doing in his constituency.


"Say that he would very much like to come and see it for himself, and could he pop over today?"

"Brilliant!" says Greg, and sneaks off into the Party office to use their phone for his vital secret mission.

Half an hour later, he comes back, gives me the thumbs up, and says,

"Andrew, aren't you supposed to be at your meeting now?"

"What meeting?" Andrew finishes my sandwich in one very over-ambitious mouthful.

"The Phoenix Project in Easemount," says Greg. "Molly, didn't you tell him?"

"God, no. I forgot. Greg has the details, Andrew. Shall I call you a taxi?"

"No, I can drive," he says. "Just put their number into my mobile in case I get lost."

Whether The Boss can drive is a moot point, but the fact that he has the option must mean that he has finally talked Trish into letting him have the car keys back. (She is a very creative individual herself. You probably have to be to survive being married to Andrew.) A few weeks ago, she developed a well-founded fear that Andrew was going to get caught drink-driving and, mindful of the negative Press coverage that would ensue, she decided to take direct action.

While he was engaged in a medicinal drinking session after a particularly hostile GC*, she sneaked into the car park, and drove his car away. She texted me to tell me what she'd done, but I didn't tell him as I wanted to see what would happen when he went to drive home after the meeting. I expected him to come roaring back into the bar, shouting that his car had been stolen. But he didn't.

It turned out that he just looked around the car park for a bit, then gave up and took a taxi home. He obviously assumed that he was just too drunk to recall where he'd left the car, and that he'd remember once he sobered up. The whole story came out the next morning when, staggering downstairs on a quest for coffee and ibuprofen, he spotted the car parked in the driveway of his house. At that moment, he really didn't have a leg to stand on when Trish refused to give him the keys back. God knows how he's persuaded her to reinstate his driving privileges now.

So, due to my low cunning, we are blissfully Andrew-free for the next few hours, which means that I can finally get round to writing proper replies to today's letters, and Greg can spend his time arranging visits to other local organisations. By the end of the afternoon,The Boss is booked up for a good chunk of the rest of this week, and half of the next one too - thank God.

Just before I leave the office, Mrs Cowan phones to apologise that her husband hasn't yet got round to signing his Data Protection form. She says she'll make sure he does it tonight, and that she'll drop it off to me tomorrow morning. Then she bursts into tears, and says that they are now being chased for mortgage arrears, as it appears that their bank hasn't even been honouring those payments.

Honestly, those bankers are such shits.  Not that I'm in any position to criticise - spending all my time fretting about not being able to afford a hotel room for a dirty weekend. I need a slap.

*GC - General Committee meeting, as usual.


  1. I am reading this during an early morning visit to my CLP office before the staff arrive. Feel guilty now and am thinking they will be annoyed if they find me here so am just going to get me coat and slope off.....Yours MP on recess

  2. Quite right too. Have you left the chocolate stash intact, and made sure there is some milk left?!

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