Tuesday, 10 August 2010

How Not To Cheer Someone Up.

Everyone seems to have decided that I need cheering up. That's where the consensus breaks down. The differing methods by which this might be achieved seem to say rather more about the people making the suggestions than about the causes of my Weltschmerz.

While we're both getting ready for work this morning, Max suggests he meets me in town straight after work. Seeing my expression, he says, "What?" - as if he made that sort of suggestion on a regular basis.

"Um, well - I'm just surprised, that's all. What brought that on?"

"Thought it might cheer you up. Where shall we meet?"

"Well, on past experience, it'd better be somewhere where I won't feel an idiot sitting by myself waiting for you to turn up," I say. Max looks wounded.

"I always turn up," he says.

"Eventually." I never know when to accept an olive branch when it is offered. Though this is not to say that I concede Max's point about my resemblance to an elephant. We arrange to meet at Caffe Nero. Again. You can't say we lack imagination.

I'm in quite a good mood when I arrive at work, but this is short-lived. After Greg has attended this morning's "briefing," which is even briefer than usual, he comes back rolling his eyes, sits down at his desk with an exaggerated sigh, and buries his head in his hands. The Boss bounces in, like an ageing Tigger on speed.

"Greg tell you my idea?" he says.

"Not yet," I say. "What have you thought of now?'

"Something to boost office morale." The Boss's self-satisfaction is almost tangible. He puts his shoulders back, and struts in to the kitchen. "Can't say I'm not sensitive to my staff's needs." He must be still drunk, because his next question is, "Coffee, anyone?"

"Is that his plan?" I ask Greg. "Making us a coffee?"

"No," says Greg. "Worse than that. Much worse." He's about to explain, when there is a crashing noise, some swearing, and then The Boss sticks his head back round the kitchen door.

"Where the hell are all the cups and spoons?" he says. "Can't find anything in here."

The cups and spoons are where they always are, first thing in the morning. In the sink, waiting for me to wash them up. The drawer, however, isn't in its usual place. It's in the middle of the floor.

"What happened to the drawer?"

"Must've pulled it out too far, trying to find a spoon." The Boss steps round it, looks at his watch, then says, "Oh, I'm late for the Easemount Remembering Project. Better go."

So much for that, then. Democracy is never extended to coffee making in our office. Not during Recess, anyway. When I've finished washing up, rebuilding the kitchen cabinet and making the coffees, Greg has recovered enough to tell me what The Boss's great motivational plan actually is. Let's just say it's unlikely to have the desired effect.

Andrew has decided to invite the girls from the London office to come here on Friday, so that we can all have lunch together. This will apparently also give them the chance to "see and appreciate" what we do here in the boring old provinces. Carlotta doesn't sound any more enthusiastic about it than we are, when I call her to make the arrangements. By the time she's given me a list of her dietary requirements, together with far too much information about Marie-Louise's allergies, I can't think of a single restaurant that will fit the bill.

The rest of the day passes quite quickly, mostly with cases linked to constituents having lost their jobs due to the recession: bank charges, benefit claims and one potential eviction. Before I know it, it's time to meet Max. I'm actually quite excited, which is odd, as Caffe Nero is hardly the Marriott. Or even Heathrow, though I am still looking forward to it. I even freshen up my make-up - and squirt Rive Gauche around with gay abandon - before I leave work, to the sound of Greg muttering about the office smelling like a tart's boudoir. I am already ten minutes late by the time I get to the cafe, but there's no sign of Max yet.

By the time I've been there for forty-five minutes, I'm almost the only customer left. And I have drunk so much bloody coffee that I've given myself palpitations. I keep checking my mobile, under cover of the table in case anyone thinks I am a sad git who has been stood up, but there's nothing from Max. No texts, no missed calls, no answer-phone messages. When it's a full hour after we arranged to meet, I give up, pay the annoyingly-sympathetic waitress, and start to walk home. Then my mobile rings.

"I'm really sorry," says Max. "Had an emergency."

"Did you?" I say. "What sort of emergency exactly?"

"The deliverymen missed a customer's coffee table off this week's delivery round. So I had to take it there myself after work."

"Ah," I say. "Well, that is an emergency. Undoubtedly. Unlike the eviction case I nearly killed myself trying to finish so that I could be there to meet you on time." Then I hang up, turn my phone off, and walk the rest of the way home. I can't say that I feel noticeably more cheerful, but maybe Connie or Josh can think of something to improve my mood. They couldn't do any worse than the f*ckwits who've already had a try.


  1. Excellent - a chance to conspire with a local restaurant and ask them to make sure that Carlotta's food is loaded with extra fat and calories, whilst insisting it is ultra-healthy superfood.

    Now THAT should cheer you up!

  2. Even I hadn't thought of that, you devious genius ;-)