Saturday, 25 September 2010

Hotlines, Steaming Beverages And Other Less Attractive Things

The Boss allows me to do surgery with him today, as he's in a very good mood since finding out that Ken* has been chosen as Labour's candidate for Mayor of London.

Greg is otherwise engaged in frantically trying to make last minute changes to Andrew's diary, for which Marie-Louise has abdicated responsibility. Only temporarily - for the duration of conference, as she says that Greg will need to know where Andrew is supposed to be more than she will.

She's right, but what she obviously didn't make clear was that Greg should not, under any circumstances, have allowed The Boss to make entries in My Events* himself. Now it looks as if Andrew is triple-booked all over the place. Greg's conversation is limited to "shit!" and "f*cksake!" for most of the day.

Meanwhile, I get off quite lightly. Surgery's not too bad, for a change. Andrew is so distracted by anticipating the fun to be had at conference, that he keeps a check on his usual crazed promising of the impossible; and the cases are mainly stuff which I can handle via phone-calls to the many and various MPs' hotlines.

God knows how much money is spent on providing all these special departments for the sole purpose of answering MPs' queries. I can't help wondering if the money wouldn't be better spent on improving the standard of service given to the public in the first place, thus reducing the amount of constituents' complaints to their MPs. I'm quite surprised that, as far as I know, no enterprising investigative journalist has yet submitted FOI* requests to find out how much these things cost.

Mind you, I'm not complaining. At least calls to the MPs' hotlines get answered. I nearly had a heart attack in the days before I worked for an MP when I had to phone the public Family Credit line to find out where our family's payment book had got to. It took me about four days of constant dialling before I even got through. That's where push-button phones have such an advantage over the old fashioned kind. Your fingers don't get half so sore when all you have to do is to hit a re-dial button.

By the time we lock up, Greg's thoroughly over-excited about conference. So over-excited that he's decided to stay teetotal throughout so that he can keep his wits about him. I assume that this is because he wants to stand the best possible chance of keeping up his new politically-correct facade, but he says it's not.

"I don't want to put off the ladies by getting in a state," he says. "Not while I am in such great physical shape, thanks to my new exercise programme."

I've got a funny feeling that The Boss has been telling Greg that conference offers a lot of potential for shagging amidst the political cut and thrust - though I don't remember anyone offering me any sex the year that I was there. Perhaps my kiss of death reputation preceded me.

Anyway, I have advised Greg not to wear his special conference hat if he wishes to take advantage of anything that is on offer, and to try to avoid dressing like a Mormon. Not that he could look any worse than The Boss if he tried. I'm just hoping that Andrew's had his dinner suit cleaned since that food throwing incident.

When I get home, I decide to put my feet up and do a couch potato. I have decided that I'd better be careful not to over-exert myself, what with my newly-identified blood pressure problems. (Bother, I've forgotten to make an appointment with the GP. Note to self: phone up first thing Monday morning.)  I need to start taking responsibility for my health and well-being. I have a stressful job, after all.

Not as stressful a job as Josh's, as it turns out. Working at the cinema seems to be turning into something worthy of a horror film. His face is green when he finally comes in around midnight.

"Good God," I say. "What on earth's the matter, Josh? You look terrible."

"I feel terrible," he says. "You won't believe what I found when I was on clearing tonight."


"Cleaning up after all the punters have left," says Josh. "I can't believe it."

"Well, what was it?" I say. I am trying to avoid suspense. Blood pressure concerns.

"One of the large Coke cups," says Josh.

"What's so bad about that?" I say. "Am I missing something?"

"I wished I'd missed the bloody thing," says Josh. "There was an equally-large turd in it."

"Oh my God! What did your manager say?"

"She just told me to get rid of it," says Josh. "She didn't seem surprised, so f*ck knows how often this is going to happen."

I go to give him a sympathetic hug, but he shakes me off, and says, "'Night, Mum. I'm going to bed, as soon as I've had a shower. Probably with bleach or something."

Max wakes up at that point, so I tell him about Josh's discovery. He is less than sympathetic.

"Bet they didn't warn him about that in Film Studies," he says.

Honestly, how can a film be so exciting that it makes you shit yourself in a cup? And what is happening to the world when people think it's okay to leave things like that for other people to clean up? This is not at all what I wanted for my son. He might be annoying, but no-one deserves that.

I am going to write to the manager of the cinema and suggest that they allocate customer's names and addresses to specific seats, like the airlines do. Then, if customers leave anything behind when they leave, the cinema staff can post it back to them. Or Greg would probably agree to hand-deliver it. He is an expert in the field, after all.

*Ken - Ken Livingstone, see Lord Mayor of London (2000 - 2008), or anything about keeping newts.
*FOI request - Freedom of Information request, here.

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