Friday, 1 October 2010

So That's Why I Used To Love Working For The Boss

Bloody Leylandii. And bloody inconsiderate people. Sometimes I think on-the-spot fines for sheer mean-spiritedness wouldn't be a bad idea.

Today, I get a call from Mr Parker. He's elderly, immensely polite, and in tears. His wife is dying. At home, in bed, and in darkness. Not because their electricity has been cut off, or because she is blind, but because their neighbour's monster tree has now grown so large* that it blocks all light to the Parkers' house.

Mr P wants his wife to be able to see the sun on the rare occasions that it actually shines, but the absentee neighbour refuses to respond to letters, and the Council have said there's nothing they can do to help. I promise to see what I can do, and Mr Parker thanks me and rings off.

I look up the regulations governing these wretched trees, and discover that they don't seem to apply to single trees, no matter how large. For some reason, I get really choked up, kick the desk and put my head in my hands. The picture Mr Parker has painted of his sick wife stuck in her bed and with no view from her window is almost viscerally clear in my mind's eye.

Then The Boss really surprises me.

"What's up, Molly?" he says. Bloody hell. This is the first time he's spoken to me for weeks. Conference seems to left him in a very good mood. Or Vicky has. I'm not sure I want to know which.

"Nothing," I say. "A constituent's situation just got to me. I'll be alright in a minute."

"Tell me," says Andrew. So I do.

"Ring Mr Parker back," he says, "And ask if I can go and visit this afternoon."

"Are you sure?" I say. "We didn't arrange a surgery for today because we thought you'd be knackered after conference."

"I'm old, but I'm not that bloody old," says Andrew. "And anyway, this is what my job is supposed to be about."

So, just after lunch, off goes The Boss to see Mr & Mrs Parker, while Greg and I look at each other in disbelief.

"Christ," says Greg.

"I know," I say. "This is more like it."

Two hours later, Andrew phones.

"Know anyone with a big saw, Molly?" he says. He sounds very emotional, and nearly starts me off again. Is PMT contagious?

"Not sure," I say. "Why?"

"Never seen anything like this f*cking tree."

"That bad? How was Mrs Parker?"

"She looked tiny in that bed," says Andrew. "I had to put the damned light on to see her properly."

"So what do you want to do?" I ask.

"I'm thinking about becoming an amateur tree surgeon. Want to come and help?"

"Yes," I say.

Now I remember why I used to love my job. And maybe even The Boss. Though I suppose I'd better get on the phone, and have another attempt to get the authorities to deal with the tree - before Andrew does. He's so lacking in co-ordination, he'd probably bring the damn thing down on the Parkers' roof. What's that old saying? The road to hell is paved with good intentions?

I am getting worryingly religious with my metaphors. Must be down to the Pope's visit, or the bloody fake bishop's mitre that Greg's been wearing, ever since I told him that someone had suggested that one would suit him better than his party conference hat. I might suggest Greg lets The Boss wear it for a while. I know kindness should be its own reward, but there's no harm in acknowledging good behaviour. Supernanny would approve.

*This isn't the actual tree affecting the Parkers, but The Boss says it's pretty close to being the same size and having the same effect. Mindboggling.


  1. Your blog is amazing (I could have said unbelievable - I thought that a bit harsh).
    Love it!

  2. Sometimes they do surprise you don't they - remembering that they went into politics to stand up for people who can't do it for themselves. Other times - well your blog says it better than I ever could!

  3. Yes, it's great when they do, isn't it? Just wish it happened more often ;-)

  4. Did anyone cut down the tree yet Molly?

    It's great that Andrew is all fired up about this, but unless a practical course of action happens that poor lady is still in the dark..

  5. No :-( Am still arguing the case with the local Council. I may have to rope in a certain creative genius of my acquaintance....