Monday, 11 October 2010

A Very Minor Detail Gets Overlooked.

I knew I was right to be worried about The Boss's plan to deal with Marie-Louise's absence. When I arrive at work this morning, a couple of minutes late after checking that all the neighbours' cars are still where they're supposed to be, Greg is looking very stressed.

"What's up?" I say. "You look like you've seen a ghost."

He puts a finger to his lips and mouths, "Sssh!"


"In your office," Greg says, or rather, whispers. Then he pulls an extraordinary face that is no help at all. He'd be bloody useless at Charades.

Even with Greg's half-arsed warning, I am really not expecting this. Someone is sitting in my chair, and looking through my day book. It's like finding bloody Goldilocks in your bed.

"Can I help you?" I say, in my best frosty voice, and the woman turns to face me.

"Ah, Molly," she says. "I see nothing changes here - except you!"

"How have I changed?" I say, before I can stop myself.

"Oh, nothing. Just age, you know - it'll happen to us all. Eventually."

"Nice to see you, too, Vicky," I say, through gritted teeth. "And what are you doing here?"

"I'm your replacement diary secretary," she says. "Didn't Andy tell you?"

There it is, the bloody hair flick. Vicky's right - some things never change. Unfortunately. And what's with the Andy business? I doubt The Boss has ever been called Andy before, not even when he was a baby. He just hasn't got the face for nicknames.

"Oh, Andrew probably overlooked it," says Greg, coming up behind me, and jabbing me in the ribs. "Minor details were never his thing."

"Oh, I hardly think he sees me as a minor detail," says Vicky. "Now where shall I sit? Here?"

"No," I say.

"Yes," says Greg. "We've got to go downstairs and meet with that constituent, Molly - so it doesn't matter where Vicky sits at the moment - does it?"

He hustles me out of the office so fast that I don't even have time to ask, "What constituent?"

We spend the next hour locked in the surgery room, trying to find out what the hell is going on. Greg tries to phone The Boss, but he's probably still on the train back to London, and isn't answering his mobile.

Bugger. There's nothing for it but to phone Carlotta, and see what she knows about the situation. The answer to that is nothing, or nada. She is as stunned as we are, but Spanish, don't forget.

"Wha-at?" she says. "A replacement? For Marie-Louise?"

"Apparently," I say. "Though I can't see why. I was managing the diary perfectly well, and we haven't got any money in the staffing budget to cover a temp at this stage, either. Get Andrew to call me when he arrives, will you?"

"Oh, yes. I will," says Carlotta, who sounds uncharacteristically determined. She obviously remembers Vicky only too well.

The whole thing is so annoying. Now we have no choice but to wait for Andrew to make contact. I reclaim my desk, but only at a price: Vicky settles herself in the Oprah room instead, where she kicks off her shoes - God knows how she can afford them: don't red soles denote Louboutins? Then she reclines on the sofa, opens her briefcase, and starts making notes - though she doesn't say what about. Probably how many wrinkles I've gained since she last saw me.

It's late afternoon by the time The Boss finally bothers to phone.

"You wanted to speak to me?" he says. "I'm in a rush, so make it snappy."

"Um, yes. Andrew, about Vicky -"

"Great to have her back, isn't it? She's a breath of fresh air, and tough with it, not like some moaning minnies."

"Back?" I say. "But Marie-Louise is only off sick. She'll be back at work soon."

"Oh well, we'll see about that," says Andrew. "You just look after Vic, and get her anything she needs."

"Well, there is the small problem of a computer," I say. "We have only got two: Greg's and mine."

"Not a problem. I'm letting her use my laptop. Now can you put her on? I want to welcome her back into the fold."

I put the call through to the Oprah room, then Greg and I both put our heads against the door. All we can hear is giggling, and the occasional, "Oh, Andy!" It's all we can do not to retch.


  1. Hmm.. Marie Louise would be well advised to start reading up on constructive dismissal.

  2. Yes, you're right. I did mention that to Carlotta earlier.....

  3. Perhaps you should helpfully point out to Andy that IPSA (unlike the Fees Office) do not cover tribunal costs so he would have to pay for his legal defence and any award to Marie Louise out of his own pocket. It might be helpful to look up the maximum awards that are in place at the moment. That might warn him off Vicky...

  4. In fact it might be even more productive to mention it to Trish - in a 'I'm just trying to look out for Andrew - but it's all a bit sensitive' sort of way.

  5. Eek re Trish - she already sounds unamused enough ;-)