Monday, 29 November 2010

Cruising, Insulation, And How To Make The Big Society Work

It's still bloody freezing, and I'm thinking about giving up shaving my legs. I need all the warmth I can get and it's not as if anyone's likely to notice, is it? Not unless I ever have to be decontaminated again. (Thank God that didn't happen during cold weather.)

It turns out that George's so-called boiler repair was a temporary fix at best, as the damned thing isn't working again today. Now he says it'll be days before the problem is solved as he needs to order a part. Greg is even more annoyed than I am.

"How do these idiots get jobs?" he says. "We need to find out, before Vicky manages to get rid of us."

"God knows," I say. "I have no idea what we could do instead. Hurry up and think of something."

Greg spends the rest of the morning trying to type while wearing insulated gloves. I can't bear to check the results, but he says it's far easier to hit all the keys at once and then delete the letters you don't want, than it is to try to hit one letter at a time.

Making coffee proves rather more of a challenge, though. There's a lot of crashing and swearing from the kitchen, before Greg comes back into the office and puts a half-empty mug on my desk.

"Sorted," he says.

"Arguable," I say. "There's hardly any coffee in here, and you've forgotten the milk."

"Couldn't risk spilling that as well," he says. "Too smelly. And, anyway, I'm not talking about the coffee. How d'you fancy cruising for a living?"

"Wouldn't be much of a living," I say. "I don't think money usually changes hands. The sex is seen as payment in itself."

This seems a reasonable assumption given that I have a less than fulfilling sex life, but Greg disregards it:

"Not that sort of cruising, Molly, you dingbat. The seafaring kind. Apparently we can do that while claiming Jobseeker's."

I look blank, until Greg starts searching through the pages of the weekend's newspapers, completely decimating them in the process. Licking the fingers of his gloves doesn't work half as well as those damp sponges they used to have in Post Offices.

Eventually he passes me a copy of this.

"I thought we could be the on-board entertainment," he says. "I could rap and you could be the joke act."

"Actually," I say, "Your rapping would cover both bases. I'd be redundant before I'd even started."

You don't always have to take insults lying down, after all.

At least the subject of cruising makes a change from talking about snow, which isn't half as interesting a topic of conversation as the Media would have you believe. Not that this stops constituents from phoning up to complain about it.

"My bloody road still hasn't been gritted," says Mr Beales. "No-one's taking any notice of what Andrew said in the paper."

He has no idea what a relief that is, but he carries on without waiting for me to respond:

"And keeping an eye on that traffic policeman's bloody impossible in this weather. I can't even get my car out of the drive."

"In some countries it's apparently the law to clear the frontage of your property yourself," I say. "Though not in the UK, of course."

This may seem irrelevant, but I do know what I'm doing. At least when I'm at work.

"Well, those Health & Safety nutters wouldn't allow that here, would they?" says Mr Beales. "But you've given me an idea - I'll do the whole cul de sac myself and let the buggers prosecute me if they dare."

Then - thank God - he rings off, very pleased with himself. I'm quite pleased with myself, too: I know I shouldn't blow my own trumpet, but sometimes I am a genius.

Mr Beales - rebel without a cause - has just proved the effectiveness of the technique I used to use on Josh and Connie when they were younger: making something unappealing seem forbidden. David Cameron should try it, if he really wants the usual suspects to become part of The Big Society.

Though if that ever happens, I think the rest of us will have to leave the country. By cruise ship if necessary.


  1. What is snow? You are not only in the wrong job but the wrong part of the country. Come south where you will be appreciated more.

    As a bonus our airports will be more easily accessible for Johnney.

    What are you waiting for?

  2. My God, I thought the whole country was covered in the stuff by now! You lucky thing if you're still snow-free.

    You might have a point about the proximity to Heathrow, though - shall think about it ;-)