Monday, 22 November 2010

The Medusa of Northwick, Or Why One Can't Always Be Expected To Rise Above Gossip

Joan stops me in the corridor this morning. I suppose it's preferable to her usual tactic of cornering me in the loo, but not by much.

"Molly, what's going on with Andrew and Trish?" she says.

"What d'you mean? " I say.

"She picked him up from GC* on Friday night. Didn't look like he was too happy about it, either."

Joan fixes me with that look. No wonder it terrorised the kids in South Park.

"Ah," I say.

"Exactly," says Joan.

After I've dredged up several acceptable reasons why Trish might have insisted on collecting Andrew rather than leaving him to find his own way home - such as cold weather, or that she just happened to be passing - Joan gives me the look again. It really makes your bowels clench.

"Come on, Molly," she says. "There was more to it than that. I overheard them arguing in the car park."

"Ooh, did you?" I say. "What about?" One can't rise above curiosity indefinitely, after all.

"I don't know for sure. First Andrew refused to get in to the car, because he said he had another engagement to go to, and then Trish said 'The fuck you have.'"

Blimey. Trish doesn't share Andrew's penchant for swearing, so her using that sort of language is unheard-of. I wonder who the "other engagement" was with? I bet it was bloody Vicky.

"What happened then?" I say.

I know I should rise above office gossip, but I might as well get the full story - as it's not as if everyone else won't already know the gory details, after all. Joan's not known as the bush telegraph of Northwick Labour Party for nothing.

"Trish leant over, and grabbed Andrew's new pipe out of his mouth. Then she snapped it in half and threw it at him. Really hard."

I don't quite manage to hide my laugh, as Joan continues:

"He noticed me when he jumped out of the way, so then I had to get into my car and drive off. Oh, sorry - hang on, Molly." Joan's mobile is ringing.

Thank God for that. I am saved from having to comment on what she's told me by the bell. Or by her phone's massively annoying ring-tone, anyway. I make a break for it, while Joan starts a heated argument with the photocopier engineer.

When I get back to my desk, I find that Trish and I aren't the only ones whose relationships are in trouble. There are three letters from people whose "partners" have cheated on them in today's post.

They all want Andrew to report their cheating ex-loves to the DWP* for benefit fraud, and their letters provide comprehensive and detailed information - such as National Insurance numbers, places of work and car boot locations - to facilitate the process.

The Boss will never have any truck with this sort of thing, so I have to write back and make vague references to our inability to use third party data due to the Data Protection Act. No doubt I'll eventually get replies asking why the Benefits Agency's Fraud Hotline doesn't share the same scruples.

All this stuff does make you think, though - doesn't it? I may have to revise my position on talking to Max about what is going on with Ellen.

In fact, I've decided I'm going to take a leaf out of Trish's book and tackle him when I get home tonight. Perhaps Joan would like to come along and back me up with some more of her looks.

*DWP - Department for Work and Pensions, for those of you lucky enough to still have jobs.
*GC - General Committee Meeting of the local Party, as before. For those of you lucky enough never to have to go to them.


  1. Not entirely relevant to your post Bennett, but my googlefangled newsfeed from your blog has dumped an 'all you can eat in London (up to 70% cheaper) voucher on my screen.

    I wouldn't mind but 'all you can eat' is hardly a priority of mine; the opposite in fact. Even the dogs call me Porky.

    MIffed but tempted.

  2. Well, that's just typical. There's me eating Complan to try to gain weight and they didn't send me a bloody voucher ;-)