Monday, 13 December 2010

PMT, Predictability And Some Unwanted Colour Theory.

I've got a funny feeling I may have PMT today, though I'd rather die than admit that to Max and Josh. Either that, or I'm suffering from quiet-day-at-the-office-itis.

I spend all day bursting into tears at inopportune moments, not that there ever is an opportune time to wail like a baby. Unless you're an X-Factor winner.

Greg thinks I've gone off my rocker, and starts The Campaign to Cheer Molly Up. He even donates one of his Twixes to the cause. It doesn't work, and just makes me weepier instead. Unexpected kindness always does that.

"What on earth's the matter?" he says, when I hand him the bar back. "It must be awful if even a Twix won't fix it."

"Nothing," I say. "I'm fine."

Big fat tears roll down my face at the same time, though luckily the crying isn't of the noisy hiccuping and choking kind. That would be even more embarrassing.

"Well, unless you've got some bizarre eye infection, I think there is. You look a mess. And move that invitation from the Mayor out of the way - it's getting soaked."

Greg passes me a tissue from one of those little travel packs his mum gives him. I'm sure she thinks he's still a Boy Scout.

"It's probably just because no-one's told me about anything terrible today," I say, trying to wipe off all the supposedly-waterproof mascara that seems to be everywhere except on my eyelashes.

"And that would be logical because?"

"Well, when there aren't any calls from constituents whose problems are worse than mine, having a wallow doesn't seem as self-indulgent as it usually would."

"Hmm,"  says Greg.

He doesn't sound convinced, though I'm sure I'm right. This always happens at this time of year. The phones get progressively less busy, and the volume of letters tails off to a comparative trickle.

You'd think the opposite would be the case, seeing as it's commonly thought that rates of depression and suicide rise in December, but we don't usually see much sign of that in our office. It's as if everyone - even the usual suspects - is too busy to be depressed until they've at least finished eating Christmas dinner.

If you were new to casework, you'd probably breathe a sigh of relief and enjoy the relative peace and quiet, but old hands like me know better. To us, this unusual calm speaks volumes - because we know it just presages the furious storm that always hits in January.

"Maybe I'm miserable because I know what's coming?" I say.

"Probably," says Greg. "You do keep going on about your life being predictable."

This wasn't what I meant, but I suppose he might have a point. I decide to consider what changes I could make to my life while I'm on my lunch-break - whilst simultaneously buying all the Christmas presents I was supposed to have bought during yesterday's shopping trip.

I wander around the mall, trying to ignore the bloody music. I can't believe that they still insist on playing Merry Christmas Everybody. I bet even Noddy Holder's sick of the sound of it, though thinking about glam rock does give me an idea.

Perhaps I should buy something new to wear? In a bright colour, for once. Max is always moaning about my penchant for black, and it is a bit draining on the complexion. At my age, as he'd no doubt feel compelled to add.

By the time I get back to work, I'm feeling much more cheerful, even if I have spent more than I can afford.

"That's better," says Greg. "First smile you've cracked all day."

"I bought a gorgeous new knitted dress," I say. "To wear to the Party Christmas meal. What do you think?"

I pull it out of the bag and hold it up against myself. I even do a couple of twirls. It's a real Anthea Redfern moment.

Greg opens his mouth to speak, but Vicky beats him to it:

"You do know purple is the colour of sexual frustration?" she says.

The phone rings before I can think of a cutting reply, so I answer that instead of her.

"Hello, dear,"  says Mum. "How are you? How's your Christmas shopping going?"

"Well, I got a bit distracted," I say. "And bought myself a purple dress. But I'm not at all sure about it now."

I glare at Vicky while I say this, but she's got her back to me, so the effort is wasted.

"Oh, I love purple," says Mum. "It always reminds me of that wonderful poem by Jenny Joseph. What's it called - Warning?"

Christ, I'd forgotten about that. As if wearing something that screams, "No sex life" wouldn't be quite bad enough, now it seems I'd also be signalling that I'm on the way to becoming an eccentric old woman. I might as well have gone the whole hog and bought a bloody red hat as well.

I'm going to get a refund on my way home. There's no point in advertising that you're desperate, is there?   


  1. If you like the dress, then sod everyone else. Keep it, wear it and smile.

  2. Lost my nerve and took it back - wish I hadn't now ;-)