Monday, 24 January 2011

A Matter of Eggs And Death, And A Joke Turns Very Sour Indeed.

"Am I always right, or am I always right?" says Greg, as he walks into the office this morning.

"About what?" I say, though I'm not really paying attention.

I'm too busy trying to gauge whether the latest parcel sent by a local animal rights activist contains a bomb. (You wouldn't believe how many of them put their correct addresses on the packaging, though this is by no means a guarantee that the contents will prove to be innocuous.)

"Metal-framed glasses," says Greg. "Only ever worn by serial killers and paedophiles."

"Not always," I say, thinking of Johnny's eyewear and hoping Greg is wrong. "And anyway, you said they had to have a double bar across the nose to qualify. Now shut up for a minute - I'm trying to see if this makes a noise when I shake it."

Greg gives me a pitying look, then snatches the parcel from my hands, rushes to the doorway and says,

"Get under your desk!"

It says something about my state of mind that I do as he tells me, before realising how unwise this is. As I stand back up, I see Greg throw the parcel - overarm - as far as he can down the corridor, where Vicky trips over it as she exits the lift. She jumps, but only from surprise.

"Safe," says Greg, retrieving the package and tearing off the brown paper to reveal a video cassette. "Unlike people who wear those glasses. I knew that Tabak bloke had murdered Jo Yeates as soon as I saw his specs."

"You also knew that her landlord had done it when you saw his hair," I say. "So you'll forgive me if I don't always think you're right. Though thank God you were about that parcel. You could have blown the whole building up."

"That's because he's an idiot," says Vicky, as she pushes past Greg on her way to the Oprah Room. He sticks his tongue out at her as she slams the door, then lowers his voice and says,

"You'd already ripped the corner of the paper, Mol - so I could see the plastic casing before I threw it."

He winks, then volunteers to make the first round of coffee. Wonders will never cease, and I'm about to make a sarcastic remark to that effect when an email pops into my in-box. From Johnny, wanting to confirm when we're meeting on Wednesday, and whether I've booked my rail ticket to London yet.

"Oh, shit," I say. "Oh, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit, shit!"

"Expressive - but a bit repetitive," says Greg, putting a mug of coffee down on my desk. "Where's the thesaurus gone?"

"I told The Boss to take it with him," I say. "To find an alternative to saying he's had an 'interesting meeting' whenever he updates that wretched blog of his. Gave him the dictionary and a local map too - after he mis-spelled the names of half the parishes in his last post. And, anyway, shit is the only word that sums up what I've gone and done."

"Oh, shit," says Greg, when I've finished explaining that I've just realised that I don't have any money to get to London, or to pay for anything when I'm there. Which rather proves my point.

I bang my head on the desk several times, while Greg thinks aloud - which doesn't take long, and isn't very effective either.

"Well, Johnny's loaded," he says. "So just get him to pay for everything. He won't mind. He's maddened by lust, though God knows why. You look a mess."

"Thanks," I say. "And, anyway, I can't do that. What do you think I am?"

"Stupid," says Greg. "What's the point of having a so-called affair with an oil baron when you don't get any money out of it?"

"Or any sex," I say, before reverting to banging my head again. "Why aren't MPs' staff paid until the very last day of the bloody month?"

If I worked for Northwick Council, I'd have been paid days ago, and then this wouldn't have been such a problem. Except that actually it would, because Max has worked out we're not going to have any money even after we've both been paid. And the bank is hardly likely to lend me any, is it? Not when they've got all those bloody bonuses to pay.

"They like to make us suffer," says Greg. "And I'm broke 'til payday too, so I can't lend you any either - sorry, Mol. What are you going to do?"

"Lie," I say, because it's the only thing I can think of. "I shall have to tell Johnny I've been struck down with a mystery illness at the last minute. Or, rather, you'll have to do it for me. I'm terrible at lying."

Thank God Johnny has to come to the UK this week anyway. I'd feel even more awful about the whole thing if he was only flying over to see me but, as he isn't, I'm hoping he'll forgive me. Not that this is very likely if Greg doesn't get a grip.

He says he hasn't had this much fun in ages, and spends the next few hours drafting a series of ever more unlikely explanations, finally settling upon one in which I am to be hospitalised after opening a parcel bomb containing non-free range eggs.

"And the beauty of this idea is that you won't be able to communicate with Johnny until you're released," he says. "Because you will be deaf from the blast, and won't be able to text or type due to the fragments of eggshell that have lodged behind your eyeballs."

I look at him in amazement, which he mis-reads as approval. (Which often happens with mad constituents, too.)

"This is where my expertise in horror films comes in useful," he says.

"Or your fondness for Wallace and Gromit," I say. "Sounds about as credible as A Matter of Loaf and Death."

Greg gives me a reproachful look.

"I thought you said it was," he says. "And beggars can't be choosers. Are we going with this idea or not?"

"No," I say. "Try and think of something a little more Gromit, and a little less Wallace. The man's a bumbling idiot."

Greg sighs, as I notice that the fax machine has jammed yet again, and run over to kick it back to life.

"You really should have more respect, Molly," he says. "Both for me, and for Wallace. He is our leader, after all."

I can't help laughing, but I stop as soon as I get an email from Johnny about events at Moscow's Domodedovo Airport.

"I only meant for you to get blown up, Mol," says Greg, who has gone a very funny shade of green.

I can't think of anything at all to say in response.

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