Friday, 7 January 2011

Profit And Loss, And The Significance Of Polo Necks

I'm getting a bit worried about Max's job. Mainly because of the way he behaved when John Lewis announced the rise in their profits the other night.

He re-wound twice to make sure the news report said 9.7%, then put his head in his hands and did nothing but repeat the figure for the rest of the evening.

He's still on about it this morning, when we walk into work together:

"They did say profit - not loss - on the news, didn't they?" he says.

"Yes," I say.

It doesn't look as if this is what Max wanted to hear. He groans, then says:

"Well, how the hell did John Lewis manage that? It can't have been from sales of bloody furniture. God knows we're not selling any."

When I ask if things are that bad, he just shakes his head and changes the subject. To how secure I think my job is, what with the Vicky situation.

"God knows," I say. "She hasn't been in to the office yet this week, so I haven't mentioned her in the hope that I won't talk her up."

That was obviously a decision I should have stuck to. Now I'm starting to believe that I really do have telekinetic powers as, when I arrive at the office, who should be sitting in the Oprah Room? Only Miss Vick the Bloody Hair-Flick. Her smile still looks like a piranha's.

"Morning, Molly," she says. "See you haven't used your beauty salon vouchers yet."

Honestly - what use is telekinesis if it won't work when you try to make someone drop dead? Carrie never had this problem.

I abandon the attempt to kill Vicky by the power of thought, stalk into my office and slam the door. Or I try to, but The Boss has left a pile of papers in the way, so the door just hits those and rebounds in a most unsatisfying manner.

I kick the desk and pretend it's Vicky instead, but that doesn't really make me feel any better, and the day doesn't improve when Greg brings up the subject of Reg and Edmund Beales.

"I've just realised who they look like," he says.

"Each other?" I say.

"Very funny, Molly. Obviously they look like each other - they're bloody twins. But who else?"

I look blank so Greg gives me a clue. Regardless of whether I want one or not.

"Someone who's been in the news recently," he says. "With a bad combover."

"Well, that could apply to any number of middle-aged men," I say. "You'll have to do better than that."

"Christopher Jefferies, you fool. It's obvious."

I tell Greg we're not supposed to be talking about Mr Jefferies if we don't want to upset the Attorney General, and try to change the subject, but Greg's on a roll.

"He looks like all the usual suspects, actually," he says. "Even Miss Chambers."

"Now you're pushing it," I say. "Any resemblance is purely down to Miss C's penchant for polo-necks."

"My point exactly," says Greg. "Dead giveaway. The sartorial equivalent of the Twilight Zone theme. Especially when worn by the elderly. Reg Beales had one on yesterday, if you remember."

I do, but I try not to think about it for the rest of the day. Or about eccentric men. I succeed, until I get home from work and Dad phones.

"Some people are so bloody insensitive," he says, apropos a greeting.

"Yes, I suppose they are," I say. Dad usually being one of them. "Why?"

"I went to see my neighbours last night for a New Year tipple, and told them all about Porn-Poon."

"Ah," I say. "And?"

"They called me a dirty old man! Bloody outrageous."

I have no idea what to say to that - or rather I do, but Dad won't like the result, so I resort to asking another question instead:

"Well, what were they referring to?" I say. Disingenuousness is a key skill in the armoury of an MP's staffer, after all.

"God knows," says Dad. "It was after I told them that everyone looks the same age in the dark."

How I wish he would stop saying that. Now I feel as if I'm going down with the dreaded Norovirus. Nauseous is an understatement.

It's obviously time for a change of subject - which seems to have been the order of the day, now I come to think of it.

"Did you get anything nice for Christmas?" I say.

"Not really. I told everyone that all I wanted for Christmas was my lovely Porn-Poon," says Dad. "But Dinah did buy me a very nice polo-neck jumper."

I must remember to congratulate my sister on her foresight, the next time she phones.

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