Thursday, 24 March 2011

*Turning Japanese, Oh Yes, I'm Turning Japanese, I Really Think So.

Honestly, no wonder Max says I've got a memory like an elephant. I'm still in a foul mood about the monkey business when I wake up this morning, and things don't get any better when I arrive at work.

"Nice outfit, Molly," says Vicky, in a very sarcastic tone.

Greg looks up from his desk, winces and looks back down again.

"Oversleep, did you?" he says.

"No," I say, although I did. "I am trying to look more Danish. Sarah Lund takes no shit."

I glare at both of them in what I hope is a suitably-intimidating fashion, storm into my office and slam the door behind me. I don't get any further forward, though, as I seem to have trapped the belt of my coat in the process.

I've got a feeling Greg notices my attempt to open the door again as quietly as I can, but I fall back on my political skills and act as if nothing at all has happened. Which I suppose it hasn't - if you don't count Connie getting sick, my being officially a monkey, and Max losing his job.

I can't even bear to think about that - not since Max added up all our bills last night while I was dozing on the sofa, just before I made an idiot of myself in front of the boys. I finally lost the will to live when he showed me how he'd set the bills against my salary, and had factored in the Budget changes, too. He's turning into a one-man IFS.

"We'll have to turn the heating off altogether," he said. "These fuel bills are way too high."

"We can't, " I said. "Not with Connie here all day, and sick in bed."

"Well, then," he said. "In that case, you'd better write to Ofgem, and persuade them to kick the power companies' arses a little bit harder."

I don't think they're likely to take any notice of me, but I didn't get the chance to say so. Max was on a roll. His next step was to inform me that we won't starve - until four weeks after his final pay cheque arrives at the end of this month.

"But there'll be nothing left in our budget for food every single month after that," he said. "Not once all the bills have been paid."

"Oh, well," I said. "I'm sure you'll find a new job before then, and everything will be all right again."

I don't believe this for a second, considering the state of the furniture retail sector - but I'm also trying to improve my acting skills. And anyway, I've still got a few job applications I'm waiting to hear about myself. In exotic places like Easemount and Silverhill. I can hardly wait.

Nor can Johnny, who emails me this lunchtime to say that he's just heard where his next posting is to be. He's off to Dubai in May, and sends photos of the houses that he and his wife are intending to view. I don't know what to say to those - apart from "Bloody, bloody, bloody hell!"

"Never mind about me - how are things with you?" he says.

No-one ever asks me that, so he catches me by surprise. Before I know it, I've told him everything that is happening in my life; and then immediately wish I hadn't. Talk about sounding like a usual suspect: I'm feeling far more sorry for myself than should be allowed.

"Christ," he says, in his reply. "You can't live hand to mouth like that, Molly. It's ridiculous, especially when I could take you away from it all."

"I think your wife might have something to say about that," I say. "And my husband certainly would. Anyway, you don't marry someone on the basis of what they can provide you with. Not materially, anyway."

Johnny sends a very brief reply:


I wish he'd never learned that bloody awful acronym, and anyway, I am being serious. In sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer - I'm pretty sure that those are still the rules. And, if they're not, then they bloody well should be.

"I don't think my wife would agree with you," he says, when I point this out. "She'd be off like a shot if I were to become poor overnight."

"Well, I'm not her," I say.

Profound, I know, but nonetheless undeniably true.

I bet she is being massaged in a luxury spa right this minute, before going to Chanel to pick out a new dress for tonight's Charity Fundraising event. (I live a far more interesting fantasy life as her, than I do as myself. Though do they actually have a Chanel shop in Moscow? And do you call it a shop - or an atelier?)

I'm still mulling over this important question when Johnny signs off for the day:

"Think what our lives could be like together," he says. "Neither of us is getting any younger, and that husband of yours is never going to amount to anything, after all."

What a horrible thing to say! And it's all my fault. I've been such a pathetic whinger that now Johnny's feeling sorry for me. And criticising Max, when no-one but me is allowed to do that.

I need to get a grip, somehow. And start making up for being so bloody self-indulgent.

"Do you guys want a coffee?" I say, to Vicky and Greg.

I might as well start as I mean to go on, even if I still don't feel very charitable towards a certain intern.

"Ja, Kaffe," says Greg, staring hard at Google Translate. "Tak."

"I'm not being Danish any more," I say. "I think being Japanese is the thing to aim for, don't you? They could teach us all a thing or two about being uncomplaining. In the face of such adversity that we can't even begin to imagine it."

That's better - isn't it? I'm getting my sense of proportion back.

"But you speak even less Japanese than you do Danish," says Greg.

That may be true, but it's hardly an obstacle that can't be overcome with a bit of effort. Honour and dignity, that's what counts - and I'll aim to chuck in some stoicism too.

"I'm going to pop home during my lunch-break," I say. "I'll have a Pot Noodle and see how Connie is. Oh, and I think I might change out of this jumper, too."

"Tak and double tak for that," says Greg. "You were beginning to hurt my eyes."

I bet Johnny would think that too - though Max just says I look nice and snuggly.

*Turning Japanese - which would be no bad thing, if it taught me (and some others I could mention) to behave like the people of Japan.

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