Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Fall-Out Of The Political (And Emotional) Kind. And Burning Bridges All Over The Place.

"God, I thought you were never coming back to work," says Greg, when I walk into the office rather late this morning.

"How did you know?" I say, wondering if he can read my mind.

"Know what?" he says, proving that, thankfully, he can't. He doesn't wait for an answer, though. He's far too agitated for that.

"Where did you get to yesterday?" he says."The Boss was going completely mad. He was desperate to talk to you."

I can't imagine why. It's not as if Andrew speaks to me when I'm at work, half the time.

"I was still on holiday," I say. "I booked Monday off as well as last week, don't forget."

"Ah," says Greg, who obviously did, despite the red sticker on the holiday chart. "Well, anyway, you'd better call Andrew straight away. He's got himself in a bit of a mess."

"Haven't we all?" I say, as I pick up the phone and start to dial.

"Where the hell have you been?" says Andrew, apropos a greeting. "Don't they have phones in bloody Dorset?"

I take a deep breath, and wish I was allowed to smoke in the office.

"There's been a bit of a problem," says Andrew. "So you need to get on to it, tout de suite."

It must be bad, if he's speaking French.

Andrew's so frazzled that it takes him ages to explain what the problem actually is, at which point I light up a cigarette anyway. I may as well burn some bridges of my own, seeing as everyone else is at it.

"So," I say. "Let me get this straight: it didn't even occur to you that the local media might object to you saying that all journalists are bound to have been hacking people's phones?"

"Nrmph," says Andrew.

"Or that Northwick Police might take offence at you implying that all policemen are corrupt?"

There's no reply, so I repeat the question. Twice.

"Nrmph," says Andrew, finally.

I don't know if he's eating, or choking, but eventually he recovers enough to counter-attack:

"It's your job to stop me accidentally doing that sort of thing," he says. "And to help me clear up the mess when I do. But you were deliberately ignoring your phone."

"I was on holiday," I say. "Supposedly."

By the time Andrew's quoted the "any other duties that I may deem necessary" part of my contract, along with the section about overtime, I've lost my patience and set light to the bin with my cigarette butt. You wouldn't think campaign postcards would catch light so easily.

"So what are you going to do to minimise the fall-out from this?" he says.

"Nothing," I say, throwing my coffee into the inferno. "Maybe you should sort it out. I've got other priorities at the moment."

I think Greg assumes I'm referring to the fire that's still burning, caffeine-based extinguisher notwithstanding, because he runs to the kitchen, and then returns, carrying a washing-up bowl full of water. He pours it into the bin, then smiles as if the problem's solved.

It isn't. The Boss carries on yelling down the phone at me, adding fuel to the other (metaphorical) fires that have been lit over the last few days.

"Please stop shouting at me, Andrew," I say, in a tone that would have rendered Dubai pretty chilly in no time at all.

Greg recognises this frosty manner immediately, from listening to me dealing with the usual suspects - and he knows what it denotes about how near my temper is to being lost. He's just not used to hearing it when I'm in conversation with The Boss. Neither am I, but today I just don't seem to care.

Greg, however, does.

"No-o-o," he mouths at me, while trying to grab the phone - but I fend him off with a manoeuvre I learned from that self-defence video I bought after Mr Humphries went berserk.

It proves to be a lot more effective than one of Josh's roundhouse kicks, and Greg looks quite shocked as he makes a gesture of submission while getting to his feet.

"Sorry, Greg," I say, "But this time, I'm not backing down."

It would be nice if, for once, The Boss did - seeing as he's  the one who approved Vicky's idiotic press release. But you can't reason with a panic-stricken MP, or not one who's still in the yelling phase, anyway. (Just ask anyone who's ever worked for John Prescott or Gordon Brown.)

"Andrew," I say, interrupting yet another tirade. "Call me back when you've calmed down. I'm not talking to you while you're in this mood."

"In that case, you'd better go home," says Andrew. "Right now. And consider your position while you're there."

Which is exactly what I have been doing, ever since Johnny and I found Max with Jemima in the gazebo. And Johnny asked me to join him in Dubai.


  1. The blog would get a bit boring coming from Dubai - "Got up, went shopping, went home."
    but its clear that some sort of crossroads has been arrived at; good luck, I've a feeling you're going to need it.

  2. You mean you want me to CONTINUE to suffer for your amusement?!

  3. I am afraid we do. Hang in there.

  4. Well Molly - you have the moral high ground but you have also got yourself options. Tell Max to sling his hook (he can slink next door or fxxx off with Jemima) then consider your next move. Only problem is (as Alfred says) is we would miss your blog if you do what you should. Nothing ventured nothing gained...

  5. Oh, God. There's something VERY scary about options. Though I am glad SOMEONE would miss me ;-)

  6. Of course we shouldn't forget that you only found Max and Jemima in their compromising position because you and Johnny were on your way to the gazebo for a little dalliance too;)
    Maybe you had already made your decision....