31 Jul 2003

Officer’s Mess

Call Centre Tony sits in a corner of the canteen when he is in one of ‘those moods’. There is an area of tables that are separated into booths by partitions of pink trellis and Tony treats his spot like it is a confessional.

We don’t often have time for a lunch, but recently Tony has insisted that we have one. Today we exchanged advice on our Wankerdaq portfolios. “I have sold my stock in Janice. She might be a hefty unit with no sense of humour, but she is harmless enough. Top of my list is Brenda.”

I sputtered on my coffee-flavoured-hot-dog-sausage-brine from the machine. “You were brown-nosing up until last week. What changed?”

“I’m not being funny, but she hasn’t got a clue, she goes all round the houses and misses the point. If it was left to her, we would have to ask Uncle Tom Cobliegh and all, every time we needed to order new paper for the fax machine.” Tony grabbed an out of date copy of HEAT from a table next to where we were sitting. Crumpled and covered with baked bean stains, Tony flicked through the pages quickly. “This is the life for me son. Visiting premieres, all the booze and fags I can get hold off and holidaying in the sun, son.”

“There must be more to life than this.” I said. “I have Thrush’s appraisal looming – I can’t be arsed with his nonsense.”

“You need to have some time on the officers.”


“Officer’s Mess – Stress. All you need to do is clutch your chest a couple of times, look wide-eyed, and make sure that Bernardo clocks you.” Tony demonstrated. “Next thing you know, you are signed off for three months, feet up, watching Kilroy all afternoon.”

When I got back to my desk I tried it out. I think I over-did it a bit when Bernard was rushing past, because he said, “You look like you’ve been shot! Don’t think you are having any time off if you have been!” He laughed as he disappeared back into his office.