Thursday, 30 September 2010

A New Home in the Sky - I Am Zen

"Zen, can you help me please?" This is one of our new offshorians.  Bless him, my single syllable of a name is too much for his tongue.  In all other respects, though, he is perfectly capable, eager, smart, attentive, polite.  I'm starting to wonder if he's actually human.  I know my company has some quite strange recruitment practices but I never expected them to extend quite so far...

They SAY he's from Offshore...

What if he's actually from much further afield?

I know it's hot in Offshore, but what if he's from somewhere even hotter?

Come to think of it, I have not seen him eat or drink since he got here.  Does he sleep?


This morning, he came in with red eyes.  He SAYS it's an eye infection.  Under the fluorescents, it's hard to tell if they're glowing a little bit or just really sore.

I wouldn't put it past my employers to enter into some deal with the Infernal Powers - actually, with my employer's aggressive and subtle negotiation practices, I'd advise those Down Below to read the fine print really carefully or they'll probably find they have signed themselves up to outsourcing their Core Processes to us.  

In which case, I'm guessing the call centre won't be in Mumbai.

In the meantime, my esteemed co-worker may or may not be a soulless denizen of the underworld.

I am Zen.  I really am.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

The Poetry Bus - Magic Roundabout Spin

This week's excursion aboard the noble charabanc of dreams is hosted by Rachel Fox, poet extraordinare who set us a challenge here to produce something based around childhood characters or stories.

Go here for all the other passengers.  Now then, let's see.


As a kid, I loved things like Star Trek, Space: 1999 (it's OK, I've over that one now) and my most beloved toys were Major Matt Mason and Action Man.  Could these be the stuff of poetry?  Errr.  No.

OK, come on think, think! 


Ok, DON'T think, maybe that's the key.  Hmm, now that the monkey-chattering has stopped, just on the edge of my mental hearing comes the tiniest thread of a tune, dragging an idea along in its wake.... 

The rough-as-old-boots recording of this song is the last track in my ReverbNation widget over on the right.  I sound like I have a cold, but I don't.


Remember when we were just children,
With our heads full of nursery rhyme.
And with each summer's day came a new game to play,
With always one more tree to climb.
There was always some water to splash in,
A net full of newts we would catch.
Scrumping our tea from the old apple tree
As our secrets and plots we would hatch.

Magic Roundabout spin for the last time,
Spin me a magical tale.
Magic Faraway Tree, oh, won't you carry me
To that country where good things prevail.
Magic Roundabout spin for the last time,
Let me ride and play 'let us pretend'
Magic Faraway Tree, oh won't you carry me
Can't you turn back the clock, my old friend?

But we grew up as all children should do,
And we put aside those childish things.
The swings and the slides, all the places to hide
No more pulling off butterflies' wings.
Now the years, they have spun by in seconds,
All are gone in the blink of an eye.
We grew up, learnt a trade, there were bills to be paid
No more dreaming of pie in the sky.

Now the roundabout stands still and silent
Its music no more shall I hear.
The Faraway tree will not blossom for me
It's too late to replant it I Fear.
For time's arrow will fly only forwards
This is the lesson we learn
The play and the laughter are for those who come after
The roundabout gave us our turn.

Magic Roundabout spin for the last time,
Whirling orange and yellow and red.
Magic Roundabout spin for the last time,
Till Zebedee says 'Time for bed'.

OK, it still needs work and it's a lot of old cliched cobblers, but there it is.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Weekly Wordzzle 128

Finally reached the end of a busy week and the good news is I've got a whole week off work next week.

Didn't have as much trouble as I expected with the words, I did manage to get them used up.  The mini was fairly easy to do.  However, the award for Most Contrived Coversation Written Purely to Dispose of Wordzzle Words goes, for my effort in the 10-worder this week. 

Anyway, for next week's challenge and this week's players, go to Raven's Nest.

The Mini (drab, dutiful, dusty, delicatessen, dart board)

“Greta!” yelled Mr Litowski, “Get your fat lazy ass out here, woman! We got customers!” If he shouted that once in a day, he must have shouted it a hundred times, and Mrs L, a tiny brown mouse of a woman, would come scuttling out from the back room.

I had been calling at Litowski’s Delicatessen for my morning bagel every day for twenty years and in all that time, I can honestly say I had never once heard Mr L utter a sentence to his wife that did not contain an insult of some kind. The Delicatessen itself was a timeless kind of place, hardly changed since that day back in 1962 when the Litowskis - hopeful young newlyweds then – first opened its doors. Although it was kept spotless by the eternally scrubbing Mrs L, the faded paintwork and worn counters made the place seem drab and dusty somehow. Outwardly, Mrs L herself was not much different from the Deli – drab and dusty-looking. Drab, dusty, and every inch the dutiful wife, wilted from years of shouted abuse.

One day, when she was on her own in the shop, I asked Mrs L how on earth she put up with her husband’s yelling all these years. She smiled and whispered, “Don’t tell anyone, but every day I go into the attic - Jan cannot manage the stairs so good, you know, so he never goes up there. I play darts for one whole hour. I go up sad, I come down happy.” Seeing my look of incomprehension, she gave me a conspiratorial wink. “Guess whose picture is stuck to the dart board.”

The 10-Worder (English, edible, eagerly, elves, eulogy, estimable, entrance, education, extra-special, Energizer Bunny)

New to Harold? The story so far is here.

Agents Mercury, Othello and Prada, along with Harold and Teatime stood outside the entrance to Mr Teeth’s palatial home. India had gone over to the ornamental pool to fish for the keys.

“Who would have thought Mr Jackson would have such refined tastes,” said Othello, casting an appreciative eye over the bold pink lines of the house with its randomly placed circular Swiss-cheese-hole windows. “If I’m not mistaken, this is the work of Nina Roden.”

“Who?” asked Prada.

“Nina Roden,” replied Othello, “An English architect, she worked out of Los Angeles. She liked to design buildings that look ‘edible’. She did the McCleod Higher Education Centre .”

“I don’t think I know it,” said Prada,

“The Chocolate Bar?” Othello prompted.

“Oh, right! That one!” laughed Prada, “I’d say she succeeded there – it really does look kind of yummy.”

“Yeah,” sighed Othello, “Pity she didn’t live to see it finished. She died of a brain tumour a couple of years back. Nobody even knew she had it: one day she was running round like the Energizer Bunny, the next – “ he made a gesture of hopelessness. “She left a lot of really exciting buildings behind, though. I guess they’re her eulogy in a way.”

“It must be nice to leave behind something lasting.” Said Prada, thoughtfully, “I wonder what people’ll say about me when I’m gone, nothing extra-special, I bet. My parents think I’m in the noble and estimable profession of Day Trading , for goodness sake! Hardly the stuff of legend!”

“You’ve never told them what you do?” said Othello.

“Are you kidding?” laughed Prada, “They’d freak out. They don’t believe in demons or anything like that. Listen, when all my kindergarten friends were getting bedtime stories full of magic elves, dragons and princesses, my dad would send me off to sleep with the Wall Street Journal!”

“That must have been awful,” said Mercury, appalled.

“Oh, I don’t know,” said Prada brightly, “I made my first million on the stock exchange before I was eighteen.”

Just then, India returned with a dripping plastic bag containing the house keys. She stopped in her tracks at the sight of the stunned looks on the faces of everyone but Prada, who was grinning like a Cheshire cat.

“OK,” she said eagerly, “What’d I miss?”

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Poetry Bus - Do You Take This Man...?

I'm late for the Poetry Bus, the very Poetry Bus I'm hosting on behalf of Don't Feed the Pixies (who is BACK, by the way).

The challenge was to write something that could be read at a non-religious wedding - and it should not give the reader instant diabetes with its sugariness.

For the original challenge and everybody else's pomes go here.

Only Human

I am only human.
And there will be times
When I’ve been stubborn,
When I’ve been stupid,
When I’ve not been kind,
When you will wish
You had not braved the thorns,
Stormed the castle and kissed me awake.

You are only human
And there will be times
When you’ve not been patient,
When you’ve not listened,
When you’ve been thoughtless,
When I will wish
I had not seen that frog on the lily-pad
And kissed him into a prince.

We are only human
Living a real life, not a fairy tale.
We are only human
Not Frog-prince and Sleeping Beauty.
We are only human,
And, happy ever after or not,
Fairy tales have endings.
Our love does not.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Weekly Wordzzle 127

Ok, let's just take as read my usual gripe about how quickly the week's shot past.  Honestly, if time were to go any faster, I'd get some kind of temporal whiplash I reckon.

So, here we are again and it's Wordzzle time.  As usual, the rules, next week's words and this week's players can be found at Raven's Nest.

The Mini (debt, wind chimes, rake, shell, limbering up)

The breeze was running light fingers over the wind chimes in the shop doorway, and the afternoon was drowsing its slow way towards evening.  Behind the counter, Owen, a tall, thin rake of a man, leafed uninterestedly through a trade catalogue.  He was never going to be able to stock any of the products in it, the stipulated minimum order quantity was more than he could afford – or sell.  Without new lines to sell, though, Owen knew he would not be hanging onto his customers much longer.  That new shop on the High Street – part of a huge franchise – would soon woo them away with its rock-bottom prices and two-for-one deals.  Suddenly, the wind chimes tinkled, as if someone had brushed against them coming into the shop. Owen laid the magazine aside and looked up, his face limbering up for a friendly smile.  There was no-one there, however.  Owen allowed his smile to fade – it must have been  the breeze.  Then his eye was caught by something on the counter which had not been there a moment before.  A large,  blue seashell was sitting there, holding down a piece of paper.  Puzzled, he moved the shell aside and unfolded the paper.  Owen Lockwood, the elegant writing said, Your father once did us a service and we hereby repay our debt.  There was no signature.  Intrigued, Owen picked up the shell, it was smooth and cool to the touch.  He turned it over and thought he heard something rattle inside it.  He turned it some more.  If you were to freeze a rainbow solid and then hit it with a hammer, the pieces would look very like the small shower of sparking gems which tumbled out of the shell’s opening.   Owen smiled, his money worries looked to be a thing of the past.

 The 10-worder (carrot soup, blind, polar bear, evidence, diary, devil, classic, balance, piano, bushy eyebrows)

New to Harold? The story so far is here.

It did not take long for Mercury, India, Othello and Prada to get their stuff together, each had only brought with them an overnight bag with a change of clothes and some toiletries, as was usual when out on a mission. Harold had only Teatime and his rucksack, and Box had just a single rucksack of his own.

“You go on ahead,” Box said to the others, “I just need to straighten the place up a bit, leave it nice and tidy.”

The others climbed into the OGS car and set off.

Box went quickly from room to room, humming to himself, making sure there was no mess anywhere. Satisfied, he returned to the kitchen and filled the sink with hot water to wash the few cups and plates that had been used. Someone had left an empty can on the counter – McKinleys Classic Carrot Soup. The label showed a stereotyped fierce-looking Scotsman (‘Auld’ Jock McKinley, himself, apparently), complete with red hair, improbably bushy eyebrows, bagpipes and kilt, against a backdrop of green fields and grey mountains. Shaking his head at the tacky ways of marketing types, Box dropped it into the trash. The soup had probably been manufactured in that well-known outpost of Scotland known as Mexico.

The washing up completed, Box surveyed the kitchen: all evidence of occupation had been cleared away. He scribbled a quick note of thanks to the house’s owner on the little message pad next to the phone. Right, time to get moving, he told himself. He shrugged himself into his bike jacket, donned his rucksack, and picked up his helmet and keys. As he did so, however, a movement out in the street caught his eye.

A white truck had just parked outside. Against the greys and browns of the houses opposite, it stood out like a polar bear in a coal cellar. Behind it, a car in the same company livery – Infinity Recycling Inc – also pulled up and stopped.

A pleasant-looking blonde woman and a young man got out of the car and started up the drive towards the house.


“You just wait till you see Mr Jackson’s place,” said Harold, as Mercury piloted the car through the afternoon traffic. “It’s got everything: a gym, a pool, a grand piano even, although I suspect nobody ever plays it, which is a crime in my book.”

“So, he cleared his busy diary to take you on a guided tour, did he?” said Prada, somewhat sceptically.

“No,” laughed Harold, “Some of the doors were open and you’d have to be blind not to have seen the stuff he’s got. State-of-the-art sound system, plasma TV”

“The Devil looks after his own, I suppose,” said Othello.

“Not so’s you’d notice,” replied Harold, wryly.

Othello raised an eyebrow, “Really? So why’d you side with him then?” The sudden turn in the conversation caught Harold off-balance.

“I didn’t, not really.’ He sighed, not even remotely prepared to pour out his life story to these humans. “It’s complicated, and now isn’t really the time…”

Othello, clearly disappointed that more information was not forthcoming, nevertheless took the hint and turned back to face the front.

Agent India stared out the window at the passing cars and lorries, her expression neutral. If the demon had been telling the truth about not really siding with the Devil, then how come it had wound up in the Basement with all the other Fallen?


Box heard the man and woman’s footsteps approach, and the doorbell sounded its cheesy rendition of the Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy. He had crouched down behind the kitchen counter where he could not be seen should the mysterious callers decide to try peeking in at the window. His bike was still in the garage and the OGS car had gone. There was nothing to suggest that the house was anything but empty. With any luck, they would see that and go away.

The doorbell sounded again. By Zeus’s ears, they’re persistent, thought Box. There’s nobody here but us chickens…nobody here at all.

He heard the woman’s voice ordering the young man to try round the back. Box glanced into the living room. He had locked the French doors, hadn’t he? He was pretty sure he had. He hoped he had. He didn’t have time to check, the young man would be reaching the back of the house about now. Suddenly, the handle on the French door rattled as the man tried it – rattled, and held!

Box allowed the breath he hadn’t realised he’d been holding to escape with a quiet hiss. He had locked it then.

The sound of smashing glass took him completely by surprise.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

Poetry Bus - Don't Feed the Pixies Challenge

Due to unforseen disasters, Don't Feed the Pixies has asked me to post his challenge for the Poetry Bus.  Note, the is HIS challenge, not mine (mine would have had 62% more otters in it)..

Usual toot, when you've done yer pome, leave a comment here and I'll do the linkies on Monday next.

Anyway...... over to Don't Feed The Pixies...

Hi y'all in Blogging land - just a message from us Pixies from beyond the grave. Don't Feed The Pixies is no more and I'm not sure what is going to happen long term regarding blogging right now: too much going on in my head. I will, however, stick to the few outstanding commitments I have and post the Poetry Bus challenge via a willing helper :)

This week I would like you all to write a pome suitable for a non-denominational wedding. In this country the law is quite clear that you can't mention God or religion at all unless you have a wedding at a church/synagogue/mosque etc - so no naughty mentioning of God.

Secondly - from personal preference, nothing too tacky, cheesy or ott sentimental - we're looking for a gentle warming of the cockles of the heart here. I'm hoping that someone will be kind enough to collate the pomes and send copies on to myself - but here's my effort below. It doesn't have a name (aww).

Though we walk through fields of fire
Our skins shall not be burned
Through the cold may soon surround us
We shall keep each other warm
Though the winds of change may shift our course
I think that you should know
Wherever you may travel now
My heart will surely go

In the ever changing seasons
You are constant, you are known
In a world of such confusion
You will never be alone
Though our feet may yet be taken down
New paths that we don’t know
Wherever you may travel now
My heart will surely go

Wherever you may travel now
My heart will surely go

*** PLEASE NOTE: the above is Don't Feed the Pixies's poem, not mine (much as I would like to claim it as my own) ***

Early Birds for the bus.....

Jeanne Iris flutters in first - here.

Peter Goulding bags a seat by the door here.

Doctor FTSE Avows here.

Heather warns us not to forgetti the confetti here.

Rachel is giving us tree-love here.

Jinksy gives us tragedy here.

... and then cheers us up here.

Bug is giving one of her cousins a gift here.

Titus gives it to us Romford-stylee here.

Niamh is giving us a taste of lurve here.

Muse Swings in the hurricane season here.

TotalFeckinEejit finds an unconventional love here.

Mrs Trellis is here.

Swiss is here.

Lydia is here.

Helen is here.

Enchanted Oak is here.

Argent finally gets going here.

Erratic Thoughts is a naive passenger here.

Izzy has hit 'post' and is here.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Weekly Wordzzle 126

As Bart Simpson might say, Ay, Caramba!  This week's just flown past, taking the two or three ideas I had for other posts with it.  Been a busy weekend too, hence the lateness of this post - well, that and the fact I couldn't figure out what to do with the words, LOL.

Go to Raven's Nest for other players' writings and next week's words.

The Mini (lawn mower, sheets and towels, smashed, bookcase, pinky finger)

My little finger? Oh that! You Americans call it the pinky finger, don’t you? Yes, it’s been like that since, hmm, let me see, since I was about six, I think. My big brother ran over my hand with the lawn mower and broke it – the finger, I mean, not the lawn mower, that would be silly, wouldn’t it? All the little bones were smashed up pretty thoroughly, I can tell you. I remember running into the house, screaming my little head off and my mother was very angry at first because she thought I was being silly. But when she saw the blood – and there was quite a lot of it - she just fainted on the spot, knocking over that very bookcase and leaving me to look after myself. Well, I’d seen on the television that you were meant to put bandages on things like this, so I went to the airing-cupboard, yes, this one here as a matter of fact, but all the sheets and towels were far too big, of course. So I searched a bit more and managed to find something a bit smaller. Just then, mother woke up again and rushed me straight off to the hospital. When the doctor unwrapped my hand, though, he had a very strange look on his face, like he was trying not to laugh. My makeshift bandage was none other than a pair of my mother’s pink lacy knickers. She was mortified! Aah, she doesn’t even know who I am nowadays, of course, poor old stick, but she still remembers those knickers, bless her! Now, through here, we have the master bedroom….

The 10-Worder (charm, judge, flowers, mixed nuts, earthquake, politics, sugar and spice, bricks and mortar, neurosurgeon, blinking lights, plastic bag)

New to Harold? The story so far is here.

“Mr Jackson, we’d like to take you up on your offer – or at least some of it anyway,” said Mercury.

“OK,” rumbled the big man, “What do you need?”

“We’d like a place to work from, somewhere private where we won’t be disturbed – preferably with an internet connection.”

Mr Teeth produced a small note book and began writing. “Anything else?”

“That’s it for now, but we might need an extra car later, maybe if that’s alright.”

“OK, then,” Mr teeth said, tearing a page out of the notebook and holding it out to Mercury, “Go to this address, It’s my own place and it’s plenty big enough for all of us. Now I have some business to attend to, so I’ll meet you there when I’m done - in about an hour. Key’s in a plastic bag in the pond – look for the mermaid statue.”

“OK ,” said Mercury , “and thanks, your help is much appreciated.”

Mr Teeth grunted acknowledgement and left.

“So, not only are we working with demons, we’ve taken up with criminals now as well?” India had been against accepting Mr Teeth’s help from the start

“Agent India,” said Mercury. There was just a hint of a snap in his voice and his use of her formal title caused her mouth to shut with an almost audible snap. “We’ve been through this and, as squad leader, I am making this decision and I will take responsibility for it.” He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Look, we’re all still tired. Let’s get packed up and get out of here as soon as we can.”

“Ooh, I think your charm must be working at last, old sock,” whispered Teatime gleefully, “You apparently rank slightly above the local criminal fraternity now – a step up, if I’m any judge.”

“Well, it had to happen sooner or later,” grinned Harold. “What with me being so irresistible and all.”


Dr Evangeline Flowers quickly scanned the document Haynes was holding out to her and scrawled her signature on the bottom. She sighed as he took the clipboard back and walked away. Was this what her life had come to? Scribbling on documents and organising the movement of boxes, crates and tanks?

It hadn’t always been like this, of course. She’d never been a ‘sugar and spice, all things nice’ kind of girl – had only ever wanted to be a neurosurgeon like her beloved father. She’d done well enough at med school to get an internship in a good teaching hospital – she’d even made Resident there and was looking at Attending in a couple of years, hospital politics permitting.

Then she’d slipped over on – of all the stupid things - some mixed nuts she’d spilt in her own kitchen, and had broken her arm, broken it badly enough to cause permanent nerve damage, leaving her right hand just a bit less sensitive and precise than the left. Not a big injury and, for anyone else, not even an inconvenience, really, but it was an earthquake of magnitude ten toppling the bricks and mortar of her ambition. Unable to bear the thought of having to start over in some other specialism, she’d turned to research. She’d done well at that too, and had found it fascinating in its own way - there were, after all, still plenty of diseases out there that needed to be conquered or at least understood properly.

She hadn’t been able to believe her luck when she’d got the call. Her own lab, her own staff and a budget she’d only been able to dream of before. All this to do pure research into why certain people had certain abilities and how they might be replicated technologically. That’s what they had told her, anyway.

And it was sort of true, she supposed. She cast a practised eye over the row of blinking lights on the side of tank three – all nominal.

Only the ’people’ hadn’t exactly been people.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Saturday Wordzzle 125

Yes, it's that late-night Saturday event yet again, and a-Wordzzling we will go. This week's words were a real mixed bag, some very easy, others really awkward.

Go to Raven's Nest for more info, this week's players and the words for next week's challenge.  Go on, you'll love it!

The mini (carpet, cane, outer space, handball, ambitious)

It is a well-known fact that not all races of the Galactic Union are created equal. Take, for example, the Oonians of Omicron Delta V. Members of this kind and gentle race resemble nothing so much as huge ragged patches of shocking pink carpet and have no arms, legs or any other external appendage to speak of. Then there are the Cane people of Sauros III. This race is possessed of varying numbers of arms and legs, depending on age. As their name suggests, however, they are stick-thin and extremely fragile. And let us not forget the ObNoggians. These gigantic, telepathic, whale-like creatures actually live in outer space, never once making planetfall until they die and crash-land on some hapless world – with inevitably disastrous results for the inhabitants. So, all this being said, do you really think your ambitious plan - to stage an All-Galactic Union Handball Tournament - is a sensible one?

The 10-worder (pyramid, laughter, orang-utan, recycling, infinity, toilet paper, greasy dishes, Spanish, preparation, back-up)

New to Harold? The story so far is here.

To her annoyance, Agent India’s teeth were itching again. That could only mean one thing.

“The demon’s back,” she announced gloomily, heading for the front door. She knew she was being a bit irrational, the demon was helping them after all and if it had really disappeared, the investigation would have suffered a setback. It wasn’t like they had a back-up demon in the cupboard all ready to go that they could use to … Now that was an idea! Perhaps they were going about this whole thing entirely too passively. Maybe there was a way to force the hand of whoever was behind all this.

She yanked open the door - and stepped back in surprise.

The demon was there just as she expected, grinning all over its stupid face like it was pleased to see her. Behind it, however, stood a huge African-American man - a veritable inverted pyramid of immaculately-tailored muscle.

“Hi,” said Harold, “I’m back. Can we come in?”

Wordlessly, India stepped aside and allowed the two to enter.

“And so,” said Harold, having related the events of his life in the last few hours, “The long and the short of it is: Mr Jackson has decided to offer us his help.”

“Well, that’s a kind offer, Mr Jackson,” began Mercury, “What exactly did you have in mind?”

“I can get you stuff you might need: vehicles, guns, people, place to work from.”

“I see,” said Mercury, somewhat nonplussed by the big man’s openness, “We don’t tend to use guns in our operations, they don’t work on demons and they can always be taken away and turned against us. While, we are definitely having some internal difficulties with our organisation, I don’t think - ”

“Your traitor?” interrupted Mr Teeth, “Yeah, Harold told me about that. Look, if he’s as deep in your outfit as you suspect, you should drop right off the grid until this is all over, or until you can figure out who he is. If you don’t, he’s gonna be bird-dogging you at every step. It ain’t gonna matter how clever you are or how much preparation and planning you put in, he’s gonna know about it and is gonna rip your operation apart like wet toilet paper. I can give you anything your outfit could. I know a few people in this town.”

“I have to say,” piped up Teatime, causing Mr Teeth’s eyebrows to shoot up in surprise, “That I think Mr Jackson has rather hit the nail on the head. I vote he join our little gang.”

“You never told me bout any talking monkey,” he said, looking at Harold, “And you didn’t have him with you before. What’s the deal?”

“My father sent him,” explained Harold, “to investigate the disappearances. That was before I met these lovely people, of course.” He directed a sunny grin at the OGS agents, at which India rolled her eyes in disgust, “ He’s very smart and being so small, is very good at hiding. He rides on my shoulder so he can talk to me without people noticing.”

“Hmmph,” rumbled Mr teeth, “I guess it’s a good job your father didn’t send you a talking orang-utan then.”

There was a small amount of rather tentative laughter at this, as the others weighed up what Mr Teeth had said, and decided that the dour black man-mountain had actually made a funny of sorts.

“Anyway,” Mr Teeth continued, “I’m offering you a safe place and whatever you need to get the job done.”
The others looked at each other.

“Do you mind if we discuss it for a minute,” said Mercury. Mr Teeth shrugged his massive shoulders and walked out into the garden.


Infinity Recycling. Ernesto speaking. How may I direct your call?” There was just a hint of Spanish in the man’s accent.

“I have some greasy dishes that need to be dealt with,” said the caller. Ernesto didn’t miss a beat. “Putting you through now,” he said. There followed a series of electronic clicks and a ringing tone which was soon cut short.

“Special Projects, Haynes here.”

“This is RolexBoy. I have a specimen for you.”

“Really?” Haynes didn’t much like RolexBoy. Sure, he had his uses and had ultimately been responsible for the formation of the Special Projects group, but he was still an arrogant, over-privileged, young pup.

“Nothing’s showed up on the network or we’d have known.” he said.

“This one’s not been up here before and is a bit weedy, so won’t have high enough C.”

“Can I ask how you know about it then?” Haynes’s voice leaked a little irritation. He was busy, dammit!

“I’ve seen it and spoken to it. It’s real” replied RolexBoy.

“I’m not sure we need another specimen just now – especially if it’s low C. Dr Flowers and the rest of us are up to our eyeballs in the move. Maybe after we get set up in the new place?” Haynes was hoping that RolexBoy would take the hint and ring off, but he didn’t.

“You need to collect this one,” he said, “Because it has got together with a group of OGS and they are intent on tracking you guys down. “

“I see,” Haynes was sensible enough to know that they could not afford any loose ends on this project “Do you know where it is now?”

“Yes, 1472 Goose Egg Drive.” Haynes scribbled it down.

“OK, I’ll talk to Dr Flowers and see if we can get a team over there today.”

“Good,” said RolexBoy, “I’m emailing over pictures and details now."

Sure enough, the computer beeped for an incoming email. Haynes opened it up and studied the pictures and text for a while, before tapping a few numbers into a desk phone.

“Dr Flowers?” he said when the call was picked up. “Haynes here. We’ve still got a holding tank here haven’t we? Only I think we’re going to need it.”

Thursday, 2 September 2010

A New Home in the Sky - The Meeting Room

In direct contrast to last week, the sun is fairly pouring through the strangely blue-tinted windows of Throwback Towers today, so much so, that GD decides that we will have our team meeting in the 'Cathedral Suite'.  It is arranged that we will meet there after our post-prandial pootle around the retail district. 

On the way there, we are accosted by Possibly-Genuinely-Stranded-Girl who puts on a charming performance - including a plausible story of a lost purse and repeated requests for our email addresses so she can arrange to pay us back if we give her some money ("even 20p would do!").  I fork over a quid and you might be forgiven for thinking I have just saved her life, so effusive are her thanks.  Scam?  Not sure, but sufficiently entertaining and just plausible enough to be worth a quid of anybody's money (are you taking note, St Peter?).

Anyway, after the pootling about, we arrive at the Cathedral Suite.

This is the door.....

As you can see, the meeting room is spacious and fully air-conditioned....
With none of that nasty carpet that covers the corporate land like some kind of evil beige moss...
With ample seating for all our meeting needs, large or small....
We are here to talk about the new additions to our team that are arriving tomorrow from the land of Offshore.  Offshore is that nice place where all the Call Centres are these days.  Offshore is where you can get three highly-trained Klueless Decision Support System techies for the price of one Brit.
We're not worried about our jobs though, as the viscissitudes of IL-4 mean that the Offshorians are not allowed to access the super-secret stuff - only we Brits are.  Gotta love that implicit corporate racism.
We talk seriously about these things for just long enough to say with a clear conscience that we've been having a proper meeting then we degenerate into the usual mixture of buffoonery, gossip, nostalgia and making up fantastically exaggerated life-stories for people we know (a favorite passtime of ours).
This gives us an idea:  we decide on the way back that we will introduce Spare Change Guy to our Offshorians as a former member of the team who has quit the corporate rat-race after a particularly stressful week on-call.  We'll big him up as being the guy we still go to when we hit a real problem ("he's forgotten more than most of us will ever know about Klueless").  I'm sure for a couple of quid SCG will play along.