A day at the office

I don’t write about work very often, other than vague allusions to “the man” – and I guess there are a number of reasons for this.  Primarily, I am yet to be independently wealthy and so should probably try (at least to a modest degree) to avoid getting myself fired.  However, I also feel that it would be quite the challenge to make sitting in front of a laptop playing with models (of the mathematical/software variety) entertaining (yes, I know that such concerns have rarely stopped me before).  Those who worry about my posture, given the nature of my working life, will be pleased to know that I have invested in a 23″ FHD screen and decent keyboard-and-mouse combo – so that in conjunction with my vertebrae-friendly chair this particular workman can no longer blame his tools for any back problems in later life.

Anyway, yesterday I had to make my way to the intermittently sunny environs of Woking where the office resides.  A few mildly diverting incidents occurred during the day, just sufficient unto a post – and so here it is.

Inspired by Neal Caffery, I have taken to sporting the jauntiest of my hats on recent days, and yesterday took it with me to the office.  The hat offers several advantages to its wearer: it protects my head from both light rain and light of the ultraviolet persuasion.  It also, I think, makes me a little more acceptable to the gods of several major world religions (as previously discussed) – though, frankly, any god worth his salary should still be able to see the top of my head despite its stylish millinery.  Finally, and most importantly, I believe it makes me look somewhat raffish – a constant objective in my life.  In addition to my hat, and offering further UV protection (and disguise potential), I wore a pair of shades.  These items were still being worn as I approached my desk – too few hands to disrobe whilst also fumbling for my pass and working various doors.  Apparently, I was the very spit of a character in Breaking Bad – which may be true, but as I have resisted the lure of BB (despite being both middle-class and possessed of Netflix) I couldn’t possibly comment (I can only assume that the part in question is of a chap with raffish – or perhaps merely Slavic – good looks).  I shall try and resist the urge to start putting my chemistry A-level to less than legal utility.

My office is on the ground floor, but the building does possess a lift.  By the ground-floor doors to this contrivance it stresses the fact that it should not be used in case of fire.  Since the exits are also on the ground floor, I am unclear as to why I would want to use the lift as the building burns around me.  Is there a belief in Woking that, like the daleks of old, fire cannot climb stairs and so one should seek higher “ground” for safety?  If so, people are in for a very nasty surprise and there should perhaps be an additional warning posted on the staircase to prevent tragedy.

The office lies next to a canal and yesterday I noticed a narrow boat moored right outside.  Very handy for work, thought I, but probably not a very practical choice for yours truly.  The combination of low ceilings and a narrow space would not sit well with my height, long limbs and severe lack of physical grace.  Even operating in far more generous spaces I carry a permanent record (in the form of cuts and contusions) of my inability to safely navigate my body – I fear life on a narrow boat would need to be accompanied by a frequent flyer card for the local A&E department.  I often wonder what future archaeologists will make of my skeletal remains: given the number of blows to the head and limbs I have accumulated over the years (all self-inflicted), they may suspect I was some sort of 21st century gladiator.  Certainly one never hears the archaeologists of today positing that any of our distant ancestors were just seriously clumsy when explaining the remodelling and scarring on their ancient bones.

My final vignette from yesterday in the office will be one of delight.  Perhaps to maintain some thematic link to the canal, the office is entered by crossing a water feature – more a pond, if I’m honest, replete with goldfish.  Not sure if the entry bridge can be used to dump the unwary visitor into the pond – as is so popular with Bond villains – but I’m pretty sure they were just goldfish and nothing more toothsome.  The water feature also has some modest planting based on some pretty undistinguished plants – or at least I’ve never really noticed them.  Yesterday, the container was a riot of colour provided by a dozens of native orchids, probably the common spotted variety (though I am no expert).  Not sure if they were planted or had just seeded themselves, but what an unexpected joy at the end of my working day.  Well, almost the end, I did still have to trek back home from darkest Woking…

Cartoon Canonisation

Earlier, I found myself thinking about the television of my childhood days – I think this form of nostalgia is an occupational hazard (along with presbyopia) of my advancing years.  At least I haven’t started telling complete strangers my age… yet.

In common with, I assume, all generations, I believe the television of my youth was vastly better than that produced in these debased, modern times.  Though there are some honourable exceptions, for example, I would heartily recommend Shaun the Sheep (despite the sub-optimal spelling of our hero’s name) to any comers.

Almost everything I know about herbs, I learnt from the Herb Garden – and I have now eaten most of the characters, though have yet to try (Constable) Knapweed (I’m not even sure what you might serve him with – a writ of habeas corpus?).  To this day, I tend to sing the relevant song to myself when chopping each herb – though I grow increasingly shaky on the words (but, this is one area in which the internet is a real boon).

Much of my knowledge of society came from the folk of Trumptonshire.  I well remember my disappointment on starting my first job – which was in an office above a factory – to discover that at knocking-off time there was no siren and the staff did not dress up in period costume to dance whilst accompanied by the local lord on his “Dutch organ” (which is a lot less dodgy than it sounds).

I would say that Oliver Postgate was (at last partly) responsible for getting me a job.  The interest in Norse myth, engendered by the tales of Noggin the Nog, paid off many years later.  A talk on Egil’s bones (he of the saga, combative nature and Paget’s disease) as my interview “party” piece won me the job in education from where I was later able to muse about various gerunds to such great comic effect (see previous post) – but you really shouldn’t blame Mr Postgate for that.

But, finally, we come to the main subject for tonight’s symposium.  Mary, Mungo and Midge – an animation produced by the makers of Captain Pugwash – tried to convince us of the joys of living atop a tower block with a large dog.  I fear it was not wholly successful in this brief, but it did move children’s “drama” away from the boarding school or countryside for the first time.  (By the way, for a good laugh – and an indication of how times have changed (or at least, children’s fiction) – I thoroughly recommend the recent Good Show Clarissa on Radio 4.  It contains vocabulary that even I have stopped using!).

Many a time I have found myself inside St Mary’s, or more recently, Great St Mary’s (I refer here to churches, there has been no tupping with the canonised deceased, I can assure you – though I suppose it might count as one of the obligatory two miracles were it to happen).  St Mungo is the patron saint of Glasgow – not bad for a dog!  But, even after 40 years, no St Midge – not even a Venerable or Blessed Midge!

The time has come to campaign for poor little old Midge.  Our exact tack will depend on whether he was martyred or not – but the first step is a recommendation to the Pope.  Thereafter, we are probably looking for miracles performed through Midge’s intercession.  It is 40 years since I last saw MM&M, but I do remember he would stand on Mungo’s muzzle and press the buttons on the lift to descend (or ascend) – so perhaps we should be looking for miracles within the works of Messers Otis or Schindler?  (Certainly, through the entire TV series, the lift never once failed – which I think would make it unique – and miraculous – in tower-block based TV drama)

Please feel free to report your lift-based miracles here, and let’s get Midge the canonisation he so richly deserves.