Thursday, August 23, 2012
Ice Ice Baby - Thursday
‘You could wear a short-sleeve shirt today.’ Suggests my wife, gazing out the window at unaccustomed morning sunshine. You’d think she’d know me better by now, but they still try to mould you, however mouldy you are.
‘Short-sleeve shirts are for computer engineers and door to door salesmen.’ I tell her snootily.
‘You are sort of a door-to-door salesman.’ She retorts with a twinkle in her eye. She’s not getting me that easily, especially as I’ve already showered and don’t need to get hot under the collar…
It’s a long-running argument. I accept it might be more comfortable to wear casual sports wear on the few days we get any decent weather in this rain-lashed island, but you are just going to look like Alan Partridge or one of those dicks that run their own estate agency as if it’s their front room. Sitting there in slacks and a tank-top jumper, with some wheezing Labrador lolling on the office carpet as if it makes the whole operation homely. And don’t even start me on the knobs that wear designer polo shirts, loafers and artfully battered £200 jeans – it’s just distressing.
‘I just think you’d be more comfortable.’ She persists over breakfast, as youngest son raises his eyes to the heavens. He’s going to get a prematurely wrinkled forehead if he stays at home too long.
‘It’s not about feeling comfortable.’ I tell her absurdly as I pick at the dusty muesli she insist will help my girth and not necessitate that long-delayed move into the next waistband size, and a whole wardrobe full of new suits.
‘What is it about then?’ My wife presses. ‘You don’t want to be turning up in people’s homes hot and sweaty. I wouldn’t instruct an agent that smells of body odour.’
I take a surreptitious sniff under my shirt armpits. My son increases his frown line damage and moves a step nearer to early-application Botox. I’m fresh now, post shower and with the liberal use of under arm deodorant but come mid-afternoon, two sales fall-throughs, a duff survey and my third abortive valuation I might be a bit stale. Not stale enough to look like an antipodean bank manager though. Those television programmes where they follow families thinking of relocating to Australia or New Zealand still make me shake my head in bemusement. I shouldn’t watch them, but anything property related has a masochistic attraction. There’s always one partner driving the move on the back of some drunken gap year when they didn’t have three kids, a heavily mortgaged house to flog and limited career options. You should never go back. Bruce or Sheila have moved on and are probably bald or saggy and property prices are no longer in your favour. If you can’t make it in the UK it’s a fair bet you’ll do no better just because the sun is shining and you can barbecue nine months of the year.
‘It’s all about how you present yourself.’ I tell my wife as I gather my briefcase and pull on my jacket, already too hot, but refusing to compromise.
‘As sweaty and overheated?’ She replies, kissing me on the cheek with about as much enthusiasm as a blunt-beaked woodpecker.
‘I just know what I feel comfortable in.’ I tell her doggedly. Hoping the air con in the car doesn’t need topping up again. Is there a bigger racket than that industry? Apart from estate agency, obviously.
It’s my armour, I think, as I drive in to a slowing traffic queue and see the orange flashing lights of that bastard in a JCB digger who delights in travelling at peak rush hour time. I feel protected in a suit. It gives me that 100% wool carapace to keep the public at bay. To maintain a veneer of professionalism when sometimes I’d like to just tear off my shirt and go toe-to-toe with the latest time-waster, liar, or deal-wrecker that comes across my path. Like an anonymous Blog, the two-piece mix and match from Marks and Spencer keeps me at – long-sleeved – arms length from my life stripped bare. I don’t have to show the real person as long as I remember to do my zip up after pissing.
‘Air conditioning is leaking again.’ Announces assistant manager T when I hurry through the door red faced and damp with perspiration, mid afternoon. I’m not the only thing dripping. A bin sits in the middle of the office collecting the run-off from the overhead unit. T is sat at his desk, sleeves rolled up untidily. B, the lettings lush, is in a vest top and busty S, my comely negotiator, is just about wearing a flimsy blouse. The temperature continues to rise.
And I used to think I was cool.
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