Tuesday, March 04, 2014
A Diary Date - Tuesday
‘Any other business?’ I ask more in hope than expectation, as the morning meeting stumbles to a close. I look at each of my staff members in turn. S, my negotiator, looks pretty - still. F the idiot savant looks blank. T the assistant manager is hard to read as his designer glasses have caught the overhead lights. M the bloated mortgage man chews bovinely and says nothing. And B the lettings lush files her nails.
A vision of my first day at school swishes across my memory, like one of those two-fingered swipes between screens you get on an Apple Mac. In retrospect it started going downhill from there. The kid at the desk next to me soiling himself in fear set the tone for the next ten years, and since then I’ve turned underachievement and missed opportunities into an art form. The stench still lingers.
‘It’s Shrove Tuesday today.’ I blurt out apropos of nothing - sometimes you have to fill a silence.
The blank looks continue as B saws at her cuticles in four-four time. Eventually F speaks haltingly.
‘So I guess I’ll have to ask boss.’ I nod in vague encouragement. ‘What exactly is a Shrove?’
Still no minimum educational standard to enter the property industry…
‘Is it a universal joint on a drive shaft?’ begins M, mockingly. I scowl at him, but it’s water off an elephant’s back.
‘Is it a small mouse-like creature?’ Offers T with a sly grin. Not sure he knows the true answer but he’s smart enough to bluff.
‘That’s a Shrew.’ Says B flatly, before picking up the nail sawing tempo.
‘Is it like the day when it’s supposed to rain a lot?’ Asks S with a disarming smile.
‘That’s St Swithun’s day.’ I answer curtly. ‘And I think we’ve had enough rain already.’
‘Why have a day for rain?’ Asks F.
Give me strength.
‘It’s pancake day.’ I rasp. ‘Pigging pancake day.’ I look at F as he begins to open his mouth and snap. ‘Not pork in a pancake. I don’t mean that.’
‘Why didn’t you just say pancake day then?’ Persists F.
‘Because that’s its proper name.’ I snarl, before stalking to the office diary and saying. ‘Have a look in here it’ll be alongside the date!’
A sinking feeling, not unlike my first attempt at making pancakes, washes over me as I see nothing alongside the date - not even a valuation.
I sometimes forget how old I am - if I haven’t look in a mirror for a while - and how young most of my colleagues are. Granted, M is not much younger than me but he’d be the last person to help a starving man.
I tug my personal diary from an inside jacket pocket, nearly spilling my calculator onto the floor. I clutch at the electronic comfort blanket and silently curse all the inept maths teachers down the years. I may have been around for a while butI’m not immune to the blame culture.
Nothing. No mention of Shrove Tuesday alongside today’s date. I’m beginning to feel like a man out of time. Like those old fossils sat in saggy chairs contemplating their last move before cremation, who are forever cautioning me: ‘Don’t get old will you son. The world is a place I don’t recognise any more.’
Wait ’til you see the sheltered home your family put you in, Granddad.
‘We’re doing pancakes later.’ Explains the grandmotherly owner of a house I’m valuing last thing. She points to a mixing bowl with milk and flour alongside and her ancient partner cracks a gummy smile.
‘Shrove Tuesday son.’ He informs me. ‘Bet you didn’t know that, eh?’
I don’t like to disappoint him, my recommended price has yet to come.
‘We prefer the old established things.’ Says the man when we are sat in the lounge for my presentation. Good, I think, you won’t mind paying a proper fee for a proper service.
‘How much?’ The pair demand in croaky unison when I reveal. ‘We can get it done for a quarter of that on the internet.’
I leave hungry and empty handed. Feeling as flat as a …..
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