Right, so I've written a really stupid story. However, I am not taking the blame for it. I know that makes me sound like a politician but at least I'm not charging anyone to read it or trying to claim for a cheese sandwich whilst I was writing it. Anyway, I am blaming my writing buddy, Gary Davison. You may remember that this is one of Gary's books...
Well, as you can see, it wasn't an easy task Gary had set - as I had to immediately scratch out the tea and coffee/sun and skiing scenarios. I mean how boring would those be?
|Rumour has it Gary did the modelling for his book cover. No comments about the small size of the star please.|
....which just in case you haven't got your glasses on it's about streaking. (It's a very subtle cover as you can see.) What I want to know is what the hell is Robin doing running across the cover? I hope Batman doesn't get jealous. (Could be the makings of a sequel there, Gary.) Anyway streaking is a novel choice for a novel (and Streakers is pretty funny) so maybe I shouldn't be surprised that Gary set me the almost insurmountable task of writing a story with the following instructions;
Man and woman in an office, sitting at their desks, perhaps discussing one of the following:
a) Tea or coffee?
b) Sun or skiing?
c) Playing the 'if you had to, which would you?' game. Using all people in the office. You know, if you had to would you do Linda or Mel? Chance to bring more people into the story. Can have plenty of characters walking in and out to add to story - maybe a bit of drama like someone left a shit in the toilet :)
d) A mouse.
Bob: Which do you like best: tea or coffee?
Bob: Black or white?
Jim: White. With two sugars.
Bob: I only have one.
Jim: Only one sugar?
Bob: No, only one biscuit. For Dunking.
Jim: Oh.( Looks out of window, depressed) Where you going for you holiday?
Bob: Tenerife. (Looks out of window, depressed.) For the sunshine.
Jim: I'm going skiing. In December.
Jim: Want to come?
Jim: So... tea. How do you like your tea?
(Mrs T slowly takes gun to head...)
Yes, it's fair to say I wasn't exactly inspired by the idea of a story of about tea and coffee. The potential scenario reminded of those horrendous "lets all bore each other senseless" conversations at the hairdressers where the hairdresser asks you if you want a coffee or tea (I won't go into detail for obvious reasons) and follows it by asking where you're going for your hols. Then she has the audacity to charge you an extra fiver for being friendly. (Consequently, as you can imagine, I don't talk much at the hairdressers. Just the occasional grunt if the girl is looking too enthusiastic with her scissors.)
Anyway, that sort of left the mouse, the shit and maybe some hanky panky going on. And this what I came up with. Brace yourselves folks - we're not looking at Nobel prize literature stuff here. However, I am thinking of offering myself as a ghost writer for Jordan (aka Katie Price.)
Trouble in the Office
A loud screech reverberated around the office.
“Oh my God!” screamed Cheryl, jumping up from her desk, her chair falling over behind her.
“What is it?” sighed Steve, looking up from his PC where he’d been looking at Trish from Essex with bigger than average breasts.
“It’s a mouse!”
“Is that all? I thought you’d stapled your fingers to the invoices,” said Steve, bookmarking the dating site for further investigation.
“It’s in my drawer!”
“Is that your drawer or your drawers?” said Steve, leaning back in his chair, hands clasped behind his head.
“Just get rid of it!”
“Yeah, do us a favour,” yelled Adrian from across the office. “Any more of Cheryl’s sagas and I’m gonna drown myself in the water butt.”
“It’s eating my rice cakes!”
Steve pushed his revolving chair back from his desk and slid over to Cheryl’s desk like a professional ice skater.
“So what do I get as a reward if I get rid of it? A date?” said Steve, eyeing up Cheryl’s bottom.
“Anything, anything! Just get rid of it or I’m going to faint.”
“Right, a date it is,” said Steve, winking at Adrian. What a beautiful set-up. For six months Steve had failed to date Cheryl and then, quite by chance, he discovered her phobia whilst they’d been having a cigarette by the bins and a mouse had scuttled passed. “Now where exactly is this mouse?”
“There,” said Cheryl, pointing at the little grey mouse ferretting amongst her stationery and nibbling her rice cakes.
“What a lovely little fella,” said Steve, picking up the mouse by the tail and dangling it in front of Cheryl’s face.
“Stop it, stop it!”
“A date then?”
“Okay then.” Steve cupped the mouse leaving a little gap between his fingers. A little soft face with brown eyes and long whiskers appeared. “He’s a beauty.”
“What are you going to do with it?” said Cheryl, throwing the rice cakes in the bin.
“Shred it,” yelled Adrian.
“You can’t do that!” said Cheryl. “It’s a mouse.”
“But you don’t like mice. So what does it matter?” said Steve.
“That doesn’t mean I want to kill it.”
“Women. So bloody difficult. I’ll take it outside and release it. Happy?”
“Yes. Here, take the rice cakes for it.” Cheryl picked the rice cakes back out of the bin and popped them in Steve’s jacket pocket. “He’s probably hungry.”
“You could put it on the factory floor. That’ll close us down for a week,” said Mike, sipping his lukewarm coffee and sauntering over from his desk by the photocopier. “I could do with a holiday.”
“Good point,” replied Steve. “I’d better get rid of it fast.”
Steve cupped his hands tight again and threaded his way out the office, stopping to show the little furry creature to everyone and taking pleasure in the murmurs of appreciation. Just as he was trying to negotiate the door with his shoulder, it flew open and in hurried Rich, red faced and flustered, waving a box file in the air.
“What you got there, mate?” said Rich, avoiding a collision with Steve and eyeing up his cupped hands.
“Christ. Get rid of it quick. That could shut us down for a week.”
“I know, I know. Right then, mousey. Say goodbye to the pretty lady.” Steve held up the mouse and squeaked, “Goodbye Cheryl, see you at Finnegan’s on Friday.”
The office rang out with laughter, even Cheryl giggled as she sat back down, picking up her invoices again.
“Hurry up, mate,” said Rich. “I’ve got an important announcement.”
Steve pushed past and hot-footed it towards the Gents at the end of the corridor.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” boomed Rich. “I have announcement. I, Richie the Rich, smart-arse Wokingham, have won over the MD.”
A whoop of delight and a round of applause rippled round the office.
“Hurrah,” said Adrian, flicking a paperclip across the room.
“Jolly good show, old bean,” said Darren, peering out from behind his spectacles whilst blowing up a battleship on his computer.
“Well, come on then. Tell us the astounding news, smart-arse,” said Mike, throwing his coffee cup in Cheryl’s bin and ambling back to his desk.
Rich opened up the box file and pulled out a pink cardboard box and held it up for display like a placard at a boxing match.
“Friends, Romans, plebs of the office, I, Richie the Rich, have today persuaded the managing director to change the Mrs Fanny’s fairy cake packaging to…PINK.”
An even bigger round of whooping and applause echoed around the office as Rich beamed and took a bow of thanks.
“And tell us, Rich,” said Adrian as the cheering subsided, “What colour was it before?”
“Umm… it was…it was…red,” said Rich, grimacing to the sound of a unanimous groan from his colleagues.
“Did you say ʽredʼ?” said Mike, grabbing the box file and pulling out an almost identical pink box. “So, you’ve got the box changed from this ʽredʼ…or should I say this ʽdark shade of pinkʼ to a ʽlighter shade of pink.ʼ Is that right?” Mike patted Rich on the back as Rich’s expression turned from elation to despair. “Well done, mate. There’s an award waiting for you.”
Rich sat down at the nearest empty desk, clasping his head in his hands. “God, I hate this job. Product development, my arse. My whole life wasted on cake packaging.”
“Cheer up,” said Adrian. “Remember your success with the flapjack? Sales went up twenty percent in one week when you changed the packaging from black to white.”
“And the italics on the chocolate chip cookies looked classy. My mum said so,” said Cheryl, looking up from her paperwork with a sympathetic smile.
Rich banged his head up and down on the desk in frustration. “I hate cakes. I hate cakes. I HATE cakes.”
The office door burst open again and Steve rushed back in. “You’ll never guess what I’ve just seen.” Everyone stopped laughing at Rich and looked at Steve with anticipation. “It’s the biggest floater I’ve ever seen. In the Gents. It’s massive!”
“I gotta see this,” said Adrian.
“Me too,” said Mike.
“Come on, come and have a look!” Steve glanced at Rich still sprawled over the desk. “And you too, mate. Looks like you’ve had another glorious success.”
“Oh, if I must,” said Rich, jumping up, revitalised by the thought of the world’s largest floater being discovered at Mrs Fanny’s cake factory.
“Unbelievable,” said Cheryl as the men rushed out of the office and down the corridor chatting and laughing.
“Fifteen grown men going to admire a floater,” said Babs, pulling out her nail file from her top drawer. “If only they worked as hard at work as they do at being idiots we’d double our output and get a bonus.”
“No chance,” said Maureen, glancing up from her keyboard and pushing her glasses back up her nose. “I’ve been here twenty-five years and there’s not a day goes by without talk of flatulence or women. I don’t know how I’ve put up with it.”
“How do you think that mouse got in your desk, Cheryl?” said Babs.
“I’ve no idea.”
“Do you think somebody put it there?”
“Why would they?”
“Because of your phobia.”
“Nobody knows about it.”
“Except Steve. Remember that day we saw the mouse by the bins?”
“Oh, it’ll definitely be that Steve,” said Maureen, interrupting. “He’s got the eyes for you, Cheryl. Any excuse to talk to you and he’s there. Now he’s got a date out of you.”
“I thought you fancied him. Why haven’t you gone out with him yet?” said Babs.
“I’ve seen him looking at women’s pictures on the net,” said Cheryl, despondently.
“That’s just men’s stuff,” said Maureen. “Doesn’t mean a thing.”
“Let’s have a look at his PC,” giggled Babs.
“Why not?” said Maureen, heaving her buxom frame out of her chair and bustling over to Steve’s desk. “Let’s see what the naughty fellow has been up to.”
Babs and Cheryl got up from their desks and peered over Maureen’s shoulder.
“We shouldn’t really be doing this,” said Cheryl.
“Oh, stuff and nonsense,” said Maureen, tapping away on Steve’s keyboard. “Right, what’s he got in his bookmarks? Hmm…Trish from Essex...Sharon from Doncaster…Kylie from London.”
“See, I told you. How could I date a bloke like that?” said Cheryl as Maureen flicked through pages of dating sites featuring big-busted blondes.
“What a perv. Let’s see what he’s got in his pictures,” said Babs.
Maureen clicked open Steve’s pictures. The three women looked at the one picture and then at each other in amazement.
“It’s me,” said Cheryl, “at last year’s Christmas party.”
“Blimey, he must be smitten. He’s even painted a love heart in the corner,” said Babs in awe.
“Take it from me,” said Maureen. “I’ve got five sons. These other girls are just fantasy stuff. It’s you he wants.”
“Do you think so?” said Cheryl.
“Definitely. Now back to work, girls,” said Maureen as footsteps and laughter reverberated down the corridor again. “I hear the motley crew returning.”
“Ladies, ladies, ladies. What do I have for you?” said Rich, entering the office just as the women were getting seated. “Only the world’s largest floater.” Rich held up his phone for everyone to see. “Yes, captured on film for all eternity - the world’s one and only, supersized, cake-induced floater!”
“You’re disgusting,” said Babs, wrinkling her nose at the distant sight of the floater. “I don’t want to see it.”
“Me neither,” said Maureen. “I’ve seen enough number twos in my time. The plumber practically lives at my house.”
Rich rushed over to Cheryl’s desk. “What about you, Cheryl? Isn’t it a beauty?”
“That’s revolting,” said Cheryl, grimacing at the close-up on Rich’s phone.
“It’s champion,” said Rich. “What d’you reckon, Steve?”
“Quality, quality,” said Steve. “Any man would be proud of that.”
“No one’s admitting to it though,” said Rich. “What a spoil sport. And it’s an historic floater.”
“I reckon it’s the MD’s. I always said he was a big turd,” said Steve.
“How right you are,” said Rich, grinning. “And now, the only thing left to do is…to email it to all the company!”
Rich and Steve huddled over Rich’s PC, chuckling as they downloaded the photo.
“Hmm…there’s something missing,” said Steve, standing back to admire the picture from another angle. “Paint some candles on it.”
“I’ll put a frill around it as well. And a ribbon at the front,” said Rich with the enthusiasm of a schoolboy.
“And put a couple of Smarties either side of the candles,” said Steve.
“Perfect,” said Rich, admiring their handiwork. “And now to send it.”
“I’ve got it!” cried Darren.
“Crikey, that was quick,” said Rich. “My email’s slow today.”
“Not the floater, Rich. The Class A Russian spy sub. Finally found the little fucker. Blown it to smithereens.”
“Good job, Darren. Now find my desk will you? I haven’t seen it under all this shite for a week,” said Rich, chuckling at his own repartee.
“Hey, Steve,” said Cheryl, leaning towards Steve who was now back at his desk. “Thanks again for getting rid of the mouse. It was alright, wasn’t it?”
“Yes, it was fine.”
“I was just wondering…well, I’m free tonight. If you wanted to bring that date forward?”
“Well, okay,” said Steve. “That would be…fantas…nice.”
Steve and Cheryl broke off their conversation as Mike ran into the office brushing cigarette ash off his jacket. “Mr Johnson’s coming!” he shouted.
“Quick, everyone. Back to work,” cried Rich. “The Führer is on his way.”
A deathly hush crept over the room as the door opened and in marched Mr Johnson, the managing director.
“Who sent this out?” demanded Mr Johnson, waving a picture of the floater. Reluctantly, Rich and Steve raised their hands whilst their colleagues smirked. “Wokingham? I might have known it would be you. And you too Smith? Get down to my office. Both of you. We need to talk.”
Rich and Steve rose from their chairs and with hunched shoulders followed Mr Johnson out of the office, a host of whispers and giggles bursting out behind them. They walked in silence, giving each other miserable glances, until they were standing before the managing director’s desk.
“Before we get down to business,” said Mr Johnson, making himself comfortable in his plush chair. “Do either of you know about that caged mouse in the Gents? It could put us out of business for a week.”
“Um…it’s mine, sir,” said Steve.
“For heaven’s sake, Smith. What were you thinking of?”
“Just a scheme to get Cheryl on a date, sir.”
“Christ, you’re not still trying to get your leg over? Well, I’ve got to admire your inventiveness. Next time avoid mice though, will you? I’ve got a business to run.”
“Yes, sir,” replied Steve, standing to attention.
“Now about this cake,” said Mr Johnson, picking up his printed email.
“Cake?” replied Rich. “What cake?”
“The chocolate log, Wokingham. It’s a brilliant idea. Why didn’t you tell me this morning, when you were here with the packaging?”
“Um…I…we were still working on it,” said Rich, searching for an excuse.
“We wanted to canvas opinions, sir,” said Steve, coming to the rescue. “With the email.”
“Well, it’s brilliant,” said Mr Johnson, beaming profusely. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before. “Mrs Fanny’s Birthday Chocolate Log.” It’ll sell millions. Put it into production immediately!”
Steve and Rich glanced at each other and grinned; perhaps Mr Johnson wasn’t such a big turd after all.