Pleasantries Aside

It fooled me every time.

As a nipper, from about the age of four or five, every so often I was allowed to stay up and watch telly a little while longer than was usual. My usual bedtime was, say, 8 o’clock but there I’d be, still sitting on the couch as the music to The Sweeney started playing. It would have dawned on me long before that that I was up way after my allotted time and assumed my folks were so engrossed in the Onedin Line or World in Action that they’d completely forgotten I was there.

So I’d sit there, making like a cushion, motionless and noiseless for fear that one little cough, giggle or fart may awaken them from this Peter Gilmore-induced trance and dispatch me off up the wooden hill to beddybyes. In my heart, I knew that the chances of snatching a few early frames of The Sweeny, or even better I CLAVDIVS were slim indeed, but you never know your luck in a big city.

The following morning I would be left to doze in bed, in place of the usual reveille from mum to my brother and me, and the ensuing scramble for the bathroom. No, on those mornings I was left under the duvet. On one occasion, I heard my bro out on the landing asking mum “Is Mike not going to school today?”
“No”, she replied, “Mike has a dentist’s appointment today”


Like most boys of my age (45), I hate(d) the dentist with a real passion and mum knew that if she’d told me I had an appointment the following day a hissy fit would ensue. To guard against that, she would leave it until the last possible moment to break the news to me. She’d then have about half an hour to placate me before the bus journey to the house of pain that was Mr Nash’s surgery. She’d sugar the pill by letting me off school for the rest of the day and I would be bought a Matchbox or Dinky toy car from the corner shop for being ‘such a brave boy’ when Mr Nash announced I need three fillings and an extraction (which is what he invariably said).

This series of events occurred every six months for four or five years (or til I was about 38, depending on who you believe). Special treats for tea, Hotwheels races all over the lounge (front room) floor, staying up late, tucked up in bed, long lie in, and then BOOM!!! Mother dropped the big one.
I’m not suggesting that on other occasions I had a miserable time at home, far from it. We all got on well and I had a happy childhood on the whole, but every six months the niceness levels were cranked up to an eleven, and I never worked out what was occurring until it was too late.

What a young, gullible little fool I was as a boy, but at least I got a car out of it.


It’s been a hectic time at work of late and things have boiled over once or twice. There have been a few heated discussions, not to say snipes and arguments. I’ve put it all down to teething troubles and pressure of the new job. To be honest I haven’t yet felt fully part of this new team, been feeling a bit of a fringe-player. But we’re getting there gradually and yesterday I was in such a good place and state of progress at work that I upped stumps and scarpered a little bit earlier than usual, thus enabling me to go to the ‘tranquil’ Blackheath and quaff some vitamin G with The Incumbent and some like-minded pals. Sod’s Law dictated that, having made my early bid for freedom from the office, the DLR was giving its usual piss-poor impression of a commuter system and it took me a little while longer than was hoped to get home. You always have plenty of time to think on a DLR journey, even if you‘re only going one stop, so I spent the time ticking mental boxes from today’s work: Photo shoot done and in? Check; Research under way ? Check; Telephone calls made? Check, Check; Invoices paid ? Checkeroodle-doo. Happy days.

A pleasant evening was had by all and after my usual 4 hours of restless, broken and uncomfortable sleep, (see past posts) I made my way into the office. I was second in. Already in his seat was a guy who I’ve worked with for a few months. He’s ok. A wee bit offish, but ok. Hasn’t been very chatty, at least not to me, we’ve just co-existed really. This morning, however, things took a decided turn for the better: We actually had a pleasant conversation. Out of nowhere he asked me how I was! We discussed our plans for the weekend, football, cricket and cake. All rather pleasant indeed. Perhaps the initial tension between us was wearing off, or like so many before him he had realised what a spiffing chap I actually was, and not just a fat mockney prat in a suit. As people drifted in to start their days work, the mood was happy, chipper and friendly. And more to the point, they were happy, chipper and friendly towards ME! Now this was more like it! I’d turned the corner. Someone bought in muffins and we, WE, scoffed them. I must say everyone was being jolly nice.

When will I ever learn?


The boss walked in and ripped me a new sphincter. The shoot was shit the research not what he wanted and hurryupandsortitoutcosIhaveameetingwiththebossatnoonandthisisnotgonnabegoodenoughandyouveputusallbehindanditsnotveryprofessionalandandandandand…

To be honest, I dunno what he’d really said. He’d lost me at ‘shit’. I’d already drifted off, thinking of the lovely hour I’d spent with my colleagues earlier in the day. They’d known what was coming my way. Presumably something was said last night while I was making my early escape. The chat and the muffins was a condemned man’s last treat. They’d taken pity on me, like you take pity on a poor dog the morning before you take him to the V-E-T to have his K-N-A-C-K-E-R-S whipped off.

It’s blown over again now, as these things tend to do. Business carries on as usual, workplace calm again, we are talking pleasantly again, it’ll all work itself out. But one thing I’ve leaned from all of this: Never trust anyone who’s nice to you, and don’t spit muffin all over the boss when you’re defending yourself.

So that’s two things.

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