21 December, 2005

Shortest day

Of course, it was nothing of the sort.

I managed to wake up too early, find the marauding shroud of darkness outside the bedroom window completely disorientating, fall back to sleep in the belief it was 3am, then get woken up again by my alarm - but find it just as dark outside as before.

There were a couple of Christmas cards poked through the front door from my neighbours. One was from the elderly driving instructor who lives at number four and who comes back late every night with one of his female pupils to give them a bit of "out of hours tuition". I wasn't sure at first if the card was even meant for me, as it bore no mention of my name anywhere. I felt unsettled when I spotted my flat number on the envelope. The thought of the man, with his voluptuous toupee and gigantic pot belly, scrawling this card surrounded by a bevy of nubile students lounging around what looks, from the outside, to be a manky apartment, made me shudder.

The other envelope was from the old woman who lives above the driving instructor. She'd simply marked the inside of the card "To ?", even though she knows my name quite well.

Nobody was in the mood for doing anything at work and the hours seemed to last forever. It was the boss's last day before Christmas and when he finally showed up (late, as usual) he made this great show of carrying a huge carrier bag into his office, locking the door, covering up the windows, and quite patently wrapping some presents. It was all somehow very undignified. Couldn't he have wrapped them at home? I wasn't at all surprised to see the carrier bag was marked 'Oxfam'.

I don't know if there's some bad news coming in the New Year, but it was the first time he's ever given us Christmas presents. Last year we got bugger all, the year before that an already-opened packed of Kendal mintcake. This time we all got DVDs and a pocket diary (from Oxfam). The forced joviality was dreadful. I can't bear to be in my boss's debt, even when he's purporting to act generously.

Then there were pointless meetings to attend (meetings that could've easily happened after the holiday), the usual stuff to sort out, the usual problems to overcome. When I went out for a walk at lunchtime the sun was already setting. It was dark by 3.30pm. I just wanted to come home and go straight back to bed.

Still the agony continued. At 5pm we all had to troop off to a function room and have a mince pie with the real boss, i.e. the head of the company. She was already pissed - lurching around the room, blurting out profanities, shouting at the top of her voice. She's only been with the company a few months, hence we all had to be "introduced" to her and clasp her clammy hand. She won't remember any of our names. Indeed, she most likely won't remember anything of the whole occasion.

I escaped just after 5.30pm, caught the bus to Tesco, got some stuff to see me through to the end of the week, had to wait ages for a bus back, it didn't come, had to walk half the way home and by the time I was in and settled it felt like - yes - one of the longest days ever.


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