Somewhere at the end of the A1 a white transit van was battling through an immense clog of rush-hour traffic. It was occupied by De Vine’s male employees, together with about 50 large boxes that were filled with the company’s latest publications and conference-related literature.
Jack, Leonard, Anthony and David – attired in their scruffiest clothes, normally reserved for car repairs and painting – sat huddled in stony silence, unified only by a strong sense of doom. Anthony was in an especially black mood. I’m Head of Front and Back Office now, they shouldn’t be asking me to do menial chores like this anymore, it’s an outrage!!
Leonard was sunk in a partly self-made pit of stupendous cynicism, of such philosophical power that it enabled him to read Anthony’s mind. I don’t know what else you expected from those morons, it’s nothing but dog eat dog around here; nothing bloody matters anymore. He harrumphed knowingly and focused with grim determination on the road ahead, willing the day to be over.
David stared grumpily at some bird droppings on the windscreen. The van men were officially running late and counting down the minutes to when Bunty would ring one or another of them to dish out an ear-bashing.
Their task was to ferry all the magazines, directories and conference packs to the venue before 7.30 am, then quickly shower and change into their best suits in order to chaperone guests as they arrived. It seemed unlikely that any of these things would happen, so Jack attempted to lighten the mood with a joyous rendition from his favourite musical. This did not go down well, especially on the right:
Bloody Hair – what on Earth’s his point singing that now, what’s he trying to tell me? Regardless of whether or not it was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, Leonard’s annoyance grew exponentially with each lilting verse. Poking Jack sharply in the ribs, he challenged the Head of Telesales to silence in his own inimitable way.
“Shut the hell up you stupid plonker, I don’t know who the hell told you that ‘peace will guide the planets and love will steer the stars’, but whoever it was must have been off their ruddy head so put a sock in it.”