Little of interest has happened in Dulltown these past few weeks, hence the paucity of posts from yours truly reporting from the south-east’s least fascinating conurbation.
Or perhaps months of solid, earnest sub-editing on solid, earnest subject matter have sucked my creativity out, rather like a vampire bat sucking the blood from a slow-to-react cow, leaving it weak, tired and dull-witted.
Either way, life in Dulltown of a lunchtime has fallen into a kind of predictable but pleasant routine. Pretty much everyone at work spends their lunchtimes doing the rounds of the charity shops, in the hope of finding a bargain; as one colleague said, quoting a well-known film, “it’s like a bowl of cherries: you never know what you’ll find”. In many cases, of course, the visit to the charity stores is more in the hope of being able to get shot of some of the ‘bargains’ they bought previously and can’t stand the sight of anymore.
We shuffle in loosely-knit groups down the high street, on a well-trodden trail that takes in the Cats’ Protection League shop, the Cerebral Palsy outlet and a shop for local handicapped people. The Cats’ Protection (a visit to which is referred to as “going to the cats”) is widely thought to offer the best quality stuff, while the handicapped shop (known as “up the stairs” due to its location at the top of a short flight of steps) is generally held to have the best variety and the most interesting items.
The cerebral palsy is deemed the least attractive on both counts; hence there is always a fraught decision about what order to visit the shops in. You can leave the best till last to enhance the anticipation or, if you’re not a believer in deferred gratification, you can head straight for your favourite outlet and leave the palsy till the end, as a kind of last-chance saloon.
I left late for lunch the other day and had got only as far as the cats and was standing there vacantly rifling through that day’s selection of tired-looking cardigans and faux-leather handbags, when two of my colleagues came rushing in, having spotted me through the window, to tell me I simply must go “up the stairs” because there was a didgeridoo for sale there. Either they think I’m a bit weird or they over-estimate my musical abilities – perhaps both. We all duly proceeded in some excitement “up the stairs” to inspect said antipodean instrument. I had no idea how to play it but for a fiver it seemed to offer all kinds of potential for entertainment so we sealed the deal and headed homeward.
Back at the office, the didgeridoo caused quite a stir. I was unable to produce so much as a weak fart from the machine but to my delight and surprise two of the graphic designers said they were familiar with the instrument and a merry 10 minutes were spent listening to them produce noises so peculiar and strident that, if I ever get the hang of the thing, will annoy my neighbours no end.
I felt a bit sorry for those colleagues who were trying to work, but then common sense prevailed and I told myself that these were people who only the day before had spent much of the afternoon reading aloud the rudest bits from a currently best-selling dirty book, to gales of laughter, and that therefore they weren’t entitled to throw stones.
So it was surely coincidence – or a boss whose metaphorical back was broken by the last straw in what was already a noisy office – that I was told the next day that my services would not be required after the end of the month. I’d officially been due to leave at the end of May, but had kept turning up in the hope that no-one would notice me, and kept getting paid, so the axe was bound to fall at some point soon anyway – that’s freelance life for you.
Despite the didge episode I was promised a great reference – as far as the journalistic side of my activities goes, at least. I don’t suppose I’ll get a glowing testimonial for my musical endeavours.
So if anyone needs an incompetent didgeridoo player for their next corporate event (or a sub-editor or writer for their magazine or website), just let me know.