Thursday, 24 January 2013

It's Just Not Cricket

I don’t know where Remora (arch-enemy and Ringleader Bully) has been for the past week, and frankly I haven’t enquired too closely into the matter. It’s been enough to note that she has been gloriously absent !!!

Admittedly, I indulged in periodic fantasies that she had a) emigrated b) resigned or c) been shifted to a different coven; but alas today brought me back to grim reality with a hollow thud. For I walk into our Town Hall office, and there is Remora pointedly sitting in her newly favourite spot - the hot desk directly opposite my own - large as life and twice as malevolent….

(She has the choice of four hot desks, but of course Remora being Remora, she is unable to pass up the thrilling opportunity of being within spitting distance of me – her Number One target).

There is a sound emanating from Remora’s particular workspace.
The sound of whispering….

Several years ago, Former Boss was actually forced (by Personnel) to send out a mass email instructing all members of his staff to desist from the pernicious and revolting habit of whispering to each other – something which had become rife within the department. Now, whispering might perhaps be the appropriate mode of discourse if one were discussing – oh, um - let’s say: one’s naughty extra-marital grope after Strategic Planning & Transportation Committee, or how neatly one has just managed to smuggle three packets of Post-It notes and a stapler into one’s handbag. But the only reason anyone has ever whispered in our office is because they have been bitching and sniping about one of their poor, beleaguered colleagues and want them to know it. Because naturally, when most normal people feel the urge to say something a teensy bit on the negative side about someone, they have the grace and common sense to do it when their target is not around.

3 colleagues carry this particular activity to a level of expertise which leaves their more amateurish co-workers whimpering weakly in their wake. These 3 are: Remora, Spiteful Manager and Ex-Army Man. Now even Remora cannot whisper all by herself (which must be a source of infinite distress to her) so it comes as no surprise to always see one of her two conspirators welded to her side. Today, the lucky conspirator is Ex-Army Man.

As I have only just walked into the office, I am not the current target. No! Their current target is Life Coach Colleague. He responds to their unpleasantness in his usual robust manner ie leaping up as I enter, hugging me showily, and launching into an animated monologue about the holiday he has just booked.

Life Coach Colleague’s defence against malice is to talk even more loudly about what a great life he has. I admire the hell out of him!

I settle down to work, iPod to hand in readiness for blotting out Remora’s voice. But despite believing I am completely prepared for anything she aims in my direction, she can still catch me napping…

Ex-Army Man has returned to his own desk, at which point I need to consult with him over a minor issue which has just arisen. I go over and stand beside him, and embark upon a quiet chat about the topic (I should perhaps mention that Remora and I are peers, doing the same job in different areas). Suddenly and without warning, Remora interrupts our conversation. Completely ignoring me - and don’t think I mind ! I love her ignoring me - she launches into an instructional monologue on the subject, and then starts making officious phone calls which render my role useless and redundant.

I don’t have my copy of Debrett’s to hand, but I believe this vulgar interruption is a violent breach of etiquette and that it is a damned poor show all round.

So do I say:

“Now look here, old chap. I was rather in converse myself there, what ho; when dash it all, you ruddy well interfered in a matter which had nothing to do with you. It’s not cricket, y’know”...?

No, I do not.

I do not, because I cannot trust either myself or Remora; for the simple reason that we have History between us. I am extremely wary of any form of engagement with Remora, because I happen to know that she is capable of any lie, any distortion, any action which will cause me harm. Not paranoia; just the stark simple truth. (Remora, let us not forget, appeared at a disciplinary hearing as a "witness" to an event she did not even see. Amazing! But then again, perhaps not such a surprising feat for a witch…)

I’m also afraid that if I confront Remora, the loathing I feel for her will totally overwhelm me and I shall be unable to prevent myself from sandwiching her in our smart shiny new printer, and dropping the fire extinguisher onto her head from a very great height.

So I find it safest to disengage instantly, and let the sociopath think she’s won. Thus it is that on this occasion I say airily to Ex-Army Man “oh, looks like Remora’s got it all covered! I’ll let her sort it all out with you”.

I then watch from a distance while Remora (who has now boxed herself into a corner through her desire to provoke and annoy me) has to maintain the “helpful” fa├žade she has constructed, and spend the next two hours of her life, firstly helping Ex-Army Man to create a drama out of nothing, and then secondly to resolve something which was never a problem in the first place...

I, on the other hand, spend the next two hours endeavouring to ignore this unfolding and toxic performance by:

a) editing a set of minutes from a meeting I recently attended
b) chatting to Life Coach Colleague and Affable New Colleague about Scotland and the Peak District
c) enjoying some of Deputy Boss’s death-by-chocolate birthday cake
d) texting my friends and making plans for the evening
e) ringing my Husband on my way back from the Ladies Loo
f) sending a few unnerved Tweets and getting some wonderful replies
g) humming my way through the first half of “Les Miserables” (which I am forced to do, to drown the hideous cacophony of her screeching).

“Red - the mist before my eyes,
Black - Remora’s horrid soul.
Red – a dawning sun will rise !
Black – she might fall down a hole……..”

I think I might just have preferred her when she was whispering.

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