Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Ready & Waiting

So I cap off a frantic day by high-tailing it to an appointment on Oxford Road, arriving 2 minutes late in a state of slight distraction and guilt. I am a puritan at heart and hate tardiness. I check in at the front desk, allowing the information that I am 2 minutes late to leak out to the fearsome receptionist (a veteran of the sunbed wars, many times decorated - mostly in terracotta paint).

Woof! She puts the call through to my meeting - lets it ring out on speaker phone - and announces to the world that he has gone. The implication clearly being that it is my fault. So I ask - in my best Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys spirit of adventure voice - why don't we [i.e. you, orange woman] call his mobile number and check where he is. I resist the temptation to add that he may well be chilling the champagne in the executive bar or adding the last layer to a Cuban cigar by rolling it on the thigh of a local beauty (we are quite near Canal Street and it's after 4pm, so there'd be no shortage of volunteers) to celebrate the genius of our company's suggested projects.

She rings the mobile. Then clicks the receiver down with enough energy to set the lace cardigan around her shoulders twitching like a hunted fox.

'He's not answering his mobile either. He might be on the way down stairs. Why don't you take a seat?'

'Might' as in might not. Or as in, 'as if, four eyes'. So I sit and wait.

And I look at the view of Oxford Street. And I run through the day's schedule in my head - just to be sure I have the exact time right [I do]. And I do a bit more waiting. And some extra waiting for good measure. Then I begin to set deadlines. Right. If there's no sign by 25 past, I'll leave. Then I think, hold on, I'm really busy. Hang 25 past. If he's not here by 20 past, I'm off mister, and my good ideas go with me.

I'm on a roll now. I am really busy. And I didn't finish what I meant to just so I could get here. My very presence here, in fact, is above and beyond the call of duty. I am a hero to the cause of punctuality. I hear the cornets of the Light Brigade. I see battles being won on the fields of Eton. I hear Vera Lynn in the background [that could have been the local radio station playing in the background - emotion was running high, I can't be held accountable for the incidental music]. That's it. I'm off. I don't have to take this - I am a free Englishman.

So I get up. Tell the nice (orange) lady that there must have been some mistake (I can't emphasise enough how much dignity I retained throughout this discourse) and left.

Yes, I think. I cannot afford to waste time in this way, so have dealt effectively and calmly with an annoying situation. I have the swords of justice and righteousness on my side. I spend at least an hour regretting the demise of the well organised and punctual society of my youth (three years ago - I am NOT old).

Now I have the rest of the evening free. I could use the time productively. Learn a foreign language. Take up sugar craft or country dancing. See how little I care about my no show appointment. I rise above the slings and arrows. Should I take in a show, or catch up on the lastest news from Westminster over a hot bowl of sushi with my wonk friends from Tony's inner circle? I check my diary to see.

Tuesday 14th February: 4pm Meeting. Oxford Road.

I am a twat.

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