Winchester -

Audible embarrassment

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I was sitting in an airless, under-lit room near Winchester, trying to appease the client’s concerns. Things had gone wrong, it was true, and I was here to fix them. I had fixed them too, all but one minor glitch, and I was feeling victorious, elated and downright upbeat. I wanted to bray from the rooftops, tell them how everything would be alright. “I am Chief Fixer, and I can fix anything.” I would happily have exclaimed. Things, in short, were going well.
That is, until Michelle sent me a text message. I have recently taking delivery of an absolutely stonking phone, a Nokia 6680. For reasons I’ve detailed before, this has been a much-awaited phone and by lummy it’s a corker. As soon as it arrived a week last Thursday, I loaded its software onto my computer and started checking out the themes, wallpapers and sounds I could use to personalise it. Sound themes ranged from “animals” to “city sounds” to “funny” to “sexy”. The phone has a random sound selection function, so I ticked a few boxes, downloaded them and let it do its thing.
Anyway, back to the meeting. It was tense, but I had the upper hand. Suddenly, my pocket started vibrating. A sudden thought scampered through my brain, and I fumbled as fast as I could to locate the phone and stop the noise. But I fumbled in vain. The stale, highly-tensed air of the room was penetrated by a sound that the phone had kindly selected from the “sexy” theme. The unmistakable sound of a series of highly-excited female moans filled the room as I made more desperate attempts to fish for the phone. The female clients in the room looked on in astonishment at my flailing antics, clearly not amused. My trousers had become as user-friendly as shrink-wrap, and I reached the phone after the sound had finished. “Terribly sorry,” I muttered, struggling to justify the noise. “It’s a new phone, random noise thing, sorry, ummm.. yes. Sorry.” I could feel my face turning very warm as I realised my higher ground was compromised. For the rest of the meeting, I tried to carry on as if nothing had happened and rushed out of the room the moment the meeting finished.
I’m due to meet them again next week for a repeat performance – although I’m not sure I can top that marmalade-dropping moment…

Hazy at best

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Aaaaaannnnd breathe.
Ah, that’s better. You know, there are good and bad things about my line of business. For me, the high points include the hotels and cities that I frequent along the way, and the fact that almost everything I buy can be put down as expenses. There are low points too, of course – the queueing at airports, on motorways and at service stations all take their toll, my girlfriend is unable to join me on my whirlwind adventures – and when you slump into bed after sometimes working 16 hour days through the swirling mists of flu, you sometimes want to sneak off to a secret place where no-one can find you. I hear Osama’s cave is fairly elusive.
This last week and a half has been spent:
– late night partying in Camberley with friends at work, where I found that I love working with those fine people. I also found that I can, against all expectations, stay awake until 3am despite my increasing age.
– watching a football match with Michelle, Olly and Vicky the very next day, where I spent most of the day recovering from the night before. And cowering from fans after QPR lost. Again.
– travelling up to Edinburgh to train people for two days on a piece of software that they had used twice as much as I had. My straining voice managed to hold out. The downside of the trip was the obscene hours spent crafting a training course while training myself at the same time, and the upside – Edinburgh is a spectacular place to be drunk.
The waves of nauseating flu are subsiding, and I’m looking forward to a quieter week. No such luck, of course – I’m off to Winchester and Newcastle this week, and flying to Zurich next week. Maybe the week after I’ll manage to sit down for a day – and even get to the gym…

Traffic Jams and Cows

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Life can be SO unfair. Especially when it involves cows.

The BBC have published the 10 worst places to drive, in terms of congestion. Every morning and almost every evening, it appears I drive through the 6th most congested stretch of road. And, damn and blast it, every time I go up to Head Office (twice a week), I pass through the 7th most congested part.

I tell you this because yesterday, I was stuck in a 2 separate traffic jams for a total of seven hours. My weekly visit to Head Office started at 7am, and I whizzed through the 30 miles to Winchester, happy with the fact I was on course to be on time, a rarity recently. Powering up the A34, I scythed through the early morning traffic, my 2 litre engine performing at full capacity.

Then, disaster. 6 miles before the A34/M4 junction, and 17 miles to Head Office, I found a long queue of traffic. “Probably just weight of traffic,” I muttered hopefully, as I peered round the corner to guage the extent of the problem. I could see a long snake of traffic, heading over the horizon. I swore. I needed to be in the office by 9 for a meeting. I swore again. I phoned ahead to tell the IT department my dilemma. “Ah, that’ll be the overturned meat lorry at the junction,” Peter breezily informed me, much to his amusement. “Queues for 6 miles!” I mulled this over. “6 miles. Oh GOOD. See you at 11 then.”
So there I was. After about an hour of stationary traffic, salvation came as I remembered the new FHM magazine in the boot. 1 hour later, it was read cover-to-cover, and I began people-watching. An old couple to my left, the man’s hands still firmly on the steering wheel, as if at any moment we would start moving. Fat chance. In front of me, a foreign family were plainly regretting the moment they had collectively thought, “Ooooh, the A34, now THAT looks like a quick route.” Behind me, a young girl and a middle-aged, well-built man fought. My mind flickered to the news that morning, about the abducted girl and the american marine, but my thoughts were quickly dispelled when the girl got out, turned rapidly into a middle-aged woman, and started debating with the rest of us why on earth she got married to a “pig like” him in the first place.
I neared the junction at 10.30am, 3 1/2 hours after I started. The sight that greeted me made it all worthwhile. In what seemed like a Monty Python sketch, police officers we guiding each car around enormous, and very dead, cow carcasses, spread across the road. We weaved through, and I explained to the poor policeman what a “cow of a day” I’d had. He wasn’t amused.
AND THEN, as I was driving home that night, the traffic announcer kindly informed my of a car crash at the SAME JUNCTION. Another hour of my life, and another magazine, later and I was finally on my way home.
7 hours of travelling in one day. Working from home, anyone?