47 Random Fragments of Unauthorised Hope and Despair


19


MERV and Ed had both come as those balloon-headed characters from the nu-pod adverts.

Faith was a grotesque terrorist-whore, inspired by that hideous kids’ TV series whose name eluded him, and Belinda was straight out of the last century of the old era.

Daniel was dressed as a woman. Again.

“Aw, come on Petey!” he called over as Peter (got that Daniel? Peter!) tried to slip past the 7.25 crowd to his corner of the work centre.

“How could you forget? You must have got my reminder at home last night - everyone else did.”

“I didn’t forget,” said Peter, more to himself than anything. “I just decided not to.”

They tried to make him pay anyway, but he wasn’t having it. Fee to wear fancy dress. Forfeit if you don’t.

“That’s not exactly voluntary,” he told them. “You’re not having any of my credit. Sorry. I need it for myself.”

Faith just couldn’t believe him, she really couldn’t.

Didn’t he care about Democracy? Didn’t he want those poor Papuans to have all the same rights and comforts as he did?

He told her that as far as he was concerned, it was none of his business.

“I wish you’d wake up one day and find yourself living in that horrid jungle,” she told him.

“Then you’d think yourself lucky to have a job to go to at all, without complaining about what you’re wearing at the time.

“You’re just so unbelievably selfish.”

He had more of the same from Dennis when the manager made his usual 10 o’clock tour of the floor. He even had to go back to his office with him.

“For God’s sake, Pete,” said Dennis, all earnest and concerned in his adult-sized nappy.

“You’re the only one in the building who’s not joining in.”

Peter (got that Dennis? Peter!) shrugged. “It doesn’t worry me,” he said.

Dennis pursed his lips, turned away for a second and when he span back had switched from anxiety to anger.

“It may not worry you, Pete,” he said, “but it certainly does worry me.

“Morale, Pete. that’s what it’s all about. Today is a morale-boosting day. We all do something worthwhile together. We all let our hair down a little bit - as long as the work still gets done, obviously. And we feel good about it, Pete.

“You decide not to join in. Fine. It’s your choice. We can’t make you. But what kind of message does that send out, Pete? What kind of message does that send out to your colleagues, to the junior staff, to the whole work centre?

“What does that do for morale, Pete? Eh?”

Peter smiled faintly in such a way as to make it plain he wasn’t going to be drawn into an argument. “OK, I’ve said enough,” said Dennis, waving him away.

But he clearly hadn’t.

“The trouble with you, Pete,” he said as Peter was about to open the door and leave, “is that you have a closed mind.

“A day like this should be fun, Pete, something to enjoy, to make the most of.

“But you just can’t see it, can you Pete?

“You come in here dressed the same way as every other day of the year, dull and plain and anonymous while everyone around you has made the effort to stand out a bit.

“The trouble with you Pete,” concluded Dennis, “is that you’re scared to be different.”


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