Friday, 17 January 2014


How not to make mistakes

Vol  2 – syllables

I’m pretty certain that most, if not all of us, have found ourselves in the presence of a particularly intimidating persona be it The Pope, Mohammed Ali, our dentist and so on.  In my own case, nauseatingly, the intimidating recipient of the next mistake was my boss.

First, I need to let you into a little peculiarity of mine.  I think in syllables.  That is, my brain categorises things in respect of how many sounds a word produces so, for example, if you are called Martin (and why not?) or May, I will remember that your name has two syllables, or one, and proceed from there.  Strange as this may seem, it’s fairly useful especially in the spelling dept.

Back to my boss, let’s call her Margaret.  She was a terrier, a small woman who made up for her lack of height with a spine shuddering imperiousness.  Anyway, I was ambling along at work one Tuesday morning when I heard it.  Sharp, urgent footsteps resounding round the corridor like the grim reaper rat tat tatting on your back door in the middle of a storm.  Please don’t let it be me I prayed.   

“Wendy!” Margaret announced triumphant.  I carried on ambling, silently indignant, it was only ten to nine for God’s sake.

“WENDY!  TDLB!”  What????  My poor half-awake brain scrambled for any scrap of information relating to the offending capitals.  Margaret had my lanky frame backed against the wall shrieking TDLB over and over up into my face.  Now any sane person would have couched this in other terms to allow the other person to catch up but such is the world of the intimidati.

It transpires that TDLB refers to some training that I am to undertake that afternoon of which Margaret will also be a candidate.  During the day, I remember my mother’s advice – imagine her sitting on the toilet – but it’s impossible and I simply cannot.  Instead, I resolve to try to be friendly if not friends.

In the training room, Margaret (and I) completes the paired exercises in record time as befits a brain on a (albeit short) stick and an awkward silence ensues.

“Er … your hair’s nice”  I venture, squirming.

“Mmm,” Margaret replies absently, “my hairdresser’s got a job on a cruise ship, she leaves on Friday.”

“Oh, nice, er no, not for you,”  suddenly spotting an opportunity to be helpful, “my daughter’s at beauty college.”  I brighten and Margaret rewards me with a raised eyebrow.

“Yes, she’s been there six months but she’s already really good at blow jobs,”

“She did me this morning [proudly] … she’s definitely improving her blow jobs. “

Though I notice Margaret’s grey eyes widen, I persist

 “Yes, she’s reasonably cheap too, I’m sure she’ll do you a great blow job.”

“Wendy,” Margaret enquires through her teeth,  “do you realise you’re not saying blow dry