Release The Balls

pink, green, yellow and white lottery balls

As featured on the Volume Magazine blog.

It’s Friday. I’ve got my ticket. The jackpot is £112million. I could win it all.

“Have you got your ticket?” I ask Sue who sits across from me.

“Ticket for what?” Sue says. She looks at me.

“The Euromillions. It’s a rollover. You could win £112million. Aren’t you going to buy a ticket?””

“No” Sue says, “I don’t go in for that sort of thing. It’s a waste of money.”

“Oh” I say and leave it at that. I don’t understand why Sue doesn’t want to win £112million but then, she is a bit grumpy. I watched a programme on Channel 4 about chemical imbalances in the brain which was very informative and wonder if Sue is imbalanced in this way. I wonder if Sue watched it too, so I ask her “Did you see Liz’s Bonnin’s ‘Beautiful Brain’?”

“What?! Who is Liz Bonnin? Why would I have seen her brain?” Before I can inform her that she’s a TV presenter who is very knowledgeable about science Sue says “Never mind Dom, I’m going to the toilet.”

Sue goes to the toilet an average of 9 times a day in the office. She must have bowel problems. I saw a programme about bowel problems on BBC2 where the person spent a lot of time on the toilet. I think this explains Sue’s absence from her desk at irregular periods. I go to the toilet an average of 4 times a day including when I’m not in the office. The programme said this was about normal so I know I don’t have a bowel problem.

The entryphone goes. I’m employed as a receptionist so it’s my job to press the buzzer to let him in, which I do. The man approaches the reception desk, and looks at me.

“Yes” I say to enquire about his business here.

“Hi, my name is Mark Godfrey. I’m here to see Sue. We have a meeting.”

“Yes” I require further information to proceed with his request.

“Sue Bissett?”

“Can you spell that for me please?” The man looks at me.

For every person that enters the building I need to write down their names, who they’re here to see and what time it is and, if possible, what it’s about. Only then can I can tell the person that he’s here. My pen is poised.

“She’s expecting me, she said she sits in the recep- oh okay it’s B-I-S- look, I’ll write it down for you” He does this and hands me the piece of paper and I look at it. He’s here to see Sue. But Sue is not at her desk. I don’t know when she will be back. I don’t know what to tell the man. I start to worry. I look at the desk. No Sue. I look at the man. The man is looking at me through his spectacles. I look at Sue’s desk. We both wait.

“Is there a problem?” Sue asks as she walks in the door 1minute and 10seconds later.

“Sue? Hello! Everything’s fine. It’s just, your receptionist is rather thorough!”

“That he is. Let’s go into the conference room.”

They make to leave but I call after them. “Excuse me.” They don’t hear me. “Excuse me!” The man has forgotten to sign in. They don’t understand that they have to sign in. It’s very important, and not just because it’s written in the fire safety document. Tracey, my manager, told me to make sure everyone signs in. So I do. They still haven’t heard me so I start to worry. “EXCUSE ME!”

“What is it Dom?” Sue says to me.

“He needs to sign in.”

Sue sighs, she is grumpy again. “Here, I’ll sign in for him. Better?”

“Yes.” Sue is always grumpy with me. I suspect she may be undergoing a phenomenon called The Change. The programme about chemical imbalances that I watched on Channel 4 also mentioned The Change. It’s possible she has both. “Wait!” I have just remembered there is something else I need to know. “Do you know anywhere that sells camping stoves?” She walks off without answering me.

The day went as usual. I had 2 cups of tea (even though I wanted coffee, but didn’t because it is bad for you) and one conversation with Camilla, my colleague, about the Notting Hill carnival. She said she is going to go, and I informed her that I would never go because it’s bad for you. She asked why this was, and I was shocked because I thought everyone knew. So I told her “because I don’t want to get stabbed”. Camilla laughed even though I hadn’t told a joke so I laughed too because it’s good for you.

I had my lunch at 1pm as always and had done my work well all morning. Everyone had signed in and out successfully and I had answered the phone in a polite manner as instructed to by Tracey, my manager. I had finished all the letters I had to type and informed Sue that I was up-to-date. She sighed and gave me some data to input on to the system which I enjoyed because I like being useful though Sue only gives me simple tasks to do. Giving me complicated tasks seems to make her grumpy. For example when she gave me a mail merge project and showed me how to do it. I pointed out a more efficient way of executing the task. She went to the toilet 17 times that day.

It got to 3pm. And 3pm on a Friday means I have to water the plants. Tracey, who is my manager, told me I had to water them every week. But today she stopped me on stairs with the watering can.

“Dom, are you about to water the plants?

“Yes.”

“Okay, well can you leave it for today? You’ve been doing a great job. In fact you’ve been watering them so well they’re almost swimming. Can you water them a bit less?”

I require more information so I ask “How much less?”

“Well it depends on how much they need. Okay. Let’s say water them two inches a week.”

“With water from the hot tap or the cold tap?”

“It doesn’t mat- cold. Use the cold. Oh and Dom, don’t water the plant in the waiting room. It’s plastic.” I laughed. I hadn’t noticed it was plastic.

I do things like that sometimes. Not noticing some things but then there are other times I notice things other people miss. When Tracey has had a hair cut I notice before Sue. I also notice when Sue has a longer lunch break than she is allowed, even if it’s only by 30 seconds. But this is the minority of times. For example, yesterday on my way to work, I noticed that there are Roman Baths open even though I have been travelling the same route for 4 months 3 weeks and 5 days exactly. The sign had a colosseum logo next to it on it, which was what I had noticed. Perhaps I noticed it because I wasn’t rushing as there were no delays on the tube and I was 2 minutes ahead of schedule so could look around a bit. Today I was rushing as I was looking for a shop that sold camping stoves. I got excited because I read an article on ancient Rome in an issue of National Geographic – to which I subscribe – and have wanted to go ever since. So I mentioned it to Tracey when I got in.

Sue overheard and said “Hang on a sec, Dom Are you talking about the sauna in Vauxhall?”

“The Roman Baths”

“By the station?

“Yes”

“That’s a queer sauna Dom. Where gay men go to have sex.” Oh. I was embarrassed but then I realised, how was I to know? More to the point how did Sue know? So I asked her and she said “I just do, Dom. And for future reference, any establishment that has a rainbow flag outside. That’s for queers.” Well this was news to me. I would like to know where Sue gets her information from. It could be a useful source. But for now it looked like I would have to fly to Rome to see the colosseum after all.

Tracey is going to get a Snickers from the shop and asks if I want something sugary too? I would like a can of coke but instead I reply “No thanks, I mustn’t. It’s bad for you.” She goes to leave but then I remember.

“Wait..”

“Changed your mind Dom?

“Do you know anywhere that sells camping stoves?”

“No Dom, I don’t.” she says, laughing even though I didn’t make a joke. It’s nearly 5pm and I still don’t know where to buy a camping stove from. I am starting to worry.

Sue says “Are you still thinking about that camping stove? Have you tried Googling it?” I haven’t because I don’t like buying things on the internet. I once tried to buy insecticide when fruit flies infested my kitchen. It never arrived as they said the payment didn’t go through even though I’d filled in my card details online. I had to put up with the flies for a good while. Now I avoid internet shopping. I watched a programme on the Discovery channel – to which I subscribe – about the life cycle of flies. It was very informative but not that useful. For example, it didn’t tell me how to get fruit flies out of my kitchen, which would have been more instructive.

“Look, I’ll do it for you” Sue persists “Nearest one’s Victoria. Can you manage that?”

“Yes he can,” said Tracey who had returned with her snickers, “but he’s coming to the pub for at least one first”

I was worried the shop would shut before I could buy a camping stove. Sue informed me that the Milletts she was suggesting shuts at 7pm. Then I was a little concerned about not making it home in time for the draw, but as the tube is very efficient and I had a whole 45 minutes to go less than 4 miles I reasoned it should be fine.

At 5:15 we went to the pub where I had a pint of Guinness. I always drink Guinness because although it’s bad for you, it contains a lot of iron and has a lot less calories than any other pint on tap, like lager for example. I like going for work drinks as everyone relaxes a bit. I do too, even Sue is nicer after a pint (she drinks Grolsch). Camilla – who was drinking white wine – was talking about Notting Hill carnival again and the subject moved to something called Gay Pride which is apparently also a bit like a carnival. Then Camilla asked if I’d like to go to that instead. And I said, “No, that’s bad for you too.”

“Why is it bad for you?” Sue questioned. She looked grumpy again, even though she’d had two pints now so should be very relaxed.

I wondered if her chemicals had become imbalanced again but I told her anyway “because the Pope says it is. So no matter how much you’d like to be with another man, you can’t. Even if you’ve thought about it and you want to. It’s not allowed.” It all went quiet. Everyone was looking at me so I looked back at everyone. Then the alarm on my wristwatch beeped which meant I had to go and buy the camping stove. They all wanted to talk more about the subject but I began to get worried about the shop closing and couldn’t leave it any longer so I left.

Now it is Friday night. I’m home in my flat. It’s cold. Builders working on the upstairs flat turned off my gas by mistake 4 days ago. They said they can’t come and turn it on until Monday now. I want to try doing it myself but I don’t want my flat to explode. I’ve had nothing but chips for dinner for 3 days now – which is very bad for you – but now I have my camping stove and I’m waiting for the beans to cook on it. Beans count as one of your 5 a day. The TV’s on and the draw is about to start. I’ve got my ticket. Release the balls.

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