I had to take 23 Chinese students to the cop-shop this morning to register them as ‘friendly aliens’, or whatever they are. I don’t know the city at all, and asked an Indian lady in the street if we were heading in the right direction. ‘I’ll show you’, she said, and so we followed her. As we were parting company, the woman’s little daughter asked her something.
‘Van moment’ her mum said to her. ‘I vill just show uncle the vay.’
Isn’t that nice? It casts me, a stranger, as the woman’s brother and someone whom the little girl can expect to be kind to her. I have been hearing her voice over and over in my head all day: ‘I vill just show uncle the vay’, and thinking how lovely. Most gratifying that although she was a good twenty years younger than me, she didn’t say ‘I vill just show grandfather the way.’ Had she done so, I’d have been pretty pissed off.
‘Uncle’ is probably not a term my Chinese students would apply to me, at least not today. Sorting out their documents and photocopies this morning got me pretty ratty.
‘Can everybody listen?’ I ask.
Conversation in Chinese continues, smart-phones are prodded and farted about with, and I receive all the attention you’d expect from a pig’s arse. I repeat the request in tones just this side of polite, to no effect. I then holler in tones so far to the other side of polite that paying customers such as these might with justice complain they are being insulted. Blinking and resentful they stare at me, the unavuncular, gratifyingly silent nevertheless.
And he spake, saying:
‘We need to photocopy your passports, as you were repeatedly told, but were too busy dicking about with your fucking smart-phones to take any gorm. The photocopier here in the Little CHEF (Centre for Hammering English into Foreigners) is out of toner and useless at this most hectic time of year, because nobody had thought to lay in extra toner until now, and it is apparently released but costively from one of the moons of Jupiter once a quarter or so. We shall therefore proceed to the Wilkins Micawber building, where half of the photocopies will get done before the machine packs up and we will have to troop off to another office to finish the rest, by which time I will be a sweating, bad-tempered bear-with-a-sore-arse and you will treat me with the sort of gruff, convict-like, off-hand compliance I probably deserve. Then an Indian lady in the street will delight me with her turn of phrase, and I will be biddable for the rest of the day. Until I get home and open this e-mail:
I understand that because of problems with procedures and current staffing levels in HR there is a strong possibility that our July pay claims will not be paid until 25th September (instead of 25th August). I think you will all agree that this situation is totally unacceptable, therefore R. has asked the union to deal the issue.
Jesus wept, can you fucking credit it, I bleeding well ask you. God's cock. Then I’ll have a gin and tonic and a glass or two of red and wonder, not for the first time, what the hell I am doing with my life. Right, we're late for the Filth, get fell in.’