Secretarial: The Temp - Heat rage: it's time to clear the air

HOT ENOUGH for you? Pleased to be wearing those sleeveless dresses designed to show off the first onset of underarm dangle at its best? Glad to be sharing your travelling space with people who have forgotten that hot weather brings not only pleasure, but responsibility towards others? Enjoying those damp little private moments pointing the hand-drier at your armpits? Or are you locked implacably, as so many people find themselves at this time of year, in ventilation wars?

I've never liked aircon myself - too many microbes - but there's one thing to be said for it, and that's that it puts paid to controversy. Someone, somewhere in the building, decides the temperature you're all going to work at, and that's that. But half the buildings in this city, what with listing laws and waiting to redevelop, don't have aircon. Instead, employees are expected to cool themselves down by the old-fashioned expedient of opening windows. Open a window? you gasp. Whatever will they think of next?

Surprisingly enough, opening windows has often proved a pretty effective means of lowering room temperature. It's only a pity it seems to have an overheating effect on certain people.

Take Lauren. It's been tantrums all the way this week because she doesn't see why, just because all her colleagues are bathed in sweat, the window near her should be open. If she comes back from lunch to find that someone's opened it, she marches over and slams it shut, and a scene begins.

"Please, Lauren," someone will cry, "it's over 80 degrees in here. Can't we have it open?"

Lauren, who my extra-sensory powers lead me to suspect of power-broking rather than genuine discomfort, will turn her pinched little face to the room and snarl "No. There's a draught."

"Yes," someone else will say, "that was the idea. If we could at least get a breeze through here, we might not all melt."

"Well," says Lauren, employing one of those time-honoured phrases that you just know is going to be followed by an act of selfishness, "it's all very well for you, but I'm sitting right in it. You don't have to sit by the window. I don't see why I should have to have a draught on my neck and all my papers going everywhere just for your convenience."

"Well," a voice will pipe up from the far corner, over where the photocopier pumps the temperature up into the nineties, "I'll swap desks with you."

"Huh," huffs Lauren. "And take my view and my light? You'd like that, wouldn't you?"

Person beside the photocopier says nothing because, of course, they'd like it very much.

Lauren slams the window shut. Folds her arms and looks triumphant. "There," she says.

"Lauren, really. It's boiling in here. Everyone apart from you wants it open."

"Oh." She puts on one of those hoity-toity voices. "Then obviously I should be inconvenienced for all your sakes."

There's a little pause, then someone very brave pipes up, "Well, actually, there are 13 of us in here and only one of you."

"Tell you what," says the woman sitting at the desk opposite Lauren's, "why don't we put it to a vote? Hands up who wants it open."

Thirteen hands shoot into the air. Lauren, furious, slumps into her seat while someone does the business. "Well, I think you're all very selfish." She pointedly shrugs into a jacket. "Now I've got to sit here all afternoon like this." She grumbles on as heads drop to their work, and everyone just ignores her.

I continue, surreptitiously, to watch her. She looks around the room, sees that all backs are turned, and quietly moves the dictionary from where it weighs down a couple of reams of extra-light triplicate form paper. Shifts the top few so they're angled to catch the breeze. Waits.

A gust creeps round the corner of the window frame, lifts a couple of dozen papers, and blows them sideways. Lauren, pretending to leap to save them, helps them another three feet on their way. They end up on the floor, on other desks, draped over the filing cabinets. "Now look!" she cries. "See what you've done? It's going to take hours to sort that lot out! Hours! Well, thank you very much indeed!"

Arts and Entertainment

Will Poulter will play the shape-shifting monsterfilm
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Hollywood

'Whether he left is almost immaterial'TV
Arts and Entertainment

game of thrones reviewWarning: spoilers

Arts and Entertainment
The original Star Wars trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill

George Osborne confirms Star Wars 8 will film at Pinewood Studios in time for 4 May

film

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

    He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
    Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

    'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

    Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
    Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

    Why patients must rely less on doctors

    Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
    Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

    Flesh in Venice

    Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    11 best anti-ageing day creams

    Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
    Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

    Juventus vs Real Madrid

    Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
    Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

    Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

    Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'