Secretarial: The Temp: Why I deserve a pain in the neck
Wednesday 15 September 1999
So I go and see Paddy, an old friend who, while the rest of us were doing exams and trying to make ourselves employable in the office sphere, trained as a masseur, and has never had the employment/income/self-image problems everyone else has. All day people come to see him in pain and leave with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts. He gets asked to every party going, has bumper stockings at Christmas. Paddy's is a nice life. I should never have listened to my parents.
So Paddy gets me to take my top off and lie on his bed-with-a-head-hole, and starts to dig his fingers into the lumps of jangling nerve endings which have proliferated overnight from the base of my spine to the base of my skull. "Christ," he says. "What have you been doing?" "Nothing other than usual. I swear." "But you must have been. I usually only see this sort of thing in people who've been carting huge weights around. Are you sure you've not been doing DIY or something?" "No," I squeak, as he pulls my shoulder blade out of its socket and prods the pigeon's egg of crystalline deposit buried underneath.
And as I'm leaving, tears streaming down my face, thanking him profusely, I pick up my bag and he says "Well, there's your problem. You can't carry something that size around on one shoulder all day without something seizing up".
We sit down to go through the offending object. "You're mad!" cries Paddy. "You can't need all this, can you?"
Paddy upends the bag and with a floomf! the kitchen sink hits the floor. He starts sifting, going "what do you need this for?" and I start explaining. "Okay," says Paddy, "I can understand one novel, but two?" "Well, there's the improving one so I don't feel like my brain is entirely atrophying and the blockbuster for when I'm knackered coming home from work." "A- Z?" "Love, I work in a new place every week." "Dictionary?" "You don't think anyone leaves their dictionary out for the Temp to use, do you?" "Yeah, but surely computers have spellchecks, don't they?" "Well, yes, and they're brilliant if you're American." "TWO pairs of tights?" "Splinters."
"Okay. Clean shirt and the phone book fair enough, but why do you need a pair of shoes?" I tell him the story of the time when my heel snapped off and I spent the entire day being referred to as Hopalong. "And the chocolate?" "Sometimes you get to a place and find it's a mile from the nearest sandwich shop."
Paddy delves further, enters my walking pharmacy and discovers the jumbo pot of Ibuprofen, the pain-killers for abnormally strident air conditioning systems, the eyedrops for same, the hand cream, the vitamin tablets, the Rennies, Bach flower remedy crisis drops, Fisherman's Friends, Olbas Oil, tampons, hair mousse, cleanser, cotton wool, the handful of biros, post- it notes, shorthand pad, spare keys, mobile phone, bottle of scent, deodorant. "Okay," he says. "I can understand all that. But why on earth do you need the monkey wrench?"
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Notting Hill Carnival: Woman shares selfie after being ‘punched in face for telling man to stop groping her’
- 2 Keira Knightley topless: Usually conservative actress does own take on #Freethenipple campaign for Interview Magazine
- 3 Daily Show's Jon Stewart destroys Fox News for its Ferguson coverage
- 4 When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
- 5 Terror threat level raised to severe as PM warns Isis risk could last for decades
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Gregg Wallace joins line-up as final celebrities revealed
Great British Bake Off 2014: Diana Beard quits after falling ill
Strictly Come Dancing 2014: Meet the contestants
Friends reunion: Jennifer Aniston, Lisa Kudrow and Courteney Cox perform mini sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
Doctor Who series 8: Ofcom will not investigate lesbian kiss
Robin Williams Emmys tribute led by Billy Crystal criticised for including 'racist' joke about Muslim woman
The Rotherham child abuse scandal is a tale of apologists, misogyny and double standards
Scottish independence TV debate: Pumped-up Alex Salmond bounces back in bruising second round against Alistair Darling
Do you realise just how foolish the UK looks?
Ukip Douglas Carswell defection: Tory MP jumps ship to join Nigel Farage
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
- < Previous
- Next >