the temp

Mark and Susie virtually never exchange glances, though their eyes are constantly following each other's backs. It couldn't be more obvious they are having an affair if they were to flop over the desktop and start pawing at each other

Mark stops at Susie's desk, puts a hand on the surface and says, "Hi, there," while gazing at a point in the far distance. "Hi," says Susie, and stares down at her desk. "Urr," says Mark, "have you got a copy of that feasibility report lurking around? I thought I ought to make a copy of it, maybe." A couple of tiny points of colour dot the tips of Susie's cheekbones. "Yes," she says, "hold on."

She dips down into her filing drawer and Mark glances briefly at her back, snapping his eyes back upward when she resurfaces. "Here we are," she says, holding out a bound document. "I'll need it back, though." For a moment she continues to hold one side while he grips the other, and their eyes lock. A tiny, secret smile passes between them. "Of course," he says. "I'll bring it back in a second."

It couldn't be much more obvious that Susie and Mark are having an affair if they were to flop over the desktop and start pawing at each other. No one has said anything to me (sometimes people like to use the temp as the office confessional, as they know she will move on and no harm will be done), but a few days observing her has left me in no doubt. Of course, a high proportion of people meet their partner through work these days, so a relationship going on in the office is hardly unusual. But it's funny how controlled people manage to be, on the whole, about sticking to the proprieties. My flat-mate Trish had been at her job for six weeks before she realised that two of the people she worked with were actually married - and to each other.

It's not the things they do, you see, but the things they don't. Anglo- Saxon culture requires that anyone who wants to establish trust, or co- operation - a fairly basic thing in colleagues - will attempt to meet eyes every 10 seconds or so. Mark and Susie virtually never exchange glances, though their eyes are constantly following each other's backs. They never tell each other jokes, or swap information that's not strictly related to the job in hand. They rarely leaven what they are saying with a smile, but talk, instead, very seriously, very wide-eyed. Lunchtime comes and they will always leave and return within five minutes of each other, though never at the same time. And Mark needs to learn to dial Susie's full direct line number, not her extension: there is no greater giveaway to an office affair than when a phone makes that single ring of the internal line and the person who picks it up goes all pretty and giggly when they answer.

As Mark scratches his head by the photocopier, I can see Susie watching his backside slyly out of the corner of her eye. Mark has a nice bum, even in a cheap suit, and I've occasionally cheered up the odd dull moment admiring it myself. But Susie fiddles with her pen for a full 30 seconds while her pupils point sideways, before sighing and pulling her piece of paper back into the fray.

He comes back to her desk. "I'm sorry to bother you," he says, "but I can't work out how it works. You couldn't ..." Susie has gained her feet before he finishes the request. "Sure," she says, and they cross the floor in step, hands swinging exactly in time. Looking at the control panel, she leans on to her forearms and rests one foot up on its toes, looking down, hair dropping into her eyes. Seconds later, Mark has assumed the same position, only he looks at her face rather than the display. He says something quiet, and she gets a foxy little "aren't we naughty?" smile.

Susie punches a couple of keys, then hits the start button. They stay there, ostensibly making sure everything's working right, but facing each other, arms crossed casually over their stomachs, chatting. Susie reaches over and picks some imaginary fluff off his shoulder, two fingers, flicks it away, and he doesn't even look to see what it is. When she walks back to her seat, the dimples either side of her mouth are about an inch deep.

Arts and Entertainment
Matthew Healy of The 1975 performing on the Pyramid Stage at the Glastonbury Festival, at Worthy Farm in Somerset

music
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe Withnail and I creator, has a new theory about killer's identity
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
tvDick Clement and Ian La Frenais are back for the first time in a decade
Arts and Entertainment
The Clangers: 1969-1974
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family

film
Arts and Entertainment
Emilia Clarke could have been Anastasia Steele in Fifty Shades of Grey but passed it up because of the nude scenes

film
Arts and Entertainment
A$AP Rocky and Rita Ora pictured together in 2012

music
Arts and Entertainment
A case for Mulder and Scully? David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in ‘The X-Files’

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Impressions of the Creative Community Courtyard within d3. The development is designed to 'inspire emerging designers and artists, and attract visitors'

architecture
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010

GlastonburyWI to make debut appearance at Somerset festival

Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister

TV reviewIt has taken seven episodes for Game of Thrones season five to hit its stride

Arts and Entertainment
Jesuthasan Antonythasan as Dheepan

FilmPalme d'Or goes to radical and astonishing film that turns conventional thinking about immigrants on its head

Arts and Entertainment
Måns Zelmerlöw performing

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Graham Norton was back in the commentating seat for Eurovision 2015

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Hammond, Jeremy Clarkson and James May on stage

TV
Arts and Entertainment
The light stuff: Britt Robertson and George Clooney in ‘Tomorrowland: a World Beyond’
film review
Arts and Entertainment
Reawakening: can Jon Hamm’s Don Draper find enlightenment in the final ‘Mad Men’?
tv reviewNot quite, but it's an enlightening finale for Don Draper spoiler alert
Arts and Entertainment
Breakfast Show’s Nick Grimshaw

Radio
Arts and Entertainment

Eurovision
Arts and Entertainment
'Youth' cast members Paul Dano, Jane Fonda, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, and Michael Caine pose for photographers at Cannes Film Festival
film
Arts and Entertainment
Adam West as Batman and Burt Ward and Robin in the 1960s Batman TV show

Comics
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.

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific