The Temp: Faking it

FOR A change, I'm writing this in real time. Usually, even though I often find myself sitting around playing solitaire with my screen turned to the wall because there's not enough meat to the job I'm doing to keep anyone with half a brain cell occupied for more than half a day, I am too nervous to write my own stuff in my employers' time, especially when that "own stuff" is all about them. But today is different. Today we're under strict orders to look as if we're working feverishly, and the only way I can do that is to plug myself into a pair of headphones and write this.

This is without doubt the weirdest assignment I've ever been sent on. All the agency knows is that I've been booked for two days and that I'm working at a market research firm. What they don't know is that this firm exists only in the minds of Lance and Bob, which is how it will stay unless they land the Kangapop account.

Which is where we come in. Kangapop has pounds 1mavailable for R&D and, obviously, they're not going to hand it over to any old tin-pot outfit. They want to see conspicuous success. And this is what Lance and Bob, recently arrived from the States to try their hand at dominating this small pond, are going to show them. They think big, these guys; they're not going to wait around for years of work to bring them up there with the big boys. Instead, relying on the fact that they are new, and foreign, and no one's ever heard of them, they are concentrating on an elaborate sting. A lot of business is 90 per cent illusion; this is just taking the illusion to the limit.

Everything in this fabulous, minimalist West End office is temporary. The furniture comes from a conference organiser, the pot plants from a rental firm, the lighting from a theatrical supplier, the fridge full of assorted drinks on sale or return from an off-licence, the laptops from a specialist "everything-for-the-travelling-businessperson" firm that also provides the serviced premises in which we squat over this two- day period. The staff, apart from us secretaries, come from Equity.

They've hired real secretaries because only real secretaries can look as though they really are typing. And while the actors improvise from a tightly shaped script that they spent the whole of yesterday rehearsing around, the three of us are under strict orders to keep our mouths shut, smile and make coffee, and to keep it up all day in case clients drop in unexpectedly. But if you have no work to do, it's difficult to look busy. I've spent the morning feeling like Jack Nicholson in The Shining, typing "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" over and over until it drives me over the edge of insanity.

The clients are in right now, closeted in the "viewing facility" with Lance and Bob. We bustle about outside, setting off phones, walking up and down to the printer, while people walk over to where they are likely to be heard through the closed door and hold conversations about debriefs, in-depths and trips to San Francisco. I've been in, dispensed Kangapop, and offered round the sandwiches, which are the only things that have been bought and paid for in the expectation that they aren't going to go back. And it looks as if it's working. Kanga's MD is sitting back in his chair saying "Look: we've had agency pitches before, where the big players do the selling and a load of juniors do the work. How do I know that that's not the deal here?"

And Lance and Bob are quite truthfully able to gaze back into his eyes and reply: "We guarantee you, Graham, that every stage will be conducted entirely by senior management. In fact, we can guarantee that it will receive our personal attention throughout."

Kangaman will never know how true that is.

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Mark, Katie and Sanjay in The Apprentice boardroom
TV
Arts and Entertainment

Film The critics but sneer but these unfashionable festive films are our favourites

Arts and Entertainment
Frances O'Connor and James Nesbitt in 'The Missing'

TV We're so close to knowing what happened to Oliver Hughes, but a last-minute bluff crushes expectations

Arts and Entertainment
Joey Essex will be hitting the slopes for series two of The Jump

TV

Who is taking the plunge?
Arts and Entertainment
Katy Perry as an Ancient Egyptian princess in her latest music video for 'Dark Horse'

music
Arts and Entertainment
Dame Judi Dench, as M in Skyfall

film
Arts and Entertainment
Morrissey, 1988

TV
Arts and Entertainment
William Pooley from Suffolk is flying out to Free Town, Sierra Leone, to continue working in health centres to fight Ebola after surviving the disease himself

music
Arts and Entertainment
The Newsroom creator Aaron Sorkin

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Berry (centre), the star of Channel 4 sitcom 'Toast of London'

TVA disappointingly dull denouement
Arts and Entertainment
Tales from the cryptanalyst: Benedict Cumberbatch in 'The Imitation Game'

film
Arts and Entertainment
Pixie Lott has been voted off Strictly Come Dancing 2014

Strictly
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.

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

    Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

    Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

    Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

    The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
    Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

    Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

    The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
    Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

    The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

    Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
    La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

    Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

    The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
    10 best high-end laptops

    10 best high-end laptops

    From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

    The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

    The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
    Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

    After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
    Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

    Homeless Veterans campaign

    Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
    Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

    Meet Racton Man

    Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
    Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

    Garden Bridge

    St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

    Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

    An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
    Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

    Joint Enterprise

    The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
    Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

    Freud and Eros

    Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum