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.

Arts and Entertainment
Wonder.land Musical by Damon Albarn

Theatre

Arts and Entertainment

Film review

Arts and Entertainment
Innocent victim: Oli, a 13-year-old from Cornwall, featured in ‘Kids in Crisis?’
TV review
News
Northern exposure: social housing in Edinburgh, where Hassiba now works in a takeaway
books An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop
Arts and Entertainment
Terminator Genisys: Arnie remains doggedly true to his word as the man who said 'I'll be back', returning once more to protect Sarah Connor in a new instalment

 

film review
Arts and Entertainment

festivals
Arts and Entertainment

Final Top Gear review

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Pete Doherty and Carl Barat perform at Glastonbury 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Lionel Richie performs live on the Pyramid stage during the third day of Glastonbury Festival

music
Arts and Entertainment
Buying a stairway to Hubbard: the Scientology centre in Los Angeles
film review Chilling inside views on a secretive church
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Williamson, left, and Andrew Fearn of Sleaford Mods
musicYou are nobody in public life until you have been soundly insulted by Sleaford Mods
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dew (Jess) in Bend It Like Beckham The Musical
theatreReview: Bend It Like Beckham hits back of the net on opening night
Arts and Entertainment
The young sea-faring Charles Darwin – seen here in an 1809 portrait – is to be portrayed as an Indiana Jones-style adventurer
film
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.

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy