Largely in the afterglare, not least of all tense-wise, of Penguin Classics’ Autobiography, by Morrissey.
Last Friday I visit an office. Proper big one of a proper big organisation, and a proper big deal for me in that it has been – I do on my fingers and thumbs – twenty-two months since I’ve last been in one. That one is the one I leave after hundreds of months, which takes relationships, hairstyles, cars and phases of self-categorisation to calculate rather than fingers; the years standing in memory as like films, movies to be reviewed; some howlers, flops and turkeys, some sweepingly lush and lavish epics, and a couple arthouse complexities with goose-pimpling soundtracks and scenes I still wake up at 3am seeing. Strange, anyhow, it is, to be back in an office environment, if only for the couple of hours it is; but plenty enough to filter as I am shown around (and around the parts that seem to want, I am so pleased, my drawn-designs, my brandiworks, my picture windows on a populated place), to process and hear my brain with its ‘ooh, Steve, Steve, look – look where we are! – can you imagine being here? – can you? – ooh, look, Steve, Steve, a communal photocopier and a carpeted walkway to a Gents! – and look, look at all these PEOPLE!’ and so, so on. You may recognise the brain’s vocal talents supplied here by Lionel J. Botch of The hair bear bunch fame; ‘ooh-ooh-Mister-Peevly-Mister-Peevly’ (very edifying to know now that Peevly’s first name is Eustace).
The final weeks of the long-gone-from office from beforetimes are not lovely times. When you really start to notice, and then to feel, that the workplace is a permission for some to be things other than civil and friendly and comprehending that whether we inwardly like it or not THIS and HERE is the place we have made our daily destination, and we are sharing it now with humans who like me, who like you, had, perhaps, just, an untypical poo, or an over-dark thought – or vice-versa – or a fear about the future; and who all chose shoes this morning, and put them on their feet that were not so long ago bare, or wet, even, or being held, tenderly, touched. But that notions of very loved toes cannot pull Good Mornings from everyone. Or even from that many. And my departing era’s tweets have so many sighs in them about my not having sworn or had a go at your granny, just my saying, simply Good Morning – how you doin’?
Small, small world, the world of big offices, I meet a gifted former colleague, Gooner Chum, eating his meatless roll at his desk, casually dressed for a Friday, and we talk, a sweetly engineered threesome, enough too for me to process I am really in a new guise now, coming from the other side and being something, being someone else. I know in this new office I’ve been missing none of it, but have been trying, faintly, to read people’s eyes as I’m touring, seeking, wishing – God knows how, or by what measure – some certainties that these office occupants are in the habit of being friends among the vole-coloured veal-pens, and all along the carpet to the coffee machines, and are friendly, in the mornings at the very least, and kind.
Words and picture © Steve Mitchell, Fisher Lane, 2013