Wednesday 15 April 2009

Not as bad as I had expected

14st 10lb, 6.0 units. I seem to have acquired an office. It’s a very nice office: an under-used and quiet meeting room just down the corridor from the surprisingly modest and tidy desk of Mrs H’s Chief Executive. But on the other hand there is no getting away from the fact that it IS an office. One of those things that I gladly walked out of on 4 February 2004, after 24.5 years of regular attendance (with one gap to write an unpublished novel) and to which I sincerely hoped never to return. But these are surprising times. I never expected to have a wife, or a son on the way; or, perhaps most critically, to be spending most of my time in a house where my study, recently converted from a spare bedroom, is soon to be transformed yet again into a nursery. In theory there is room in this studsery for both my desk (and its loosely associated filing cabinet) and a cot (plus other infant-related impedimenta). But in practice, I suspect that my new office may soon come to seem less of dreary but necessary step backwards and more of a blissfully quiet bolt-hole, where the only screams are those of staff shouting with joy at their pay awards, and there are never any nappies to be changed – or at least not until I myself become incontinent, which may not be too far off.

Along with the office, I seem to have acquired a pass that lets me in and out of the building (the “out” bit being particularly handy) and a little plastic key that, when charged with ready money, enables me to buy a subsidized lunch in the staff restaurant. A top quality cooked meal for £2.25. You can’t complain, can you?

No, on the whole, it was by no means as bad as I anticipated when the idea was first put to me on Maundy Thursday, immediately ending me into a downward spiral of depression. In fact, on the evidence so far, I might even get to like it.

But then this is the standard, recurring pattern of life for all us of a deeply pessimistic and reactionary nature. We dread absolutely every change in our circumstances, however small, and spend hours torturing ourselves by thinking exhaustively through every permutation of “what could possibly go wrong?” If you take this approach, most things in life turn out to be a pleasant surprise. For example, as I explained to Mrs H on our arrival in Venice for our honeymoon, it is remarkable how chipper one feels on stepping safely off an aeroplane when one’s working assumption throughout the flight has been that it is destined to crash in flames with the loss off all those on board.

I am so glad that I am not an optimist. I am sure that I would never be able to cope with the constant disappointments.

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