Excerpt from the book Different Planet

5 Days in the life of an English office – there’s lots of banter and insults flying around in this story. One person goes to the wrong place for the weekend, another has horrible personal habits, but the main protagonist realises how he can become a better person – he undergoes a transformation after losing a race and feels better for it.

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Martin Tranfield reversed his Hummer out of the driveway. Immediately there was a screech of brakes and the honking of a horn. Tranfield looked behind him and saw the bus driver gesticulating wildly.

 

Tranfield got out of his vehicle and walked down the road to the bus.

 

“What’s the matter with you, you fat bastard?” he enquired diplomatically.

 

“You pulled out right into my path,” replied the driver regarding Tranfield’s large forehead, small, piercing eyes, and two-day’s growth of beard with some alarm.

 

“For your information,” said Tranfield pointing at the driver, “I always pull out of my drive at this time on weekdays; I think you’ll find you’re five minutes early on your route. Don’t let it happen again. By the way, do you like my mode of transportation? Does about 10 miles to the gallon, but I can afford it.” Without waiting for a reply, Tranfield returned to his vehicle and sped off to work ignoring the speed limits as he went.

 

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Tranfield had worked in the IT department of Britannia Holdings, a large manufacturing company, since leaving school at the age of 18. That was 14 years ago. His proudest achievement to date was to have written a daily update program of the database that took 26 hours to run. Tranfield didn’t see any problem with this until his manager, Jan Wood, pointed out update programs were supposed to be run at the same time each day.

 

“We’ll just have to run the update every other day, won’t we?” said Tranfield.

 

“I’ll pass this over to Roger, to see if he can speed it up,” replied Wood rubbing his bushy eyebrow with his finger. Roger Laurence was a contract developer working on Wood’s team for six months.

 

“You can’t give it to that fat scouse bastard, it’s my program, it’s mine.”

 

“This is a team environment, Martin, so we’ll see what Roger can do.”

 

“Yes, we’ll see that Roger will bugger it up,” said Tranfield, “he’s a contractor, he doesn’t care whether it works or not – he’ll make it run quicker by not updating all of the database.”

 

“My decision is final,” said Wood.

 

“My god, talk of the devil, here’s Roger now – hello Woger, how are you?”

 

“Hello Martian,” said Laurence,” how’s life on Mars?” Roger Laurence’s jowls shook as he laughed at his own remark.

 

“Why do you call him Martian, Roger?” asked Wood.

 

“I am from planet Earth, Jan” replied Laurence, “and that idiot is from a different planet from me. It’s only one letter different from his own name, anyway. His parents were trying to send us a coded message – they couldn’t call him “Alien” could they? He’s from the red planet.” Roger combed his thinning brown hair across his head with his fingers, a gesture he repeated a hundred times a day, if anyone could be bothered to count.

 

“You’re the alien, you fat git, don’t ever go swimming in Loch Ness because you’ll soon be surrounded by tourist boats taking pictures of you.”

 

“Eh, you two lovebirds, take your tiffs outside,” said Aileen Greaves, who delivered the internal mail. Her hair shone under the artificial lights.

 

“You’re looking very lovely today, Aileen,” said Roger straightening his tie, “does your husband know you’re wearing your loveliest skirt and stockings today? And those black shoes look very expensive and elegant.”

 

Aileen looked hopefully around – “He’s actually gone to Bristol for a couple of days, so I will be all alone tonight.” She moistened her lips slightly and checked her red-pleated skirt was showing off her figure well.

 

“You’re disgusting, you know that?” said Tranfield after Aileen had walked away, “you’d squash her to death.”

 

“She’d die with a smile on her face,” replied Laurence,”no better way to go.”

 

“It would be a grimace from having all the air knocked out of her lungs by your belly.”

 

“So, Roger,” said Wood, “can you look at Martin’s daily update program?”

 

“Is this the one that takes 42 hours to run?”

 

“It’s only 26 hours now,” said Tranfield through gritted teeth, “I made some improvements.”

 

“I’ll look at it for you, Jan, I’ll get it down under 10 hours in no time – oh look, here’s the lovely Joan. Hello Joan, how are you?”

 

Joan Jones sat down and looked at Tranfield who was shaking his head at Roger’s tone. Joan was about 40 years old, but dressed like her mother with a beige cardigan and light-green dress that were about 30 years out-of-date. Today, she was also wearing a rather severe pair of rimmed glasses.

 

“What’s wrong with him?” said Joan to Laurence.

 

“He’s just being normal,” said Laurence, who was beginning to change Tranfield’s program.

 

“Good morning old dog,” said Tranfield to Joan,”I was just feeling nauseous because of Roger’s way of speaking to the ladies, first Aileen and now you.”

 

“Aileen is looking particularly sexy today,” said Joan, “I presume her husband is away and she’s looking for some compliments about her appearance. Do think she dyes her hair, Tranfield?”