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.


Continuing from the previous post…

“Pallid? He’s the colour of smoke, Martin” said Laurence pointing at Wood, “he’d get blown away by the first decent gust of wind that came his way.”


“Don’t bring Phil Bracewell into the conversation again,” said Joan, “I haven’t finished my lunch yet. Another thing is, we have that team meeting next Monday and we always have a catered lunch and he always licks the sandwiches before eating them.”


“Who is that you’re talking about?’ said Aileen keenly, appearing from behind a partition.


“You made my heart jump, Aileen, by your sudden appearance,” said Laurence, “even more so than usual.”


“Ignore him, Aileen, he’s being disgusting,” said Tranfield,“he’s pretending to be charming when all he wants to do is have his evil way with you.”


“Really, Martin, do you not think I’ve already worked that out? Roger is good fun, but he is very transparent.”


“How can someone that fat be transparent?” asked Tranfield.


“My way is not evil,” said Laurence,”it’s good and would greatly benefit Aileen.”


“Anyway,” continued Aileen, “who was the person licking their sandwiches?”


“We were talking about Phil Bracewell,” replied Wood.


“I am going to eat my sandwiches somewhere else,” said Joan, picking up her aluminium foil package and heading outside before remembering that Bracewell was out there still. She instead headed for a meeting room and locked the door behind her. She put up a hand-drawn sign that said “No Pids”.   


“I’ve never seen Joan move so quickly,” said Aileen,”I think she must be very upset with me.”


“It’s not you, Aileen, it’s mentioning Phil Bracewell – the name makes her feel nauseous especially when she’s eating her food’” explained Wood.

“Is he the one who… you know…the one who,” Aileen didn’t like to say the word fart in case it made her appear unlady like, “breaks wind everywhere and all the time?”


“That’s the one,” said Laurence, “otherwise known as Mr Sticky or Bubble and Squeak.”


“He sounds disgusting,” said Aileen wrinkling her nose, “how can anyone have been brought up like that?”


“Perhaps his parents had no sense of smell, Aileen,” replied Laurence, “in a similar way to Gobbo’s parents, who were both deaf.”


“Who’s Gobbo?” asked Aileen.


“Fat Bastard means me, Aileen,” said Tranfield, rubbing his chin, “and his parents locked him in the larder every night, so he could eat as much food as he wanted. And that is why he gorges himself to this day. Our Roger is a food eating machine.”


“I am a machine in other ways too Aileen, if you’re interested,” replied Laurence, winking at Aileen.


“Before I take you up on your offer, can I check with your wife to see whether that statement’s true?” asked Aileen.


“Better not,” said Tranfield, “she’d hit him with a rolling pin or the ironing board – she’s an ex-Soviet shot-putter is Mrs Laurence, isn’t that right Roger?”


“She’s a large woman,” replied Laurence, no longer smiling, “but not quite as large as Gobbo’s over-active imagination makes her out to be.”


“Right, well I should be getting along,” said Aileen, slightly disappointed, “I have things to do.”


“Well, I hope you enjoy yourself doing them,” said Laurence, who still hadn’t given up hope.


After Aileen had smoothed down her skirt, she walked over to one of the connecting doors and headed through to the neighbouring office to go and see whether Martin Benn was in a better mood.


“You have no chance there Roger,” said Tranfield, “unless you got Joan in on the act and gave Aileen Joan’s phone number and then asked Joan to be Mrs Laurence.”


“Aileen would recognise Joan’s voice, you dipstick,” said Laurence, “though Joan does do a fairly good scouse accent, even for a woollyback.”


“What’s a woollyback, someone like Pete Yorke?”


“Someone who lives in the areas around Liverpool, but not in Liverpool.”


“So that’s everyone in this office apart from your good self.”


“Yes, Martian, and Penny Black.”


“Is that her real name?”


“No, her real name is Penelope, she’s from Wavertree I think.”


Joan came back to her desk.


“Neither of you are going to mention Phil Bracewell are you?”


“We’re not, but Roger wants you to be his wife,” said Tranfield.


“Are you a Mormon, Roger?” asked Joan.


“Nearly right, Joan, nearly right,” said Tranfield quickly before Laurence could answer.

“Very good, Martin, very good, for you that is,” said Laurence, “I don’t want you to be my wife Joan, he was just joking.”


“No I wasn’t,” replied Tranfield, “Roger wants to knock the wind out of Aileen with his big, fat belly and he was hoping you would give him a reference, if you like, by pretending to be his wife over the phone. You can vouch for his sexual prowess.”


Joan sat down and looked at Laurence pityingly.


“She wants a reference? What rubbish – just go round to her house after work and indicate your interest; it works for everyone else.”


“There’s likely to be a queue is there?” said Laurence looking disappointed.


“Well, she’s been telling everyone she’s home alone tonight – she’s even asked Martin Benn for a ride on his scooter.”


“There’s a euphemism if ever I heard one,” said Tranfield, shaking his head, “why do you think she’s like that?”


“She’s frustrated Martin, she isn’t getting enough, plus she has a narcissistic streak in her as wide as the motorway, even you should be able to see that,” said Joan, “preening herself and patting down her skirt and tottering around on those heels – she wants men to admire her – to find her attractive.”