An extract from Different Planet – a story about 5 days in an English office available here on Amazon.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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about 40 years old, but dressed like her mother with a beige cardigan and light-green dress that were about 30 years out-of-date.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

 

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

 

“He’s just being normal,” said Laurence, who had already found Merton’s program.

 

“Good morning Susie,” said Merton to Jones,” I was just feeling nauseous because of Greg’s way of speaking to the ladies, first Alison and now you.”

 

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

 

“I can only speak about the hair on her head,” replied Merton,” but it does look like the colour of shoe polish, doesn’t it?”

 

“God, Martian, who taught you to program, Aristotle?”

 

“Harry who?”

 

“Aristotle the ancient Greek philosopher, you dimwit, this code is so complicated no wonder it takes a day to run.”

 

“Don’t you start criticising my work,” said Merton, “or I will stick you in that large recycling bag over there and tie the tag.”

 

“That’ll be the first time you ever use that bag,” said Jones mischievously, “you normally dump everything in the bin.”