5 Days in the life of an English office – you can buy it here
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, and a couple have sex over a desk when no one is watching, but someone is listening.
Office Life is a story about the voyage of Albert Merton from a boorish anti-environmentalist to a supporter of the fight against Global Warming.
Initially, Albert is described as coming from a different planet because of his throwaway attitude towards everything and everybody. He insults people and doesn’t see anything wrong in the way he behaves. He is a conspicuous consumer who drives a Hummer, who doesn’t put paper in the recycling, and who despises people who keep fit.
Gradually, he begins to see the light. His children are learning about green issues at primary school and there’s a person at work called Nigel Todd who lives a considerate life and keeps fit. Albert challenges Todd to a race, but loses. Albert says he will beat Todd the next time. He starts to live a healthier lifestyle.
Albert is a lot cleverer than people give him credit for – he finds out the identity of a mole at his company, who has been giving secrets to one of their suppliers. He does this by looking at the phone messages of the supplier’s main manager, whilst this manager is out of the office.
The book is not just about Albert, but also includes a number of diverting characters. There’s a rather fat, jolly contractor, who is exceedingly good at programming, there’s a lady who dresses like her mother did 30 years previously, but who is very practical. There’s a loudmouth character who doesn’t know when to shut up, a woman who doesn’t have sex often enough for her own liking, a man who drives his car into a motorway barrier at 100 mph sideways, and a man who can’t stop breaking wind and who has to go outside and emit his farts in the fresh air. These people and others interact with and influence Albert.
Ultimately, Albert is a good person who tries to do the right thing more often than not; he learns a lot from Todd and grudgingly admires him for the stance he takes, even though initially Albert doesn’t respect Todd.
Interwoven with Albert’s story is another thread relating to a character called Tommy Bunn, who learns some lessons about life during the book. At first, he does strange things, such as going to the wrong village to attend a rock concert. Gradually, Bunn matures and finally he is able to hold a nice conversation with a female.