29 June 2007

The end of the Gold Fish Bowl

Next week when I get to the office (after two days out running training courses) it won't be to the GFB. But it's not just that the room will have been remodelled: my neighbour for the past couple of years, Shane, left this afternoon.

I instructed him, in packing up his possessions, to attend first to the Christmas pudding that had adorned his shelves since last December, and he promptly did so - by giving it to me. Later, a South Park DVD was also handed over, and I doubt I shall ever know why it was in his office to start with.

There was much deliberation about what would make a suitable leaving present. I offered that he was known to enjoy fine wines, although judging by what he told me on the mornings after he approached wine tasting in much the same way as Alan Clark did (according to his diaries): less than a bottlefull can't really be tasted. A gift voucher from a wine merchant seemed like a good idea. It would be more easily carried on the Tube, and would give him scope to make his choice.

Then Nancy, the third Goldfish, suggested something else (and I won't say what in case Shane should read this), and a search of local shops with that sort of thing in stock was undertaken but finally dropped, and this morning - with the presentation due at 4 pm - a case of wine from Berry Bros & Rudd was the favoured option. The choice of merchant seemed to meet with universal approval, and I suggested which senior member of the department should be entrusted with the task of making the selection. So, at 4 o'clock, the present was duly wheeled in by the head of department on a porter's trolley borrowed for the occasion from the general office.

Shane was delighted, of course, and gave an entertaining speech - referring to the fact that he would probably have to visit Columbia in his new job, and would have armed guards to protect him from kidnap, he pointed out that he had spent the last year in a glass cage, often in conditions of intolerable heat, and had suffered frequent abuse, so he would be well prepared. Then the problem I had foreseen occurred to him, and the solution of sending the wine home by courier was advanced. "Will there be anyone in?" his secretary, Sarah, asked. "Yes", said Shane, "the builders will be there."

I'm keeping my fingers crossed until I hear from him. A dozen paralytic Polish builders coud be tricky to deal with.

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