Thursday, 30 June 2011

Killing Time - Friday Flash

Clockwatching for elevenses. The second hand and I have been fellow travellers along the orbital face for some considerable time already this morning. For all its steady lick, the spindly red needle seems to be taking an age to haul the thicker armature of the minute hand around to the witching hour, tea minus five. A burden that keeps slipping off its back and it has to go all the way round to pick it back up again. Watched kettles never boil and all that.

So on the run-in, I am down to a snail’s pace. The swiftness of a tortoise. Atlases both, with the weight of their own world upon their broad shoulders. The Native American myth - Iroquois is it-? Yes here we are (‘verification needed’) - of the giant turtle that catches the mother-angel inadvertently somersaulting from heaven, who then proceeds to sow the whole world on the creature’s back. Hosannas all round now, for the weird and wonderful parabolas of the Information Superhighway, which saves me from going totally round the bend.

For here’s me stuck in my office, sowing nothing, coaxing naught into life, other than the beady eye of a blinking cursor. Management’s vulturous iris, scanning me for inactivity. Holding my fibre optic nerve, now my mouse tumbles that circling vultures on the thermal gyre are called a kettle. I’ve milked that excuse for leaving my workstation once already this morning. Double creamed by returning to wash my mug at the sink.

Next I unearth the truffle, that the collective noun is a ‘venue’ of vultures. If only I had one such to be at for an appointed time. Whisking me out of here, so that I might further dawdle in meandering my way to the destination. Oh for a bannered headline limned into the diary template. But I am not consequential enough to merit a coloured tag all to myself. Bereft of any meeting for my line manager to sign off on my behalf. For their name to give me body.

However, though unappointed, I do in fact have someplace where I can go alright. But nothing so lofty as to deem it a venue. A bolthole just about captures the nub of it. The only question, is it yet time? The answer is posted up high on the wall above the facsimile machine. It just hasn’t transmitted itself satisfactorily to me as yet. It appears to have prolapsed.

Who’s to say that the wall clock is accurate? My desktop icon insistently begs to differ by a full four minutes. No matter how often I reset the confounded thing, back it jumps to its own silicon mediated timekeeping. Could always page the speaking clock- does that even still exist in this digital age?- but all our calls are monitored, so how incriminating might that look? I would be court-martialled and make no mistake. Padded shoulders lopped off with a letter opener. Probably my boss’s faux-jewel, imitation curved dagger brought back from an ersatz Turkish bazaar, as part of an authentic ‘taste of the Orient’ excursion. Not that I sport padded shoulders of course. I’m not one for power dressing capaciously enough to light up the national grid. Unlike some I could mention around here.

Wouldn’t surprise me if the higher-ups employed someone just to sit and stare at the server, auditing what websites we visit. I bet all our virtual preferences, are laid bare in our actual personnel files. Still, I’ve nothing to hide on that score. News, current events, isn’t that what we represent here anyway? I’m just checking up on the real life movements of some of our stilted inmates. Sorry, exhibits. Shame it forms no part of the remit of the Waxwork Museum's bought ledger team.

Don’t suppose there’s much in the way of clockwatching from any of my team-mates. (From my crossword fiend days on the London Underground, ‘team’ and ‘mate’ are anagrams of one another, but there again so are ‘tame’ and ‘meat’). Too busy adorning their eager-beaver time sheets. Constructing their baroque dams to prevent the walls of commerce from falling in. If any of them are chancing to peek at the internet, it’s probably to scout for bargain holidays in order to use up their allowance. Only as a point of principle mind. An entitlement is an entitlement after all. Something you perceive you’re owed. Certainly it’s not because travel broadens their minds. Ergo cheap, quickly tarnished letter openers. They’ll likely spend their whole time abroad, scavenging for gobbets of gossip on our more significant movers and shakers, bolted down on their plinths beneath us in the galleries. Reading the English papers from abroad to sustain them. Clodhopping carbon footprints just to stand culturally still in place.

I could always just chance it. And what if I’m caught in the act, could I in all conscience defend my corner? For instance, attribute it on the lack of synchronicity within office chronometry (see, not such a tight ship as they like to imagine). Or maybe point the finger at parallax. That, from where I’m sitting, to my eyes it certainly appeared to be eleven. Hmm, the colonnade sharpness of Roman numerals rather than curvy Arabic ones probably rebuffs that ploy. Or even pin it on the irregular spin of the earth on its axis (verification needed). It is only a meantime we proceed from after all.

My gluteus-oh-so-maximus, decompresses the air bag of my bottom back into my seat. Meantime. A time of miserly intent. Time swiped back from the credit card of life. At usurious interest. Hold all my calls. Not that I ever receive any I might honestly welcome. Only wearying demands for someone else’s money, which just happens to pass through my hands. I am dirtied by the lucre and smeared by those soliciting me for it. We were only following purchase orders... Time for a serpentine cleansing. I run my eye over the path of least supervision through the office and mobilise my facial musculature to blazon ‘unabashed’. Then dash it all, if the padding of my chair doesn’t go and clarion a great sough, when released from the burden of cupping my volume. And my mouse goes for a burton too, its cable all snarled around one of the chair’s armatured wheels. The best laid plans of mice and... Oh well, in for a penny, in for a pound.

The clock didn't chime, but my Boss' voice did...

25 comments:

Anne Michaud said...

Have you heard of the music sensation called 'slamming'? I read your piece and kept hearing it with its half-sung, half-spoken beats.

I enjoyed that:)

Sulci Collective said...

If you heard my singing voice...

M x

Sonia Lal said...

Liked this piece a lot and had to read it a few times. Don't even know where to start. Watching the clock is a lot more interesting than I used to think it was.

adamkeeper said...

I enjoyed that, wonderfully complex narrative of nothingness. Any mention of tea always goes down well with me.

Mark Kerstetter said...

I'm a huge clock-watcher, couldn't get through the day without it. And finding "the path of least supervision" is my specialty. If you found yourself writing this (even if in your mind) while at work then that's another thing we have in common.

Tim VanSant Writes said...

It's like trying to explain "clockwise" direction with only a digital watch.

Michael A Tate said...

I love the ability you have of bending words to you will and creating this beautiful and probably even more importantly, culturally relevant narrative, that also shows a strong presence of the creative.

Anton Gully said...

Or even pin it on the irregular spin of the earth on its axis (verification needed).

That big Chile earthquake shortened our day because it made the Earth tilt on its axis a lil bit more. You know that time we lost came out of our personal time and not our work time. 1.26 millionth of a second. But it's the principle.

Never thought of you as an office type Marc. I usually imagine you to be like Paul Kaye in "It's All Gone Pete Tong". When I imagine you... and there's a tub of honey and a spatula...

Bukowski's Basement said...

Wonderfully extravagant and abstract. The cadence here was spot on...

Sulci Collective said...

Ha thanks, am amused you all suggest this to be my work life! I only work half-days, don't have time to clock watch and even my twitter activity has had to forego before press of work.

This is actually the start of a novel, laying down the notion albeit in an exaggerated manner that many of us are unfulfilled by our work. It leads on to general unfulfillment and a psyche being ripe for trespass and manipulation.

Icy Sedgwick said...

Ah, now THIS is a story I can get on board with. I feel like I'm forever clock watching, always looking forward to what will happen while steadfastly ignoring that nothing is happening right now. Time DOES move more slowly in an office.

Simon Atherley said...

Generally I'd say there is no time like the present.

However, reading your piece, time flew by... how ironic!

I wonder how this story will develop...

Incidentally, could it be that 'circling vultures on the gyre' is the real reason why police crowd control tactics are known as "kettling"... ?

Just a thought.

mazzz in Leeds said...

"We were only following purchase orders" - lol.
I've been there, oh boy have I been there. As always, the rich language here is immense.

And they do have someone watching what sites you visit (well, they log what people visit and can query these log files).

Sulci Collective said...

Strikes me as a bit too literary for HM Con-stab-ulary

Kat said...

Okay. First: If your co-workers are "chancing a peek at the internet" it's probably for porn. At least in the states it would be! LOL.

Second: Quit your whining and get back to work! Pfft.

Third: That was awesome! Engrossing and so true! I think a whole novel like that would give me a migraine and a dependency on booze. But, eh, I'm game. :D

Sulci Collective said...

ah well you see Kat, the whole novel is not like this. There's alternate chapters belonging to two different voices, then there's internet grooming, but not how you think. Then there's lots of forum-style posts and blogs as chapters. And finally there's a telephone conversation for the final section of the book between the two voices as they finally engage.

Melissa said...

The rhythm, the pacing, is *perfect* for what you are conveying. I'm psyched about this new novel of yours! Hope you release more of it for #fridayflash.

Sulci Collective said...

Thanks Melissa, hopefully it will be out on Kindle in a month or so, when have completed final edits

Danielle La Paglia said...

Being of those stuck in the corporate world for the last 18 years, I absolutely loved this. Some days it's all I can do to make it to 5pm. :)

Helen said...

The rhythm was just perfect to this peace. Clock watching is so time consuming :o) Nothing worse than being stuck in a job that bores you.

I laughed out loud at these two sentences "Who’s to say that the wall clock is accurate? My desktop icon insistently begs to differ by a full four minutes."

You writing always amazes me - it's just so good!

Helen said...

Oops typo peace should be piece - sorry red face now ^_^

Tony Noland said...

I've had jobs where this kind of hypnotic clock-watching was all that kept me from going insane.

Unless it didn't.

Mari said...

If anyone has any doubt as to "literary" as a genre, all they have to do is read your work, Marc. I'm intrigued and I want to know more about your MC.

brainhaze said...

I can totally relate to this, I wrote a 'clock-watching/time' piece a few weeks ago as I do it often. Nice work

Chuck Allen said...

Lots of good lines in this one, but my favorite was "the path of least supervision". That made me laugh. Quite an interesting clock-watching piece.