The Finance Director sat, retiring at the end of a long, barren and exposed room. It was cool in the room and populated almost entirely of women sitting round a huge oval table. When I walked in I said, “It is like Star Wars – The Jedi Council,” and this was met with a hurried, slightly pained laugh. The Finance Director, seeing a need to take charge, started to talk about The Move.
A chart appeared, papers were ruffled and so on. Then after the charting was complete, The Finance Director turned to face the table and he remarked sobrely that people on the second floor were not like people on the first floor: at a recent staff outing (on a house boat) the second floor staff went up to the second floor of the house boat while the people from the first floor of the office remained on the first floor of the boat and stood awkwardly at the bar.
Many of the women at the table exchanged puzzled, but wearied looks. One reached down, grabbed the table and then scooped her finger forwards as if to say: "And..?"
"Only this – simply that" The Finance Director shot back with a fierce piercing glare.
The Finance Director, who was suffering from a bad cough, started writing on a board. He fielded the 'pros' and 'cons' of The Move
to the second floor. The Finance Director said many important facts about the 'Years Service' and how many faces had changed and that 'The Society' had been at the last property for 100 years but the archivist corrected him and said 80 years, actually.
“Oh yes. Quite right.” Said the Finance Director with a little gasp of impatience.
Afterwards whilst recovering in his cubicle there was a sudden remark by the Finance Director, a remark filled with sighing and a diminishing bluster: "HP Sauce is going to be made in Holland, a disaster!"
At this, The Finance Director paused and his secretary remarked – through a tiny space in the cubicle – “I tried it years ago when I was first trying out things as a young child.”
The Finance Director, alarmed at the speed and keenness of the remark and perhaps trying the keep the spinster at bay, remarked casually: "David so and so… is... Oooh Dear Me!"
"David, who?" The spinster remarked casually but the Finance Director was away.
All looks turned and peered through the room.
Back in the office and after the meeting about the move there was a feeling in the air as if the Christmas party, which has been held at lunch was over now and a man from the consultancy had reminded us all that work needs to be done at desks till end of day.
At this a quiet but brooding lump of a girl, seated directly behind the Secretary to the Director said in a slowly building, but controlled little girl's voice: "Oh God! Who forgot to pick up my printout? Who else is using my printer? I`m sure that two of my printouts have disappeared…!" The old lady, the quiet, cat-faced one, who had been sorting through the needlepoint and sifting through trunks of discarded finery from the Church vestibule shuffled up, and mumbled: “Oh God! I walked right past you. Can you help me please? With the suitcases for the Volunteers. I`ve made more progress than I expected to.”
At this point a large African woman came in. A remark was made about the numbers of discared milk cartons in the fridge.
"Are there still more than ten? Cheese forms in warmer temperatures. I`m going to have to put my name on the carton."
“Is it just me or is the intranet down?”
“It is working...”
Shortly thereafter things got into a state again, it was as if some kind of aliens had come down from the sky and sucked out all the energy of the room. People didn't know what to do with themselves.
"What about the boxes?" Someone said and this was met with another wave of disdain, bordering on fear.
"Hasn't this been covered before?"
The archivist pointed out that it had not.
“The boxes of valuable stuff went to Oxford. There was a storage facility and then there was what...?"
The little man in the silver hair – who may have suffered in silence, or else taken on a role many mightn't want – really beaming with fierce self-containment and expectation said to himself – and to the others – “Are there any questions?”
A remark was made, “What about the boxes that we have to move?” and then the Finance Director faced the archivist, a natural but respected enemy in the wild, perhaps, and he said: "Our archivist can answer that, can`t she?"
And the archivist went white as a ghost. "Who me?"
Then finally, after a month of mulling and contemplation the group sat in its glum, moribund arrangement and watched the clock.
"It is challenging time, we can't go on like this."
This was the sentiment.
The general news was that the man from the consultancy had acquired an O870 number for the new digs. There wasn’t far to go either. Thankfully the new place was miles smaller, and still, mercifully, south of the river.