John and Jennie sat in the back row of the conference room, squirming impatiently like small schoolchildren. For forty minutes they had endured a presentation from the new regional director, thinking all the while of all the things they could more usefully be doing.
‘For the love of all that’s good would he ever stop,’ Jennie said without moving her lips.
‘Look, look,’ John said, looking straight ahead. ‘THE WAY FORWARD. This has to be the final section surely?’
The new regional director took a small candle from his pocket.
‘I want you all to concentrate very hard on lighting this candle,’ he said. ‘Let’s see what happens when we all focus our thoughts.’
‘Make him stop,’ John whispered to Jennie. ‘Please, I’m begging you: just make him stop.’
Then the director took out his lighter and lit the candle. ‘Sometimes,’ he explained, nodding in earnest agreement with himself, ‘you can’t just think about change. Sometimes,’ he said, narrowing his eyes, ‘you just have to make it happen.’
‘I’m actually going to kill him,’ John said.
‘Er, not before I do,’ Jennie said.
As you know, there’s a chasm at the centre of each of us. I thought mine was pretty standard – nothing too concerning. But then I got that product recall 09843/43#. Apparently, mine is leaking badly. Left unreplaced, it could contaminate a small city. Or even infect both my followers on WordPress.
Ever wondered how some people are always calm in a crisis?
Ever wanted to know how to weigh up your options under pressure?
Would you like to know how to manage your own stress levels so that you remain able to make excellent decisions?
Yup, me too. Let’s do coffee.
Albert’s brother was stealing from his aging father. Although Albert knew this he hesitated to bring it up. And so, finally, Albert understood why women rarely report sexually violent offences. Irrationally, you feel a part of something bad that you name. Its badness contaminates you and tries to silence you.
Is there anything that you worry about? What would help?
Sometimes I lose things – like snacks. I could put snacks in my box.
What helps you to learn? What stops you? What would help?
My teacher helps me when I’m stuck. My head stops me learning. A jotter would help.
When he was younger Albert loved to read biographies, spotting all the similarities between himself and the great and good. It was only a matter of time, he told himself, until he joined their ranks. Now, he wasn’t so sure. All their shoddy affairs and racism. Little to admire there.
A fish never worries about life choices. Cows are rarely kept awake by guilt. Chickens aren’t too troubled by empathy. We deserve to rule the planet, Albert reflects. We’re so much more sensitive and self-aware than any other animal, he concludes, tucking into his roast turkey and slices of gammon.