Albert has been tracked down again by some former friends through the internet. Albert finds this deeply troubling. Albert is unconvinced that this is progress. In his view, evolution has prepared the human race for the internet about as much as it has prepared the hedgehog for the approaching car.
Albert attends a boring management training course in the vague hope of gaining a promotion. Funny, he reflects, how individually a little more knowledge can make you seem more significant, whereas for the species as a whole the more we know about the uncaring universe the more insignificant we become.
Martin stands by the window, looking out. He lives on the sixteenth floor of the Terrance Messenger Tower. And he stands by the window, looking out.
Martin stands by the window, looking out over the houses below, the flat rooves of the warehouses and business parks, over towards the reservoirs. Martin likes to study the clouds reflected in the still waters. Martin likes to study the sky by looking down. Funny, Martin thinks, how you can see the sky more clearly that way.
Martin stands by the window, looking out. He hasn’t left the Terrance Messenger Tower for six weeks; hasn’t been out the front door in fact.
Martin’s mother doesn’t like him standing by the window, looking out at the world. There are too many things wrong with the world, she’s told him. We’re better off here. It’s best to wait it out. Stop looking for clues out there, she tells him. Come away from the window, she says.
‘We know you’re in there,’ the angry attendance officer said yesterday through the door.
‘We know we’re in here as well,’ his mother shouted back and then laughed with Martin at the audacity of her response. She’s a funny one, his mother. Martin has heard people say that.
‘This isn’t some kind of joke,’ the attendance officer said.
‘That all depends,’ his mother said, ‘on your point of view.’
Martin stands at the window, looking out.
Until his mother stops him. Until his mother tells him it’s making him worse, giving him an attitude, looking out all the time like that. Until she tells him to come inside and close all the curtains. The light carries bad things, she tells him. Bad things from a bad world.
Although the Drabble’s editors very politely asked to feature one of my stories, I managed to miss this e-zine coming out.
Here’s the link The Drabble Quarterly Volume 1 Issue 1
Anyway, it’s really nice to learn a little more about the editors of The Drabble, who are always very supportive and encouraging. My short piece ‘A Fresh Angle’ is included.
There’s a little biography of all the featured writers if, like me, you’re feeling nosy.
I hope you enjoy this finely produced e-zine.
We bugged the hotel room where they were meeting. We’re not sure exactly what took place but the following transcript provides useful evidence.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” she whispered.
“Oh me neither,” he gasped.
“How about this?” she asked.
“Nope,” he said.
“Well I recall doing something….a little bit similar, but…..not…..there exactly, no.”
“How about this?”
“Oooh,” he said.
“Or,” she groaned.
There then follows an extended period of repetitive moaning from both parties, gradually increasing in volume and intensity, concluding with them both thanking the Lord for His endless generosity and kindness.
“Looked after children deserve the best experiences in life, from excellent parenting which promotes good health and educational attainment, to a wide range of opportunities to develop their talents and skills in order to have an enjoyable childhood and successful adult life.” (Paragraph 1.1 of The Children Act 1989 guidance and regulations Volume 2: care planning, placement and case review June 2015)
Lucy phones her new social worker out of the blue. Lucy is only seven but she’s already been through six foster homes. It’s quite a thing for her to navigate the switchboard and administrators all by herself to finally reach her social worker.
‘Hi Lucy,’ her social worker says, genuinely excited to hear from one of her favourite children. ‘And how are you today Lucy?’
Lucy pauses. ‘I was just wondering,’ Lucy says. ‘You know Friday?’
‘Yes,’ her social worker replies.
‘Is that when I’m going to meet my new owners?’
Albert is attending a disciplinary meeting regarding a controversial employee, Helen. It concerns a serious matter of misconduct and they are assessing whether there is any medical mitigation for Helen that needs to be taken into consideration by the panel. The panel members are all shuffling through their papers to find the relevant medical section.
‘So when exactly is Helen due to have her operation?’ one of the panel members asks.
Albert looks to the chair. Then there is a silence that extends a little too long.
‘Oh,’ Albert says, ‘I’m sorry. Do you want me to answer the question now? Because usually you spend some time formulating the questions at the beginning and then ask the questions later on in the hearing. That’s the usual order of things in a process of this sort.’
The chair looks at Albert. The chair and Albert have never really got along, not since Albert successfully lobbied for the removal of a coffee machine on the second floor corridor, undermining the chair’s authority in a different capacity. It’s a subtle, residual malice between them: undecipherable to the naked eye. ‘That’s very true, Albert,’ she says, faking a smile. ‘I’m not sure. I guess we could do it either way. Yes, on the one had we usually ask the questions at the end. But then again, usually the subject of the disciplinary attends the hearing. So I suppose we have some discretion here. What do people think?’ the chair asks, turning to the other panel members.
‘Let Albert answer it now?’ one of the newer panel members suggests tentatively.
‘Yes, I think now would be best,’ another member concurs. ‘It makes more sense in the circumstances, given the subject’s absence.’
The chair nods her agreement and makes a note of the rationale for the collective decision to alter the usual structure of the hearing. ‘So?’ she asks Albert finally. ‘When is Helen’s operation due?’
Albert clears his throat. ‘No idea,’ he says.