(the notable thing about this photograph is the bottom right hand corner. wild guesses accepted.)
"The case was that I had spent the night before on the phone to my mother who was wailing, as mothers of men like me often do, wailing about men like my father who let her down time after time and women like her who care and care and get nothing in return, wailing for her sons, warning them not to turn into their father, and wailing for her daughters, worried that they may marry men who are like their father. "You are a good boy" She would wail. "I'm not a boy, I'm a grown man." I would say. "You are still my boy and no woman will change that." She would wail. "No woman will come near me." I would say. "Don't say that, you are a very handsome boy." She would wail. "That's not the issue." I would say. "I am a very sad woman." The wailing lasted for well over an hour and came with five more hours of bed time guilt. I wondered where I could find a pair of pyjamas, ones which were forest green and thermal and had EVERYONE LEAVES embroidered on the chest, I would buy a pair for my mother, myself, my father, my sisters who i never spoke to, my brother who moved away, his wife and his children, we could wear them together on Christmas Day.
I placed my briefcase on the small beech wood desk, opened the window behind me, even though it was cold outside and almost raining, pressed the "on" button on the chunky desktop computer, sat down and adjusted the chair so that my chin touched the rim of the table and banged my head against the desk three times. That day was the 21st November which had absolutely no relevance and meant nothing more than a quarterly team building activity for everyone in the administration department. The afternoon would be carefully and equally sectioned into three one hour long activities. On August 21st myself, Steve (a different, far yuppier Steve), Joan, Peter and Sheila spent the afternoon building a teepee in the conference room from bic pens, post it notes, elastic bands, duct tape and blue roll from the canteen, the point of this, we were told, was to improve our organisation strategies and resourcefulness in the face of the looming economical crisis. We spent the second hour sat in the blue tent working on our communication skills, we were asked to sit in a circle because "they are magical! you can see everyone!" (to quote Jerome, the hired help, or "Motivational Activities Co-ordinator") and discuss topics from a list of relevant and crucial subjects such as "Money" "Organisation" "Image" and "Poverty". We were supplied with a feather duster from the cleaning cupboard which was a prop meant to help balance the discussion, we were only allowed to speak if we were in possession of the duster, and if we wanted to speak we had to ask the current owner of the duster, very politely, if we may have the duster. We were also not allowed to hold the duster for more than three minutes, and if once those three minutes were up and nobody wanted the duster, it was passed to the person on the left, who then had to pick another topic to speak about. This happened to me at one point during the hour and the only remaining topic was "Facism". For the final activity we were asked to lie down in silence and meditate. This was very difficult to work out, as the floor of the teepee could only cater for the length and breadth of three grown adults and there were five of us, Sheila was also very very large and Peter smelt like burnt plastic. I opted to lie down outside of the tent, explaining that it would help me to be at peace by looking at what we had built from outside, I explained to Jerome that it made me feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride in our efforts as a team to see that we had made such a great thing, and if I was to fully appreciate its magnificence it would be better to see it from outside. Jerome seemed touched. Joan also lay down outside because she was afraid of human contact, which she explained quietly and at length to Jerome, who was a borderline misogynist and made a joke with Steve about skirts, when Joan began to cry (she was afraid of everything, not just touching people), Jerome said she could lie down outside too. I remember trying to smile at Joan but it made her cry even more.
I closed the window and walked to the coffee cart, with five hours to kill before team building, one of which being lunch time, that morning seemed hard to organise. First I drank a coffee and talked small with Steve the yuppie who was excited about the afternoon and made a sly comment about Joan, next I rode the lift down, smoked a cigarette alone, rode the lift up and returned to my office. During the half hour I had been gone I missed two calls. Before lunch I returned them, sent three e-mails and learned about the great depression on Wikipedia."