What a busy day it was for Errol! Not only had he almost completed editing the report of 411 pages, but the firm’s secretary was ill and Errol was mandated to answer the telephone. All he had left to do was to print off page 29 of the report and amend it and it was done, but once again the phone went. This time however it was the boss. Would Errol come to his office please?
Blow it, thought Errol. He pressed the button on the computer to print page 29, and set off for the boss’s office. The boss didn’t want him for much; just a silly little niggly thing about where did the secretary keep the stamps? However, Errol was in the boss’s office for about half an hour while the boss talked about everything except work: the football results, the weather, the secretary’s illness…
When Errol returned to his office it was a mess. He had told the computer not to print page 29, but to print 29 copies of the 411 pages.
(I’ve just spent a week in a hospital ward – a mixed ward, men and women. It can become tedious, so I jotted down some overheard conversations. Slightly edited!)
Yes, why yes, of course, we’re so lucky to have Pope Francis. He leads by example. He’s not just words words words. I mean, he lives in that hotel room, and drives around in an old car. He challenges us all, does he not? It’s lovely. And he eats his meals with everyone else. Which reminds me…
We’re having the Hickson-Barker’s over for dinner on Friday evening. I thought we would have snapper crudo with chilies and sesame served on slices of cucumber for hor d’oeuvres, but I can’t think what wine to have with it. Any suggestions? And do you think that it would be too much to serve Portuguese pork and clams after that? That’s pork and clams marinated in a mix of wine, garlic, oregano, bay leaves and cumin, and then sautéed with potatoes, tender cannellini beans and cayenne pepper. I think that’ll be alright. The Hickson-Barker’s are such picky eaters. Do you think there’s too much fish in all that? But after all, it is Friday in Lent.
This story’s from the olden days, when a two-second time lapse on the telephone was state-of-the-art. Whenever Claire from America telephoned her friend in Australia there was about a two-second time lapse. That’s the time it takes for all those jingly-janglies, or whatever they are, to run along the wire. Anyway, there was a time lapse.
“It’s Claire!” said Claire.
“Claire!” her friend replied.
“Claire!” said Claire.
“That’s wonderful!” her friend replied.
But Claire had already said, “My mother died.”
And all she heard in response was her friend say, “That’s wonderful!”
It was one of those misunderstandings that was never cleared up.