Thursday, 14 June 2012

Cherry Blue

I was in Spain for work teaching accountancy graduates from across Europe for 3 days. It was my first trip overseas and I hadn’t wanted to go. Overseas was big and I get confused very easily. Not long after thie trip to Spain I would be close to being arrested in Malaysia for accidentally hiring a male prositute - there was always the potential for bad occurances.

The course was based in a hotel and in my room was a note from a Senior Partner thanking me for not fraternising with the graduate intake and behaving in a professional manner at all times. Exactly what fraternise meant I didn’t appreciate until a Russian graduate raised her hand during an exam on Day 1.

As they did the exam I was working on a flow chart that laid out the time travel of Marty McFly and proved categorically that Old Biff Tannen could not return to the 2015 that Marty was in once he had given the Sports Almanac to himself in 1955 and changed the future. I had a red circle around the point in 1955 and I was proudly admiring my work when the girl coughed.

I walked over and crouched beside her.

What’s up?

She leant in towards me and whispered.

What is your room number?


Pardon? What is Pardon?

Excuse me?

Excuse you? I asked room number? What is it?

I looked at the question on her screen which did not need my room number.

I need to pass test. What is your room number?

I was very confused. You won’t need tuition; we’ll cover everything over the next few days. I’m sure you’ll pass.

She frowned at me. I not ask for tuition. I ask for room number. I come to your room, then you make sure I pass test.

Fraternise. The Senior Partner was asking me not to bed the graduates.

I was astounded that to pass a test someone would …I imagined saxophone music, blue lighting, cherries, and the kind of underwear that exists in Charlie Sheen’s world. I’m English; my imagination was educated by Benny Hill and James Bond. To want a career with this company so badly you’d bodily bribe a Himmler lookalike struck me as insane. I couldn’t help picturing the Russian girl twenty years later, sitting in a board room telling the latest intake of grads “the best thing I did was nail my IT trainer during the induction so he’d make sure I passed the entrance exam. You want to be an accountant? Well right here’s where you start paying – in sweat.”

I defaulted to sensible and said that by paying attention I was sure she would pass. She looked furious as I went back to Back to the Future. Another girl made a similar suggestion that day, and 2 guys offered money for me to help them pass.

There have been things I really wanted. I wanted to bring my flying Delorian model from the UK but I didn’t figure that rubbing myself against the post office would make the shipping box any bigger. I wanted to win a novel writing contest a year back and perhaps if I had mailed the judging panel bed based prose assuring them of my prowess as a Nazi themed lover I would have placed higher than the top 5, but I doubt it.

I wanted Boobs McGee (my now wife) to live with me in the UK and made promises about moving to Australia, starting a new life in the sun with mangoes, macadamias and surf. It sounds easy, starting over in the sunshine when you were born in the fog, but it’s anything but. We lived in a roach nest; had no money, no flying Delorian, and I spent too long having my backside squeezed by a rotund woman as she signed my time sheets.

I still live with my wife. We eat mangoes and macadamias, and our kids are fantastic. At heart I know my wife likes being called Boobs McGee so I can happily say it can all work out. I understand wanting something, being willing to do anything for it, but a life with my wife seems appropriate thing to relentlessly pursue.

The Russian girl wanted a job in an accountancy firm, she wanted to be on the corporate ladder and meant to get there after being on the trainers bed while someone played the sax outside and the curtains billowed in the moonlight. Her priorities seem way out of whack to me.

So saying - what would she have consented to for something genuinely important?

Blue blue nights and cherries. She must be a Senior Partner by now.


The epilogue was home. After Spain I loved being home, everything was where I had left it and the walls and plumbing were delighted at my return. My flatmates were out and I sprawled on the sofa, television on, can of Stella in hand, cigarette pack beside me. London welcomed me back with a call from my girlfriend to tell me she was walking towards my place. She sounded breathless and tense.

There’s someone following me.


There’s someone behind me, he keeps shouting at me.

I ran out of the flat, hammered down the stairs and along the road, seeing her ahead. I saw the man behind her, leering, saying something and. I shouted as loudly as I could. He veered to the left and vanished down a side street. I hugged my girlfriend and she shook tearfully for a moment. Then she started laughing, and then she started laughing harder. She pointed at me and I looked down.

You don’t have any trousers on.

I had sprawled in front of the television in my boxers. I remembered now, chucking my trousers on the floor and breaking English wind in English comfort. I was stood in a work shirt, threadbare red boxer shorts and bare feet on Pentonville Road in London.

I don’t think I looked out of place.

(Like it, share it, buy me a flying Delorian)

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