Floating on the ripples in the docks, seagulls busily pruned their immaculate feathers,
and the naked glare of the morning sun glinted off the water, penetrating the boardroom windows. Anna sat straight in one of the chairs round the large rectangular meeting table, gripping her pen, watching the latest drama play out. She wasn’t ready for confrontational theatre, feeling disconnected and suspended between time zones. Images of her adventure in New York were dominating her mind, and she felt like a confused bird that had just been snatched from the air and crammed in a cage.
“I don’t really give a flyer why it happened! I just want to know how the bloody hell we’re going to get this project back on track!” shouted Andrew Mansfield, throwing his seat back and putting his hands behind his head so his armpits commanded the room.
Anna and Francesca exchanged glances. The sight of this man exhibiting such baldly obvious lead-chimp behaviour was giving them the giggles. His shirt was unbuttoned sufficiently to reveal a tasteless flurry of curly chest hair, and he rocked back on his seat, legs splayed, parking his crotch at table top level.
Others round the table, particularly the few women, were all now exchanging suppressed smiles. Exhibitions of alpha male churlishness were not uncommon from Andrew and were astounding to watch. Did he think he was impressing authority on his minions? Did he not realize how laughable he was? No; he would blunder on in his favourite spot of limelight and see his tirade through to its grand finale, beating it to exhaustion. Two of the other male attendees kicked their seats back, adopting counter stances, causing Anna to shoot a wide-eyed look of disbelief in Francesca and Gemma’s direction.
A message appeared on Anna’s phone; “David Attenborough approaching with film crew!” read Francesca’s sharp quip. Anna bit her lip hard, looking down to control her laughter.
“I mean, what the fuck? The whole thing just reeks of total and utter incompetence,” Andrew snarled, now leaning forward across the table, jaw jutting and stare ferocious. “I am simply unable to fathom how we got from where we were last month to the bottom of the fucking shit-smelling pit we are in with this!” he threw at the wide-eyed project manager directly opposite. “Don’t even bother!” shot Andrew, flattening the project manager’s effort to speak, and contemptuously tore the project schedule in half. He pointed an aggressive finger, indicating his two senior planners who determinedly avoided eye contact, “Work with these two to get this shit sorted out!”
Anna’s mind was made up; she had to leave. She would put a call out to Martin Davidson straight after her release from the room, and plead for a move to a new assignment. Enough was enough. Though Andrew liked Anna, and she was never likely to encounter this kind of public flame-grilling which the other poor soul was enduring, she couldn’t rest on her laurels like a pet of the Gestapo.
New York had opened her eyes. She thought of Tony on site under the dazzling sunlight, watching the excavator ploughing on with its unerring work. Soon the launch box would be formed and ready for the next stage. She wanted to be there involved with that, not grappling with bureaucracy and egos under the flail of a volatile dictator.
- Above, an excerpt from The Japson Club
This month I have been prompted to remember how much corporate life in the city inspires some of my writing; particularly the comedic boardroom scenes, and I thought I'd share one of the moments from The Japson Club, where the lead character, Anna, decides she can't live another second in the job which comprises her daily grind.
The sequel to The Japson Club is coming later this year, with plenty of its own workplace humour, and even more intrigue as the adventure continues.