Nathan Evans lives and writes in the United Kingdom. He’s had pieces published in Esquire, Hippocampus, and the Pygmy Giant and also has a monthly food column in his local newspaper. His regular blog Mr London Street made the final shortlist for Best European Blog in the 2011 Bloggies.
In this room, there are six men and one woman. There are a number of voices coming out of the phone on the middle
of the table, all of them indistinct.
There are three striped shirts—a blue and white one which screams deckchair, a black and white chalk-striped corporate gangster and a glorified pyjama top. There is one hairstyle from 1984, there are two men with no hairstyle to speak of and three men with no hair to speak of. There are two short-sleeved shirts, one bright yellow linen, one tired poly-cotton, like a school shirt which has never been thrown away.
There is a bright pink cardigan, and no, it isn’t mine.
There are two lip-chewers, two pen-fidgeters and a Coke-sipper. There are two cheap disposable biros bearing promotional logos, one posh silver rollerball (a leaving gift from a previous job, probably, or maybe a present from a spouse who had run out of ideas), one fountain pen—mine—and a clutch pencil. I admire anybody who wields a clutch pencil at work. There are two chunky watches with giant rubberised straps saying I do sport. They sit fraudulently on the wrists of two men who do not do sport.
In this room, there are a total of twelve attempted jokes. Eleven of them are not remotely funny. The twelfth would only be funny if you knew the subject matter of the meeting back to front. It does not make me laugh.
There is one ulcer that I know of, though there may be more.
There are two people giving proceedings their undivided attention, three people giving them their divided attention and two people giving them very little attention. There are plenty of alternatives to paying attention: nose-twitching; scratching in pads; tapping on Blackberries. There is one doodler, and she draws her name on her pad in large, likeable capitals. She thinks better of colouring the letters in.
There is a man who sounds as if he’s talking over the phone down a really bad line. It is a disconcerting effect, because he is in this room.
There are four pairs of glasses, mostly conventional enough. Only one looks as if it forms a joke shop combo with the wearer’s eyebrows and nose. There is one comedy accent, like a heavy in a Bond film. It goes beautifully with the Eighties hair and the clutch pencil.
In this room, there are two ears sprouting wiry white hairs, on a head with very little hair of its own; so often the way. There are two big noses, three small noses and one hook nose, but only two enormous nostrils. It seems, from the other end of the table, that you could fall into them and wait years for rescue.
There are three wedding rings. They are not on the hands you’d expect.
There is one moustache, one goatee and there are four faces sporting the kind of light stubble which says that ten minutes longer in bed on a Monday morning is far more important than shaving. One of those faces belongs to me. There is one pair of surprisingly small hands, stubby fingers like baby new potatoes.
There is one mobile phone with “Sweet Child O’ Mine” as a ring tone, something we all loudly discover halfway through. Finding that out is my favourite thing. Apart from that there is no fun in this room, there are no dreams coming true and there are definitely no surprises.
There are twenty-four different three-letter abbreviations. No single person understands all of them.