This guy works in an insurance company and has a head for figures or stats. He’d learned all there was to learn, had driven the company car, received monthly payroll slips on his welcome mat of his flat. Mortgaged his property. As he contemplated, he looked at the the walls of his flat and wanted to know what was beyond the demarcations of the town he lived in, past the weather vane at the old church. Not just what was beyond the town, and it’s immaculate infrastructure, but what was within the recesses of his own mind. So much had accumulated there, in his mind: newspapers and media, paperwork in loose wooden drawers, company protocol. His dreams were filled with elaborate details, what was written on the side of a$500 of a client’s he had handled at the safe. His dreams were filled with earth and it’s practicalities than sky, and that which is of dreams.
He wanted to go to India to find himself. An earthquake rummaged the shelves of books, and ceramics and earthenware to the tiled floor. The furniture was dislocated and turned upside down. He remembered a Cafe in Oxford he had gone to, where the table and cube you sat on had to be arranged along sliding contours left and right.
He changed the decor to sky blue walls and plush pastel shades, opting for a zen minimalist style with flowing colours.
The provincial ways of the office bored him. They hadn’t seen much of the world before, opting for hearsay and gossip for their view of the world. He relied more than newspapers or media, or encyclopedias on the direct evidence of the senses.
They went to one Fish N Chips place and declared it was the best, not just in town but anywhere in the world. They were to conclusive they drew a line under everything, the parameters of their town and their yardsticks and their gardens and minds. John had been bored, he didn’t want to go walk about past the sad old man who was lonely a second time on a Tuesday afternoon, although his routine walks comforted him, gave him room to think and drift at the same time. He went into neighbouring towns and lounged in libraries, study lamps lit the room. He collected himself before his books he had wandered and handpicked with care around the shelves, drifting from one title to the next one authors name to the next, and making his diverse choices.
The company away day was very local though they hired a minibus. They didn’t go to Brighton or Dover beach because they were from the manor, where other adventurous companies book their employees into the coach to drive them out to the sea. Swirls of rock and candy, tupperware and beach mats. Hampers of French champagne flowing like sea foam.
Normally attired in pebble beach grey, Norman had his swimwear on. He talked about work and what he did with his mates for the most part, as if wishing they were there with him instead, when he was lumbered in with someone in another department, he only said hello to, when he had to deliver photocopies or post that the mailroom boy he still didn’t know the name of had franked, for the Chief Executive.
He didn’t smile much when he was with Jeremy and Jeremys jokes were unfunny, but enough to raise an eyebrow, his humour made him feel vulnerable in his unmanly self deprecation.
Sometimes Jeremy had a hard time of it, and he would make a light remark, laughing. He had to keep up the entertainment rolling. He thought he was encouraging. He thought he could literally talk years of experience into the folks in a two hour long minibus trip. He was the hero, who raised all the others up.
Jeremy championed truth, and smiled at him wryly which confused Norman a great deal, as his face betrayed. Jeremy was lonely but satisfied, he didn’t go to the gym when he was bored. When he was in a good mood his criticisms of everybody seemed to vanish.
Jeremy was serious from overthinking, he stared into space often, too often was he meanly occupied. He thought while other people joked and danced away the night till the early hours. He got frustrated at the weekend instead of chilling, wondering if people were doing nothing like he was. He wanted the days to have their meanings and not to just roll on the same.
As soon as it was 5.30pm Norman became dissatisfied and peeved, he had been putting out for his job, acting his best. His voice tone changed when calls after 5.30pm came in on the company hotline.
When he talked to Jeremy he told him his personal life becuse he thought Jeremy might have guessed what he was going to say already.
Minesh worked at the restaurant he was the head waiter. He wore a thick cotton shirt from Debenhams, a black waistcoat, with jade blue cufflinks on his sleeve, a napkin folded in two on his shoulder. His shirt and attire was sent to the laundromat each week to be dry cleaned. The restaurant decor bespoke character, leather seats styled the room. The menu was on a slip of paper in black and white print, and italics made up a part of the Chef’s specials.
The kitchen staff were newly attired, the Chef had hat and ladle. There were watercolours on the wall.
The kitchen staff’s living quarters was on top of the restaurant there was a washing machine and airers, and the rooms were themed as a theatre stage performers dressing room, it was an open plan room with beds and clothes rails in the room. They were a theatrical bunch, as passionate as the Italians.
However, this was a Indian restaurant, ran by Bengalis who’d been flown over from the rich delta to work. A line hooked up from the Bengali jobcentre in Bricklane, where a bespectacled man had access to the UK’s leading restraurants in one simple leatherbound executive pad. He worked in a zen and tidy way with just a bonzai tree by the windows that had blinds.
The Chef came from Calcutta, there were tea gardens that he’d visited in Bangladesh, where the art of tea drinking has been common.
He’d had a property developed from the money he sent home, his money translated well in the exchange rates, and he was able to build a large house (mansion) in a matter of a few months. He wore an evening gown instead of a longee and he spoke on the phone at 3am.
The town planner seeing the immigrants settle in a part of town, named their roads for Minesh’s first generation family. There was ‘Sari Street’, Seacross Road, where the road was long lined with detached houses was called Broadview Road. The first generation came on planes and ships.
Jack and Joseph and Minesh and Norman and Rachel and Penelope and Charlie and Melissa.