We fade to grey

Only just got home and it’s now 11pm. Too long a day. Work such a blur my feet no longer touch the ground. I’m conscious I’m dropping balls left right and centre due to over-work. That said, the deputy CEO surprises me when he emails me asking me to lead on a major short-term project which has big implications for the business. My nemesis – yet another woman who wants my job (the last one left, you may recall) has tried to trump me by sending emails yesterday (I was on leave) showing that she was managing this particular project. But she gets fairly short shrift today. I was hired to do a job because I have a skill-set built up over quite a few years and I’m grateful to the deputy CEO (who can be hard work on occasion) who acknowledges, as is right and proper, that this is actually something I am paid to do, that I have the expertise for. Not her – irrespective of how naked her ambition is.

I’ve never been as busy as I am right now in the 1 and a 1/4 years I’ve been at the company. I hate feeling out of control. Like I can’t do any single project to the level and quality I would like – because there is too much going on. There is not really anything I can do about it.

I have to leave early (5.45pm, which to me, who rarely now leaves before 7pm, is early) – to attend a seminar / presentation in the City with ‘peers’. Because it is at a high-end professional services firm, I have to wear a suit, something I’ve not worn at work in what feels like forever. So this morning I dig out my jet black woollen suit. The 32″ waist is so tight. I used to be so slim. I’d most likely have worn this with a belt 12 months ago. But I’ve put on a stone (14 lbs) since then. I wear my favourite formal shirt – dusky pink shot through with white lines. I get a lot of positive comments on arriving at the office. Colleagues so unused to seeing me in a suit (my dress code at work is smart casual). I feel much more confident in a smart suit. It’s like a uniform and I’ve always been able to carry off a smart, sharply cut suit. A director asks, jokingly, if I’m going for an interview. I laugh it off. The pressure around my waist elicits a ‘muffin top’ feel which is horrid. Obesity in others I neither mind or judge – but I loathe it in myself. I despise the physical manifestation of my gluttony and sloth. But where am I going to find the time to go to the gym, working these hours? And alcohol – so high in calories – remains a rare, singular and much coveted form of solace for me these days.

So I tube it to the venue this evening. A glassy, high-end, temple of an office, close to St Paul’s. Most of these prof services firms look the same. They have the same entertaining space. I sit through a 1.5 hour seminar/presentation then repair to the anteroom for drinks and ‘networking with peers’. To my horror I see someone who once interviewed me for a job I didn’t get. I avoid him. I see someone I know so I head over. We air kiss and then proceed with small talk. I’m introduced to others. I throw back several glasses of red wine. We all talk shop. We bemoan the market. We worry about a double-dip recession. Our artifice is infinite.

And I recall that in the seminar of about 70 people – I counted just 2 non-white people. I am white myself, I should add. It’s just that the sheer WASPishness of prof services never ceases to amaze me. The people are all the same. In a city with an ethnic minority population as huge as London has – 68 out of 70 people at the function are white WASPs. It’s an observation more so than a critique.

I’m introduced to more people. I glide to another part of the glassed off anteroom. More air kissing. More mindless chatter. Our professional superficiality is absolute. I reflect that this isn’t really where I want to be or what I want to be doing. It all feels so conveyor-belt like. So abidingly contrived. I am the embodiment of the Ballardian dystopian motif.

And I leave at 10pm, much later than I’d planned. I forget the long transit between Bank and Monument tube stations to connect to the Circle & District Lines. But racing through deserted tunnels, up and down endless escalators, I at last catch the tube and then my train.

On checking my phone I see, to my shock, that he who is beyond the scope of this blog has been texting me. I exiled him from my life pushing 2 years ago and still he tries. When can he see me, etc. I don’t want to see him again. I would in fact leave this city to avoid him. For the 100th time I will ignore his message and hope he doesn’t try and call the office again. He once meant the world to me and then some. Not any more, as I have said on countless occasions. And with me there are no second chances – at least not with him.

The phrase ‘year zero’ is used for a reason, you know.

9 thoughts on “We fade to grey

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  1. Let up on yourself. Not getting into a 32″ waist trouser hardly qualifies you as obese.
    As for the post title, a school friend of mine used to go clubbing with Steve Strange in the 80s. New Romantics…those were the days.

  2. You sound under pressure with the job at the mo. I hope things can lighten up over the next few weeks. Glad the pushy colleague got told to step down – she must have plotted to act yesterday on your day off.

    There are far worse things in life than a 32 inch waist feeling snug – forgive yourself some.

    Good for you deleting the text…

  3. I can *certainly* sympathize with the work-stress scenario you describe, Milo. Unfortunately that’s been the way of not just my job but the job of just about everybody I know who has managed to stay employed. 😛 Not that this is any consolation.

    I’m with your other commenters on the waistline. Plus, it’s hard to believe that you realllllly don’t judge other people who are overweight when you’re THIS hard on yourself and put it down to “sloth”. Staying thin is hard to do as you get older, especially with high-pressure jobs. It doesn’t make you “slothful” that nature is having its inexorable way as it always will. 🙂 I haven’t had a 32″ waist since college. I won’t even say what waist size is “tight” on me now (except to say that at least it’s below 40″).

    One other, possibly more positive thing, I can say is this: you are an exceptionally gifted writer. Your writing is vivid and a pleasure to read. It’s a genuine talent and something you do, I hope, feel proud of. 🙂

  4. Re the weight: it’s a direct result of your job encroaching on your life in general.
    Re the job: I think everybody is finding themselves in that position lately. An ex-colleague of mine said he was being squeezed like a lemon in his previous job.
    On the text: the year zero indeed. Keep it that way.

    The year has barely started. Give it a chance.

  5. RO – yeh, I should let up a bit. To be honest the size figures themselves are a bit arbitrary and missing the point. It’s how I feel. And I genuinely have gone from slim to flabby and it ain’t pretty (to me!) 😉

    Birdie – under huge pressure at the moment. The thing that makes it bearable is that we’re all in the same boat. It’s not me in a silo. And when there’s a “we’re all in it together” it’s not so stressful. I don’t experience stress as such, just a resentment that work is dominating my life.

    Vic – LOL! 😛

    Hen – which bit?!

    Justin – good point re: those of us still in jobs. I know S is crazy busy in his job also. I think sometimes we end up in a bubble and forget what the alternative might be like – i.e. unemployment! And thank you for the comment re: writing. Was kind of you to say! I’ve always liked the idea of (creative) writing but the only kind of writing I feel any kind of aptitude for is, actually, this type of ‘diary’ writing. I’ve always liked the idea of writing fiction but just wouldn’t know where to start. Craig, Sven and Vic have all done it. I should try, I spose.

    Lula – exactly re: the weight gain. It’s the physical manifestation of how work now dominates my life. I just hate the sheer number of hours in the office. 10 hours in 1 day in an office with 1 hour each way either side getting to/from work is frightening. You feel like you’re living your life on autopilot. #modernlifeisrubbish

  6. Busy schmizy. Hope it eases up for you soon.
    I closed 3 cases on monday last week and by Friday had gained another 11. Plus another one today. There aren’t enough hours in the day.

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