WEDNESDAY: The post-open-day blues at Goldfish Action Group's offices have now dragged on for a week.
Even the fish are looking bored (or more bored than usual - you learn to appreciate the subtle messages they can convey with their sloppy lips). Much talk of reducing the power of local GAG branches from our senior management team. David, our chairman, whose pet (oops, sorry) project of forging closer links with other animal welfare charities was voted down by revolting members, has even gone so far as to contact his old squeeze, Theresa May. He arranged a visit to Tory HQ to find out how the party is managing its own recalcitrant branches, which also seem intent on stopping MPs doing what they want. Not sure there is much clarity of vision to be had there at present, but I kept well buttoned, as befits my junior role.
Anyway, have a lot on my plate filling in for my boss, Clare, who is in hospital after she got an infection from the henna tattoos of goldfish she had applied to her arms for the open day. Evidently they have swollen up so much they resemble a psychedelic movie from the 1960s, according to Jerome, our head of publications. Have no idea what he is talking about as my mother was still a child in the 1960s, if not a child of the 1960s.
THURSDAY: Summoned into David's office. He gave me what he described as a VIP task. Jerome, he explained in confidence, is leaving. He and his partner have been building a retirement house out of recycled salmon droppings on the west coast of Ireland. It would be fitting, David said, if Jerome could get a gong before he went. A picture of me furiously summoning everyone to dinner by beating a bit of polished brass flitted through my mind before David made it clear he meant a mention in the honours list. "And none of your MBEs, Neil," he added, as if I had one but should be ashamed of it. "I want you to aim for a C or at the very least an O." I think David has in mind pulling a few strings. I turn for help, as ever when in despair, to Anka, our Latvian receptionist. She's busy deodorising the telephone receivers, but promises to meet me for dinner tonight, by which time she'll have some decent ideas.
FRIDAY: And boy did she have a good idea. I can only think it must have been a combination of my orange suit (hired for the open day, but I couldn't quite bear to return it to the shop) and my new-found eloquence about goldfish welfare, but finally Anka has fallen for me. Dinner, her place, and hardly a mention of Jerome's MBE. Today, as we resumed our protest outside the Chinese Embassy, elbowing aside Falun Gong protestors with their rather dog-eared placards about human rights, Anka discreetly slipped her hand in mine. I'm having an office romance.