I am in the Naughty Room with a participant, and it is so cold neither of us have bothered to remove our scarves or coats. I pour us each our ninth cup of tea; neither of us has the thirst for this much tea, but the mugs do at least give us something to warm our hands on. I unwrap my scarf, which is wrapped round my face like that of a stone-throwing Palestinian youth.
"I'm sorry it's so cold in here," I offer, my voice emerging from beneath the folds.
"S..S..S..ok," chatters the participant.
Decisively, I resolve that something is going to have to change.
The next day, in the warmth of my office I scroll through my outbox in a somewhat delayed but still decisive manner. There it is: my email to the chappies at maintenance, asking them to come and stop the air conditioning blasting air into the Naughty Room which seems to have been sucked directly from the street outside. What's the date on it, I ask myself. 4th of February: the bastards!
I open the email and take a look. Pah! Far too simpering: the email being littered with pleases, and thank-yous, and the like. Well, no more Mr Nice Huw: this calls for a degree of pugnacity. I roll up my sleeves and flex my fingers in what I fancy is an aggressive fashion.
"Dear Spanner Heads," I pound.
Oh no, that's a bit too much, I think. I meekly hit delete.
"Oi!" I try.
Hmmm. That's not quite right either. I decide to dispense with formalities, and just launch in.
"This is a message regarding the heating (or lack thereof) in [The Naughty Room]. Now, pay attention. I messaged you over two weeks ago regarding this complete absence of heating in the aforementioned room, which is required for use daily, and yet it still remains ABSOLUTELY FREEZING COLD. Could you please see your way to making this job a priority on your list of no doubt vastly important duties, as my extremities are becoming increasingly numb. Please acknowledge this message, or I will have to assume you have been made redundant or something."
I examine my handiwork. I am quite excited by my use of all capitals at one point, which is a new direction for me. I am also a little uncertain whether I have employed "thereof" correctly, but I quickly press send as I am keenly aware that further inspection will provide me with ample opportunity to water it down.
It is sent. My bravado lessens. I am, after all, the man who apologised to a woman on the bus last week after she slipped over and firmly punched me on the forehead: I don't really do complaining. Maybe I don't want to be messing with the maintenance chappies, I think. They have keys to every office in every building after all. They could break into my office one night and, I don't know, mess up my colour-coded pen collection or some equally devious thing.
My worrying is interrupted by the chirp of my phone. It is one of the maintenance chappies!
I am impressed by the email to phone call turnaround time of some 90 seconds, but I mask this fact and remain terse. Some grovelling occurs on their part (although I am still unable to exert an exact date for any repairs from them. I sense an incredulous tone to their voice when I mention the word "today"), but I continue to be aloof. I may even have used the phrase "totally unacceptable" at one point.
I replace the phone to see my officemate looking at me with something which faintly resembles awe in her eyes.
"That's right," I swagger, jutting my head and thumping my chest.
I begin to hide my pen collection.
5 weeks ago