Thursday, December 20, 2007

Some say the devil is dead

I'm so misunderstood. My life has developed into an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm recently, with me cast as Larry David and stumbling through an assortment of embarrassing yet understandable misunderstandings. Two of them involve my place of work, which is presently the council department dealing with children in care, based in Manchester's arty and humourously named Chorlton-Cum-Hardy (well, how else would you manage it?).

On Tuesday me and my boss Maureen, 55, originally from Ormskirk, spent the afternoon sealing 1,127 brown envelopes together. We get on very well and conversation always flows quite freely, so the task wasn't as bad as it might sound. When our discussion turned to Irish heritage I raised the topic of the popular but controversial Irish folk band The Wolfe Tones, who I've spent many family car journeys listening to as a child and, more recently, many evenings sitting and rewatching their hilariously cheap 1980s video release whilst giggling wildly. They're so fiercely Republican and anti-British that they're often banned from playing in England, but they're extremely funny, and that's the reason I'm fascinated by them. I started naming some of their songs and when Maureen, 55, claimed to have not heard 'Some Say The Devil Is Dead' I began to sing it aloud. It's a fine tune and goes like this:
Some say the devil is dead, the devil is dead, the devil is dead,
Some say the devil is dead and buried in Killarney.
MORE say he rose again, MORE say he rose again!

('Devil' is pronounced 'divil', as you can hear here).

Thinking back, I remember Maureen glancing around the office uneasily immediately after my rendition, but I was so lost in the moment that I didn't realise everyone else had heard me. It was only yesterday morning, when I opened a Christmas card from Fergus, 58, who works on the other side of the office, that I realised my outburst had gone further than Maureen's ears. It read: "Some say the devil is dead? What's that all about? Merry Christmas." I approached him at pace to clarify the matter but before I could even begin to explain myself, the full horror of his impression of me became clear when he asked if I was "one of these IRA types". I'm just thankful I'm only a temp and can shrug off this reputation when I leave in mid-January to go and start a real job, where I'll no doubt be somehow misconstrued as a holocaust denier within a week. The suggestion that I have links with the IRA is preposterous because, as I pointed out to Fergus, it would take a great deal of effort to be sectarian when you're agnostic. We agnostics are far too noncommittal to be capable of espousing the necessary levels of hatred. He nearly soiled himself. He had Kenco coming out of his nostrils.

Maureen, 55, is also at the centre of another misunderstanding in that everyone who works on our floor is convinced we're lovers. This stems from the fact that we spend every working hour together and because she's so generous in letting me get away with doing no work that she even lets me accompany her outside for cigarette breaks, despite the fact I don't smoke. We process through the open plan office saying we'll be "back in ten minutes" and then eventually reappear, flustered and breathless, having ascended five flights of stairs. Fresh from the joys of a cigarette, Maureen's face is usually a picture of contentment. It's all a terrible misunderstanding. Mind you, every middle-aged woman needs her sectarian toyboy... right ladies? In seriousness, she is very good company and regales me with endless stories of her history in trade unionism, her being arrested four times for obstruction in the 1970s, and constantly assures me I'd "blush" if she told me everything she got up to in her youth. When I declared my admiration for Tony Benn she described me as "a man after my own heart" and revealed that she adorned her bedroom walls with posters of him when she was a teenager. Marvellous. We just don't have teen idols like that anymore.

I'm aware this is dragging on, so I'll keep my final Larry David moment brief. I'm hoping to be able to forget all about it anyway (that's why I'm recording it here, in writing, for eternity: my reasoning is not what it once was). While walking to Sainsbury's a few hours ago to buy some wine and chocolates for Maureen's Christmas present (honestly, it's all a terrible misunderstanding) I noticed a car waiting to pull out of the supermarket car park without its headlights on. Aware of the dangers this could pose in busy traffic on a dark winter's night, I thought it best to alert the driver of the vehicle to the situation. As I traversed the pelican crossing, walking a matter of yards in front of the car's bonnet, I turned to them and made what I consider to be the internationally-recognised signal for "excuse me, you appear to have forgotten to switch on your lights" by raising my hands in tandem and opening and closing my fingers repeatedly. The response from the two middle-aged women in the driving and passenger seat was a blend of bemusement and disdain. I quickly realised that my internationally-recognised signal could easily, albeit wrongly, be perceived as "awiight ladies, oi oi, lemme 'ave a honk of yer jugs then". It was all a terrible misunderstanding... I immediately recoiled in horror and desperately hoped they wouldn't make the leap of judgement that I was some kind of delusional, dirty traffic policeman on day release. I then had a brainwave and decided to stop simulating a sexual act in the middle of the road and just pointed at the car's headlights instead. They immediately grasped what I was trying to say. So there's a tip: whenever hoping to save someone's life by telling them they're driving in darkness, point at the bloody lights. Unless they're clearly swingers. And you're game.

I shouldn't be allowed out.


Blogger Gez said...

Priceless. Also, you fancy maureen. Just, you know, FYI.

December 21, 2007 6:15 pm  
Blogger Paddy said...

I know, I know. But it can never happen...

December 23, 2007 7:50 pm  
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