I admit to the slow cannibalisation of the office skiver’s belongings since he left us a few weeks ago for another of his extended recreational breaks.

It started innocently enough munching a bag of half eaten walnuts on his desk to pilfering some coppers, paperclips and post-it notes.

Boxes of papers, files, stationary and general flotsam and jetsam are now accumulating on it as is written in the Law of the Holidaying Desk.

So it has been, so it shall always be. Amen and may the Lord have mercy on his soul.

 

 

Homer would be turning in his grave if he knew the legendary Greek citadel of Troy was lighting up the heavens again in the guise of a kebab shop in east London.

Have they no shame?

Mine’s a lamb donor with extra chilli sauce, please.

 

The skiver enters his third week away from the office. We’ve since found out that he is subject to an internal investigation after the mother of all ding-dongs with the boss ended with him calling her a liar.

I’m sure it will add a few more inches of permafrost to their already chilly relationship.

I’ve no doubt he’ll spin out his current sojourn a while longer then limp back to work for a while before the whole sorry cycle starts again.

Well, he’s getting paid through all this malarkey so I guess he’s laughing at the end of the day. I’m waiting for him to ring up saying he can’t come in because of stress.

God give us strength (and him a redundancy letter).

 

The British Empire faced many adversaries during its reign but none as curious as a pair of man-eating lions that threatened its expansion into Africa.

The lions claimed more than 130 lives during a nine-month reign of terror that stopped construction of a rail road that would eventually stretch from Mombassa on the eastern coast to Lake Victoria in Uganda.

The British saw the Kenya-Uganda Railroad as an important trading route as well as an antidote to the slave trade where human portage of goods was still commonplace.

It was the latest in a series of calamities to beset the ill fated ‘lunatic line’, a 1000km railroad that critics derided as going from ‘nowhere to absolutely nowhere.’

Questions were raised in Parliament as news of the latest setback emerged.

Politicians demanded action from the safety of their padded benches and the dangerous task of stopping the man-eaters fell on the shoulders of an army engineer called John Henry Patterson.

Labourers had began disappearing soon after Patterson’s arrival in 1898 to oversee the construction of a bridge over the River Tsavo in Kenya.

Victims were snatched within earshot of colleagues and dragged from communal tents while they slept. Half eaten remains were soon discovered in the surrounding bush along with the tracks of two large male cats.

The lions, increasingly emboldened by their success, even began crawling through thorn barricades used to protect the campsites at night.

Rumour spread that the cats were evils spirits and Patterson received angry deputations demanding action. Labourers refused to leave camp and work on the bridge faltered.

However, the lions continued to confound Patterson’s best efforts, despite his experience of hunting tigers during military service in India.

He set various traps and spent numerous all-night vigils perched in trees in an effort to ambush the predators

Finally, he tracked and shot the first lion nine months after the first killing was reported.

He hit it in the hindquarters but it vanished into the surrounding brush.

Patterson began tracking his adversary only to realise that the hunter had become the hunted and the lion had begun circling him. It disappeared again and a relived Patterson retreated to camp.

He later recalled in his memoirs, The Lions of Tsavo, that it was one of the longest days of his life. It was not until dawn the next day that he found the lion’s now lifeless body.

It measured more than nine feet in length and eight men were needed to carry the body back to a camp of cheering workers.

The second lion was killed three weeks later but only after Patterson shot it five times.

He later claimed it died gnawing on a fallen tree branch in its frustration to reach its tormenter.

There were various suggestions why the lions had turned man-eaters.

These included the practice of cremation among the largely Indian workforce where the cats could have gained a taste for human flesh by feeding on unburnt remains, discarded bodies left by passing slave traders and an outbreak of rinderpest that killed the big cats natural food source.

Patterson had the lions skinned and they remained trophy rugs in his home until he sold them to the Museum of Chicago where they remain a popular exhibit.

There have been several films capturing Patterson’s exploits including The Wind and the Darkness starring Michael Douglas and Val Kilmer who played Patterson.

DNA testing of the lions’ remains has since revealed the number of victims was nearer 30.

John Patterson died in America in 1947.

 

The Friday afternoon of a Bank Holiday weekend is like some strange juxtaposition of the planets in our office.

The extended weekend, absence of any senior staff and lax adherence to a normal working day leading to mass communal migration

Somewhere in this forest of silence I hear a solitary keyboard clicker.

Just me and the burning boy on the deck now..

 

‘God has no religion.’

Gandhi

 

London transport staff. What a loveable bunch of misery merchants they are. Predictably sour, universally unhelpful and still wrestling with the basics of communication beyond grunting when someone dares ask for help.

They argue that the great unwashed tide of humanity that ebbs and flows past them all day stains them with petty irritations, grumpy demands and sarcasm that all but calcifies their better emotions.

Nothing is guaranteed to get your morning commute off to a worse start than an encounter with one of these subterranean Orcs.

Typical example last week. Waiting for a train in vain. Several services dropped off the indicator board with no explanation. An hour passed. The natives are getting restless.

I approach a ticket wallah at the barrier. He has his back to me.

‘Excuse me,’ I say. No response. ‘Excuse me, do you know when the next train to X is?’ Still no response. ‘Do you want to turn round when I’m talking to you?’

‘Why?’ says the back.

‘I just want to know how long the delay is likely to be.’

‘No idea. You’ll have to wait.” he says still not turning around.

‘Thank you. Great customer service.’

 No response. Welcome to London.

 

I spent many a blog moaning about my work-shy colleagues but admit to pulling a sickie today.

A friend was crowing with laughter about it this evening pointing out – unknown to me – that it was a Bank Holiday weekend and I had played the trump card of the hardened skiver. A four day doss fest.

I feel so guilty that I’m going into work tomorrow throwing in the opportunistic cough here and there to cover my tracks.

Meanwhile, somewhere on a sofa in Essex, the loafer is preparing his next excuse for not coming in.

 

If a teacup is the reflection of the soul then I am royally fucked.

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