One year. 100 articles. So we're having a Reader's Party. Come along to Upsidecrown.
12 February 2001
Monday 29th January
The morning shift today. Ken Davis was in, the Deputy Chief Co-ordinator of Public Services (Central Division); we haven't seen him since that business with the pornography in the Large Print section when Mrs. Willsden had the heart-attack and the Gazette made us front-page news. He was here to introduce us to Gordon, our newly installed 'Director of Initiatives,' appointed to have a 'fresh look' at the way we run.
"A manager," whispered Tracey Roberts mischievously.
I said to Caroline: "You're the Senior Librarian- what's there to manage?" But she just shrugged.
"This job's being phased out," she said and what does she care? She leaves in less than a year. Looked more tired than ever today.
Gordon turned out to be just what we expected, a management oaf who probably thinks that Dewy-decimal is a polygon. He wasn't even wearing a suit, not even a shirt, just this green sweater with a collar on it- some kind of sportswear, so far as I could tell. He can't be more than thirty.
"Gordon's worked his way up from the bottom," Ken Davis announced, beaming at us pompously, presumably impressed when anybody has bothered to put in a day's work in their life. So I've got a degree in Persian, an MA in Bibliological Studies and twenty years experience just to be bossed around by somebody who spent their formative years sorting the post, I thought to myself. But I didn't say anything.
The sky was gloomy when I got back to the flat and from my room I saw lights on in the windows opposite, on the second floor, above the wg specialists; they seem to be offices of some kind. I've never noticed that before.
We've never had a busier week than after that bit in the Gazette. Some young hooligan put it there, I suppose.
Thursday 1st February
School party in today. I didn't have to deal with them much, thank God, their teacher hurried them all through to Graham Casey in the computer suite- probably scared they might get infected if they were left too long near any actual books. She let them virtually have the run of the place when they were finished, though; I had to help Tracey Roberts tidy up the comics section after they were gone, or 'Graphic Novels' as Gordon now insists it be called. Most of it not suitable for kiddies of that age, whatever name you give it, that's for sure. Things not going well with her boyfriend again; he's more trouble than he's worth as far as I can tell, but then with her psoriasis I'm sure she'll want to hang on to what she's got.
Home at eight after the late shift. Lights still on in the office opposite, young woman in a suit staring at a computer screen. It can't be anything to do with the wig specialists, that's all shut up now, you can just about see the heads silhouetted in the darkened windows. She doesn't look the type, anyhow.
Monday 5th February
Gordon popped his head round the corner whilst I's working amongst Home & Gardens today. "Ah, I's hoping to find you here," he said, smiling with all the genuine warmth of a Baked Alaska. "I just wanted a word about the policy on unaccompanied minors; Caroline said that it was your idea." It's that steam-rollering tone of reasonableness which forms the next evolutionary stage of the playground bully. Turns out he thinks it gives the wrong impression, wants to make us more 'accessible' to the young. Caroline refers everything to him now, it seems, even Graham Casey's ever-increasing budget demands. She drifts through each day like a zombie.
The same lady there again at the office. It's her and a man who work there but she always works later than he does. If I turn the light off in my room and stand right up to the window I can see her wrinkling her brow at the screen as she types, never once glancing down.
Wednesday 14th February
Staff meeting today. The only part of her job that Caroline doesn't seem to have given over to Gordon. Graham Casey was singing his praises, though; he's given the go-ahead to some scheme to turn the Natural History room into somewhere where people can browse the Web, apparently. "How lucky we are to have someone with such concern for the written word," I commented. Caroline looked at me; well, she turned her eyes in my direction: they weren't, so far as I could tell, focusing. "Do you have an issue with Gordon?" She asked. "Issue!" I snorted, "I have generations!" But nobody laughed.
Tracey Roberts gave me a sly look when we were stacking the returned Faiths and Lifestyles afterwards. "Were you hoping to get Caroline's job when she left?" She asked me.
She looked up today. She never usually does that, she always seems so intent on that screen. She looked startled, I could see that even with the light on, and for one eternal second we just looked at each other. Our eyes locked but neither of us were moving a muscle. So I waved.