The Articled Particle: Part Five

In parts one to four, we left our hero being allocated a task that may not be quite what he is expecting..

To my surprise she stops and looks up. Normally, she would finish her task before giving me the chance to raise my question. She even smiles in a way that lets me continue.

“I know this is unusual but I need five, well eight plans copied and…”

My well-prepared special pleading is not needed; she slams the carriage return with a degree of disgust, letting the whole machine vibrate seismologically and stands. “Come on. Maybe the beast will sort itself out if I leave it alone.”

I follow to the small room that was once home to the office telephone, back in the 1930s before the installation of a switchboard and now houses the IBM copier. I explain what I need as Jeanette unlocks the door and holds it open. I’m not sure what this means but she ushers me inside. It’s a tight fit but not exactly intimate and it turns out she wants to tell me how the use it. It’s not hard, though she does caution me that if I do find myself needing to use it, and it jams I should be reluctant to try and unblock it. If however even that is not possible she shows me the manual; tomes predicating world religions are rarely as large as the manual.

After fifteens minutes of instruction I’ve still not spoken. She asks if I have any questions. I do.


She looks up at the ceiling, possibly indicating some Divine being or at least the senior partner. “It’s thought you have the necessary maturity to be entrusted with this knowledge… and frankly, I need someone else to be able to do the copying. It’s taking up too much time.” She waves a key at me. “I’ll find a spare.” For the first time, the terrifying Jeanette reappears. “Under no circumstances lose it.”

In fact I lose my key three times inside six months but by then Gwyneth has shown me where the master keys are kept so I can get a replacement cut.

By 2.45 pm, I am leaving the office with my plans, and my new responsibilities all jostling for my attention. I’m on my way to St James’ Park tube station and the building behind its rather fabulous art deco exterior which houses the Ordnance Survey. I’m not at all sure I like these new responsibilities.

On my way to Oxford Circus tube to commence my journey, I pop into the branch of Lloyds bank. I have some expenses to deposit, a welcome change to my usual sense of penury when I enter the hallowed portals. One of the cashiers is a white blond chap with an unsettling stare and a way of whistling through the gap between his front teeth. He’s also both friendly and remarkably good at names. Today I’m greeted like a long lost benefactor but he does in fact have something useful to impart. He slips a form under his screen. “We’re getting a cashpoint!”

This is said in a way that one would say ‘they’re putting a man on the moon’, with the expectation it would be both wonderful news and easily understood by all.

“A cashpoint?”

He looks a little crestfallen at my ignorance, but rallies quickly. “It’s a machine that’s outside the bank. You’ll have a plastic card and you can put it in the machine and withdraw cash.” For a moment he looks panic stricken. He must realize who he is speaking to as he adds, “If you are in credit.

“The bank will give me a card to do that?” I’m incredulous. I’d have thought they’d want to put hurdles in my way.

“You’ve been a customer for five years, so you are entitled to apply.” For a moment he looks sheepish. “I’ve taken the liberty of filling in the details for you.”

There’s a sort of desperate puppyishness about him and I manage a smile and, acting so far out of character – i.e decisively – I sign the form without reading it. He looks both horrified and delighted in equal measure. While he’s stamping something, he explains I will be given a number that I will need to remember to use the card. “You mustn’t tell anyone about it.” He is so earnest, I wonder if the bank has the financial equivalent of the Official Secrets Act that I’ll be required to sign before I receive this number.

Twenty minutes later, I’m sitting on a tube train heading for Victoria contemplating my day: I’ve dressed as a milkmaid to help someone evade the press, embarrassed the senior partner, been elevated to trusted personage and taught the mysteries of copying and been offered the epitome of a modern financial service. And in less than 30 minutes I’ll be in a map room at the Ordnance Survey amongst sheets of delight, hunting out old editions of maps to workout how to complete my title jigsaw. I love both maps and jigsaws.  Can the day be any more Londonish?

Yep. As I cross the road outside the tube, a pigeon shits on my head. Fuck my life….

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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23 Responses to The Articled Particle: Part Five

  1. Steve Tanham says:

    Lost three keys! But knew where the master was… The start of your resourcefulness, Geoff?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. George says:

    Wonderful, Geoff. I must say now you’ve been entrusted with both a cash point PIN number and the closely guarded secrets of the photocopier, I’m half expecting you to be recruited by MI6 in Part Six.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. A good omen that pigeon shit.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. You should have made a habit of collecting guano. Many fortunes were made that way!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. tootlepedal says:

    Ah the delights of the jammed photocopier – always due to the use of damp paper in the view of the companies that supplied these dodgy items of equipment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      yeah, right. They remain the singularly most irritating piece of modern equipment after the automatic ticket gates at Gipsy Hill station which one day will receive the basil Fawlty treatment from me,..

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Sadje says:

    A very happening day. 👍🏼😍

    Liked by 1 person

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