Thursday, 21 October 2010

Why I shouldn’t spend too much time on my own. Also, weapons.

As part of the recent office move, the team I work on was placed in an area on our own, completely separate from the other departments. It is a lovely area – we have an awful lot of space, floor to ceiling windows and are situated right by the kitchen (the perfect location for me to indulge my addiction to a good cup of tea). There are plenty of plants scattered around the place, and we get a view over the car park - which sounds a bit dull, but can be great for a little indulgence in the art of people watching. It really is a nice place to work.

I say that with one caveat. You see, I work on a team of only two people, which means that when one of us is out of the office, the other is left in a state of solitary confinement.

While this is fine for short periods of time, it became not so fine when my partner-in-crime went on holiday recently (not that we do office-based crime for a living, but partner-in-system-implementation-amongst-other-things-related-to-the-system just doesn’t have the same ring to it). While she was off having a jolly time of things in the sun, I was forced to spend a whole week at work sharing my own company. To make matters worse, on at least two nights of my stint alone, Fiance would be attending various drinking events in town. This meant, that with the exception of the drunken rambling I anticipated when Fiance got home, I was faced with two separate full days of nothing but me to keep me entertained.

Now, I have always known that I love talking, but I didn’t realise quite how much until I had no-one to talk to. By which I specifically mean no-one human to talk to.

You see, during this week of my own company I would catch myself turning to the stuffed toys I have on my desk to discuss some problem or other that had cropped up and how I could go about solving it. I’ll be honest – neither Piglet, or Penguin Poirot were particularly helpful, but that really wasn’t the problem here. I was talking to stuffed toys, because I just had to spend some of my day talking.

Whenever I heard a door opening, or footsteps moving around the office, I would instantly look towards the source of the sound, praying it was someone coming to see me so I could let my repressed chatter out. If the sound was someone not coming to see me, but simply someone moseying along to the kitchen to get a refreshing beverage, I would hijack their mission and talk at them for as long I could manage.

By the time I reached the 3rd day of work-based loneliness, which coincided with the second of Fiance’s nights out, people had obviously started to take pity on the tortured soul who sat in the corner of the office and talked to her toys. When I revealed my plan for the evening – “I guess I’ll be going home and talking to the table about whatever rubbish happens to be on the telly” – I was instantly invited round to a sympathetic listener’s house for dinner and drinks with him and his missus.

While I was grateful for the offer, I still wasn’t sure whether I was going to accept it when I got home some hours later. Even though it would result in a further enforcement of time spent on my own, there was something appealing about the idea of crashing out on the couch in my comfies and just staying there for the duration of the evening.

All that changed, however, when I went to pour myself a glass of whiskey and coke. I had just opened the fridge door when I noticed the silver glint of a can of beer I didn’t know existed. I was so pleased I actually greeted it like an old friend.

Enough was enough. If I couldn’t find enough to do at home to stop me from talking to inanimate objects, then action most definitely had to be taken. Within half an hour, I was in a taxi en route to my saviour’s house.

This is where the weapons come in.

Despite knowing that he and his wife had a love of all things Taekwondo, I had never really linked the martial art to weapons. We didn’t even notice them in the living room when Fiance and I had visited their house before. But there were weapons, and there were lots of them and this time, I spotted them. Well, I spotted the handle of something that looked quite pretty and asked a question.

It turns out there was an entire arsenal of weaponry scattered around the room – I am not going to pretend I can remember the names of them, so I will stick to the general description of swords, knives and sticks.

At this point, I should stop before you get the wrong idea, and explain that I’m not for a second implying these friends are psychos with an unhealthy love of shiny sharp things that can hurt people. They are highly trained in the art of using them, the blades have all been blunted, and there was a lot of explanation about how the weapons should be used primarily as defensive tools.

There were also demonstrations and they were highly impressive. Especially considering the amount of whiskey that had been consumed prior to the weapon wielding. And never once did I feel nervous that nun-chucks were being flung around, or that a sword was being professionally twirled. I can’t say the same for the TV speaker, wall, or door panels that each lost a little chunk of their being, but despite those rather loud exceptions, it was clear that the various weapons were being brandished by an expert.

And then Fiance called as he reached the end of his night out, and was invited to join us. Now – and this is relevant – I am sure he would be the first to admit that he has experienced many clumsy tendencies throughout his years – if anyone is going to knock a drink over with an out-of-control flailing limb, the chances are it will be him. So while I was delighted when he arrived, I was rather nervous as I saw his eyes light up when he spotted one of the swords poking temptingly out of its storage place.

With the same instant generosity that led me to spending the evening in company, Fiance was invited to hold the sword. I think even he was aware of the potential danger posed by his drunken grasp on the hilt, and he sat stock still with all his concentration aimed at not making contact between blade and anything. There wasn’t even a probing swish. Unless there was and I was so terrified I have blanked out the entire episode.

Fortunately, and somewhat surprisingly, I am able to report that on this occasion there were no incidents or accidents that resulted from Fiance wielding a weapon. However, that hasn’t stopped me from realising how dangerous being on my own for a prolonged period of time can be. As this story clearly demonstrates, it could easily lead to me being accidentally injured by a blunt sword held in the hands of a drunken Fiance.

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