diamond geezer

 Wednesday, February 17, 2010

9.00am Doris wheels her trolley round the corner from the kitchen to the meeting room. She's been in the building since daybreak, firing up the hot water and ripping the clingfilm. Her collated handiwork now stands waiting in the corner by the door. One screw-top jug filled with non-Starbucks coffee. One giant thermos filled with once-boiling water. A bowl of teabags, both standard and non-standard, alongside far too many sachets of sweetener. Five teaspoons and assorted crockery. A litre of sustainable tapwater. A jug of milk, shrinkwrapped for hygiene. And a plate of assorted biscuits, specially arranged with the chocolate fingers round the edge, just like Doris does every morning.

11.00am She creeps back into the room to collect what's left of her beverage selection. Better-behaved attendees have placed their dirty cups on the lower levels of the trolley, but the rest of us still have our brown-stained receptacles closer at hand. Doris moves amongst us to collect them in. She smiles graciously throughout, returning to the door in twos and threes until the working surface is cleared of debris. "Shall I leave the biscuits?"

12.00noon Lunch arrives, and the meeting instinctively turns around to see what we've got. The Prestige Sandwich Selection, by the looks of it. Doris has been around long enough to remember the days when she and Jean sliced the bread and spread the butter themselves in the kitchen nextdoor. Now she serves up somebody else's triple-filling baguettes and hummus wraps, shipped in via refrigerated van from a packing shed on a surburban trading estate. Cheaper than in-house, apparently, and better able to meet verifiable health and safety criteria. It's probably only me, but I'd far rather one of Doris's tuna and cucumber sarnies than a taramasalata-stuffed bagel with a mixed leaves garnish.

2.00pm Our meeting has restarted, and there's much to clear away. Half a platter of sandwiches lies uneaten (seems the vegetarian selection wasn't popular today), and Doris balances our used plates delicately on top. The fish nibbles never really took off either, and most of the soy sauce remains unpoured. There's still sufficient food here to feed four more delegates, or a group of staff in the office upstairs, or several hungry homeless folk frequenting the pavements nearby. But no, the regulatory time limit has passed, so Doris knows these perishables are all destined for the waste bin back in the kitchen. "Shall I leave the fruit?"

3.00pm Somewhere, out of sight, Doris has enjoyed a belated lunch of probably sandwiches. Now she returns with a second drinks trolley, freshly chilled and steaming for our afternoon sustenance. One single gold-wrapped biscuit rests atop a plate of digestives, custard creams and bourbons, its tempting chocolate interior awaiting the lucky soul who reaches the trolley first. There'll be a pause in the meeting soon, no doubt, please, before the tapwater loses its cool. Doris takes her chance, and slips away.

4.00pm One final reappearance, and Doris nips around to clear the day's detritus. Her coffee wasn't quite so popular this afternoon, but at least the unused teabags can be recycled tomorrow. As for the milk, that's a whole half pint we've barely touched, and never will. Doris declutters with good grace, then shuffles off with the trolley to her kitchen sink retreat. She knows her days are numbered - there'll soon be no more meetings here and an enforced retirement awaits. And then she'll get to serve up tea to an audience of two, or maybe one, for as many mornings and afternoons as life will have her. We'll all miss Doris, but not I bet as much as she'll miss us.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream