Knowing Me Knowing YouBy: Mandy Baggot
Bird poo and porridge were basically one and the same bloody thing as far as Kate was concerned. Well, at least they were when it came to stains. No matter how much you scrubbed, no matter what product you used, you were always left with a white residue that stood out a mile.
A pigeon had shit on her in the car park, all over the shoulder of her one decent work jacket. Old style M&S she had picked up at a charity shop but still in good condition. That meant the first four chargeable units of the morning had been spent trying to get the mark off. And it was, as always, to no avail. You could still see it and now it didn’t look like bird shit, it looked like a semen stain.
It was 2.00pm now and she had just noticed another mark on her sleeve. This one was definitely porridge unless a bird had got very intimate without her knowledge. Judging by the hard, crusted, almost concrete look about it, it had possibly been there for weeks. She hadn’t had a chance to get to the dry cleaners in ages. Giuseppe gave her a good discount and his mother’s special recipes for everything Italian, pasta and tomato based, but dry cleaning was still something she considered a luxury. And, every time Kate went in to Giuseppe’s she suspected he knew she hadn’t tried any of the recipes because she couldn’t cook and she was sure he could smell that.
The M&S jacket was one of those wool mix ones that you couldn’t just put in the washing machine, which was probably why it had ended up in Marie Curie. The last time she had risked the washing machine with a jacket like that, it had shrunk to something not even a size six model could force herself into.
She hurriedly slipped it off her shoulders, ripped a paper towel from the wall and wet it under the tap. For the second time that day she began dabbing and scrubbing and cursing under her breath, getting hotter and more frustrated by the second. It wasn’t shifting; the paper towel was disintegrating until the only things rubbing the stain were her fingers. Tears began to well up in her eyes. She had spilt coffee on her desk this morning and had to share the lift with Smelly Milo from the post—room, the Ready Brek was the last straw. It felt like her world was ending. This couldn’t be how it was going to be from now on. She didn’t want to feel tired all the time, inadequate all the time and she didn’t want to be sorting out soiled clothes all the time, especially her own. What was next? Incontinence and the nursing home? She was only just past thirty.
She was just about to give in to the emotion threatening to spill out when the door to the toilets swung open with a bang and in walked her boss, Miranda Marsh.
Blonde hair swishing, a reek of designer fragrance, and the familiar tip tap of her Jimmy Choo's introduced her. Now was no time for losing control. A stiff upper lip was required and more restraint than a stag party in a lap dancing bar.
‘Oh there you are Kate,’ Miranda remarked, standing uncomfortably close to her as only she could.
She was wearing a Jigsaw suit that fitted like a glove. No charity shop cast offs for her, she was a Per Una woman if ever there was one. Miranda was a size eight, petite, always smart, always organised, completely bloody annoying and unstained.
‘Yes, here I am. Sorry, is Mr Coombs here already? I was just coming,’ Kate spoke hurriedly, putting her jacket back on and crossing the damp sleeve behind her, out of sight.
‘No he isn’t. He’s cancelled again! Silly bloody little man, that’s the third time. And this time he didn’t bother to make up a plausible excuse, just muttered something about his granddaughter needing his professional opinion on buying an MG,’ Miranda replied with a sigh, turning away from Kate and checking out her reflection in the mirror.
‘Oh that’s a shame,’ Kate remarked not meaning it at all.
She had a tonne of work on her desk already; she could do without meetings with clients until she had broken the back of it.
‘He’s a time waster anyway that man. Too much money, not enough to keep him occupied in his retirement. I really don’t know why we bother acting for him. A change to his Will here, a bit of conveyancing there and that ridiculous trust fund he insisted on setting up. It isn’t going to make us millionaires is it?’ Miranda continued, putting her hands in her long, blonde hair and preening it.
Kate didn’t respond. She knew that the ‘us’ didn’t really include her; it meant Randall’s, the firm of solicitors they both worked for. Kate was a legal executive and Miranda was a solicitor. There wasn’t much difference in their legal knowledge and ability, but being a solicitor and the head of the department meant Miranda had her eyes on the prize that was partnership.