There’s a fad that’s been around for a while; wristbands, watchstraps … various accessories adorned with the acronym WWJD. This, I have discovered, stands for ‘what would Jesus do?’ and is a guideline for daily living.
My own guideline, my yardstick for behaviour, is WHAT WOULD MISTER CRISP DO?
Quentin Crisp was, to me, the perfect embodiment of dignity and impeccable manners, even under the greatest duress. In case you didn’t know, Sting’s song Englishman in New York was written about the great Crisp.
Modesty, propriety can lead to notoriety
You could end up as the only one
Gentleness, sobriety are rare in this society
At night a candle’s brighter than the sun
During the past two weeks I have had to pretend – often – that Mister Crisp was standing beside me, and to temper my manners accordingly. Flung into close proximity with complete strangers, in an open-plan office, one is exposed to the unconscious tics and habits of one’s co-workers. On my left is a girl who constantly clicks her tongue against the roof of her mouth. It makes a hollow, popping sound. It’s sort of like listening to a game of table tennis. Another clears her throat all the time … errem errem errem … like a small car idling at a kerb.
There’s a bloke across from me who voices everything he reads off his computer …
Mister Crisp cautions me to refrain from flinging my stapler and other office stationery at these folk.
On the telephone last night, Liz Windsor was sympathetic; “One can recommend a little hip flask of gin, Dear. Takes the edge off things.”
I don’t think gin is the answer. But my lunch today is a rather smelly pilchard salad … perhaps I’ll have the office all too myself for the afternoon.
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