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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57 Comments Add yours

  1. Tilly Bud says:

    So what’s your tic that’s annoying them?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Oh, I am sure there are more than a few 😉

  2. leigh says:

    “You first have to find who you are. Then, you have to be it like mad.”

  3. Madmom says:

    I find eggie-mayo sarmies will vacate a room quite fast. 🙂
    Good luck with the strange sounds – I don’t think I could deal with that after so many years of having mornings to myself.

    1. Lidia Theron says:

      I also have tic’s due to suffering mildly of Tourette’s Syndrome. I often twitch my shoulders – it is involuntary. I can also not keep my hands still, I often clasp them together to try to prevent it. Working with my hands also helps of course. Stress makes it worse.Please bear with us and our tics!

      I love your lunch box!

      1. theonlycin says:

        @Madmom, yes, the egg-mayo combo is a sure fire frowner 😉
        @Lidia, I didn’t know you had Tourette’s 😦

      2. it is rough. takes courage to move forward w tourette’s. keep on!

  4. The joy of open plan offices…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Tell me about it …

  5. Aah yes the fun of dealing with others idiosyncrasies.
    I LOVE your salad.
    🙂 Mandy

    1. theonlycin says:

      The salad was very good, pity I spilled half of it on my lovely new white shirt 😦

  6. deepercolors says:

    Nice little treatise on manners. 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Glad you liked it 🙂

  7. buttercup600 says:

    Ahhh, been missing reading your work my friend!! So many changes in both our lives!! We have to chat soon 🙂 Love you girlfriend oxoxox

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yes, missing you dreadfully. xxx

  8. The joys of moving into new workspaces huh. I’m 6 weeks into a new workplace…… OH MY GOSH…, people are so “different” (she says trying really hard not to be discriminatory)…. feelin’ for you Sista 🙂
    PS: I have contemplated my own ‘tic’, haven’t decided how it’ll manifest yet though 😉

    1. theonlycin says:

      Well, keep us updated, tics in a kitchen must be interesting 😉

  9. Tandy says:

    *giggle* I admire you for not throwing the stapler!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’m being a good girl 😉

  10. I am a little like you in that regard- and therefore enjoy my OWN space.
    I have a couple of people who eat CRAP all day. Doesn’t bother me so much that they eat rubbish, but that they eat crisps directly from the packets…. and you hear that bag over and over. The big bags.
    Then there is a girl who just has to be the cow of the office. A very loud cow.
    There is another girl who constantly screams out the letters OMG! In her squeky voice.
    And of course there is the girl who’s laugh turns into a snort.

    1. theonlycin says:

      Oh dear, your crowd sounds horrid, especially the OMG! one 😦

  11. I see the difference between Jesus and Mr. Crisp. Mr. Crisp will tolerate them; Jesus would love them. Tolerating isn’t easy, is it? It’s too bad you don’t have space of your own. It is hard to concentrate when everyone is together with all our little personal habits bumping into one another. Blessings to you, Cindy…

    1. theonlycin says:

      Thank you Carol. xxx

  12. Ah, fun fun fun sharing an open plan office! I worked in one last year … the smell of others’ food, and the sound of people crunching on crisps were the things I struggled with the most! Oh, and the guy opposite me who kept, almost obsessively, tucking his shirt into his pants … eeeuuuw.
    Sunshine xx

    1. theonlycin says:

      *hides Fritos packet from Sunshine*

  13. slpmartin says:

    What a fine way to start my day…I needed the smiles and calm that you’ve already introduced into my day…always good to reset the perspective before venturing out into the world. 😉

    1. theonlycin says:

      I do hope your day was better?

  14. Artswebshow says:

    Pilchard salad will surely clear the room.
    I like that song though i dont know too much about this crisp guy. lol

    1. theonlycin says:

      Look out for Mr Crisp’s books ‘The Naked Civil Servant’ and ‘Resident Alien’ they are truly keepers.

  15. Liane says:

    I love the post, and the lunch – I like Pilchards 🙂 I can identify with you; Personally I very much dislike open plan 😦 One spend so much time there though. A mental discipline to keep enjoying the job – main focus! – and to laugh often. Think ‘blog moment’, ‘blog moment’ and put a funny spin on it. The last two offices I worked in was open plan. The first one was a display room… everyone totally exposed to everyone and facing each other from all across the room – I hated it. It was also here where I was victimized with an audience. The last one was only 3 or 4 people (myself included) and listening to the boss’ fiance pour out her heart to every Tom, Dick and Harry on the phone for hours; then inviting them for a lunchtime visit, i.e. she continues to work while they hang out their dirty laundry at her desk. The lack of privacy didn’t occur to her while the rest of us burned triple the calories pretending to tolerate it – pretending not to hear a word. Also, her and her fiance were not shy about their showing of affection, not even mentioning her tattle tailing to the boss at the supper table at night, whilst pretending to be my friend at day. That one didn’t last too long. I used to be more curious. Open plan has cured me of that. Somethings are better not knowing 🙂

    1. theonlycin says:

      Jeepers, Lee, sounds like you had a lucky escape frpm that one!

      1. Liane says:

        Not without a cost, Cin; Skinned and bruised, but alive 😦 (always the silver lining, huh? 😉

  16. nrhatch says:

    Om mane padme om
    Om mane padme om
    Om mane padme om

    Aah . . . TGIF! 🙂

  17. halfp1nt says:

    Argh! I have a woman sitting in the next office who continually hawks as though she’s going to spit, and it drives me up the wall not to mention feeling quite ill. So far I’ve managed to restrain myself, but for how long…?

  18. gospelwriter says:

    WWJD – who would’ve guessed? I’m sorry to say a swear escaped my lips when I read that (it may have started with j…) Luckily, I had myself better in hand when I came to the part about your coworkers and their annoying habits. Good thinking, about the salad – did it work?

    1. theonlycin says:

      Yes, as it happens they went out to lunch and forgot to invite me along *sob*

  19. libraryscene says:

    Love it ~ I’d no idea about the song, thanks for history
    As for the annoying company, props to you for remaining proper. I used to offer my little “cougher” a lozenge and became quite snarky when she refused.
    Lovely blog, glad I stumbled here!

  20. souldipper says:

    Working in an environment like that would be a form of corporate torture and abuse. Hope recovery comes easy.

    1. theonlycin says:

      It’s really not that bad, the people are actually very nice 🙂

  21. Adeeyoyo says:

    That’s right, Cin, stink them out – did it work?

  22. A rather beautiful soul, Mr Crisp. A palpable example of inner beauty and grace. And such an orator!!!

    1. theonlycin says:

      I simply adore him and wish with all my heart I could have met him!

  23. nursemyra says:

    How I loved Quentin Crisp. Hos book of movie reviews is sensational, have you ever read it? And then there’s Manners From Heaven…..

    1. theonlycin says:

      We’re kindred spirits, Myra!

  24. As i hoped, a crisp statement or two.

    I understand why some people plug in the earphones all day in open plan. I just find it a problem after a few hours, my head and ears go funny on me.

    1. theonlycin says:

      I’ve never been able to do the earphones thing, makes me feel dizzy.

  25. sometimes i eat tabbouli and try for the same effect

  26. The intimacies of office life are often disconcerting. Congrats on the new job, by the way. I missed an announcement of that someplace along the way. Good luck …

  27. Tokeloshe says:

    Well done.
    Thank you for sharing great music.

    Your lunch looks lovely.

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