Saturday, August 13, 2005

Happy Retirement!

Wednesday this week saw the retirement party of our head of department. The first task was to collect the helium balloons from town, which, as the shop didn't open till nine, meant spending the first half hour of the day, not trudging up the long hill from the station to the hospital, but sitting drinking coffee in M&S in a sunny window. It's a hard life. Incidentally, two women carrying a bulging, floating black bin liner through M&S food hall don't 'arf get funny looks.

The next thing was to deck out the space for the party. Balloons, more balloons, the cake, the fake flowers (one arrangement I nearly knocked out the open window not realising how light it was).

Weaving in and out of our ministrations came The Catering Lady (I felt she deserved rather ominous capitals). We were attaching a flag (he's moving back to Scotland in a few weeks) to the table in the corner when she rushed over - "What are you doing? That's the cake table. That's only for the cake. You can't put anything else on there". We explained that we knew that, and that we were decorating it. "Hmmph." Walks off. Comes back with the cake, and moves the balloon from the middle-back to the side. "That looks uneven with just one, why don't you bring the other one over and have one on each side?" Well, yes, that's why we'd put it in the middle. This went on, with small and pointless amendments being suggested to practically everything we did. All with "Not that it's any of my business." tacked on the end. Possibly the best bit was when she spotted the silver, decorated cake knife my colleague had brought (having been told that one wouldn't be provided, possibly in case the outgoing Director decided on a last minute spot of revenge stabbing). "Would you like a proper knife?". We stood speechless and bemused. "A bigger one? We've got a proper one if you'd like it? No offence." Having decided by now that it was easier just to agree with everything she said and settle for nudging each other and eye rolling, we weakly agreed. She returned with a bread knife!

The event, in the event, went well. Plenty of people turned up, there was plenty of food (enough to feed most of the dept that night as well) and no fisticuffs. Although as designated department photographer, I did nearly kick the other (presumably official, Trust) photographer in the back of the knee after the fourth time he stepped directly in front of me as I was about to take a shot. Just cos your equipment's bigger than mine doesn't give you the right to push me out the way with nary a word of apology, mush. Perhaps wisely, decided that violence not a good idea in front of Hospital Chief Exec and Chair. But it was a close run thing...


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