I’ve recently shifted offices, and the building where I now work houses the man with the most annoying laugh I have ever heard in real life. I am sure there is a cartoon character somewhere that would beat him and I know a kookaburra could do it, but in terms of your actual people, he’s easily at county level and should be taking national trials. He also makes astonishingly inappropriate remarks, frequently involving buggery. The other day he was explaining his approach to dealing with noisy, disobedient or dangerous dogs and I realised I could cause him trouble any time I wanted by grassing him up to the RSPA. He explained it away with the comment “that’s growing up on a farm for you”, to which I replied “more than that Dai, it’s growing up on a Welsh farm”. I am, as my grandmother used to warn me, so sharp I’ll cut myself.
We bumped into each other by the loos today, and we started talking about the holiday he’ll be taking in three weeks time. Then he told me that he’d taken his son to school the other morning and found he’d driven himself straight home afterwards. He said “that’s wrong, isn’t it?” and I thought, yes, it is.
Once, many years ago, my then partner was a nervous breakdown about to happen and I got a phonecall from a colleague which started “it’s alright, but….” The “but…” involved A&E and a cardio clinic. The thing was, he hadn’t had a heart attack; he’d been so obsessively focussed on his work on a completely impossible project, that he’d brought on a combination of hyperventilation and palpitations so severe he thought he was having a heart attack. Hence his visit to A&E, his overnight stay in hospital, the barrage of tests and wall of monitors. The attacks didn’t go away immediately, and they scared him enough, and slowed him down enough, to stop him working for 4 or 5 months. What fun that was.
So I told this rather personal story to Dai, and his face changed. If it were a cliché I were fond of, I’d say the mask slipped for a moment or two. Then a colleague came up and started talking to him and the mask clicked back, but before they went off Dai said “thanks for the meeting, that was useful”. His laugh rattled out across the office about 20 minutes later.