They say that a man is happy if his business is his pleasure. I'm actually here today to tell you that although you may have achieved this, your business is a cruel and disturbing one, and you should probably stop doing it.
Well yes, and stop doing that actually. It'll send you blind.
No, seriously, stop doing that please, or I'll get the scissors out and cut them off.
There, that wasn't so hard was it? Well yes, I suppose arguably it was, but.... Yes, I am allowed to sigh at you like that. I need ways to convey these things, and you don't seem to pay any attention to normal cues. No, I don't know why you don't pay attention. No, nor do I care. Well go and see a psychiatrist then. They're paid to listen to you neurot at them. Actually it is a word, because I'm allowed to neologise. I've done my time in the word-mines thank-you, and if I want to introduce neurot then I may. And I think you'll find it's the answer to 17 across in this Saturday's Listener.
Well maybe you should.
No, I've been hired by your HR team. Ok, your ex-HR team, and I'm sure they'll be delighted to discover that on Monday. Ah, really? That's probably one of the reasons that they've hired me then. Because hiring sky-writers to let them know they're fired is expensive, unnecessary and humiliating. No, hiring chuggers to go door-to-door in their neighbourhoods and spread the word of the sacking seems just as expensive and unnecessary. No, I think posting it up in the local post-office, supermarket and restaurants is also unnecessary and humiliating. Well I suppose there's an element of caring in that suggestion – I said an element, not to go ahead and do it! Oh good grief, seriously? You need to learn to control your impulses: people do not want their elderly mothers calling them and telling them that you've fired them and threatened to burn down their nursing homes. Well I definitely didn't know you were joking. No, I don't think she did either. No. No. Oh good grief. Why do even know the phone number of an arsonist? Give me that. Give. ME. THAT. Damn it, you've got a grip like a sacculina barnacle.
Right, look. The problem here is that you're impulse-driven and so much so that you can't even stop and recognise it. Let me tell you a short parable, the tale of the ghost of my dead wife.
"Once upon a time there was a man who lived happily with his wife in a small house in a cul-de-sac not far from the magnificent Cathedral of the Derived Mind. One day he was looking for the rat poison as there were rats seemingly getting into the cupboard where the rice sack was kept. Looking at the bottle with its vivid green label and its little black skull and crossbones he was seized by an uncommon impulse and added a generous shot to the cup of tea he'd made for his wife. Shortly thereafter, while he was poisoning the rice that the rats were eating, his wife drank her tea, and then retired to bed in pain. That evening she died, and the man was moderately upset.
Three days later he brought home another woman he'd met while standing in line at the supermarket checkout. She was tall and calm and wore fishnet stockings, a skirt that didn't quite cover her thighs and a bustier that was two sizes too small. The man showed her into his bedroom and then hurried to the bathroom to brush his teeth and clean anything that was sweaty. Such as his palms. When he turned the lightswitch on, the ghost of his dead wife was sat on the edge of the bath.
"Not now, woman," he said through clenched teeth, hoping that the woman in the bedroom wouldn't hear him. "Come back tomorrow and moan at me then."
"You know she's a whore?" said his dead wife. She opened her mouth in laughter and the man saw the flames of hell flickering at the back of her throat.
"She named her price in the supermarket," he said. "It was less than the groceries I was intending to buy."
"That does indeed sound like a bargain," said the woman. "But when you buy the apples that are cheap, don't they often contain worms?"
"Well isn't that a lovely image?" said the man, brushing his teeth with vigour. "I'm sure that will put me off if I let myself think about it. Which I won't do, thank-you."
"Bury me properly and I'll let you get on sleeping with diseased, gold-digging bitches," said the ghost calmly. "Otherwise I'm going to keep kicking up a stink. Literally, probably."
"I buried you!"
"You dragged me out to the back-garden and put the paddling pool on top of me," said the ghost of his dead wife. "Foxes were chewing my skull last night, and I think one of my arms has been dragged off by a badger."
"Is that what that noise was?"
"You might have looked out of the window," said the ghost. "But no, you and your hands were busy with each other. You're pathetic, you know."
"And you're dead," said the man. "Now let me get on with entertainment that doesn't require me to be solo."
"Bury me properly."
"In the grounds of the cathedral, of course."
And so it was some hours later the man prevailed on the prostitute to take two suitcases away from the house with her and deposit them in the gardens of the cathedral, where the custodians found them and their contents and promptly had the police arrest her and accuse her of murder. She led them back to the small house, but the man in there was also dead, having eaten poisoned rice."
What? Oh yes, there's a moral to this tale. It's that prostitutes should be very careful to explain up-front what they're being paid for and not take on any additional tasks no matter how generous the offer may sound.
No, you don't look much like a prostitute, but I don't really know what a prostitute does look like. Well there are other morals you could take away from the tale. Like how sex is bad for you or how you should avoid having foxes chew your skull or something.
Yes, I imagine that your ex-HR team might let foxes loose in the office after they all get called by their elderly mothers. Or at least after the nursing homes start burning down.
Yes, I do think calling the arsonist back might be a good idea. No, I'm not telling you where I live. No. No. Stop asking, or I'll tell you another parable.