6th February 2015
I read on my Instagram feed this week that "you should always be yourself, unless you can be a unicorn, then always be a unicorn". Monday made me want to be anything or anyone than myself. Imagine me, my arch nemesis the tube; my face pressed into the underarms of someone's grey suit and generally I'm negotiating my gag reflex against whiffs of morning breath and pits. That's the tube though, the ol road to work! Suddenly a man gets up giving me his seat (unheard of)!! I gave the best cheesy grin I could muster to show my gratitude. Chivalry is not dead after all. The flattery was punctured however by sudden deflation as I realised he must have thought I was pregnant as I caught his sideways glance at my stomach. That’s it, the stone I’ve put on in the last month, is starting to show and tent skirt does nothing for my waist or kankles. Diet needs to be implemented immediately and I spent most of Monday googling 'weight gain due to fast eating'. But let me travel from Monday to previous Friday in one sweep. How dramatically different these two days are in the frame of a working week.
Last Friday I received my first monthly payslip – EVER! Whoopwooo! My first proper payday and the end of dry January conspired to result in one VERY happy Friday. But why did no one warn me about payday office drinks? It started at 4pm (basically February by then) when Ed (can’t help smiling when I say his name) popped the champagne and wandered round the office in a relaxed, cool fashion. He’s the Gray to my Christian. I'll stop there. The buzz within the office rekindled itself in The Mews alleyway, where despite the freeze, everyone had spilled out oozing Friday night excitement. The best thing about being bottom of the office pile is that everyone buys your drinks, tells you how young you are and no one bothers with chat like: "what do you think about North Korea?" Wet February and I are going to get on beautifully.
Snap-chatted a bragging pic of my 4th G&T to Fran and she was by my side in a shot. She’s been gunning for a party since I moved in with her last month, so she was charged up and ready to go. From what I remember I managed to remain on fun, but not overly familiar form all night. I can’t, however, say the same for Fran. From the moment she sashayed her teeny skirt and never-ending legs through the crowd which split in honour of her form I knew I was in for trouble. I was embarrassed to draw such attention to my corner but couldn’t resist a quick glance over to Ed to see if he had noticed. Yes he had. Oh god. As the evening slipped away and moved inside, I tried to interrupt the inevitable with a slurred toilet pep talk but I couldn’t pull her attention away from George, IR sales exec extraordinaire. Dashing, yes, but probably out of your life once he’d had his way. Needless to say, she ended up on a Saturday morning walk of shame, and been the talk of the office all week as apparently George awoke with her bra on - apparently, her idea!! Maybe this time he met his match?!
Having spent Sunday lamenting the lack of talent for any harmless office flirtations of my own – other than gorgeous, charming Ed, who everyone must have a raging crush on, one appeared from an unexpected place. Pricilla’s godson arrived on Monday to start his graduate internship programme. Monday was also Pricilla’s birthday and I was well and truly in the good books (thankfully I found an unopened Jo Malone candle my brother’s girlfriend had given me for Christmas, and I figured Fran owed me one so she spent Sunday baking a delicious carrot cake with cream cheese frosting – Pricilla was delighted). She insisted on personally introducing me to Charlie, and I’m not sure if it was just me, but I felt there was an air of Aunt Una at the Turkey Curry Buffet about it… I must be truly in the fold now if she’s attempting a set up with her nearest and dearest?
Charlie is, as Fran would put it:"a babe": sparkling blue eyes, dark, chiselled jaw and smells like Christmas - if Christmas were a MAN dripping in Clinique happy for MEN. God I bet he looks amazing in dark green wool. Zero signs of interest from him but this is definitely work in progress, as is my body reconstruction and googling of 'Fad diets that really really really work 2015'.
13th February 2015
Valentine’s Day tomorrow – suddenly everyone’s round my desk like bees swarming a honeypot making excuses to chat. I realise it’s not me they’re interested in, but the stream of exciting deliveries that have been arriving throughout the morning. The office looks like a gift shop with red floral and confectionary-based shrines popping up all over the place. Everyone is pretending not to care, but clearly they do and the atmosphere’s starting to feel all a bit “X Factor judges houses”. It’s hilarious teasing everyone by delivering the bouquets and balloon clad teddies, seeing their surprised faces as they blush furiously and try to shush the swooning. But unfortunately for me, the more deliveries that arrive the more depressing it becomes. Just to be totally transparent, for once; I’d so love to have a boyfriend today. Nevermind, Jamie-Christian-Dornan-Grey, you could not have arrived at a better time.
Fran is over the moon because a beautifully wrapped and scented, red lace underwear set arrived this morning and she is convinced it is from George. I thought it was pretty NAF with a capitol F and damn pervy for a man 10 years her senior to have such good guess work on sizing. She does however look like a Victoria Secret Model (yes I got a fashion show), which reaffirmed to me of how similar I look to Winnie the Pooh these days. Fran counselled (still donning slutty attire) in our kitchen at 7am that “this is what a sophisticated adult affair is like”. I brand any man who sends lavishly expensive red underwear a dodge-pot: that’s not the kind of stunt a man pulls as a one off – a clear tried and tested formula and I’d bet my dank hanky there were several other girls around the capital waking up to red lacy sets from the same man this morning… oh dear, jealous much?
In other news, I’ve gained another pretty huge lesson learnt for the list: when someone asks you to send roses, never assume the delivery is for their wife. Yesterday, when all was unusually quiet, Ed nonchalantly swaggered over to my desk, (cue: my pounding heart), and dropped a low voice to ask “Can you send two dozen red roses for me”. I looked up at him with a twinkle in my eye thinking how much I hope to have a husband like this dreamboat one day. He was promptly whisked into a meeting before he had finished his request. Ever the keen bean, I set about flexing my initiative and making the order for him. Feeling pretty chuffed with my proactivity, I hit ‘pay now’ with his credit card details to see the 24 beautiful red roses sent safely off to Ed’s wife Joanna in Chelsea. Ed reappeared at my desk presenting me with a Hampstead address scribbled on a post-it note, before skidding back off into the meeting room. Quickly wondering whether it was too late to cancel the order, I called out to Ed in my confusion: ‘Have you and Joanna moved?’
The small office was silent as Ed turned in slow motion, grimacing at me as he bellowed a “no?” It dawned on me like a lead balloon that my perfect Adonis didn’t in fact slot so neatly into his beautiful White Company family – he must be having an affair! His ranking on my perfectometer has plummeted to bottom place. How very disappointing.
Oh my goodness things are looking up! Flowers have just arrived on my desk and with my name on. Really? Are they for me? Beautiful (and massive!), a lily and rose stunning arrangement! Trying desperately not to let myself get too carried away, they’re probably from my mum, or from Fran feeling sorry for me.
The message reads: ‘Seeing you brightens my day’. No that’s not Fran talking… Ok don’t look too excited, play it cool… I’m acting like this kind of thing totally happens to me allll the time… Last time I received a valentine was at 10 years old in the form of a crucified teddy bear from my older brother.
Aaaaaah – so exciting! Can’t think who they’re from?! Please let it not be Dwayne in accounts, or Garth in IT. Off to the Mews for Friday drinks again tonight so maybe I’ll pick up some clues there…
Need to distract myself from all this until then, let me know all your office Valentine’s experiences everyone – what’s the weirdest gift you’ve had to buy on behalf of your boss on Valentine’s day? Or what’s the funniest thing that has happened? I bet you have some stories!
20th February 2015
Fran, the woman who can’t step outside the front door without breaking another heart, has some serious experience when it comes to mystery admirers. If anyone can help identify the secret sender of the Valentine’s flowers it’s her. On Friday at The Mews, in-between taking generous slurps of her espresso martini, and shamelessly flaring her green cat’s eyes across the bar at George, she managed to brief me on key incriminating signs to look out for. Top of her list: sweaty palms and unnecessary lingering.
A particularly unsexy-sounding combination, right? On those grounds alone I was fretting it must be Garth and his over-familiar tuna breath.
Cut to Thursday morning, however, and Charlie, Priscilla's chisel-jawed dreamboat of a godson, is leaning nonchalantly on the end of my reception desk: unnecessary lingering – tick.
'I’ve been thinking, Luce, our paths don’t cross nearly enough in this office’
‘Oh.. oh really?’
Stop stuttering Lucy, speak normally: ‘…well that’s mostly because I’m stuck behind this massive reception desk. I.. I don’t get to make any paths at all’
‘I know, it’s a real pain. We must find some ways to get you out of there more often. How can I incentivise you to break outside the box a little more…?’
I watch his beautifully square-set face while he thinks and try to ignore the fact he just said ‘incentivise’ and ‘outside the box’ – Charlie’s one great flaw is his penchant for clichéd David Brent office speak.
‘Actually Luce, I don’t seem to have received much post recently…’
Is he suggesting I bring him imaginary letters when I do the post round? That could be fun… Is my face red? My cheeks are burning!
‘Well yes, good point… I mean I’m sure that could change’
He flashes a delicious smile to show me I’ve caught his drift, and shifts his weight onto his other side – I notice his hand has left a warm mark on the varnished wood surface. I’ve never been so pleased to spot a sweaty palm! - tick.
‘Excellent. You see, you’re very much on my radar, Luce’
David Brent speak just got sexy.
‘And I’m also arranging an ideas shower later in the day, you should come along’
Gulp – YES PLEASE
Just at that moment, Priscilla arrived on the scene, bustling along with her morning latte and sweeping Charlie up and out of the way like one of those whirring street cleaner trucks.
‘Morning Lucy, dear’, she cried, ‘do come along Charles, you always were a dawdler’
Were the flowers from Charlie? OMG hope so! I feel as though my heart’s beating through my belly button! Must think of something very witty and sexy to write in his imaginary letters. Texting Fran immediately.
Today I also made another momentous discovery – it all began when Ed asked me to unexpectedly add another colleague onto his ‘working trip’ to Paris this weekend. It was Melissa, Head of Marketing; all glossy Kate Middleton hair plus a racy splash of red lipstick, and never without a breathtakingly high Kurt Geiger stiletto. I obediently set about arranging the travel – booking her onto the same flights and into the same hotel. It was only when I went the extra mile and looked up her home address on the system in order to arrange an airport transfer that the penny dropped.
Hampstead. The same Hampstead address that I had dutifully had 24 roses delivered to last week. Weekend ‘work trip’ in Paris? My bottom.
Feeling dirty and sad to be even remotely complicit in their little affair, but cheering myself up with my first little letter for Charlie:
Let’s take this offline. How about coffee Monday lunchtime?
P.S. Can’t wait to touch base. I know you’ll bring 110%.
27th February 2015
This week started with butterflies and anticipation. God, he made me sweat last Friday afternoon, but at 5.45pm, just when I was resigning myself to utter crushing rejection and tearing my hair out, working out how to apologise for my mortifying letter, an email popped up on my screen. Sender: Charlie, subject: touching base.
'Pleased to see you're acting on my feedback, Luce. Coffee on Monday, on me.’
Forget about tent skirts - Monday was a day for over-the-knee boots and contraband bottom skimming minis! A good friend as ever, Fran wolf-whistled as I cluttered into the kitchen for breakfast, and sent me out into the world full of hope, full of excitement, full of Activia - because, as Fran explained, 'no one fancies a bloater'.
When I arrived in the office, however, Pricilla was in the process of sending Ed's EA home to rest - Claire was a walking deluge of sweaty flu symptoms; her face was the colour of wet concrete and it was melting distressingly all down her front.
'Look here's Lucy, I know she's junior, but she's more than functional Claire...'
Functional? Hoping that's a compliment, but feeling ever so slightly like a dishwasher...
'...she can cover for you this week, why don't you hand anything urgent over to her and I will be here to help?'
A snotty soggy briefing ensued, as my dreams of delicious coffee and a delicious lunchtime flirt came to a crushing end.
'One last thing’ Claire finished off, ‘make sure you cover for Ed - he can be careless, look out for and cover up any clues.’
I must have looked blank, because she continued:
‘You know what I'm talking about - the Paris trip: Ed, Melissa' and gave me a look that had me feeling like a small child.
On that finishing note she unleashed an almighty sneeze all over my sexy suede boots – definitely not the kind of fever I was hoping they would inspire…
The week has been a total blur – I’ve been working my socks off arranging Ed's diary, getting in meetings, preparing documents, filing expenses. By far the biggest challenge has been covering up his clues. He strode off the Eurostar on Monday in a thick cloud of Prada Amber; filling the reception area with Miranda's signature scent and beaming like the cat who got the cream.
Seconds later and the phone’s going:
‘Lucy, hello darling, how aare you?’
‘Yes hello, Lucy speaking – so sorry, who’s calling?’
‘Emma daarling, Ed’s wife – you know I’ve been telling him he’s working you too hard, a pretty girl like you, you should be out there having some fun’
‘Haha… well, thank you…’ (I think)
‘Listen, Lucy, Ed’s texted me – he wants me to contact the Paris hotel, he’s left a cufflink behind and I…’
‘The hotel?’ – my mind was racing, I’m sure Ed would have asked me about something like that, not Emma – was she planning on calling the hotel and checking up on him..?
‘Yes darling and I don’t want to bother him, I’ve forgotten the name, he did tell me, just so I can call them – could you…’
‘Oh yes of course! Um, actually, I need to look it up and the line’s going. I’ll call you back.’
‘Emma, sorry the other lines going, thank you – bye now – byeee’
I slammed the phone back into the holder, and took a deep a breath.
I’ve managed to skirt around Emma all week but now Friday’s here and she’s going to ‘drop in’. She’s picking up her moisturizer from Fenwick’s on Bond Street this afternoon. Ed left the office ten minutes ago grinning like a Cheshire cat and smelling distinctly of Prada Amber. What the heck am I going to tell Emma when she arrives?? Should I call Ed?
Can’t wait for today to be over – the emotional stress is exhausting. I feel as guilty as if I was having the affair myself. Why do married people do this to themselves? Charlie’s upgraded our coffee date to cocktails this evening so the boots are back on! 6pm – you cannot come soon enough!