Tuesday, November 09, 2004

Zen and The Art of Flies

Just as I think you guys are going to choose one particular story you surprise me and choose something else. I wont even try to explain or understand I'll just go with the flow. So "Flies" it is.

Breaking news: We may be on the verge of having a new blog to read. It's my very good friend Uncle Vodka from Moscow. As soon as he's up and running I'll stick a link on the ol' blogroll. You will learn all about the reds under the bed, in the bed, on the bed, bent over the freezer etc. Or not. What ever, have a read. You might learn something. Coming soon to a PC monitor near you.

Here's the story:


I worked for the Ministry of Agriculture Fisheries and Food, part of my job was to identify bird strike remains. That is, what was left of a bird after it had been through a Rolls Royce RB211 engine. As you can imagine there wasn’t much left. Most mornings I had a few small packets arrive on my desk containing little plastic zip bags of what looked like a ready rubbed tobacco, a rough shag. This would be the bird remains, after cleaning the feathers in Xylene and mounting the fragments on a microscope slide, using my Nikon binocular microscope, I could tell what the bird was. Then I’d fill in the forms with my findings, and send copies to the sender, The British Aviation Authority and the RAF.
One hot Tuesday I get a call from the Post Office in Guildford. They had a “soggy” they were desperate to get rid off. I got into my Landrover and drove down to the parcel depot.
The guys there were waiting for me. They didn’t even want to waste time having me sign for it they just quickly slung it into the back of the Landrover and ran away. The stench was incredible. A whole hot bank holidays worth of time to go rotten. I had to open all the windows and drove back to the office. Being young, keen and dedicated, despite the smell it was my duty to do my job. I placed the parcel on my desk, the corners soggy red with blood. I got out my swiss army knife and cut through the parcel tape. It was all that was holding the festering mass together. The box fell apart instantly and the whole content of the box slid out onto my desk and onto the floor. Maggots were everywhere writhing wriggling in the sudden daylight and scuttling around looking for somewhere dark to hide. Which in this case was under the filing cabinets and behind the skirting boards.
My boss walked in after receiving complaints about the smell coming from my office.
“Jesus Christ Mikel, What are you doing?”
“I’m identifying these birds.”
“They’re bloody Herons, alright? Get them into the incinerator now.”
"But....."
"How long have you been doing this job?"
"I need to count them, for the report. "
"Give me strength. Just get rid of them."
"OK if you're sure."
So as I tried scooping them up more maggots fell out. As fast as I got them back into the cardboard box, the box fell apart some more, flinging more maggots everywhere. Finally I got the lot into a big black dustbin bag and down to the incinerator, everyone was staring at me as I dragged the stinking mass down the corridor. I was a social leper. A pariah. What had the ministry let loose on them. I wasn't exactly the quiet studious type they were used to. But eventually peace reigned over the building once more.

Many days later, I get to work and it was quiet with gentle industry, the smell of early morning freshly brewed coffee pervaded the air, mixing nicely with the smell of freshly polished parquet flooring. I heard the tap tap tap of a typewriter. Looking through open doors I saw the various scientific officers sitting back in the chairs musing on various things, secretaries flicking through the days work sheets. All was well with the world. I walked further down the corridor of our workplace that was a grade two listed building. Oak panelled walls. As I approached my office I heard a hum. It got louder as I got nearer. I couldn’t remember leaving anything switched on. I opened the door.
Bluebottles! Millions of them, flew out in a frenzy, flying everywhere, instinctively I ducked down and they flew over my head and down the corridors, within seconds this peaceful environment, erupted into screams and shouts and people running around in a panic. Still the flies kept coming from my office. My boss came running down the corridor. Assessed the situation and screamed at me to “open the Bloody windows” I ran in to open them, a few flew out, but the vast majority preferred the door. With so many windows open paper work started flying around with the wind. Chaos ensued. Windows in every office were opened trying to get rid of the flies. Secretaries running around with folded newspapers trying to get them out. People coming through the front door just stared and said "What the f.....!"
When everything calmed down my boss said to me “It could only have been you.”
“It wasn’t my fault.” I pleaded.
“No but isn’t it strange how things always happen to you, never anyone else.”
“I guess I’m just lucky.” I said.
“I think you’d better make yourself scarce for the day. You my son are non persona grata. Your card has been marked. You are not flavour of the month.”
“OK I’ll go and count Lapwings at the airfield then. Not much can go wrong there….”
He looked at me as if to say “Oh yes it can, if you’re involved…..” and it did but that’s another story.


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