With apologies to Enid Blyton
One fine day, right at the beginning of the Easter holidays, four grownups and a dog commuted by train together. ‘Soon be there now,’ said Neil, a tall strong chap, with a determined face.
‘Woof,’ said Doug the dog, getting excited, and trying to look out of the window too. ‘Get down, Doug,’ said Neil. ‘Let Alison have a look.’ Alison was his young friend. She put her head out of the window. ‘We’re coming into London Bridge Station!’ she said. ‘I do hope Fanny will be there to meet us. ’‘Of course she will!’ said Natasha, her friend. She looked like a very smart girl, for she wore her hair down, and it fell close about her shoulders. She too had a determined face, like Neil. She pushed Alison away and looked out of the window.
‘It’s nice to be getting back,’ she said. ‘I love work – but it will be fun to be at the unConference and perhaps sail out on the river and visit the bars there. We haven’t been since last summer.’ ‘David’s turn to look out now,’ said Neil, turning to his younger colleague, a chap with a pleasant face, sitting browsing on his iPad in a corner. ‘We’re just coming into sight of the station, David. Can’t you stop blogging for a second?’ ‘It’s such an exciting post,’ said David, powering down. ‘The most exciting one I’ve ever read! ’‘Pooh! I bet it’s not as exciting as some of the adventures we’ve had!’ said Alison, at once. It was quite true that the five of them, counting in Doug the dog, who always shared everything with them, had had the most amazing projects together.
But now it looked as if they were going to have a nice quiet jam, going for long walks down to the pub, and perhaps sailing out in Tash’s boat. ‘I’ve worked jolly hard this week,’ said Neil. ‘I could do with a holiday!’ ‘You’ve gone thin,’ said Natasha. Nobody called her that. They all called her Tash. She would never answer to any other name. Neil grinned. ‘Well, I’ll soon get fat at Byron Burger, don’t you worry! Fanny will see to that. She’s a great one for trying to fatten people up. It will be nice to see your friend again, Tash. She’s an awfully good sort.’
‘Yes. I hope the Boss will be in a good temper for this project,’ said Tash. ‘He ought to be because he has just finished some new projects, Fanny says, which have been quite successful.’ Tash’s Boss was a Workplace Strategist, always working out new ideas around flexibility and agility. He liked to be quiet, and sometimes he flew into a temper when he could not get the peace he needed or things did not go exactly as he wanted them to. The team often thought that hot-tempered Tash was very like her Boss! She too could fly into fierce tempers when things did not go right for her. Fanny was there to meet them. The four adults jumped out on the platform and rushed to greet her. Tash got there first. She was very fond of her gentle colleague, who had so often tried to shield her when her Boss got angry with her.
Doug pranced round, barking in delight. He adored Tash’s work friends. She patted him, and he tried to stand up and lick her face. ‘Doug’s bigger than ever!’ she said, laughing. ‘Down, old boy! You’ll knock me over.’ Doug was certainly a big dog. They all loved him, for he was loyal, loving and faithful. His brown eyes looked from one to the other, enjoying their excitement. Doug shared in it, as he shared in everything. But the person he loved most, of course, was his mistress, Tash. She had had him since he was a small puppy. She took him to work with her each new project, for she and Alison worked for a progressive company that allowed pets to be brought to the office. Otherwise Tash would most certainly have refused to give positive feedback in the Employee Engagement Survey!
They set off to the office in a cab. It was very windy and cold, and the children shivered and pulled their coats tightly round them. ‘It’s awfully cold,’ said Alison, her teeth beginning to chatter. ‘Colder than in the winter!’ ‘It’s the wind,’ said her friend, and tucked a rug round her. ‘It’s been getting very strong the last day or two. The shops have pulled down their shutters for fear of a big storm.’ The team saw them pulled right down as they passed the bar where they had drunk so often. They did not feel like drinking now. It made them shiver even to think of it. The wind howled between the buildings. Great scudding clouds raced overhead. The traffic thundered by and made a terrific noise.
It excited Doug, who began to bark. ‘Be quiet, Doug,’ said Tash, patting him. ‘You will have to learn to be a good quiet dog now we are back in the office again, or my Boss will be cross with you. Is the Boss very busy, Fanny?’ ‘Very,’ she said. ‘But he’s going to do very little work now you are back. He thought he would like to brainstorm with you, or get a facilitator in, if the client will pay.’ The team looked at one another. Tash’s Boss was not the best of managers. He had no sense of humour, and when the team went off into flights of fantasy, as they did twenty times a day or more, he could not see the point at all. ‘It looks as if this project won’t be quite so jolly if her Boss parks himself on us most of the time,’ said David in a low voice to Neil, checking Twitter on his iPhone.