Saturday, April 24, 2010

Relations rather strained - the past week at work


A rush to get to the office on time, but when I got there I found that Yvette (Head of the agency) was taking the morning off because she had a cold.

Most of the day I spent at an exhibition, accompanying Terry (in charge of the PR division upstairs and ultimate MD of the group). It was puzzling the way Terry completely involved me in his itinery, even interviewing (on stools in the exhibition cafe area) a possible new Account Director who, if appointed, would be considerably senior to myself. By chance we met an old friend of Terry's at the exhibition and he gave me lots of information about the European toy industry that will come in handy for a report I am writing.

We went to lunch at a carvery outside the exibition hall. I had poached salmon followed by a delicious chocolate cake. Terry kept refilling my glass with red wine so that I felt sleepy.

The main reason we were at the exhibition was to support our toy client who had a big stand there. Rhoda (my contact at the company) showed me the new toys from America, played with by the children of an extremely famous American politician. Franklin (Terry's contact at the company) strutted about the over-heated stand displaying all his usual arrogance.

I was complimented for the media buying for the 2010 campaign (actually Duncan had done this, but as Duncan has gone it seemed okay to accept the credit).

In the middle of the afternoon I rang the office to see how things were going. Yvette came on, absolutely furious that I had been away from the office for most of the day. Her voice was so loud I had to hold the 'phone away from my ear.


The Thames was gloomy and grey when I got off the tube at Blackfriars and crossed the bridge to visit a client.

Relations rather strained between Yvette and myself this morning, so I kept out of her way. I was reminded of the scenes in Battlestar Galactica where the humans have to keep absolutely still to avoid attracting the attention of the maurauding Cylons with their devastating firepower. I didn't even dare to go to the coffee machine, which is in an alcove just outside Yvette's office.

However the mood brightened considerably when more work came in, achieving our target for the whole week.

Jonathan, the new copywriter, started work permanently today (he had previously come in for a couple of days to get the feel of the place). Tall, plump, plummy-voiced. I hope we will get on.

I worked through lunch to make up for my absence at the exhibition yesterday (although Terry was really responsible for that). I helped Account Executive Eleanor with some copy for a client. I got my invoicing up to date.

Last in the office, I was still there when elderly cleaner Rosemary came in. She was worried about the price of carpets, and described how she discussed things with her cat. She is very grateful to have the cleaning job ("I'm lucky really") even though it might be physically too much for her.


Yvette has brought in a freelance personnel consultant, Jess Lewis, to help her run the agency better. This morning we all had interviews with her, which seemed fairly meaningless. Christine (does our accounts, will be leaving soon) suggested that Jess Lewis was a friend of Yvette's, and that Yvette was just finding a way to give her some money.

In the afternoon Yvette was raving at account executive Andrea over mistakes made in the copy of an ad for our Begian oil client. Some of the mistakes were Andrea's, some of the mistakes were Yvettes, all of the mistakes were due to the delays Yvette caused so that there had not been enough time for proof-reading. I tried at one point to defend Andrea, but a small inner voice told me not to get involved.


An unpleasant atmosphere in the office today. Trainee account executive Julie looked very guilty (she had been the one who had shopped Andrea to Yvette over the mistakes in yesterday's ad). She hardly said a word to anyone all morning.

Things were quiet, with no new business coming in. I worked on some media research, making lots of calls to France and Italy. Yvette was in a funny sort of mood.

At lunchtime I met an old friend. We went to the Victoria Bar for sandwiches and a glass of wine. I was able to make him laugh by telling Yvette anecdotes.

In the afternoon Yvette went out. I had a long talk with new copywriter Jonathan - we have read several of the same books. Andrea joined in this conversation, but Jonathan was snootily dismissive of her choices (Lori Lansens).


On my desk when I arrived at work was a note from Yvette asking me to do some more European media research. Later she rang up from her car asking had far I had got (I had to bluster a little, as I hadn't actually started). When she came in she began raging at Eleanor because of spelling mistakes in a report she had just taken to a meeting.

I had an early lunch from 11.30, going upstairs to the Boardroom where Terry was watching Daily Politics (it is an hour-long programme during the general election). With him was an ancient politician, no longer in the House of Commons but quite well-known in his day. They were talking about how well David Cameron had done in last night's Leadership Debate, and I made a point of saying how well I thought David Cameron had done in last week's debate (Nick Clegg did not impress me at all).

The ancient politician became very dismissive about the importance of the debates.

"The trouble is that our candidates have become too lazy" he said. "The sure-fire way to win a seat is for the candidate to meet absolutely everyone on the electoral roll over a couple of years or so. Then in the election campaign itself, a full canvass needs to be done and on the day tellers at every polling station, and get the vote out. That will turn a no-hoper into a marginal, and a marginal into a safe seat. Never fails. I had a wonderful woman, a Mrs Leach, who led our canvassing team and she worked non-stop..."

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