Thursday, July 08, 2010

Cough it up

I've been feeling sicker and sicker every day this week. To begin with I blamed my sore throat on inhaling fumes at the weekend. I'm not sure how I would have subjected myself to breathing in lots of pollution while bobbing up and down on a boat miles from Hong Kong, but you never know, do you?
However, as the week has progressed and I've gone from feeling less than perfectly chipper in the mornings, to a bit wheezy, to hacking up phlegm in the middle of conference calls, it's clear that I'm not as well as I could be. To think, less than a week ago I was watching Kevin Bacon drive a tractor in Footloose, and now I'm reduced to lying on the sofa, broken. From the highest highs, to the lowest lows.

To take my mind off this, I've had a series of conference calls that seemed to fill all of today, apart from the ten minutes when a man told me that he would like me to spend all evening looking at a spreadsheet too, and I was too busy hocking something up into a bin. The nadir of the calls was with a team of developers over the border. There was a special echo on the phone, whereby I could hear every word I said, as soon as I finished talking. Not that I'd hear the last phrase, but everything, regardless of whether I'd said "yes" or "not so much" or read out two paragraphs of a detailed specification.

It was almost as if they had a chap in China doing an exact rendition of my every word, as soon as I stopped talking, every time I stopped talking.

I wasn't tricked by this though. They couldn't get the accent right: it was much too nasal, smug and supercilious to sound like me. Was it?

After twenty minutes of introductions and explanations, we had a demo of what they'd built in the last three weeks. A table.

Not something made of wood that you could put things on. No. An array of text with a grid drawn over it. On a web page. In three weeks.

I was a bit cross at this. More so when they began asking whether they should change the font or not, and then debating for twenty minutes whether that was possible or not.

For non-programmers reading this, it's a bit like waiting a year for somebody to build a house, and going on a site visit to find all they've done is tarmac half the drive, and *then* find all the builders arguing about whether they should put a edge of grey bricks or red bricks around the driveway, when the gaping hole where a house should be is perfectly obvious to any aghast onlooker.

This made me a bit cross, but I've determined not to get cross. After all, I've perfected (well, made, but why not big yourself up) a way to have a series of different sentences appear at the bottom of every page of this diary. Different for each page, yet never random. And with a disturbing tendency towards mentioning the word 'grapefruit' in capital letters. Having done that, I feel the day is almost complete.

Well, complete as long as I mention my new name. As a result of my terrible handwriting, I've been rechristened by the loyalty programme of our local bookseller as 'Jamo' rather than 'James'. I quite like it - Jamo sounds quite a jolly name, and I imagine that I am some sort of rotund chap from South Africa, possibly driving a white Land Rover.

Or I'm a prig dressed in a polo shirt, getting angry about rugby, but let's avoid that thought as much as we can, eh?


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