He sits at his desk, croaking well-meaning grumbles like a bloated amphibian, short-tempered and snuffly, shuffling his day’s work-papers decisively to one side and then to the other, busily resenting bothersome questions and dismissing with an irritated wave the foot-to-foot shuffling questioner, immersed in their own miserable frustrated hurry. He frowns away all plaintiffs, referring them mercilessly to unfathomable systems and processes of his own unnavigable design, impatient and work-wearied at the start of the day. “Get to the point”, he tells them, and those naïve enough to do so get the bluntest of short shrifts, “what on earth do I have you here for if I have to do your JOB AS WELL AS MINE” he barks, heartless and oblivious to their helplessness.
“Hello you”, I breeze, adopting his accent to announce my address to his personal self, “how’s your motor?” Tectonic plates shift under his amphibian features and he suddenly radiates cuddly uncleness; she’s running a lot better now, do I want to borrow it at the weekend, know you’re visiting family and the trains, well they’re terrible dear, isn’t it? The mottled cheeks wobble with jollity: do I have everything I need for the day? Lots to do yes, but all in a day’s work, isn’t it, how did it go with the stuff he put together for me last time? “Lovely, lovely job, thanks for the help, much appreciated”, oh not at all, flushing slate pink under the compliment, just let him know anytime, always there to help. His smile puts an arm around me and the grey-skinned dictator is another man, one who swallows him up on a bad day, except you know that you know, that you’re never really sure who swallowed whom.