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As January became February, DU.IT HQ was back doing one of the
many things it did best: proving that life was stranger than
First was Ted, whose sudden outbreak of sullenness and
unscheduled absences was explained by his doctor, who had the
unenviable task of telling him he had prostate cancer. At least
Ted's GP was used to telling people such things; for DU.IT's line
managers, telling their teams that a colleague had cancer was an
uncommon task they wished never to have to do at all. Everybody was
sympathetic with Ted, although this sympathy hampered their ability
to complete sentences in his presence. "Ted…I just…you know…" and
so was often heard coming from someone or other's lips until almost
everyone became expert at walking on eggshells.
Everyone, that is, except Mavis whose real feeling for Ted shone
through, putting a smile on his face for the first time in ages by
gently taunting her colleagues' embarrassment at mentioning the 'C'
The fact that Mavis and Ted had been childhood sweethearts
helped and she soon become the rock of small kindnesses on which
Ted came to rely and Mavis came to enjoy, especially when he took
her out to say "thank you."
Mavis had been divorced for five years now and it was literally
decades since she has been sweet on Ted. Were those feelings really
being re-ignited or were they just echoes from a distant past her
ego had bullied her memory into causing?
If this is were an American 'movie', Ted and Mavis would walk
into a sunset and corny pop-rock music would be playing on your PC.
If it is, get it fixed. There are no sunsets and definitely no pock
rock ballads here. Well, not yet anyway.
Instead, young Jack starts wearing make up. No sooner is Mavis
cool with the cosmetics when she spies him leaving work in a
dress. Gemma's explanation is that her 'boyfriend' Jack is a
"woman trapped in a man's body." This isn't much help to Mavis, who
spends the weekend suffering major mental gender meltdown trying to
get to grips with transvestites, transsexuals and several other
conditions banned in at least 14 U.S. States and considered
'deviant' in 17 more.
The fact that a new man called Jed had been hired would have
missed Mavis' radar completely if it hadn't been for the fact that
the new chippy was a bit too chipper for her liking. Still, Mavis
was secretly pleased another person of similar age had joined the
40-something posse. Not that Mavis was feeling old - except when
talking to 18-year-old Gemma.
While Gemma's enthusiasm for something called 'Google Buzz' left
Mavis confused, Mavis' liking for Nirvana and a song called 'Smells
Like Teen Spirit' left Gemma equally dumbfounded. The only
difference being that Gemma didn't give a fig.
But enough of generation gaps and misunderstandings. We end on
the Friday before Valentine's day, a day when Mavis' kids will be
out. Mavis is conscious she owes Ted for the night he took her out
(meanwhile, her subconscious is shouting: "Who are trying
to kid girl? You've got a thing for the man and it ain't getting
any smaller!"). What better way of returning the kindness than to
ask him round for Sunday lunch? Ted accepted the invitation
unhesitatingly. And both wondered if the other realised Sunday was
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