Thursday, 15 March 2012
Gary Hobble sighed and half heartedly adjusted his clipboard as he followed the receptionist through the largely beige, foul smelling industrial unit. Crates of tinned pet food were stacked floor to ceiling,
“When did this happen?” he thought briefly, “At what point in my life did I take the wrong turn that led here, to this.”
The receptionist showed him into the magnolia office where the factory manager, Mr Fanshawe stood to greet him. His host filled two cracked and stained mugs with weak tea, and dropped some soft digestives onto a dirty plate. Time to get down to business.
“Okay Mr Fanshawe, you’ve now been running this recycling programme for young unemployed people for six months, so this is just a perfectly routine audit of what you’ve been doing.”
The office was also littered with tins and boxes, pet food marketing posters hung limply from the wall.
“Of course. Government needs to know the money is being well spent. I quite understand. I know these new programmes can be controversial.”
Gary shuffled his papers in a way that he hoped suggested he was remotely interested. Mr Fanshawe grinned a rictus grin.
“Now,” said Gary, “you’ve had really massive numbers of young people getting involved which is great, but I’d just like a word with a few of them...to see how they’ve been finding the work.”
Mr Fanshawe continued smiling, but a little wave of confusion rippled gently across his face.
“I’m not sure I understand. I mean...how would you be able to speak to them?”
“Arent they here?” asked Gary.
“Well...yes,” smiled Mr Fanshawe, “they’re everywhere really.”
Mr Fanshawe gestured around the room, and then picked up a tin.
“In these. Three varieties. But not very chatty.”
Mr Fanshawe chuckled genially.
“They’re...in the dogfood?”
“They are the dogfood.”
“You’ve turned them into dogfood!?”
Gary, for the first time in some months, started to panic.
“No! Dear me no! Not just dogfood. Cat food as well.”
“You’ve turned people into petfood?!”
Mr Fanshawe scrambled urgently through some papers on his desk and produced a report, holding it up in front of himself like a very flimsy shield.
“Well there was a bit of consumer resistance to eating spam made out of dead unemployed people. But we’re a nation of pet lovers so...”
“I can’t believe this is happening.” said Gary, no longer even pretending to look at his clipboard.
“It was all in the proposal.”
Mr Fanshawe handed Gary another document, this one entitled “Human Waste Recycling Project”.
“But...I thought human waste recycling meant...y’know...toilet stuff.”
Mr Fanshawe shook his head in disgust.
“Good lord no! I mean..what dog owner is going to buy a can of poo?”
“But this is terrible! This is supposed to be a work project for young people to help them get employed.”
Mr Fanshawe felt slightly on the backfoot, this wasn’t going at all how he had envisaged this morning in the shower.
“Young Tam’s got a job.”
“What does he do?” asked Gary
“He pushes everyone else into the mincer. Big lad. Plus we’ve managed to save a bit of money there by paying him on commission.”
Gary started to gently rock himself back and forward.
“He was a bit overkeen the first few weeks mind...lost a few cleaners..but thats all calmed down now. Great boy...credit to his family. God rest their souls.”
Gary upturned the plate of soft digestives in the nearest he could manage to a rage
“This is a charnel house!”
Mr Fanshawe was now on the verge of feeling a little hard done to.
“Well...yes....Did you actually read my proposal?”
“Not the detail...it's a black box approach...the numbers just looked really good...”
“The numbers are really good!”
Regaining ground, Mr Fanshawe enthusiastically unfolded a series of colourful bar graphs and pie charts.
“We’re at 150% productivity...way above original projections. Plus we’re recycling almost 95% of waste products. Teeth are a bit problematic at the minute...but I’m thinking we could look at some sort of jewellery line.”
Gary’s dead eyes danced numbly across the figures.
“These numbers are fantastic...”
Mr Fanshawe nodded, producing a nice pastel tone gant chart for the rest of the years activity.
“Local unemployment is down...local pet satisfaction is up. This is a good news story!”
“I suppose...apart from all the murdering. Listen...let me have a think about it.”
Gary got up from his chair, shaking only slightly.
“Makes a change from all that negativity around government work programmes eh? Let’s celebrate success!” said Mr Fanshawe, handing over a document entitled “Human Waste Recycling Franchise Opportunities”.
Gary looked at one of the tins
“Okay. You’re not totally convinced." said Mr Fanshawe, placing a reassuring hand on Gary's arm, "Do you have a pet at all?”
Gary shook his head
“Shame. Tell you what...come back next week and I’ll talk you through my proposals for a chain of old folks homes.”
Not even realising he had left his clipboard behind, Gary wandered out of the magnolia office and back onto the beige factory floor.
Mr Fanswhawe lifted the phone and dialled downstairs.
“Tam. Hi. See our guest out would you. Very meaty thighs.”