Welcome, welcome one and all! We come together today to celebrate a great pillar of our community and to mourn their passing from my life. Never sought yet never failing to provide succour, never critical yet always a bastion of integrity, my life has been changed forever and for that I will always be grateful.
So please, take a seat. Sit back; relax. And enjoy the Big Guardian Newspaper Love-In.
Like all the best lovers, the Guardian didn’t force herself upon me but slipped into my life unnoticed (NB a contextual clarification from the author: while no female has ever managed to slip him anything unnoticed – that being gross and very yucky – the author feels that the personification of the Guardian lends itself to an intellectually ruthless and emotionally detached 40-something woman, who secretly wears a tie-dyed bra and likes to give big hugs when no one is watching). Our liaison started when a work colleague informed me that free copies of that day’s paper were available from the Guardian office foyer and – being a consummate tightarse – I couldn’t resist.
Before I realised it the Guardian had become part of my daily routine. Where once I would hiss and spit at my flatmates over breakfast, I now avoided the need for human interaction by reading yesterday’s edition. At the office I would put the coffee on before nipping out to get that day’s copy, a snatched moment of indulgence before the day began. And at lunch I would pore over the crossword with my workmate in the park, always desperate to finish it in a shorter time than That Smart Bitch H. I never did by the way. I swear she has the OED chipped into her head (as in ‘microchipped’, not a bit taken out with the OED shoved into the bloody pulp of a hole, which would be more personally satisfying).
Then there were the perks of living next to a building full of warm-and-fuzzies. Some mornings I’d chat to the lady with the baby seat who chained her bike outside our office, and her friendliness made me feel like London wasn’t such a seventh circle shithole of bubbling putrescence. When my boss refused to pay for paper recycling collection I first had a little cry for the Amazon, then asked the nice security guard at the Guardian if I could lob my paper into their bins. “Of course mate! Be my guest.” And whenever they’d run out of that day’s edition and I attempted to pay for a copy, the front desk personnel would wink and tell me to run along and spend my 80p on sugarpuffs and bonbons. Sigh. Save me 80p and I will love you till the end of days.
Of course, the primary reason I revelled in the Guardian’s proximity was because of all the Hot Homo Tottie it attracted. Better still, it was Hot Tertiary-Educated Disarmingly-Witty Spandex-Pants-On-The-Outside- Planet-Saving Homo Tottie. In the quiet hours of the day between plastic flow analyses I would sit back and daydream of chance meetings… collisions between single-speed bikes that would end in romantically entangled limbs… the amusing shenanigans of muddled gluten-free salad orders at the organic deli… the rush of wind at the recycling point that whips a pile of shredded documents into the air before it comes to rest on laughing eyelashes and tousled hair. All it lacked was a pottery wheel and an 80s soundtrack.
Sadly, all this must now come to an end. The Guardian is moving its offices to a swish new building near Kings Cross and I shall lose a) my free paper, b) my daily perve, and c) well, ummm, my free paper. I can’t blame them. Their current building is a converted carpark, and while I’m sure the convenience of note-changing machines on every level and the ability to urinate in office corners is not to be underestimated, working within those dotted white lines must eventually get you down.
Worst of all, I have only recently succeeded in infiltrating the Guardian’s wool-knit ranks with my cunning spy, Mrs H. She is moonlighting as a freelance writer for their online service, when in reality she is assembling a secret dossier on its male employees. I have charged her with the task of ranking them according to their:
1. Attractiveness, using my patented 383-step diagnosis.
2. Liquidity, using a traditional hacking-into-the-HR-database technique.
3. Moral fibre, using a small African orphan.
4. Degree of homosexuality, using her own oops-a-piece-of-my-lunch- has-fallen-into-my-cleavage trick.
Mrs H’s early reports were most promising. Apparently even some of the sports writers like batting for the other team, putting a few balls in the back of the net, rowing up the Thames on Tuesday or shooting hoops from the 3-point mark. A sports writer who likes to touchdown inside the baseline is something of a gay Mecca, but the move to Kings Cross has put paid to all these dreams.
So I shall put away my Arsenal T-shirt with matching pinafore, dig 80p out from my piggy bank and face 2009 with a brave smile. I have loved the Guardian, and for those brief two years that I worked in the stinking alley beside her, I think she loved me too. Adieu! Adieu!
And when the wind blows through your shining new offices, and you turn and cock your head to catch the lingering perfume of piss, then think of me, alone, in Farringdon.