August 20: Roy

Roy(ston) was how Roy (as we knew him) used to sign his first name. He was keeping his (and our) options open. He was a traditional type; always wore suit and tie, though no-one insisted on it. Once in the office I heard him berating some administrative worker at the other end of the line: “I’d like to speak to your manager,” he said. “Not someone in a tee-shirt in an open-plan office. A man in a suit in a proper office with a door that shuts.” I know what he means.  Sometimes in his phone conversations he would put the phone down and look at me. “It went dead” he’d say. He’d phone straight back. “The line went dead,” he’d tell his interlocutor. You know, the person who’d just hung up on him.

Roy had to leave in the end. You see, he’d broken his arm and was wearing a cast and his shirt was flapping open revealing his less than alluring belly. He was getting his Russian girl students to scratch his back with a ruler.

And so he left. I knew he was going in advance because I saw his cardboard box, the box where he put all his things, with his name scrawled through with a thick red marker. Yes, I knew his time was up when I saw that. And yes, there may have been more sensitive ways of breaking the news to him

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