09 November 2017
An Advance Too Many?
Chin Chin loses column.
By Chin Chin
Reduced to an occasional writer! Well, I knew that there were changes afoot at the Shaw Sheet but this is ridiculous. In I came, cheery as always, half an hour before the others so that I have a moment to tidy their desks before they arrive – I am the only tidy one around here so it is the least I can do. Then I turned on my screen and there was a message to see the editor at once. Obviously some sort of promotion or perhaps an especially important task which I was to carry out. Or maybe one of the other magazines had made a bid for my work and, like a champion footballer, I was being called in to discuss the amount of the transfer fee.
It turned out not to be like that at all. I was just told that I would lose my weekly slot and my desk in the office and would, in future, have to work from home and compete for space with other writers. It was a surprise, I can tell you. Of course, I asked why, wondering whether my talent was unbalancing the magazine or whether political correctness had forced them to give opportunities to the talentless younger generation. Instead of an explanation, I got a look:
“I think we know the answer to that, Chin, don’t we?”
Now the Shaw Sheet is a political and current affairs magazine so, although I write features, I keep well up to date with what is going on. So I understood that look. In the current climate it could only mean one thing. I was suspected of using my position and influence to make unwarranted sexual advances to my colleagues. The difficulty was that I couldn’t remember doing it. To be fairly caught out after years of groping and propositioning would be galling enough but at least you would have done, and presumably enjoyed, the groping and propositioning first. To be blamed for such activities without the activities themselves seemed a little unfair. I cast my mind back to think of things which I had done which could possibly be being misconstrued.
There are two aspects to this unwarranted sexual advance business. The central thing is the advance itself, the illicit caress, the lewd invitation or whatever. I drew a blank when I tried to think of any of those so perhaps it was better to start with the other ingredient, a dominant position which could render any advance “sexual bullying”. If I could work out who I dominated then perhaps it would bring to mind something which would have offended them.
Well, it was true. My position in the Shaw Sheet might technically be that of a lowly columnist but my influence goes way beyond that. Magazines are a bit like banks. In banking circles everyone is in awe of the rainmaker, a man or woman who brings in the business and whose presence makes a major contribution to the bottom line. Often they will be known by nicknames, “the blue whale” or something like that. Their formal ranking within the banking hierarchy, however, does not matter because their position is underpinned by the work they bring in. No rainmaker, no deals. No deals, no profit. No profit, no bank. They have to be paid a lot of money.
Well, apart from the “a lot of money” bit, my position at the Shaw Sheet is very similar. Magazines need readers and it is my column which attracts them. Take our Russian readers for example, probably burly chaps working in the “Western Magazine” section of the KGB. Do they open their Shaw Sheet to read the views of the editors on the news? Niet, of course they don’t. They have their own analysts. Did they open it to peruse the, now-defunct, “week in brief” columns? Niet again, their agency created most of the incidents and election victories reported. No, they want cultural articles which will bring home the nuances of modern British thought. They want Chin Chin and until now they have had an article from him every week.
All right, that is the dominance established. I dominate the entire staff. So what could I possibly have said or done that could be regarded as a sexual pass? The editors are charming enough as it happens but I have never really fancied either of them in that way. Could it be that the postcards which I sent them while I was on holiday have been misconstrued? You see I wanted to make it clear that I was enjoying myself and not some sort of saddo, so I went on a website which sends postcards and arranged for everyone in the office to get a picture of a beach in France. I see now that it left a margin for error in execution but it was certainly better than admitting that I spent my holiday in my basement flat in North London. Anyway, I must have pressed the wrong button because the beach was entirely populated with naked men. I tried to pass it off as a joke on my return but maybe they thought that it was some sort of sexual pressure. Still, it is rather a difficult thing to explain away now.
Well, I suppose I had better pack my desk and then go home and write some article which they just have to publish. It shouldn’t be difficult bearing in mind the quality of the competition. Hold on, I hear voices down the corridor.
“That bloody cretin Chin Chin has been fiddling with my desk again and now I can’t find that cheque. I have told him to work from home in future. At least he will have no opportunity to mess up our desks each morning.”
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