In that productivity black hole that is the half hour before lunch – where the energy and the gusto from an early start have been steadily eroded by the mundanity of work and the insistent prattle of phone calls, emails and the odd buzz-word infested meeting – I stroll for the umpteenth time into the restroom, almost colliding with a man who is fiddling with the zipper on his fly. I least expect to find someone just inside the door, even though this time of the day is one where the restroom shuffle, coffee room trips and huddles of two and three in the hallway are time honoured strategies for the keen time waster.
Although he is as surprised as I am, he collects his wits much quicker than I do, explaining through a stutter that his zipper has somehow come unravelled. In the five-ish minutes I spend using the urinal and washing up my hands he struggles to restore the integrity of his fly with a safety pin. Just how he manages to have a safety pin in hand and to the rescue escapes me – something tells me that he’s had the safety pin in place for more than just this trip to the loo. I leave before he resolves his little problem thankful for the chance to escape the awkwardness engendered by restroom small talk.
el Madre, never one to shirk the opportunity to launch into a full frontal assault, appears to be learning in middle age that some subtlety – especially when it is related to her quietly stubborn brood – is the more likely weapon of choice for maximum impact. After the sustained attack that was the first half of 2011, she and I managed to have civil conversations through the back end of the year; ones which were largely successful in avoiding the elephant in the room – my perceived lack of application in resolving her grand child conundrum. In truth the attentions of a doting son in law, and a grand daughter who is quickly learning the tricks of playing adults against each other helped to keep her mollified. In tandem with her withdrawal, my uncle F has ratcheted up his interest, and he calls me one Monday morning lunch time to remonstrate with the newest prodigal in town. He is the one Uncle who has black sheep credentials, ones which he continually uses to press the case for a change of heart from yours truly.
On to Facebook on Monday night – boredom meeting a pining for just any conversation – and I end up talking with one of the lads from my class of 2009. He’s due out of the UK for good in a week’s time, his inability to get a sponsoring company putting paid to any furtherance of the dreams he once had. It turns out in the few months I haven’t been in touch with them three more of the lads have upped and headed back to Nigeria, one has acquired a Polish bride keen to enjoy the services of her black stud and one more has bitten the bullet and headed to Canada to reinvent his career. It is perhaps a testament to the harsh climes and how quickly time has passed by that my class of 2009 is light on the ground; with the bulk of us either back in Nigeria or weighing up Nigerian moves. It truly is becoming the end of an era, our era.