City Gentleman Feels Sympathy For His Old Friend

(Part 1) The city gentleman goes on his busy way, oblivious to the lives of other

When he was gone
I soon forgot his wit
And rambling office
E-mail bullshit.

But three months into
His redundancy
I saw Bazza Sterling
Hurling special brew,
In the gutter, unfurling
Reels of losing lottery
Numbers, madly scraping
Up cigarette stumps,
While shouting abuse
At any passer-by
Wearing suit and tie.

Inwardly I sobbed
At the wreckage,
Recalling the former
Jargon-monger in his
Prime, gilding conference
Calls with interjections
Simultaneously embarrassing
And sublime.

If by heaven's hand was
Ever wrought an earthly crime,
Then it was this, that to such wicked fate
The blameless Sterling was assigned.

Desperately I longed to aid him, but
Was victim to the vagaries of time.
‘I must away,’ I cried, ‘For to attend my
Weekly Status meeting at half past nine.’

And as his working eye rolled into focus,
I waved and grinned at my old friend and
Said we must do lunch some time.

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Poem Study Notes:

This poem was written in 2002, on the occasion of the resignation of an office colleague.

It was written just after the IT boom of the early 00s, when redundancies were starting to become a fashionable aspect of corporate life. Around that time, the corporate conference call craze was also taking over and all of a sudden you were always hearing people say that they could not go to lunch or for a coffee because they had a conference call to attend, as if that was somehow supposed to impress you.

The trouble with conference calls is that people convince themselves that just by being on a call something will get done. In reality in most corporations, nothing gets done because everyone is always on a conference call.

The narrator of this poem may well be The Smug Professional from another poem.

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