Stacey pushed the remains of her salad around her plate. She was bored and she just wanted to get away from here. This was yet another time she'd got talked into something that had failed. She really must learn to say no and mean it, especially to Pippa.
“The tiger is a metaphor for Blake, you know William Blake the great romantic poet,” Nathan said as he leaned enthusiastically over his dog eared note pad.
“Yeah, I've heard of him,” Stacey replied though she didn't get a chance to say anything else before Nathan jumped in again.
“And the cat is a metaphor for TS Elliot, you know Old Posey’s Book of Cat, which he totally sold out writing,” Nathan continued.
“They made that musical Cats from that book,” Stacey said and then immediately regretted it by the sour look Nathan gave her.
“Musicals aren't art,” he hissed back at her.
This lunch had all been Pippa's idea. Pippa, who worked in Stacey's office and was always having these cleaver ideas. Today Pippa had come up to Stacey's desk, just before her mid-morning break, and perched on the edge of it.
“Did you know that today, the sixth of January, is Take A Poet to Lunch Day,” Pippa said, before Stacey had even looked up at her.
“We should ban you from the internet,” Stacey replied, looking up from her work. “You always find crap like this.”
“Why don't you take a poet to lunch? You're still single and you never know where it could lead,” Pippa said.
“I don't know any poets,” Stacey replied, though she felt a moment of triumph in her voice. That should stop Pippa, she thought.
“I do. There's Nathan in accounts, he's a poet and he's rather cute, in sort of intense way,” Pippa said.
“He's a poet, I didn't know it.. that,” Stacey said.
“He's always going on about it. He only works here until he's discovered, so Anita in personnel says.”
“I'm not sure,” Stacey said, her mind was searching for an excuse that would put off Pippa, something that sounded believable.
“Look, what's the worst that could happen? He reads you some of his poetry, can't be that bad,” Pippa said, leaning forward and smiling at her. That intense and confident smile that had melted even the most determined senior managers. Stacey felt she didn't have a choice. She was Pippa's Project for Today, she didn't stand a chance.
“I'll think about it,” Stacey said, trying to sound vague.
“Good, I'll go and give him a ring now,” Pippa replied, leaping off Stacey's desk and racing back across their open plan office before Stacey could protest.
Five minutes into Stacey's break, as she'd started down to enjoy her coffee and latest magazine, Pippa had rushed into their break room, almost bubbling over with excitement.
“Nathan is over the moon to have lunch with you. He wants to read you his latest poet. So twelve-thirty in the canteen. Good luck!” Pippa had almost bubbled over with her own excitement before rushing back out of the room, not even giving Stacey a chance to even mutter a word.
When she'd arrived in the canteen that lunchtime, Nathan had been waiting for her. At first sight she was relieved, at least he was pretty, rather thin but at least pretty. With his floppy dark hair and very pale skin, he certainly did look like a poet, his cheap blue suit though looked more like what an estate agent would wear.
As soon as they sat down together at one of the smaller tables, with their respective lunches, everything had rapidly fallen apart. As Stacey carefully began to eat her salad Nathan had taken his dog eared notepad out of his jacket's pocket and announced:
“This is my latest poem; The Artist is a Rear Creature in the Land of the Mediocre.”
Nathan began to read it to her, in a low, flat and dull voice. The poem was very long and not one of the lines rhymed. It was full of dark and dense images and references that she had never heard of . But the poem was so boring and Nathan's dull reading of it only increased its boredom that Stacey found her mind wondering before he had finished the first handful of lines, she was so bored that her mind had stopped listening long before Nathan had finished reading it.
“And the spider is a metaphor for John Cooper Clarke,” Nathan announced.
“I like his poems, they're funny,” Stacey replied. She did like John Cooper Clarke's poems, especially the one about marrying a monster from outer space.
“Poems are not supposed to be fun!” Nathan snapped at her. “Poems are supposed to be profound and deep and full of metaphor! Poems should be about the meaning of life.”
“Well I like funny poems,” Stacey replied. She was really getting feed up of Nathan's attitude, who the hell did he think he was.
“Funny poems are not important. Poems should be deep and reference all the great poets that have gone before. I don't write funny poems!”
“I just thought your poem wasn't funny because you don't seem to have a sense of humour,” Stacey told him. She was really bored now and her boredom was limiting her sense of tact.
“A sense of humour isn't important!” Nathan snapped back.
“Says the man without one.”
“My poem is about the state of modern poetry and how it should but does not pay homage to the great poets of the English language.”
“No, your poem is about half an hour too long, or that's what it felt like. I haven't been so bored since I last watched Celebrity Big Brother. At least watching that there' was a chance of a celebrity punch-up, only a chance. There wasn't that with your bloody long poem,” Stacey replied. Her boredom was killing any desire to be nice to him.
“You're just a philistine!” Nathan almost shouted at her.
“No I'm not!” Stacey shot back at him as she jumped to her feet, grabbing hold of her bag as she did. “I was raised Church of England!”
She then marched away from that table, not looking back at Nathan once.
She knew very well what philistine meant but she couldn't resist that cheap joke at this humourless man's expense.