From: Communications Management
The Schale Company building was a landmark in the city, nearly eighty years old, and built from grey stone. In winter, when the skies were washed grey, the building seemed joined with the clouds. A block tower crowned the building with a clock on its southern face. The clock’s enormous black hands were visible along two kilometres of the river. People commonly met under the Schale tower. It was this reference for the entire population of city that made employees, of Schale proud to work for the company. Only junior staff said they worked ‘at Schale’ as the more senior staff always worked for the company and felt that they had been initiated into a vocation. Between themselves they joked that it was a type of priesthood. Forty-one thousand people worked for Schale, with offices in Houston, Azerbidjan, Capetown, Istanbul, Bogota, Tokyo, Sydney, Freetown and another seventy cities. Schale made, refined, explored, developed, and enhanced a panoply of natural products that were used in cars, kitchens, bathrooms, factories for the space industry, arms and technology. The company reached everywhere and into every part of peoples’ lives. Schale could proclaim that almost no-one could pass a day without using one of its products. The company invested millions and earned millions. Visitors from foreign offices came for courses and meetings. Some of Penny’s colleagues went on long trips to survey the operations of the outlying offices in the other four continents. People in the various offices knew each other well, enjoined by something greater than a common employer. They were a community. For their dedicated work, and initiative, for which they were rewarded, Schale gave its people a good salary, with insurance and medical benefits. Through the corporation’s finance division they could offer mortgages and other loans at attractive rates to their people. The company ensured that once its people had passed out of its doors for the last time they were provided with a pension that should see them live comfortably for years to come.
Subject: Re: Penny
Penny Watson caught the train at 7.55 a.m. every working day. On cold mornings she wore an ash-grey coat, a bag slung on her left shoulder. Her hair was always combed perfectly. Her days were organised exactly the same as every other office day, just as she wanted. Being orderly was Penny’s credo: everything should be in its place. Going to work at the right time was just one element of that credo in which she held firmly. All the other components of Penny’s life were also placed neatly into categories like the shopping list she had written the night before and took with her to work so she did not forget anything from the supermarket. Organisation was an ideal state. Although she did not know it Penny believed in the process of organising things; the kitchen utensils, beauty products in the bathroom; of cleaning the house in spring and innumerable other tasks.
On her way to the station Penny walked briskly. At forty-two, she stood one hundred and forty-eight centimetres tall and weighed sixty kilograms. She was made – some would say ‘well built’ – in balanced proportions, with shapely legs and broad shoulders; although she had always wanted to be taller. She knew it was not necessarily a good thing for a woman to be tall but she believed she achieved a better proportion between her upper body and legs when she was in high heels. Additional height would compensate for her large breasts, which gave her a square shape accentuating the breadth of her upper body, despite the male attention they attracted to her. Penny’s face was broad with large cheeks framed under dark thick hair which she dyed every two months. The intense sheen of the dyed hair belied the fingernail cracks around her eyes and the truth of her age. Her face was not memorable, nor could not be described with any particular feature which would stand out in a crowd. She had developed with the features her parents granted her, and is the case with age; those aspects of her face she did not like had softened with time.”
Guy Cranswick’s new collection of short fiction, Corporate, is at the same time a “body” of stories as well as a set of stories about the human body and what happens to it when external forces such as work, relationships, modernity and culture come into play. It is about bodies decaying, putting on weight, being shoehorned into soulless workstations. It’s about the contortions. Read More…
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