Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Blander Shade of Pale

My desk at work is on the twelfth floor. There's a sort of mezzanine-cum-thirteenth-floor above half of the twelfth, leaving the rest of my floor with double-high ceilings. I sit just beyond the point at which the ceiling doubles. It's a nice airy space, this double-high section, but the acoustics are terrible. Conversations within a ten metre radius are impossible to block out (thankfully most of this double-height area is filled by the finance team, so they're pretty quiet souls). Sometimes it can be very difficult to tell where sounds are coming from.

At moments throughout the day, I hear a radio. I've decided it's probably coming through one of the internal windows of the thirteenth floor above me. I don't think this person listens to the radio all the time (though I have no idea what people do on the thirteenth, having never been there), but every now and then the sound of the radio drifts over to me. Sometimes I can pick the song, and based on this sample ('Hey Jude', 'Summer Breeze', 'Do Wah Diddy', 'Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay'...) I reckon the station is Solid Gold FM.

Ordinarily, I would have no beef with the station but, due to some quirk of the acoustics, certain frequencies reach me easier than others. This, combined with the limited weekday playlist of Solid Gold FM, means I feel as if I am forever hearing the ocarina solo in the Troggs' 'Wild Thing'. It's a shame, because -- and I can say this with some authority -- it is the greatest ocarina solo in rock history, but hearing it disembodied on a daily basis is quickly becoming grating.

The last two mornings, the organ from 'Whiter Shade of Pale' by Procul Harem has caught my ear. It’s another great song (one about which I had a long talk with a work associate in Brisbane, who turned out to be a collector of vintage organs) which seems set to make my Endangered Greatness list.

While the specifics of my situation would not be that common, there is something typically 'office life' about having songs you quite like being systematically ruined by unseen forces.

The challenge, as I see it from the sanctuary of my study during my leisure time, is to notice these snippets of 'office life' and distil them into useable fiction, without letting the office beat me.

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