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The Holiday

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, so the saying goes. Apparently the same applies to Dominique. Last week we looked in the mirror and what we saw was very dull indeed. We had been working flat out in preparation for our exhibition at the Autumn Fair and it showed. As I pulled a grey hair from the side of Jack's head, one thing was clear: we needed a holiday. Also clear: Jack does not appreciate having hairs pulled from his scalp, regardless of their colour.

As Lanther Black's only employees, however, we were very aware that if we just stopped working, everything stopped working. We weren't really sure if this was acceptable. Did we just tell the agents that we wouldn't be dispatching anything for a week? Did we set an automatic response on our email and disappear off into the night? What if someone had an urgent question? What if someone needed emergency cards? We then realised that we weren't running the New York Stock Exchange and that there were no such thing as 'emergency cards'. The world was not going to stop turning because Lanther Black were taking a week off. Was it? In the end, we decided that it was better to be safe than sorry and we settled for a 'staycation'. We could spend the week in the garden basking in the sun or in front of the TV with a mountain of blu-rays and snacks and we'd still be on hand to deal with any issues. Perfect.

Twenty minutes into our first day off and we discovered the primary disadvantage of taking time off at home. We were surrounded by all the little things that needed doing around the house that we hadn't had time for. We knew there and then that there would be no sunbathing or vegetating or any sort of leisure at all. There was a loft that needed re-boarding and a driveway that needed re-grouting. We put aside our dreams of rest and relaxation and climbed up through the hatch.

Jack had nearly lost his lungs a few weeks earlier through the accidental inhalation of perspex dust (when I say 'nearly' I obviously mean 'nowhere nearly') and so we were taking no chances. We had equipped ourselves with masks, goggles, long sleeves and heavy duty boots, but upon entering the loft we soon realised that although we were very well protected against the dust, we were now heavily overdressed for the sauna-like temperatures. We could have safety or comfort, but not both. We decided to sacrifice our arms and discard our jumpers. 

We had just finished nailing in the third floorboard when the work phone rang. Gasp! An emergency! Unfortunately the phone was now buried somewhere in thedust and loft debris and we were left scrambling around in search of it trying desperately not to fall through the ceiling. We located it just in time for me to answer with a breathless and muffly 'Gd mrrng, Lnfr Blk'. I had forgotten to take my mask off. Realising how creepy I sounded, I quickly ripped it off and attempted the greeting again. It was an agent. A customer had received their cards and wondered when their spinner would be delivered. I rang the spinner company and then passed on the information to the customer. Thank goodness we hadn't gone away! How on earth would we have been able to deal with such a situation from abroad? Disaster averted we got back to the boards.

For the rest of the week, no other 'urgent' business popped up. Orders came in but it didn't sound like anyone was in danger of death if they had to wait a few extra days for their cards. Some people phoned up about some things but there was not a single emergency. Depressingly enough we realised that we could have gone away after all. Instead we had spent our 'holiday' in the cramped and stuffy space between the ceiling and the roof. We were lumpy and dazed from repeatedly hitting our heads on the beams. Our arms were covered in rashes because it turns out that loft insulation is the itchiest substance known to man and even the slightest contact with the skin will cause an alarming reaction. Our shoulders were sore from all the sawing and nailing and our backs were stiff from all the stooping. We returned to work feeling worse than before. We need another holiday to get over our holiday. But at least now we know that the world does not grind to a halt if we take a week off and apparently there are very few emergencies in the greetings industry. Maybe next time we'll even leave the house.


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