August 14, 2015

Overwork



      'I'll be here for only a third of the time. I have a dozen other things to do.'
      'What things?'
      'Everything.' Fanshaw sighed. He dropped into his chair. From his desk drawer he took out a tweed pincushion, full of glass-beaded pins, and a piece of fabric with a needle pushed through it. Thaniel could only see the underside of the stitching, but he thought it was half an ivy pattern. 'Though  I swear I spend at least half of my time directing Lord bloody Carrow to Lord Leveson's office. It isn't as though he's moved in twenty years.  These people seem to think it unnecessary to memorise the layout of a building when fellows like me are around to do it for them.' He cast around aimlessly. 'I've forgotten something. I've always forgotten something. You know how one ends up with a constant nagging sense that one has walked out of one's house without some vital item of clothing and so one lays out a second pair of trousers for the express purpose of forgetting them? Tickets!' he said suddenly. 'FO employees get tickets to the ball, you can pick one up in Chivers' office round there. Wouldn't want you to miss it. Not after all the effort I've put into the damn thing. Oh, and you'll need to sign some more secrecy oaths, I shouldn't wonder. If you thought HO material was sensitive, wait until you see what comes through the wires here. The salary is proportionally enlarged, I should add.'
      'I...my God, you were serious?'
      'Quite.'
      'Thank you.'
      Fanshaw waved it away. 'Can't waste a Japanese speaker on Home Office telegraphy.' He sighed again, falling back into his previous lethargy. He looped the needle through a new stitch and the green thread hissed quietly.
      'What are you doing?' said Thaniel, who had held it in for as long as he could, which wasn't long.
      'What? Oh, the embroidery. Symptom of overwork, I'm afraid. If I don't work at it a bit every now and then I go gently mad.'
      'Why does embroidery help?'
      'You are such a genuine fellow, aren't you. I think it's to do with doing something with one's hands that doesn't involve one's brain. I suspect it might be a developing neurosis, I have been meaning to see someone. Runs in the family. I'm not a patch on my brother, you know. He has to go around the estate counting the railings. There are quite a lot of railings. I suppose numbers, being immutable, are comforting when one feels one isn't quite in control of things. Three will always be three.'
from The watchmaker of Filigree Street, by Natasha Pulley


{Pincushion found here.}


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