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At work today I used the last of the paper.

I managed to use a pack and a half.

What do they call packs of paper these days?
It used to be a ‘sheaf’ in one of the theatres in London.

Oddly archaic thing to be loading into a photocopier, a sheaf.
Pack these days probably.

These are the busy days at work, when all the answers need to be given and all the nerves need to be smoothed and a sheaf of Artists dreams need to be rendered into paper and scrutinised.
It took over an hour to photocopy everything and get it ready to go.
I used to email everything but bitter, bitter experience taught me to post hard copies as well.

It is very odd that nowadays we need to email and post.
Once we would have just posted but somehow that is not safe enough any more.
There was a time when there were up to three posts per day.
You could send a card in the morning and get an answer that afternoon.

I don’t hanker after time gone by as such, I just don’t feel so safe any more about the security of email.
Double nerves.

I don’t like losing people’s forms.

This is the third desk space I have had since I went back to work.
I got the job three months after Loz died.

I was in two minds about it.

Other people thought I should go back to work.
They all gave good reasons.
I was not so sure.

Sorting out our lives after Loz had taken weeks.
That is to say, sorting out the legal side of our lives had taken weeks.
It was to continue for five months after she died.
That was when we got the results of the autopsy.

Every day I would have a list of people to call.

Every day I would spend, minutes, hours listening to hold music.
I spoke to people all over Britain and in other countries as well.
Most were reading from a screen.
Most were very sympathetic.
Most got back to the script.

Some things never got sorted out.
You have to send off death certificates to certain places.
Things like banks, insurance companies, the DVLA, the bloody TV licence people.

I thought it would take a couple of weeks at the most.
It didn’t.

The DVLA swallowed a Death Certificate and then told me I had not sent it.
The lady on the end of the phone was the least sympathetic I spoke to.
She told me four times I had not sent them the Death Certificate because it was not on the system.

“You have not sent it.”

She did not say:

“I am sorry Mr Morrison, you may have sent it but I am afraid we do not have it on our system. I apologise for the inconvenience but is there any way you could send us another?”

She did say:

“You have not sent it”

Four times.

Swansea accent, if you are interested.

I decided I would try very hard never to do that to someone on the phone.
I don’t trust the post.

The next people who wanted the Death Certificate were the TV licence people.
A photocopy would not do.

Since the DVLA had my last one the TV people never got it.
As far as the BBC is concerned Laura Hardman is alive and well and watching telly in Redruth.

I hated that time.
I really did.
I hate the smell and feel and heart sinking gloom of hold music.

Hate is a really strong word.
I have chosen to use it and I stand by it.
I hated it.

The calls slowly dried up, or they slowed to a trickle, and instead I got on with being a full time Dad.

But Laura’s job had been advertised.

I was not qualified to drive a desk but I had seen her slowly construct her workplace and we had spent months discussing how what she had built might work.

Laura was not going to stay there full time forever.
She had aspirations in other areas but the job of building had not quite finished and things had not yet settled.

If I am honest I was terrified someone would take it who did not understand where it had all come from and just spin it out for a couple of years and then let it finish.

I applied and, with a lot of assistance from friends, I got the job.

Day one in the office.
Sitting at her desk.
The place I was to work.
The desk had been occupied in the interim but the only real change since Laura’s last day seemed to be a space cleared around the keyboard and a neatly typed note above the computer that explained ‘the system’.
The work had been continued since she had died but still, here was her pen, her diary, her memory stick.
He writing on everything, her files, her notes, her emails.
Letters and post, her chair, some photos in the drawer.
For several months I would get emails from the occasional person addressed to her.
Sometimes someone would call and talk about how sad it was.
Loz did not take my name when we married and often people never connected us.

Most people knew of course and we all pretended it was not weird that I had taken my dead wife’s job and was now sitting in her chair.

Not weird at all.

But there was method in this weirdness beyond wanting to continue her project.

The chair was probably less than forty feet from Prole2’s Nursery wall.

I would drop him in and cross the carpark entrance to the office.

Sometimes I could hear him through the window.

I would scoop him up in the early afternoon and we would go and spring Prole1 from his nursery at the school.
Twice a week Prole1 would be picked up by Prole2’s Nursery and they would both be waiting for me when I got out of work.

We would go to the cafe for a snack or walk back across the fair field and play on the swings on the way.

That was our new routine.
Walk to the school nursery and drop off Prole1.
Walk to the nursery by the office and drop off Prole2.
Be at my desk less than a minute later.

For a while, Prole2 and I would get days off together.
When he was old enough I began working four or five days a week.
If I work extra time I get the school holidays off.
How nice is that?

The job has moulded around me and the Proles.
I am very lucky, we have a great routine.

One of the nieces things, the thing that keeps me going on so many occasions, is knowing that all I am doing is running a little system that Loz set up.
She did it along side other very talented people but at the heart of it is a set of values and beliefs that she believed in.

I sometimes upset people in my job.
I work hard not to, I try and avoid it al all costs.
Sometimes it just happens.
That is life, getting upset, it’s how we know we are still breathing.

I was once on the side of Mount Sinai, climbing down to St Catherine’s Monastry in the dark and our guide suddenly turned and stared right in my face and said:

“What is your work, Jack?”

I muttered something about stuff and things.

“No” and he looked a bit scary “What is your work?”

And I had no answer for him at all.

I could not answer.

I am still not sure what my work is.

Perhaps the best I can hope for is to make the world a tiny bit better.

I think it is good to try just a little bit to make the world a better place than the one we came into.

If we can.

Even if it’s just being nice to someone whose forms don’t show up on your computer.

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