petite anglaise

May 13, 2005


Filed under: working girl — petiteanglaiseparis @ 12:30 pm

W, the IT manager from the London mothership calls just as I arrive at my desk, almost on time. I still have my mac on, and fumble to switch off the ipod, still attached to one ear, while cradling the phone between my head and shoulder. Male readers: this is called multi-tasking. Women are very good at this, especially secretaries like myself. If you don’t believe me, ask Paris Hilton.

“I’ve got a problem [petite], there’s a videoconference scheduled to start in five minutes and there’s no-one around at your end to set up the kit. Can you do it for me?”

“Yep, sure, if you can talk me through it. I’ll transfer you to the meeting room phone, hang on a tick…”

Coat hastily deposited on chair, bag hurled under desk, I race through the office to the meeting room to intercept the call. Not quite the start to the day I had in mind. My version involved a double espresso, a wedge of brioche and a leisurely trawl through the online Guardian. But it was not to be.

The person taking part in the meeting from Paris enters the room just as I am heaving the large, flat screen monitor onto the table.

“Ah, [petite], so you’re setting this up for me, are you?” he says, somehow managing to convey in those few words that he doesn’t believe for a second that I’ll be able to do it. Which is preposterous, but makes me flustered all the same.

He and my boss are like chalk and cheese. My boss gets rather stressed and is occasionally moody, but I get on well with him because he treats me like an equal. He knows full well that I am hopelessly overqualified to type his dictations, but I think at the end of the day he just wants someone around that he respects and can hold an intelligent conversation with. That’s my theory anyway.

This other boss is very old school. He wears braces and sock suspenders (although I don’t have any firsthand experience of those), stays in gentlemen’s clubs when in London, and calls secretaries ‘typists’. When I speak to him, I can’t prevent myself from mirroring his plummy Oxbridge accent. His presence at this precise moment is both unhelpful and potentially embarrassing. Not least because W is on the speakerphone, and is an outrageous flirt. I pray that he has heard Old School Boss arriving and busy myself with connecting cables.

“Right love, see the white cable with the socket like a telephone? Is that connected?”

I roll my eyes. “The RJ45 is in, yes.”

“Lovely. You’re not just a pretty face, are you?”

Now I’m blushing. Webcam in place, remote control in hand, I press the buttons on the front of the monitor, somewhat randomly, until it fires up. The menu comes into focus on the screen, a large, empty square where the London boardroom will appear. There is a smaller inset box where Paris will show up, so that we know what image is being transmitted to London. So far so good.

I press the button to “connect”, as instructed, and an image appears.

“Holy shit!” I yelp, before I can censor myself.

On the monitor, I can clearly see W in London, hair receding, looking quite like Minty from Eastenders. I’ve never seen his face before. I missed the office party held in London a couple of years ago – as I was in labour at the time – so I mostly have to make do with imagining the person I am talking to.

But seeing W’s face is not the reason for my outburst.

The image of Paris, which is simultaneously being broadcast onto a large screen in our London boardroom, is of me. Or, to be precise, is of my cleavage. Clearly I hadn’t got the webcam angle quite right, and there I am, in my full glory, leaning across the table with the remote, my V-necked jumper revealing a little more than I would have liked.

So, a full five minutes after arriving at work, I have managed not only to show my breasts to “Minty”, but also to swear in front of Old School Boss. I can’t imagine how things could get any worse. Except they can and do. Because as W adjusts the position of the London webcam and twiddles with the focus, a sea of smurking faces swim into view. It would appear that their meeting room was already occupied too, with a full complement of London board members. I flee, face an attractive beetroot colour, unable to look Old School Boss in the eye.

I think I may have just become superstitious. I won’t be working on Friday 13th again in a hurry.


  1. That reminds me, I must pick some baps up on the way home.

    Comment by backroads — May 13, 2005 @ 12:35 pm

  2. ha!

    Comment by petite — May 13, 2005 @ 12:37 pm

  3. You provided me with a much needed laugh.

    Comment by Satsuma — May 13, 2005 @ 12:41 pm

  4. hahahaha! Sad I can’t make our engagement. I can’t imagine what else will happen today.

    Comment by nardac — May 13, 2005 @ 12:45 pm

  5. I can almost feel the heat from those burning cheeks from here! Still, look on the bright side – you’re probably hugely popular in the London office now ;-)

    Comment by Iain — May 13, 2005 @ 12:55 pm

  6. Bridget Jones ???

    Comment by guillerette — May 13, 2005 @ 12:58 pm

  7. Holy Shit indeed!

    Comment by Greg — May 13, 2005 @ 1:08 pm

  8. I love it!

    Of course, if it was me, I might love it a little less, but just consider that you made the London office’s day. Not to mention it will be a story worth telling for awhile. ;)

    Comment by kim — May 13, 2005 @ 1:19 pm

  9. Great stuff. This is where you’re really excellent. Intriguing start, interesting middle, killer ending.
    Sheer brilliance…..but why can’t you do this in Besançon?

    Comment by Parkin Pig — May 13, 2005 @ 2:53 pm

  10. variety is the spice of life

    or maybe I was having a bad day. I am, after all, human!

    Comment by petite — May 13, 2005 @ 3:17 pm

  11. Hi petite

    just a quick note to let you know that i’m still here and reading your blog gems

    Great story. It reminds me that there were a few fantastic comedy moments in the dark old days.

    I should have some more stuff for you to read towards the end of July if you’re still interested

    Take care and keep having these great adventures

    Comment by Jean Claude — May 13, 2005 @ 3:38 pm

  12. Flippin’ webcams!

    (That’s all I’m saying about my brush with them)

    Comment by Greavsie — May 13, 2005 @ 3:45 pm

  13. JC – you may be interested to hear that when we had some painting done recently, someone hid the picture of QE2. And no-one’s noticed and put her back in her rightful place yet!

    Hope London is treating you well…

    Comment by petite — May 13, 2005 @ 3:55 pm

  14. w007!

    Comment by Mathieu — May 13, 2005 @ 4:51 pm

  15. :)). Bridget Jones indeed. All this happening ingenuously makes it even more funny.

    Comment by shellorz — May 13, 2005 @ 6:30 pm

  16. Great story!!

    Comment by Sarah — May 13, 2005 @ 6:59 pm

  17. Priceless! Hope the rest of your day went more smoothly.

    Comment by VegCat — May 13, 2005 @ 8:44 pm

  18. brilliantly told.

    Comment by jan — May 13, 2005 @ 8:58 pm

  19. You know it is just a matter of time before someone sends a screen capture of your titilations to their flickr account. That will teach you to bandy about words like RJ45! ;)

    Comment by Bob — May 13, 2005 @ 9:03 pm

  20. Evil thoughts Bob. Now I’m paranoid.

    Comment by petite — May 13, 2005 @ 9:06 pm

  21. You made a potentially unlucky day very enjoyable for a lot of people.
    I enjoy your site.

    Comment by Iowa — May 13, 2005 @ 9:10 pm

  22. Just teasing, Petite. :) I’m sure nobody had enough time or gumption to grab their mobile and snap a pic!

    Comment by Bob — May 13, 2005 @ 9:14 pm

  23. You achieved the main objective.

    You set up the kit.

    And you did it quickly… and with a bit of glamour !

    Efficient and sexy !

    You must have a fan club !

    whaoh !!!

    Nothing to be ashamed of !


    Comment by Marie-Hélène — May 13, 2005 @ 10:56 pm

  24. Thanks for making me laugh! It’s past midnight so I hope I didn’t wake up anyone—especially the children. I was reminded of Bridget Jones, too.

    Comment by Oz — May 14, 2005 @ 12:15 am

  25. Brilliant story. That’s probably why old school Boss wears both braces and sock suspenders; to stop his socks being blown off, so to speak!

    Comment by LukePDQ — May 14, 2005 @ 4:30 am

  26. Don’t worry. Promotion, pay rise, and transfer to the London Office are now imminent.

    Comment by Root — May 14, 2005 @ 7:58 pm

  27. Hello again” petite” I would just like to say to your readers, I found your colourful language almost as stimulating as the sight of your cleavage!

    Comment by Old School Boss — May 14, 2005 @ 9:23 pm

  28. Definately very Bridget-esque, i WONDERED who that was on, now i know! (only joking :D) (p.s. thats not a real site for anyone thinking i spend my days perusing the interweb for fleshy bits :P)

    Comment by Lee — May 15, 2005 @ 3:14 pm

  29. ha ha ha ha ha hahah ha haaAAAAAAAAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    sorry, sorry, it’s just that as one of the more abundantly supplied in the bust area, this sort of thing is my every day life!

    Comment by Miss Lisa — May 16, 2005 @ 1:45 am

  30. I think that’s why I’ll stick to teleconferences. One doesn’t have to feign interest (just an occasional uh-huh will do) and there is decidedly less scope for embarrassment.

    Comment by Ben — May 16, 2005 @ 4:17 am

  31. Petite, this one goes down as an absolute classic … Like Miss Lisa, this could easily happen to me too… That’d be an eyeful…

    Comment by deeleea — May 16, 2005 @ 2:41 pm

  32. Here in the U.S. there is a television ad campaign for an airline with people stuck in embarrassing situations and the tagline “Want to get away?” Perhaps they’d like to buy your story.

    Comment by Bluegrass Mama — May 16, 2005 @ 3:22 pm

  33. Well now you’re not just a pretty face you’re also a pretty pair of boobs :-)
    Thanks for the laugh Petite!

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — May 18, 2005 @ 2:23 am

  34. […] I’m thinking this guy/his cohorts didn’t appreciate being described in the manner being presented in this post, and acted accordingly: […]

    Pingback by Thoughts, Raves and Outright Beatings… » About that UK Blogger who got sacked in France recently… — July 23, 2006 @ 10:03 pm

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