She had that effect on me: that of a cigarette on a balloon. Especially if she spoke. I'd shout, or slam a door - and immediately be a flaccid remnant of a person. I'd hide in the comfort station. She called it that. I called it the bog, the gents, lavatory at a pinch, occasionally the doughnut in Granny's greenhouse. All of which, I'd like to be able to say, led her to give me the blankest of looks. But it was much worse than that.
We'd all been excited: the take-over had gone well. Okay, so they were parachuting someone in from the parent company's head-office, but, some of us had done very well out of taking share options for bonuses, before... Well, let's just say, before we needed to. Besides, we were all sharp operators: one step ahead of the markets, two steps ahead of the FSA. We'd all given up on short-selling long before the first of October. It wouldn't matter who they sent across the water, we'd told ourselves.
But it had.
They'd sent Gerda Bloom. A few of us had run up three grand on my black Amex for a bar bill, when we'd heard it was a woman. There were a few off-colour jokes: I'd said I hoped she looked like Demi in Disclosure, Piers and Giles had said who? They'd offered Angeline Jolie or Uma Thurman. Perhaps they'd missed the point.
Which was moot.
They did send someone from the movies. A Bond movie in fact, an old one. A real Sunday afternooner. "From Russia with Love". And not Daniela Bianchi. I had feelers out for job, of course, but it was a bad time. Still, I had to get out soon, I reckoned it wouldn't be long before she used the blades in those brogues.