By the time I had to get up I could barely move for tiredness; cycling in felt like trying to swim through treacle, and I still can't shake the ache from behind my eyes. I'm supposed to be going up to my parents' on Friday night so we can visit my grandad (who's been ill recently) on Saturday, and at the moment I'm just dreaming of sleeping on the train to Loughborough, and then sleeping in my old bedroom, not really mine any more but still a comfortable bed in a dark, quiet room.
Even this office seems quite peaceful by comparison with the screaming room; even with the constant huffing, thumping, sighing, throwing-things-around, and clicking of executive desk-toys from the chap at the desk behind me. He probably finds me just as annoying, mind you. Yesterday I had an argument with him over a word -- a single word! -- in a consultant's report.
"I had to look up a word in that report," he shouted (he shouts everything), indignantly, waving the papers around. "'Consonant', it was. Consonant with. Had to look it up in a dictionary. I mean, right, bloody annoying, right, the way they have to prove they're more intelligent than us."
"Or maybe they just knew the word and it didn't occur to them that other people wouldn't know it," I said, gritting my teeth.
"'Consonant', as an adjective, I had to look it up in a dictionary, right? I mean, consonant, it's 21 letters of the alphabet, right? And it doesn't mean 'identical', they said it did, right there, but it doesn't mean that, RIGHT. I had to look it up, RIGHT?"
Right. The 'RIGHT' is just a tic. He hammers it on to the end of every other word, with an aggressive intonation, so it rhymes with "YoulookinforaFIGHT?"
I'm lookin for a fight.
"Where does it say that it means identical?"
"Here, right, where it says 'c.f. identical'."
I don't even know where he's looking, I don't know where on earth it would say that. I don't care.
"But 'c.f.' doesn't mean 'the same as'."
"Right, so, right, what does it mean then?"
"'Compare'. It's from the Latin." I hope he won't challenge me to explain, as I've temporarily forgotten what the actual Latin is, though a quick check later reminds me that it's confer. Fortunately by this time I've already overloaded his brain with new information, and he subsides into repetitive ranting, sotto voce (from the Latin for 'voicing stupid opinions'), about how he had to Actually Look It Up in a Dictionary.
I mean, give me credit, here. I refrained from saying "The guy who wrote this report has a doctorate, and works for a university, and perhaps, JUST PERHAPS, it's possible that he assumed he was writing for an audience of intelligent adults who had a good vocabulary, could infer meaning from context, and weren't so afraid of learning that they actively resented having to acquire any new knowledge."
I also refrained from shedding any blood.
Why hasn't the screaming in my head stopped yet?