“We should put the usa game behind us. We can’t do any worse against Algeria”
Quentin Shears, 48, is a partner in Newt UK, the recently rebranded Hertfordshire-based quantity surveying subsidiary of US construction giant Gator Corp
The past few weeks have involved an intensive “transitioneering” process, during which Quentin has been coming to terms with his new masters’ caffeine and brunch-fuelled work ethic, and their sudden interest in “soccer”.
With the consent of his anger management therapist, Quentin has agreed to share excerpts from his “frustration diary” with Building.
It’s been a difficult couple of weeks to be an Englishman in an office suddenly full of Americans. First there was President Obama’s desire to find the appropriate British “ass” to kick over the BP oil slick, which has led many of us to remain fully clenched during office hours, just in case. This, of course, was followed by the ignominy of that 1-1 draw - the first step on England’s road to footballing glory.
Having said that, personally I’m quite enjoying the World Cup. As soon as I hear someone approaching my office while I’m trying to get some work done, I just give a blast on the vuvuzela I picked up at the local garage and they tend to go away. The South Africans truly have given a gift to the world.
But that draw is clearly preying on the minds of some of the English fraternity at Newt, as we must now refer to ourselves. Many great traditions of English quantity surveying have been sacrificed to the gods of synergy in recent weeks, but this was the last straw. Football is one of the cornerstones of our culture, and the Americans should have just accepted that they’re not as good as us.
Thus it was that some of my English colleagues sought to mend their wounded pride by organising an England vs USA cricket match. “It will be brilliant, Quentin,” said Matt Keen, whose hopes of promotion have been set back by the takeover, and who has taken to brandishing a cricket bat in the office with clear malevolent intent. “Tonight’s game will be a real morale booster. We’ll murder them …”
“They murdered us,” Matt muttered as he skulked into the office the following morning. “They all just squared up like baseball players and hit the ball for miles. Even though they thought they didn’t have to hit it if it bounced, they scored 450.”
I tried to console him (my vuvuzela therapy is having a definite calming effect on me). “Perhaps we should put the football behind us and move on. After all, we can’t do any worse against Algeria.”
“No Quentin, we need to demonstrate English cultural superiority,” Matt spluttered. “Graham Wimbish from accounts is one of Hertfordshire’s leading morris dancers, and he’s going to challenge the whole transitioneering unit to a dance-off. On Friday, Alan Quimby is taking on all-comers at tiddlywinks.” His voice dropped to a whisper. “And rumour has it that Seymour, the caretaker, keeps a traditional English fighting badger in the basement.
“But it’s not all about sport. Tonight, we’re having a film night - one of their overhyped Hollywood blockbusters vs the charm of the British independent. It will be our finest hour …”
“It was our darkest hour.” Matt looked a broken man as he shuffled across the car park the next morning. “They showed Brokeback Mountain. It was just so … beautiful. We showed Sex Lives of the Potato Men. It’s over, Quentin. It’s over.”
But as I helped him towards the office, his mood became more sanguine. “You know Quent, you may have been right. If being English is about anything, it’s about losing while keeping as much of your dignity intact as possible, and moving on.
“Now when does the Slovenia game start?”*
As seen by Nick Jones
*Building went to press before England’s gritty victory/embarrassing draw/humiliating loss