30 July 2001
Three minutes after we arrived at the firm's Family Fun Day, Liability went missing. For some unaccountable reason she couldn't even make it through the managing partner's opening speech about how well everybody had done - especially in his department - and how he hoped pensions would be thinking a lot more carefully about their advice in the future. He said not to worry about the massive claim for damages coming up in the autumn because he was going to make sure it didn't affect equity bonuses - and who could worry as long as those were safe?
Then he cut the ribbon on the bouncy castle and was practically knocked over by the rush of PFI newly qualifieds, who compensate for the thought of years of being nice to health and education authorities by indulging in savage displays of male bonding. They kept one man on point to repel kiddie boarders and leapt like dervishes. Within five minutes the bouncy castle had popped and they spent the rest of the afternoon blaming each other for not seeing the risk and wondering how they could procure another.
Liability wasn't under the ruins or in the show tent where the 'Bouncing Baby, Model Mum' competition was being held. The smart money was on Lotte, the head of corporate's glamorous Swedish wife who has skin the colour of Caramac and who plucked her gorgeous blond baby out of the hands of the au pair before tottering on stage in her Jimmy Choos. But much to everyone's surprise, the prize was whisked away by Jackie, secretary to Lotte's husband, who works such long hours that no one even suspected her of having a home, let alone a baby to put in it. There was much swearing in Swedish from Lotte, whereupon Jackie's baby, overwhelmed by the attention (and perhaps wondering where his childminder was) threw up over her shoes. There was much cheering from the crowd.
I couldn't find Liability at the "Dad and Lad" Scalextric track either, where Deminimus and the Lawyer were beating all challengers, including a large contingent from the new sports and entertainment department who spend their entire lives on freebies at the racetrack and who were screaming at each other every time a car spun off. Unfortunately, Mr Barnes, head of security, discovered that Deminimus had superglued washers to the underside of the other cars when he wasn't looking. The Lawyer was appalled and led him off to the sandpit for a good talking-to. He told him he should have painted the washers black - much less noticeable.
No joy in the karaoke tent either, where sweet little girls in one-shouldered lycra tops and glitter were singing Britney Spears songs. That is until they were reduced to tears by Subjudice, who has grown out of that phase and treated us to some of Eminem's choicest uncut tracks instead.
I finally found Liability at the pony rides. She was perched on the managing partner's knee, clasping his face between her hands, telling him why Daddy thinks he could do his job better than he could, and that even a monkey could run the firm better than him. Luckily, the managing partner, who never listens to anything said by anyone earning less than him, thought she was a delightful little girl, if a bit sticky in the hands department due to all the candyfloss. I carried her off (taking some of his facial hair with us) and she asked if we could go and see the monkey now. I burst out laughing for the first time that day.