“why are you so down on your butler?” frank enquired.

When we heard we were getting a contractor in Dept Cool-until-you-are-in-it who was “older”, my first question was, “older like me, or older like the professor?”. The answer was, “neither”.

So I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect.

What I did not expect was a 400 year old man. A 400 year old man who is a complete jerk.

Now I’m not generally down on people who are older. Hell, one of my favourite peeps at Marie Celeste is 78. I think 400 year old man would be a jerk irrespective of age.

You see, 400 year old man will. not. listen. We all tell him stuff he needs to know, invest much time and energy explaining how things work and answering his wacked out questions – which is totally fine and expected for a new person. In the middle of week two we worked out that he is asking each of us exactly the same questions – and that we are giving exactly the same answers – and yet he still asks, but he doesn’t just confine these same questions to the members of Dept Cool-until-you-are-in-it – he expands his search to include people in other departments (who also give exactly the same answers).

When you endeavour to explain something to 400 year old man, he will constantly interrupt with “yes” every third word, he does not wait for a pause in the sentence, he’s just interjecting “yes” constantly while you are speaking. This is one of the many, many things which is driving me completely and totally nuts.

While 400 year old man will happily interject “yes” constantly, woe betide you if you try to correct a factual error in one of his rambling discourses. 400 year old man will interrupt conversations with a “could I just run this past you?” and then announce, “now, as I understand it, baby cows are giraffes…” and when you begin to kindly say, “well, actually baby cows are calves, and..”, he gets all fierce, almost shouting, “now, just bear with me while I finish what I was saying” and speaks for five minutes without pause about the ramifications of baby cows being giraffes. When he completes his rambling, you’ll say gently, “well, no, as the professor and the pommy have already explained, baby cows are calves and so your plan for giraffes will not work in this context and, actually, your project is about moon seals.” He’ll then get even more cross and go off with a, “I have been given responsibilty for this project and baby cows are giraffes…”. Then he’ll wander off and repeat this exchange with others and explain his master plan involving dealing with the cow/giraffe issue and which completely ignores the moon seals. I could somewhat understand if 400 year old man had any experience at all in dealing with cows, giraffes or moon-seals, but he is a complete novice in this area.

It is becoming so awful in Dept Cool-until-you-are-in-it, that the professor, who rarely says a bad word about anyone (although he merrily tars me with the anglo-provincial brush), had a stand-up slanging match with him last week (when the shouting began, I escaped to my geeky pal and skulked back when it was all over, as I much prefer to talk about people behind their backs than being witness to confrontation).

Also, 400 year old man cheerfully picks his nose at his desk. And has an enourmous one of these. And refers to women as “birds”. And that is not even half of the horror.

The upside is that Dept Cool-until-you-are-in-it are all bonding really well in the face of a common enemy.

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