It was noon when they took their seats around the table, each of them grim-faced like the condemned.
Phil was hungry. Kate was tired. James was nursing a hangover of such epic proportions that he was in no mood to entertain the amorous advances of Shelley, who was meant to be taking minutes but had instead kicked off her shoes and begun to run an exploratory toe up his lower leg.
Danny and Lisa were late, prompting a collective protest which manifested itself in the less than conspicuous form of simultaneous paper shuffling.
Bob was standing in for Rob, despite the fact it had been Rob who set the meeting up in the first place.
“So,” said Phil, struggling to hide his lack of enthusiasm, “where shall we start?”
“Is there an agenda?” Lisa ventured.
“Shelley?” said Danny.
Oblivious to the fact she was now the sole focus of the meeting, Shelley continued her futile doe-eyed pursuit of James, who delivered a well-timed kick under the table. She emitted a yelp and turned back to the assembly, flushing bright red as she clumsily thumbed through the stack of papers in front of her and began to hand them out.
“Much obliged, Shelley,” said Danny, though his tone suggested he was anything but.
Phil’s stomach rumbled. Kate yawned. James, who was getting paler by the minute, took a hearty gulp of his Red Bull and shot Shelley a warning stare across the table, prompting her to look dolefully down at her notepad.
“Look,” said Lisa, making a deliberate show of checking the time on her Blackberry, “I don’t want to speak out of turn here, but if this was meant to be Rob’s meeting and Rob’s not actually here, is there any point in us having the meeting? Shouldn’t we just postpone it until he can come?”
Bob shifted in his seat. “But…” he stammered, “Rob sent me in his place.”
“With all due respect, Bob,” Phil chipped in, “you haven’t been working on this project at all. I’m unclear on how exactly you can chair this meeting when you know nothing whatsoever about it.”
A wave of redness swept across Bob’s bald patch. He hitched his wire-framed glasses up onto the bridge of his nose. “Actually,” he floundered, “I do know about the project,” though his expression said otherwise.
“Name the two key stakeholders then,” said Lisa.
“What?” Bob’s eyes widened.
“The two key stakeholders,” Lisa repeated, narrowing her green eyes like a cat, “name them.” Bob looked panicked. “See?” said Lisa, “not a clue.” She folded her arms and sat back in her chair. “I rest my case.”
“I’d hazard a guess that Bob here knows less about this project than the new temp on reception,” Phil said, rolling his eyes.
“Should I be putting all this in the minutes?” Shelley piped up.
“Come on everyone,” said Danny, “it’s not Bob’s fault that Rob couldn’t make the meeting now is it?”
Lisa and Phil grudgingly agreed.
“Umm,” mumbled James, I’m not feeling all that good…”
“So,” Danny continued, “where have we got to? Shall we just do a quick round up of where everyone’s at with this and just…”
James coughed and raised a hand. “Um, I’m sorry but I’m really not feeling well…”
“James, for God’s sake,” Lisa said, waving his complaint away. “We’re trying to make progress here.”
“Tricky as that’s proving to be,” added Phil.
“Indeed,” said Lisa.
James threw up on the floor.
“Meeting adjourned,” said Danny, adding with a glare in Shelley’s direction, “and don’t put that in the minutes.”