Home > My Not So Perfect Life(5)

My Not So Perfect Life(5)
Author: Sophie Kinsella

Well. Here’s the thing. You have to be realistic. You can’t go straight in at the fun, glam stuff. Dad just doesn’t get that. He’s always asking: Do I come up with all the ideas? Or: Have I met lots of important people? Or: Do I go for swanky business lunches every day? Which is ridiculous.

And, yes, I’m probably defensive, but he doesn’t understand, and it really doesn’t help when he starts wincing and shaking his head and saying, “And you’re really happy in the Big Smoke, Katie my love?” I am happy. But that doesn’t mean it’s not hard. Dad doesn’t know anything about jobs, or London, or the economy, or, I don’t know, the price of a glass of wine in a London bar. I haven’t even told him exactly how much my rent is, because I know what he’d say; he’d say—

Oh God. Deep breath. Sorry. I didn’t mean to launch into some off-topic rant about my dad. Things haven’t been great between us, ever since I moved away after uni. He doesn’t understand why I moved here, and he never will. And I can try to explain it all I like, but if you can’t feel London, all you see are traffic and fumes and expense and your daughter choosing to move more than a hundred miles away.

I had a choice: Follow my heart or don’t break his. I think in the end I broke a bit of both our hearts. Which the rest of the world doesn’t understand, because they think it’s normal to move out and away from home. But they aren’t my dad and me, who lived together, just us, for all those years.

Anyway. Back to my work. People at my level don’t meet the clients—Demeter does that. And Rosa. They go out for the lunches and come back with pink cheeks and free samples and excitement. Then they put together a pitch, which usually involves Mark and Liz too, and someone from the digital team, and sometimes Adrian. He’s not just CEO but also the co-founder of Cooper Clemmow, and he has an office downstairs. (There was another co-founder, called Max, but he retired early to the south of France.)

Adrian’s quite amazing, actually. He’s about fifty and has a shock of iron-gray wavy hair and wears a lot of denim shirts and looks like he comes from the seventies. Which I suppose, in a way, he does. He’s also properly famous. Like, there’s a display of alumni outside King’s College, London, on the Strand, and Adrian’s picture is up there.

Anyway, so that’s all the main players. But I’m not at that level, nothing like. As I said, I’m involved in the research side, which means what I’m actually doing this week is…

And, listen, before I say it, it doesn’t sound glamorous, OK? But it’s not as bad as it sounds, really.

I’m inputting data. To be specific, the results of this big customer survey we did for Coffeewite about coffee, creamers, cappuccinos, and, well, everything. Two thousand handwritten surveys, each eight pages long. I know, right? Paper? No one does paper surveys anymore. But Demeter wanted to go “old school” because she read some research that said people are 25 percent more honest when they’re writing with a pen than they are online. Or something.

So here we are. Or, rather, here I am, with five boxfuls of questionnaires still to go.

It can get a bit tiring, because it’s the same old questions and the participants all scribbled their answers in Biro and they aren’t always clear. But on the plus side, this research will shape the whole project! Flora was all “My God, poor you, Cat, what a bloody nightmare!”—but actually it’s fascinating.

Well. I mean, you have to make it fascinating. I’ve taken to guessing people’s income brackets based on what they said in the question about foam density. And you know what? I’m usually right. It’s like mind reading. The more I’m inputting these answers, the more I’m learning about consumers; at least I hope so—

“People. What the fuck is up with Trekbix?”

Demeter’s voice breaks into my thoughts again. She’s standing in her spiky heels, thrusting a hand through her hair, with that impatient, frustrated, what-is-wrong-with-the-world expression she gets.

“I wrote myself a set of notes about this.” She’s scrolling through her phone, ignoring us all again. “I know I did.”

“I haven’t seen any notes,” says Sarah from behind her desk, using her customary low, discreet voice. Saint Sarah, as Flora calls her. Sarah is Demeter’s assistant. She has luscious red hair which she ties into a ponytail and very white, pretty teeth. She’s the one who makes her own clothes: gorgeous retro fifties-style outfits with circular skirts. And how she keeps sane, I have no idea.

Demeter has got to be the scattiest person in the universe. Every day, it seems, she misplaces a document or gets the time of an appointment wrong. Sarah is always very patient and polite to Demeter, but you can see her frustration in her mouth. It goes all tight and one corner disappears into her cheek. She’s apparently the master of sending emails out from Demeter’s account, in Demeter’s voice, saving the situation, apologizing and generally smoothing things over.

I know it’s a big job that Demeter does. Plus she has her family to think about, and school concerts or whatever. But how can you be this flaky?

“Right. Found it. Why was it in my personal folder?” Demeter looks up from her phone with that confused, eye-darty look she sometimes gets, like the entire world confounds her.

“You just need to save it under—” Sarah tries to take Demeter’s phone, but she swipes it away.

“I know how to use my phone. That’s not the point. The point is—” She stops dead, and we all wait breathlessly. This is another Demeter habit: She starts a really arresting sentence and then stops halfway through, as though her batteries have been turned off. I glance at Flora and she does a little eye roll to the ceiling.

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