b Papa Dog's Blog: And All that Bumpf

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Monday, March 20, 2006

And All that Bumpf

Stop me if I told this story a couple of years ago....

Something reminded me of J today. She was the office manager at the place I worked at in Vancouver, a tiny little public information office in the Provincial government. There were only three of us; D the executive director, J the office manager, and me the secretary. It was possibly the slackest job I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some slack ones. I’d arrive bright and early to open up the place, then J would come in and look at her mail, and then around 9 D would show up, toss her coat and bag in her office, then spend the first hour or so of the working day briefing me on what all I’d missed because I didn’t have a TV set. This was the early 90s, and it’s because of D that I know Kathie Lee Gifford’s son’s name is Cody. This information has not stood me in particularly good stead, but it was duly acquired in service of the Province of British Columbia. D also liked to tell me all about Murphy Brown, with whom she identified strongly though she was a good deal younger. She told me I was her Eldin. It would be a few years before I really understood what that meant, and I ultimately chose to take is as a compliment.

J was a dotty older lady of the type being mocked at that time by the Kids in the Hall (and at an earlier time by Monty Python). She was impossibly cheerful and unfailingly dim, good-hearted to a fault and secretly filled with simmering resentments. She drew from an idiosyncratic lexicon, and had certain particular verbal tics that drove D crazy. For D’s amusement I started compiling a list of J-isms, and I sure wish I had that list with me today. One that comes to mind is “and all that bumpf.” Usage examples: “If you have time this afternoon, can you re-sort the brochures and all that bumpf?” “No, I didn’t do much over the weekend, just gardening and all that bumpf.” “Time to change the toner cartridge and all that bumpf.” In other words, there is no proper usage; it’s just some extra noise tacked on to the end of any sentence, like “y’know?” only odder.

One thing about J I recall with fondness is her devotion to the ritual of tea. Twice a day, promptly at 10:30 and 3:30, she would emerge from her office with a tray laden with teapot, sugar, milk, and cookies, and whatever pretence of work was then underway would screech to a halt while we had a thoroughly civilised tea break. In the unlikely event that someone from the outside world happened upon the office just then, they’d have surely been invited to join us. J, whose passion at home was the cultivation of orchids, really should have been the resident dotty old lady in a quaint English village in the 1950s, maybe in an Ealing comedy. How she ended up managing and office that did next to nothing I have no idea. Tax dollars at work and blogfodder many years later.


Blogger Twizzle said...

It's funny to watch movies from the ninetee-seventies and hear people say, "...and all that jazz." Nobody says that any more. "Jazz" has been usurped by "stuff."

Now "bumpf..." That's original!

11:55 AM  

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