Department of media and cultural studies. Maureen speaking. I am sorry you have got this machine, but I'm afraid that the office is now closed until Monday August 13 because of staff holidays. Or rather, my staff holiday. My one-week staff holiday. "Would you mind taking the rest of your leave later in the year?" they said. "Perhaps sometime in November so that we will have cover."
That is apparently part of my job. Covering. Makes me sound like a strip of lino. "Hello, Maureen. I am afraid I might be going down with flu. Looks as though I won't make my first-year seminar. Could you cover for me?" "Hi, Maureen. We are running a bit late over lunch and won't be able to start those admissions interviews before three. Could you cover?"
When I am not covering, I am busy looking into things. Much like a truffle pig. "Maureen, we seem to have misplaced Sarah Johnson's second-year project. Would you look into that one for me?" "Maureen, we seem to have a bit of an over-spend on the Xerox. Would you look into it?"
And when I am not covering or looking into things, I am busy being a religious icon. "Maureen, would you be an absolute saint and collect some exam scripts from old Quintock on your way home?" "Maureen, would you be an angel and bring us all some coffee?" "Maureen, would you be my saviour and have these ready for first thing tomorrow?" Of course, I am not complaining about these extra duties. Why should I? I am on the appropriate secretarial grade. Very clever these grades. You do twice as much work as you did five years ago and still stay on the same grade because there has not been a fundamental change in your job specification. More and more and more of the same can't ever add up to a change. It stands to reason.
Well, that's all for now. Leave your name and number after the beep and as soon as I return I promise I will be an absolute saint and once again start covering and looking into things.