Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

Mr Grumpy has been off work for the last three days. Cold, flu, job interviews? I have no idea. David has been rushing round the building in a blue silk suit pretending that he is a media medico, ready to reassure and persuade. And Gavin and Jiri have had a full head-on shouting-match. (I could possibly insert another couple of hyphens into that sentence but I’m not quite sure.)

Remember all that happy excitement when Jiri agreed that redesigning his section of the interface was a good thing? That was then, this is now. Gavin wandered through, saw that Jiri had messed with his code, and suggested that now was a good time for a review meeting.

They went into the presentation room, with the screen and the white board and the digicam and the video conferencing facilities. They shut the door, but after a few minutes noise and steam began to emerge from round the edges. And I knew that Jiri had finally cracked and started telling Gavin that he was wrong, that his approach was wrong, that his code was inefficient, and that a design path that consisted entirely of Gavin and David sitting together and feeding sharks was not effective.

I also knew that if any of the other developers had been in there, they would have crumbled by now. Beardy Nick would do anything to avoid a row, up to and including coming in at 8am every Sunday morning for six months while the system went live. And CJ doesn’t really believe that he knows enough to disagree with anyone, about code. And Ian likes working within the realms of the possible. But Jiri, whether it’s because he’s Czech and has been through National Service, or whether it’s because he is unutterably stubborn and weighs as much as a small car, will pick his corner and come out fighting.

I knew the obvious thing to do was to leave them to it. Instead, I wondered if there was anything I could do to influence the outcome, at the very least, distract David so that he couldn’t weigh in on Gavin’s side.

It was surprisingly easy to persuade Lulu, the receptionist, that it would be a good idea to put an announcement over the intercom that it was such a lovely day we were all going to head for the pub.

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