Monday, March 19, 2007

Flanning by numbers

If you were a British child in the 1970s, especially if you lived in an ITV rather than a BBC household, then the Phantom Flan Flinger will need no introduction. But for the benefit of others, he (or possibly she) was a masked figure dressed in black who appeared on Tiswas every Saturday morning to shove custard pies in the faces of famous special guests.

A simple concept, but an effective one, and one which the mischievous element at work adopted several years ago when Comic Relief came along. Basically, if you raise a minimum amount (this time, £25) then you can nominate a colleague to be flanned by the Phantom Flan Flinger on Red Nose Day. Those nominated don't (in theory) know who nominated them, and nobody (in theory) knows who the flanner is. If you can't bear the idea of being flanned, there is an opt-out, which is that you can match your nominators' donation.

Flannees, as you might expect, are usually directors, high-profile slightly annoying people, and extroverts. It's never going to be not edgy, given that we are not seven years old, but it's generally good-humoured.

Yet a couple of weeks ago people started sidling up to me and asking if I was going to nominate someone. Not anyone, someone. The first time it happened, my stomach flip-flopped at the thought. 'I couldn't,' I said. I would be doing it for Bad Reasons. Which maybe I could live with, so more importantly, what if they found out it was me?

A few days later someone fell into step alongside me and informed me sotto voce that there was a fund to which I could contribute if I wished. He gave me a name. I went to the cashpoint, and then to a desk in a corner of the building. 'I hear you are taking donations for a good cause', I said. She smiled at me, and lifted her keyboard to reveal a manila envelope, into which she slid my cash.

Friday dawned, and I was a little edgy. Would it come off? And are we *really* allowed to do this kind of thing? Rumour has it the manila envelope was pretty full. Like Murder on the Orient Express, it could have been any of our contributions that tipped the balance.

I didn't join the crowd outside, I didn't know what my face would do. But I did watch from an upstairs window, through my fingers. Then I watched a few more people so I could tell myself I was just, you know, watching. With everyone else. All in a good cause.



Blogger Andy said...

Hee hee, that's funny. And I wish I had known about it myself. We have our own Tyrannosaurus, and Jo, I can bet he/she can trump yours following recent behaviour (let's just say "20% staff turnover in 8 weeks"...).

The fund for flanning this individual would have been large....

Let's have a drink soon and talk about it!

8:43 pm  

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