There's a classic episode of Bagpuss in which the mice from the mouse organ build a chocolate biscuit factory. To the outside observer (specifically, Bagpuss himself), the factory appears to be a hive of efficient and prolific biscuit production, churning out delicious sweetmeats at a clip that would have made Jack Welch's little heart pound with capitalist-industrialist joy.
The twist (because this is classic television drama, and therefore there must be a twist) comes when Bagpuss asks to eat one of the biscuits (seemingly unmindful of the fact that he is made of cloth, and therefore has no digestive system), forcing the mice to reveal that the factory's frenetic output is an illusion, and that its production line simply recycles the same biscuit again and again.
I can't begin to tell you how many times in my illustrious career I've felt like the mice with their biscuit factory. As I'm in the service industry, it's imperative that my clients always see a hive of calm, efficient and professional output, no matter what kind of unholy catastrophic disaster might be unfolding behind the scenes.
Today, for example, I found myself trying to buy time by pretending to be in a strategic meeting in London, when in fact I was recklessly driving 15 miles along winding country lanes in the south of France, unwashed and unkempt, trying to get to a broadband connection so that I could send my client a set of brochures that he probably thinks were created by a team of black-polo-neck-wearing, Creative Review-reading, coke-sniffing Mac bunnies in a swanky London studio with exposed brickwork, when in fact they were created by my own little brother (who is a proper designer and everything, just in case any of my clients are reading and getting worried) at the dining room table in my ramshackle French house in the middle of the Languedoc vineyards.
Still, it's a lovely autumn day here, and I think I've got away with it.
Plain Choco Leibniz, anyone?