It’s been a while since any Eliza Effect went up, so here’s a little bit for you-


Mike and Paul were bouncing links back and forth by e-mail. There was nothing else to do, and sooner or later someone would destroy this tranquillity, so they made the most of it. Paul was specialising in odd news items and Mike had just discovered weblogs.
The door handle turned. Something in it was jamming and it made a warning click every time someone came in. They had their cover- tables of customer information- on screen before the door had even started opening. They looked round, busy innocence interrupted.
�I came for some catalogues.� Their visitor announced. He knew full well there were none, but the office had been a makeshift store until Mike discovered LAN connections in it and requisitioned it as an office. James Allison had signed the Tech Support paperwork to make it happen as his last action before moving to Customer Support.
�We shipped our last one just last week.� Mike assured him.
�I just thought I�d come down and see you boys before you move.�
�We�re losing our office?� Paul was aghast.
�You haven�t heard? You�re moving down to Slough.�
�Why would we do that?�
�It seems Bill Walsh was really impressed by your stocktaking system and wants you to put it into all of the new offices. You really didn�t know?�
�We�re always the last to be told.�
�Which one�s Bill Walsh?� Paul asked, �I�m not very good with names.�
�He�s the national head of Sales.� James informed him.
�Oh right, right.�
�I guess I shouldn�t tell you any more, if you haven�t been informed. There could be permanent jobs in it for you, though. And when it�s finished, there might be a job or two in Customer Support, if you want them.�
�Thanks. Yeah, we�ll keep that in mind.�
�Well, gotta go.�
The door clicked behind him. Paul stared at it for a moment. �Didn�t I tell the national head of Sales to fuck off at the big Christmas review?�
�No, that was the head of Marketing. And he deserved it.�

�I can see what he meant.�
Mike pointed down the street, filled with Saturday shoppers. �The guy who wrote that poem. �Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough.� Who was he?�
�Don�t know.� Owen was trying to concentrate on driving. He still got trapped in pointless circuits of the town centre when trying to escape from Slough.
�I�ll text my sister. She knows this sort of thing.� Paul had a new phone, though he had been complaining that the flip action wasn�t what he really wanted. If his head stayed down too long, he was going to get car sick from the round about route out of town.
�God, I was expecting it to be y�know�. I don�t know. Better. Down here.� Mike wasn�t impressed. They were on a road which promised to take them somewhere nicer. On the left were out of town shopping boxes, to the right identikit corporate buildings. They went past The Company�s headquarters.
�You�re not going to come over all Northern on me are you.� Owen averted his gaze from the office.
�What, and you haven�t been trading on it for the last six months. It has to have some redeeming features, doesn�t it?�
�There�s a BMX track. And I get to ride in through Windsor every day.�
�That may redeem it for you. What about me? Comic shop?�
�I think there�s one in Richmond.�
�It�s a start, I guess.�
�There. Sent it.�
�What was the answer?�
�Give her a chance, she won�t even have received it yet.�

They�d wound up in Staines, on the look out for Ali G, and gravitated to The Swan. Mike had found his redeeming feature. He loved rivers, and the Thames was better than most because it was alive with boats and the eponymous birds. He watched a cruiser going up stream. Maybe, one day, he could do that.
The beer wasn�t so bad, either. More expensive than in Manchester, but not as bad as he had expected. Owen, as designated driver, nursed his half pint of Speckled Hen. �The car has to go back on Tuesday.�
�What you got it for?�
�I�ve got to go down to Southampton and have a look at one of the offices. Dull as fuck, but someone�s got to.� He turned to Paul, �So tell us about this mystery woman.�
�There�s no mystery. I�m just not telling you anything.�
�She�s someone I know.�
�I should fuckin� well hope so.�
�What�s her name?�
Paul�s pocket beeped. He pulled out his phone and flipped it open as nonchalantly as possible, read the TXT and nodded. �John Betjeman.�
�Your girlfriend?�
�The guy who wrote the poem you were on about.�

In one of those wierd things you do, I picked up shiny new bike, rode it through the park on the way home, caressed it lovingly for a while- then put it away and went off for a thirty mile ride on my other bike. I thought I’d train for Bogle by covering the actual route. It would have been easier if they hadn’t changed it. I’ve gone round the old one, by bike and van, so many times that I sailed past the turning which is new for this year. Hey ho, did it in the end. Next week I’m going to try for two circuits.
Page Sixteen of Bulletproof Poets. And another bit of The Eliza Effect-

Kate could argue employment law with people on ten times her income- and win more often than they�d like to admit- but she always came to Owen for the simplest of computer problems. She was sitting on the edge of her desk swinging her legs as he fiddled around in the code window. They were nice legs, not quite cyclist�s, but definitely toned on something, but he tried not to be distracted by them. �I thought you�d finished?�
�I�m just putting some error trapping in.�
�I don�t make mistakes.�
The assertion elicited a chuckle. �We all make mistakes.� Like moving down to the Slough office, he didn�t add. �This is the algorithm for checking customer numbers.� He tapped the screen, �I built it, so you get it for free. Don�t tell anyone else, or they�ll all want it too.�
Kate leaned forward and a corkscrew of red hair hung down toward the keyboard. She had put a lot of thought into just how big a braid could escape without looking untidy. �It can be our little secret.� She bounced off the desk and grabbed the chair from across the way. �Tell me how it works.� She said, sliding in close to Owen.