Janice tells me that she has been inundated with calls from around the world this morning asking to speak to my staff.
First there was Liudmila from Vladivostok asking for ‘Solushka’, then there was Isabella from Lisbon asking for ‘Selly’, then Mary from Christchurch requesting ‘my sixy Sulty’, Bibi from Cape Town calling for ‘Souty’, Freya from Rekjavik, barking ‘Sålty’, Aisling from Dún Laoghaire, muttering ‘A Shalann, mo grá’, Scarlett from Happy Valley Goose Bay, singing a ditty to ‘Salty-Bobby-Ann’, Carmen from Cancun purring ‘o mi salito’, Dolores from Lima, whispering ‘mi salgado’, Monalisa from Venice, sighing ‘mio salato’, Agatha from Alexandroupolis, murmuring ‘αλμυρό μου’, Elif from Istanbul, shouting ‘Tuzlu! Tuzlu!’, Fenfang from Kwai Chung, sobbing ‘oh, 咸!’, Ai from Ho Chi Min City, calling for ‘mặn’, and Esperanta, who was unsure where she was from, demanding to speak to ‘mia malgranda saleta’.
I can still hear Janice as I sweep out of her office, glide down the corridor, and rap smartly on the door of my staff, Dr Salty Bob.
The door opens a crack. A whiff of seaweed greets me, and I hear a seagull caw.
‘Dear Salty’, I say. ‘You would appear to have been to every port in the world’.
There is a pause, while Salty performs a quick mental calculation.
‘There is still Port-au-Prince’, he says.
‘There is always Port-au-Prince’, I say. ‘But we cannot have your wives calling at all hours, disrupting the teaching timetable and confusing poor Janice so’.
Salty narrows his eyes.
‘I’ll be good to your widows, dear Salty, as many as I shall find’, I say, placing my foot in the door.