Alison Shell



Hi, Alison—
Thanks for your message.
So your salary hasn’t come through?
We’ve had a few glitches with software,
So there isn’t a lot we can do—

We’ve got this fantastic new program
Which basically can’t do the job.
But I passed on your problem to Paula,
And she got it actioned by Bob,

Who’s off on a brainstorming session,
But emailed her something about
A long-term strategic commitment
To getting it all sorted out.

So she’ll be liaising with Kayleigh,
Who’ll get on to Gaby and Grace,
Who’ll run it past Ricky in Finance—
You see that we’re onto the case.

Of course it’s IT’s baby, really.
It’s like we’re dependent on geeks,
And going by last time it happened,
They could take—ooh—up to six weeks?

A check? Oh, I wouldn’t have thought so.
I’m looking at Lee, who says no,
Not since we embraced direct debit—
We’re not in the Stone Age, you know. …

Stonewalling? I didn’t quite catch that. …
Can I just stop you there?
You’ll find in the Staff Members’ Handbook
That it’s really unhelpful to swear.

Believe me, we’ve all got our hands tied.
But why don’t I just put you through
To Colette in our counseling service?
Okay? Hope that helps.
‘Bye then …

Alison Shell is a Professor of Early Modern Studies in the Department of English, University College London, and previously taught at Durham University. She has written extensively on Tudor and Stuart literature, publishing Catholicism, Controversy and the English Imagination, 1558-1660 (1999), Oral Culture and Catholicism in Early Modern England (2007) and Shakespeare and Religion (2010) and a number of articles on Shakespeare, Donne and early modern manuscript culture. She also has long-standing interests in children’s literature, popular verse and satire. As an undergraduate she wrote for the Oxford Revue Company, and has since published in PN Review, Rialto, and Oxford Today.