“You don’t seem to realise, Cartwright, that your position with us is in jeopardy. You don’t listen, you look slovenly and, for god’s sake, you need to be a damn sight more tengulous.”

Ok, that’s cock for three reasons, he thought. One, he did listen, two, the beard has to look a bit scrappy before it grows all the way in, and … wait, what was that third one?

“Are you listening to me, Cartwright?”


“Good lord, man. I’m telling you you don’t listen and you can’t even listen to tha-”

“No, no, I was, sir. Position in jeopardy, listening, slovenly and I need to be more …”

“Yes, more…?”




“And see that you are. Starting tomorrow!”

He was pretty sure it wasn’t a word. Does it mean proactive? Most business words mean proactive. Normally, even the words you don’t know the meanings of, words like pusillanimous or pertinacious, you sort of just know that they are words, they do register with some far-off memory of some sentence, somewhere. Tengulous stumped him.

Did he mean pendulous, maybe? But Cartwright didn’t think that he’d be able to become more pendulous by tomorrow. Not on his diet.

Cartwright sat at his sad little desk, munching thoughtfully into a coronation chicken sandwich. He looked at the Google search open on his screen.

Did you mean:

tenuous       tremulous       tangelos

He was pretty sure that his boss didn’t want him to be more tenuous, he was, frankly, tremulous enough and a tangelos was a citrus fruit hybrid of a tangerine and a pomelo. They look like teeny orange pears, and delicious.

He scrolled down. Tengulous only had one result. Well, a couple, but they all seemed to reference the same thing. He clicked on the first link. Apparently, Tengulous was a level 30 summoner for something called League of Legends. He had 14,802 neutral minion kills, which did sound awfully proactive.

This was the only thing. He had presented Google with ‘tengulous’, it had looked high and low, and this is what it had returned with. He worked for the BBC news website. Why would they want him to be this?

There was a picture: a fantasy warrior wearing a horned helmet, holding aloft an axe, with a glorious, multi-tiered golden beard. I mean, he looked a little how tengulous should look: heavy, lumbering, strong, exactly how the word felt in your mouth. So was he supposed to keep the beard or lose the beard?

“Cartwright? Thoughts on this?” said a voice from the cubicle next to his.

He leaned over his small wall to see Harris working on a short summary article on the Syria peace talks.

“Read ok?”

Cartwright skimmed it. It read fine, except, well maybe …

“Hmm” he said, stroking his chin. “Perhaps it could be a little more … tengulous?”

Harris stared at him. Cartwright stared right back. Help me, thought Cartwright. Help me on this.

“Ok” said Harris, removing the last sentence and submitting the article. “Good call.”


That night he shaved off his beard and stood in front of his wardrobe to choose which of his clothes might be the most tengulous. It was probably the brown suit.

As he walked in he caught his boss’s eye, smiled and opened his mouth as if to say something but –

“Damn it, Cartwright!’ he yelled “You may have lost that horrible beard, but if I don’t start seeing some tengulousness by tomorrow, you’re gone!”

His boss stormed off. Cartwright looked around the office floor for someone, just one person with a ‘wait, did he say tengulousness’ expression. No bastard did. He wanted to cry.

After work, he hurried over to Oxford Street. He visited shops with names like ‘Gathering Quests’ and ‘The Replica Nest’ and came away from them with armfuls of bags.

He stood in front of his mirror the next morning, dressed in his new clothes. If I’m going out, he thought, I’m going out hard.

The next morning, he stomped into the office in fur-lined boots. People looked up from their screens at the warrior who now stood before them. He wore garments of leather and metal, a helmet with large glinting horns, a breastplate stamped with the flag of the House of Shaco and strapped to his back was a large replica axe, nicknamed in the proper circles as, The Renderer. Also, in his hand was a small carry case because it was still an office.

“SIR,” bellowed Cartwright “HOW DO I LOOK?”

The boss turned, looked him up and down, and furrowed his brow.

Silence. Then, finally:

“Yes, yes, Cartwright” he said, impatiently. “Don’t you have articles to submit or something?”

“I SUPPOSE I DO,” bellowed Cartwright, striding over and sitting at his little desk. The warrior scooched his chair in a bit, lifted his helmet slightly and began to type up a summary of the Best Actress Oscar nominations, tengulously.


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