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Episode 41 "I... what?" the PFY sniffles, reading through his email.

"Hmm?" I ask.

"My attendance at a Linux forum has been canceled because.. the IT Training budget for this quarter has been exceeded?!"

"That's ridiculous," I counter. "It's about 10 grand a quarter and we haven't used any of it!"

"Well that's what it says," The PFY replies, tapping his screen.

"Let's just have a little look, then," I say, using the DBA credentials to rifle through our financials database.

>clickety<

"Hmmm, how much was your course worth?"

"108 quid plus VAT," The PFY says

">clickety<

Ah, well in that case they're right, there isn't sufficient funds to pay for it."

"Why?" The PFY asks, getting a little whiny.

"Because... 9972 quid was spent on a.. >clickety<..... >clickety clickety<..... >clickety<, >tap< >tap<.. >clickety< Hierarchical Storage and Collocated Data Expo."

"A what?"

"Hierarchical Storage and Collocated Data Expo."

"You're going to an Expo?" The PFY asks.

"No."

"Who else could manage to slip a 10 grand junket past the Head of IT?"

"Ahmm, let's see... >clickety< Ah. The Boss. Oh! AND the Head of IT!"

"So they've wangled themselves a top-shelf junket?"

"It would appear so."

"Where is it?"

">Clickety< Where isn't it would be the better question," I say. "It's a cruise ship, stopping in The Hague, Paris, Lisbon, Morocco..."

"A cruise ship, stopping in... Paris?" the PFY says, dubiously.

"That's what it says!" I say, tapping the query results.

"Who's running it?" the PFY asks.

"Let's see. The company's called... Can you pronounce that?"

"I can't even read it, it's 8-bit characters!"

"Look it up on the web?" The PFY suggests.

And no sooner suggested than done. The 'course' is just a top-shelf junket complete with bus tours, hotels, drinks and meals included.

"It's good," the PFY says, looking over my shoulder. "Looks to be completely content free - as if they just pasted photos of Disk Devices and Tape Libraries from Vendor websites to make it legit."

"Hmmm," I concur. "And I'm guessing that the technical content of it will come in a faux leather folder at the end of the tour."

"Just a show bag to prove you went..." The PFY nods.

"Indeed."

"I'm a little surprised The Boss invited The Head of IT, though"

"Nothing's more likely to get a junket approved than getting your boss to go as well - to 'familiarise themselves with the technology'."

"But why would The Head of IT want to spend a week in the company of The Boss?!"

"I'm betting he doesn't. I think he's got a cunning plan to create an unexpected vacancy just before the ship sails - a vacancy which can be filled by Natasha, his new PA. and her even newer fake tan."

"When does it leave??" The PFY asks, looking over my shoulder.

"Tomorrow."

"Ah," The PFY nods. "So a particularly vigorous case of salmonella...."

"Would really upset The Boss's holiday plans. However, The Boss has been spending rather a lot of time in the company of the secretary, so I'd also take a bet that he has his own cunning plan which would see the Head of IT unable to attend."

"So whatever happens my Linux forum's a goner?"

"Perhaps you could always WIN the 108 quid in a small wager?"

"How?"

"By correctly guessing the junket-goer."

"Okay, 108 quid says it'll be The Boss!"

"True, he's sneaky, but perhaps you forget that the Head of IT was handing out homemade savoury nibbles earlier this morning..."

"*I* had some of those!" The PFY gasps, downing several glasses of water from the cooler in an effort to wash away the germs.

"Yeah I know," I chuckle. "I would've too if you hadn't pushed to the front of the line."

"I.... Okay, I've changed my mind, it's The Head of IT who'll be going."

"You're sure now? After all, it was The Boss who changed the bottle on the water cooler this morning - when the old one was still half full."

"But I just bloody drank some of that!!"

"Yeah, I know," I smirk. "So it's The Boss - or the Head of IT...tell me now, quickly, before you go and get your stomach pumped."

"The Boss" The PFY gasps.

. . . The next day. . .

"So that will be 108 quid you owe me," I say to the PFY from my cellphone as I scan the small crowd beside the ship for a familiar face. "The Boss was taken distressingly ill on the Tube on his way home last night. It broke my heart to have to pass on his apologies to the secretary."

"So it was the Head of IT!"

"As it happened he came down with a nasty case of Giardia - much the same as you, I'm guessing - before he'd left the building."

"So no one's going?"

"Well that's what I was ringing about. It would be a shame to just waste the trip, and an even bigger shame if Natasha were unable to exercise that new tan of hers, so I guess I'll bring you back some brochures."

"You Ba.." the PFY says, as I ring off, just as Natasha appears.

Stunning tan.

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