Smoke & Mirrors: Why is my teenage son getting up early?

Smokehouse's IT boss makes an embarrassing confession, while the comms chief's slacker son, Henry, starts behaving very oddly.

by Guy Browning
Last Updated: 23 Feb 2015


Nearly died of shock this morning. My slacker son, Henry, was up before me. It's the first I've seen of him for weeks and I'd actually assumed he had rotted into a thin layer of compost under his duvet. He disappeared out of the door with his laptop, which was very strange as his laptop normally guarantees against ever having to leave his duvet, let alone the house. In the bathroom there was also evidence of soap being applied in a meaningful way. Fortunately, Henry explained everything before leaving with a helpful grunt. It could have been 'train' or even 'plane' but, after reviewing his complex pattern of communication over the past 10 years, I reckoned it was probably just a grunt. He certainly hasn't got any communications-director genes from me.

Got to the office and did nothing all day as my computer is down.


Henry was gone again in the morning. For 10 years he has been busy reversing the march of evolution by turning himself back into a stain of primordial goo in his bedroom.

But now he seems to have leapt forward several million years. Interesting day in the office. Mike Lamb, our CIO, wanted to see me. Unusually for a CIO he can look you in the eye and wears cotton-rich shirts.

I asked him if it was about fixing my computer. It wasn't. Then Narinder Shah, our CMO, said she wanted to see me. Normally when the C-suite have problems they go and see the CEO but our bewigged one, Linton Spivey, solves all board-level problems by sacking those involved and going on holiday immediately afterwards. It's actually remarkably effective.


Our CIO, Mike Lamb, spent about half an hour beating round the bush while I speculated on every conceivable embarrassing news that he could want to impart, finally settling on gender reassignment. Finally, he reminded me that about a year ago marketing and IT had announced a bright new future of data-driven marketing, where brilliant analysis of rich data would liberate wellsprings of insight to explode new markets and catapult growth into astronomical figures. Something about the way Mike was sitting told me that this probably hadn't happened. Then he came out with it. He'd spent a fortune putting all our data on the cloud and the cloud had disappeared. Apparently, the tech consultants we'd employed, Enemica, were also very much like clouds in that they had just floated away, who knows where. Having clarified that our entire corporate intelligence and memory had been wiped, I then asked if anybody had noticed. Apparently not.


Henry was back in his rightful place under the duvet. He told me he'd been for a job interview. I said well done for trying and left him to his joystick. When I arrived in the office, Narinder Shah, our CMO, was in the office with Mike. After some general coughing and throat clearing, she admitted that marketing hadn't looked at any meaningful data for as long as we'd had the cloud-based insight thingy. Instead, they'd been asking Marsha on reception what she thought about various marketing initiatives because she 'had her finger on the pulse'. So, between them, they have spent a huge amount of money on an IT system that doesn't work, they haven't used, don't understand and has now disappeared. There's a bright future for them in the Civil Service.


When I got up, Henry was already working at the breakfast table on his laptop. This confused the hell out of me until he announced that he was now working for a large cybersecurity consultancy as a white-hat hacker. The job basically involved what he'd been doing under the duvet for the past 10 years except with less porn. I told him that Smokehouse had the best cyber-protection in the industry and that he wouldn't scratch the surface. It took me about 10 minutes to shave and get dressed. As expected, Henry passed me a memory stick on the way out with all our confidential company data on. I'll probably give it to Mike Lamb in due course. After he's fixed my computer.

Guy Browning is the author of How to be Normal: A Guide for the Perplexed, published by Atlantic at £12.99. He can be contacted at

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

C-Suite parents share working at home tips

For many people, the home office is now also a home school.

How to manage remote teams (without becoming a Zoom pest)

Briefing: Former Waitrose boss Mark Price says managers will need to think about how they’re...

Could coronavirus lead to gender equality?

Opinion: Enforced home-working and home-schooling could change the lives of working women, and the business...

Mike Ashley: Does it matter if the public hates you right now?

The Sports Direct founder’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has drawn criticism, but in the...

4 films to keep you sane during the coronavirus lockdown

Cirrus CEO Simon Hayward shares some choices to put things in perspective.

Pandemic ends public love affair with Richard Branson et al

Opinion: The larger-than-life corporate mavericks who rose to prominence in the 80s and 90s suddenly...