Life on Mars

“We all have a great deal to learn from NASA,” says Roy.

We are climbing up the staircase,
after having circled the sales floor
and gone in and out of the kitchen.

Roy calls it ‘innovation by walking about’.
He says idea generation increases by 30%
when discussions take place on the hoof.

“Do we?’” I ask.

Some delivery men are carrying boxes down the stairs.
We stand aside to let them go by.
I see Roy keeps walking on the spot.

“Conceptual study, analysis, definition,
design and development, operations,” he says,
resuming the climb.

“The same five-phase approach for each major project.
Building a space station,
sending a beagle to Mars,
etcetera.”

We reach the top of the staircase.
Roy pushes at the fire escape door
and we walk out, onto the roof.

The view up here is majestic,
over Christ Church Spitalfields and the City.

“You know,” I say,
as I follow him over heating vents and chimneys,
“I believe the Mars beagle was a robot,
as opposed to a canine.”

Our tour of the roof is complete.
Roy pulls on the fire escape door
but it won’t budge:
it only opens from the inside.

We are now trapped on the roof.

He looks at me.
“Huh,” he says.
“That’s good to know about the beagle.
You don’t get that kind of insight sitting at your desk.”

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