The Man with the Clipboard
"You'll have had your lunch, then?" says Antar Brobostigon, glancing
at the cheap digital watch which encircles his wrist, a perpetual
reminder of the way the Titanic project encircles his life.
It's a typical greeting from this most untypical of individuals.
Mr. Brobostigon (as he likes to be called) carries few outward
signs of the almost awesome responsibility which rests upon his
narrow shoulders. Short, stout, balding, Mr Brobostigon cannot
be called "imposing." His skin has the typical golden tan of the
man who spends his time indoors; even in the sun (his associates
say) it refuses to turn white.
Nor is Mr Brobostigon's face in any way memorable. His lips twitch
as we speak. His hands fiddle incessantly with the eight coloured
pens on his modest boxwood desk. He seems jittery yet sessile.
We are constantly interrupted by draughts persons, construction
workers, people carrying plans and pieces of cable, spanners,
connectors, order forms and memoranda. At one stage a large, burly
tharpenter bursts in in a state of high dudgeon, but Mr Brobostigon
calms his fears and send him on his way without ever seeming really
to listen to the problem.
Yet when we ask him what it was all about, he says, in his bluff,
project manager's way, "I haven't a clue. I never listen. I just
calm their fears and send them on their way. My job is to facilitate,
not to innovate."
When we point out that this seems to be a non sequitur, Mr Brobostigon
is unperturbed. He rearranges his pens, leans back in his chair
and scratches his blimpht. "If it is, it is," he says. "If I waited
for sequiturs, nothing would ever get done."
And to give him his due, things are getting done. The Titanic project - quite simply the largest,
most luxurious intergalactic leisure cruiser of all time - is
proceeding on schedule towards its launch date of Roctumber 15ft:
the most spectacular, star-studded maiden voyage in the history
of deep-space travel.
But the project has not been without its setbacks. As Mr Brobostigon
himself puts it, "The project has not been without its setbacks.
We have, for example, had considerable problems with the Anaxiomat system. The Titanic architect, Leovinus himself, has been most insistent that fault-intolerance is absolutely
central to the ship's construction, so we have had to work very
closely with Klein und Moebius-Gödel GbMH of Zimmerhaven to ensure
that his strictures were fully complied with. But we're confident
now that this remarkable concept - a feat of engineering unique
to the Titanic - will be fully-operational by our target launch
Mr Brobostigon glances at his watch. It is time for him to go
on his inspection of the magnificent ship herself. We ask if we
may accompany him. "Piss off," he says. He picks up his clipboard
which seems instantly to become a part of him, and stumps from
We are left alone, aware that we have been in the presence of
one who, call him what you will, is -- without any doubt at all
-- a project manager. Antar Brobostigon: man and clipboard in