Tuesday, 13 December 2005

Performance Development Review

Today I received the following communication from someone in the organisation with the rather grand title of ‘Deputy Chief Executive’.

‘I would like to remind all staff that their six-monthly PDR review is nowdue. Some of you will already have appointments with your manager todiscuss this; if not, you should be hearing from them soon. If you do notreceive any communication from your manager in the next few days thenplease remind them. It is in your interests to understand your level ofperformance and to know that the objectives you have agreed are helping theCouncil to achieve its aims and vision.

P.D.R (Performance Development Review), for those of you who are not familiar with ‘bullshit speak’, is the process whereby members of staff are interviewed individually by their line manager. Having answered a series of questions, the manager will produce a patronising two-page document telling them what areas they can improve on. Usually this consists of fatuous comments such as ‘Antony needs to be better organised in preparing his workload’. It never ceases to amaze me how the powers that be insist on treating fully grown adults like children at every opportunity. Since this is my last week at Nottingham City Council, I have produced my own Performance Review and saved it in the relevant folder, thus saving my manager the trouble of producing one.

Name: Humphrey Clarke Position: Badly Paid Temp

1) How well did you meet your individual and team objectives? (Refer back to the original
Objectives Setting sheet). Give examples of particular successes.


This is the first (and hopefully the last) PDR for Humphrey

Humphrey started working at the city council in July and has grown progressively more lazy and cynical as his employment has gone on.

His single success at Nottingham Works has been to create an unnecessarily large and picture heavy B.M.E guide, which crashes Word every time it is loaded. Since then he has mostly sat around looking at the BBC News website, delivering sarcastic comments and printing out pictures of Lord Kitchener to hang above his desk. It is questionable whether this activity is compatible with the aims of this organisation.

2) Which aspects of past performance were less successful than expected? Why?

Humphrey is both the most highly qualified, and the worst Admin Assistant in the organisation. He suffers from a crippling lack of motivation because a third of his wages are stolen each week by the evil -and improbably happy- temping agency he works for. When asked to do work for members of staff he commonly responds with an existentialist comment such as ‘what does it matter anyway’ or ‘its all futile’. Furthermore, as an over-privileged aristocratic bastard who hates the lower classes, his suitability for administering pre-employment training courses has to be strongly questioned.

3) Which parts of your work have given you the most satisfaction/enjoyment? Why? What are you most skilled at?

Humphrey’s only skill is the ability to turn up to work when he has a full-blown hangover. He is largely useless when he finally gets there, so this really isn’t much of a boast. Since his job mainly consists of tiresome mail merges and dealing with Neanderthal morons on the telephone his job satisfaction could be said to be terminal. The only other ability he possesses is to ‘tell it like it is’, but this could be alternately interpreted as rudeness.

What have you enjoyed the least? What aspects do you feel least skilled in?

In his own words, Humphrey feels that ‘his soul has died a slow and painful death’ over the course of his employment. The prospect of another battle with the photocopier compels him to obtain a shotgun, blast the errant machine with both barrels and then turn the weapon on himself. This is troubling because, although the member of staff is expendable, such an action would breach health and safety regulations.

Manager’s comments on performance (team and individual)

Sack immediately and refer to mental health clinic.

Wednesday, 7 December 2005

Priapus

Over the past six months I have come to the conclusion that there are certain things a man needs if he is to achieve a modicum of contentedness. These are, in no particular order, a good woman, a well-stocked liquor cabinet and a job title that makes it sounds as if he has enormous genitalia. From January my official job title will be ‘Business Development and Sales Officer’ a label that makes it sound like I have the kind of reproductive organs which the Roman god Priapus once used to scare small children in orchards.

Things at the council have gone from bad to downright lame. Currently my office is suffering from an infestation of fruit flies, this serves only to add to the atmosphere of misery and decay. Right now, the working day consists of a battle of wits between me and the net nanny as I desperately seek to access sites it –rather arbitrarily- brands as ‘tasteless’ and ‘pornographic’. And yet, I can sit at my desk with a degree of smugness because my future is looking a great deal rosier than it was a month ago.

I don’t know how people managed to afford a cocaine habit; right now I can barely afford a tic-tac habit. The measly wages the council pays me are further degraded by the greedy –and improbably cheerful- recruitment agency that employs me. Not content with subjecting me to patronising rules and regulations, the recruitment consultants at Kelly Services siphon off the pitiful sums I accrue at the end of the working week, presumably to fund their crack addictions. Sadly my attempts at job hunting proved strategically flawed. As Katie pointed out, I need to actually follow up newspaper ads rather than simply circling them in biro. About two months ago, a glorious piece of good fortune came my way, a friend of the family steered me towards a company in North London who were looking for a young graduate. I was slightly put off because the advertisement stressed a ‘need for excellence’. ‘Excellence’, as my father will be quick to point out, is not a word normally associated with me. My single role in the Clarke household to date was when my dad appointed me ‘Toilet roll monitor’, not so much because I had shown any sort of merit in that direction, but more because he needed someone to shout at when we ran out of bog-roll. Needless to say, I was utterly hopeless.

In the past year or so, all my adolescent misconceptions have suddenly evaporated. The ‘world of work’, which I used to view with a mixture of dread and awe, I now find to consist of varying degrees of bullshit, stupidity, meaningless jargon and clock watching. The trick seems to be to learn some meaningless piece of management jargon such as ‘strategic task initiative’ and then to drop it into every conversation in order to seem as if you know what you are talking about. Another council scam is to constantly go on ‘personal development’ courses. No only does this cut out a large chunk of the working day but it also allows you to put large numbers of letters after your name. Some of these courses are outright useless. Many a council employee has done a course in using Microsoft Project, only to realise subsequently that it would cost something in the region of £200 to obtain the licence to actually use it.

The New Year will see me starting at Epoq Group in Edgware and saying goodbye to the unwashed hordes of Rottingham-on-Trent. My unsuccessful flirtation with socialism is at an end and I’m now ready to get stuck in to cold-blooded capitalism. I’m now on a pretty hefty salary and the prospect of working hard and actually having something to show for it is an enticing one. Having accidentally left the oven on for twenty-four hours on two occasions this month, it’s going to take a graduate salary just to pay the gas bill.

In the meantime I’m still enjoying my current stint in the dilapidated offices of local government. The latest bit of waste I’ve heard about is that one of our illustrious senior managers went on a trip to Las Vegas at the taxpayer’s expense. No doubt there was a perfectly good reason for this and my cynicism is completely unjustified. Back in the Sixties, councillors went on trips like this the whole time as part of the infamous ‘twinning’ initiatives. For those of you who are not familiar with this particular scam, twinning was the policy whereby the local government of various towns and cities would ‘twin’ themselves with a foreign municipality and then go on numerous expensive ‘goodwill trips’. In the most infamous of these, a councillor of some small English town visited its ‘twin’ in France and, having mixed up his verbs, told the inhabitants in his opening speech that he was intent on having sex with all their women. To me twinning doesn’t seem a wholly pointless initiative. In my opinion Nottingham should twin with Baghdad, a city with which we share many characteristics such as chronic unemployment, endemic corruption and gun crime. The fledgling government of Baghdad has a lot to learn from us. For instance if they followed our current traffic policy - the now infamous ‘turning point scheme’- suicide bombers would not longer be able to drive their vehicles into crowded areas and would simply be diverted into catastrophic traffic jams on the ring road. Baghdad could also take a similar approach to city regeneration to that adopted in Britain. Simply build an expensive new shopping centre, put in an overly trendy and unnecessary ‘waterfront’ development and move in the yuppies. Having priced the proletariat out of the housing market and moved them to run down estates on the city periphery the process is complete. All that’s left is to name the conurbation, ‘European City of Culture’ or some other meaningless phrase.
The only other item on the agenda is that I am ill at the moment. Last night started with me cooking a couple of salmon fillets and ended like a scene from the Exorcist. Despite the feelings of nausia and downright discomfort, this has provided an ideal opportunity to catch up on some property porn and bargain hunting shows. Ah ‘Homes under the hammer’, how I have missed thee.

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Diverse Dealings

This week I’ve been frantically trying to fix the multitude of errors in our online database. We operate an ‘issue tracking’ system whereby I can communicate with the creators of the system and inform them of what exactly the problems are with the interface. The people behind Angry Fish offer further proof –if proof were needed- that one must be wary of the I.T-geek crowd. They may look harmless and unassuming but in reality they are like the Borg, cold calculating and utterly ruthless. They possess the ability to blind you with technical terms and bore you to tears with long-winded jargon; this provides the smoke screen they need to sucker you in to an uneven business deal. Even if our I.T phobic staff actually used the system, it probably wouldn’t work. Right now, for instance, the database reporting system is saying that all the unemployed people we got into work in the first quarter of 2005 were all disabled and from ethnic minorities. If this state of affairs were actually the case, it would be the equality and diversity department’s wet dream. However, I feel I’m justified in viewing these statistics with a hefty degree of scepticism.

I decided to get my haircut a couple of days ago. I say ‘I decided’, in fact these decisions are made for me by ‘she who must be obeyed’. When my hair gets to a certain length she begins a carefully planned programme of ridicule, humiliation and rebuke, until finally I overcome my traditional fear of hairdresser and head down to the cheapest barbers. Funnily enough, the cheapest barbers is just round the corner from me, a rather run down looking establishment known as ‘Khizar’s Cuts’. As I walked in the customers looked slightly startled. I was a little taken aback by this reaction, but sauntered over to the nearest chair and buried my head in a morbidly unexciting issue of ‘Autotrader’. Eventually it was my turn for a trim and I walked over and sat down in the chair. The barber grinned welcomingly at me, his English wasn’t too good and it took some considerable discourse before he understood that I wanted a short back and sides.

‘You first guy….look like you come in shop’ he eventually said, after what had been a slightly uncomfortable silence. ‘really’, I replied, not quite understanding what he meant. ‘yes…..only brothers in here’ he added. Having paid him and exchanged pleasantries I left the shop and walked back to my humble abode. It was then that I realised that he had been trying to tell me that I was the first white guy who had ever been in his shop. I had gone for a haircut and accidentally become an unwitting cultural ambassador. From now on, I’ll always be getting my hair cut there, not because I am interested in building cross-community links, but because he does a damn good haircut at a reasonable price.

There comes a point in a man’s life when he must abandon his socialist principles and stick his greedy snout into the trough of capitalism. With that in mind, I have been applying to various companies in a bid to get on the first rung of the corporate ladder. One rule I have learnt over the years is that when attending a job interview, you must aim to get there around two hours in advance; this is because things inevitably go wrong. A few days ago, I stepped out of the Edgware road tube station and discovered that the map I had earlier printed out from the Internet bore absolutely no relation to my immediate surroundings. Feeling a little confused, I decided to seek some assistance from the locals.

I soon discovered that asking for directions in London is very much like trying to fund-raise for Al-Quaeda on the streets of Manhattan. When you greet the average passer by with a cheery ‘excuse me’ they state back with a look of contempt and quicken their pace as if you are suffering from leprosy. Eventually one good Samaritan responded to me and informed me in no uncertain terms that I was at the wrong Edgware and that the place I wanted was on completely the opposite side of the city. Luckily I had sufficient time to hightail it to North London via the morbidly incompetent Northern Line. I had heard bad things about this service, and these were confirmed when our train reached Golders Green and the driver informed us that we all had to get out because the train was ‘terminating here’. After an interval of about half an hour, I and the rest of the hyper-stressed passengers were told that there had been a mistake and the service wasn’t ‘terminating’ at all. As we shuffled angrily back onto the train I began to understand the pain of the average London commuter.

At the end of the eventual interview I was told that I had ‘ticked a lot of boxes’. If these boxes are labelled ‘team-player’, ‘well spoken’ and ‘self starter’, then I’m in with a shout. If the boxes read, ‘sub-human’,‘sweats profusely when answering questions’, and ‘comprehensively obnoxious’, then I’m going to be checking brio invoices for a good while longer.

Sunday, 30 October 2005

Blame and Fame

title or description

I think it was Issac Asamov that claimed ‘Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent’. If he had bothered to develop this thesis further, he would have discovered that the first refuge is Rottingham City Council. It’s a culture that not only encourages incompetence, but also rewards it. For example, there’s a chap in the next door office who has been working for the council for most of his adult life, eventually reaching the higher echelons of service manager. He was made redundant in a previous ‘reorganisation’ and was placed on the Council redeployment register. This is a wonderful device whereby an employee who is axed is placed in a different role when it becomes available. The great thing is, this drop in status isn’t accompanied by any drop in wages. Hence this guy is now getting paid £40,000 a year for a job that should technically pay around £20,000. Whenever I walk in he is sitting contentedly at his computer playing hearts. It’s a pleasing sight that leaves me with the hope that there is a gravy train at the end of it all.

Sitting at my desk in this poorly ventilated building, I cast my eyes fervently around searching for sources of blame. Should we accuse our impotent senior manager, who sits at his desk fiddling with himself while Rome burns around him?. Sun-Tzu, writing in 500 B.C said that the principle elements of leadership were intelligence, humanity, courage, credibility and discipline. Now leadership seems to be based on shifting blame, passing your work off onto other people and writing dull memos to your colleagues as a means of camouflaging your inactivity.

Should we blame the staff of our regional partners, a group of people whose collective I.T literacy is roughly equivalent to that of a pack of mentally retarded Neanderthals?. No doubt the cold, hard eye of the external audit will discover the real perpetrators, but by then they will probably have jumped ship into different jobs.

Rottingham suffers from the same problems as any large post-industrial city, a vast pool of unskilled labour with few qualifications, completely unsuited to fill the jobs that are on offer. The purpose of this project was to approach companies, discover what skills they required in their applicants, and to train our clients to this standard so they could reach employment. My office acts as a central hub for the organisation. We send out information about our courses, the clients read this material and go into the regional offices, the regional offices then send us the application forms and we then enter the clients on the courses. The trouble is, since this is a trial project, and this is public money we are dealing with, every action needs to be recorded accurately in a central database so that it can be rigorously audited later on. It was agreed that a central, online database be developed at vast expense. This database is known as Angry Fish.

I despise the name. It’s something only techie geeks with that kind of irritating ‘random’ style of humour, plundered shamelessly from Eddie Izzard, would find entertaining. We bought this system, at considerable expense, at the behest of our regional partners. The problem is, no one has been using it. Clients have come and gone, enrolled on courses, gained qualifications and entered employment, but virtually none of it has been documented, mainly because the staff of our local partners go into a blind panic the minite they encounter anything more complicated than Notepad. One can partly understand their concerns, the whole program is badly designed - for example, the 'delete record' button is about a pixel away from the 'open record' button.

As a result, our expensive new database is about as accurate a reflection of reality as Al Capone’s tax return. Those records that have been entered have often been duplicated several times or inputted with vital information missing. Of course, come the Audit, the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund are going to want to know what happened to all the money they gave us. God knows what our departmental management will do then; probably move everyone to different desks.

Various writers, pundits and social commentators are fond of telling us that modern society affected by some form of malaise, that standards are crumbling, manners are steadily becoming redundant and we are all descending into anarchy. Casting an eye over the history of the twentieth century, it seems clear that things have turned for the better rather than worse. Sure we seem to have less of the ‘manly’ Victorian values that made this country great, but at least no-one is dying of polio. One thing, however, troubles me immensely. At no point in human history have our inadequacies been rubbed in our faces quite so much. Flicking through the channels on my television set, I am treated to such depressing spectacles as ‘lifestyles of the rich and the famous’, and ’50 things you’ll be too skint to do before you die’. No wonder we seem to be suffering from some sort of collective status anxiety. We exist in a culture in which we are led to believe that we are all destined to live the lifestyle of the super rich. As always, it’s hard to harmonise ideological expectations with cold hard realities.

Watching documentaries about Paris Hilton makes you realise people turned up in their thousands to watch the French nobility being decapitated at the hands of the mob. One more special about the size of Puff Daddy’s new yacht and, come the next revolution, you’ll find me cheering on the steps of the guillotine as the odious new nobility of the modern age are dealt a dreadful, but deserved justice. That is assuming that I haven’t already been beheaded for having an absurdly posh name.

Friday, 28 October 2005

The Madness Of Snooker

Snooker

Having watched the snooker coverage –the one sport other than the indoor bowls championship the B.B.C still has left in it’s arsenal-, I can only conclude that the commentary team have one of the easiest jobs in the western world. The game is characterised by long periods where nothing very much happens. Instead of filling this interval with any thing particularly profound, the commentators prefer to say nothing at all. When they do open their mouths it is usually to utter something moronic like ‘If he hits this shot into the cushion, he stands a good chance of hitting the black into the red’. I personally don’t blame them. Their particular universe consists of a green table with a limited number of different coloured balls, six pockets, and a series of generic sportsmen with no real personality or flair. Such an environment only lends itself to a limited range of possibilities. I’d imagine this is fairly claustrophobic, and in some cases, the sense of restraint and endless repetition can drive you mad. The imagination longs to escape the narrow confines in which it now finds itself and yearns to break free from pondering the destiny of coloured balls. For one man, the levee well and truly broke, that man was David Icke.


David Icke

For many years David Icke led a successful but fairly unremarkable life. He was born and raised amoungst the working class estates of Leicester. Much like the pope, he began his carreer as a goalkeeper, and played professionally for Hereford United and Coventry city F.C, until arthritis prematurely ended his career at the age of 21. Having left football he took up a job at the BBC as a sports announcer and became well known for presenting the late night snooker highlights. Things were about to go badly wrong.

Icke’s autobiography goes rapidly downhill around March 1990. On a fairly boring trip to the Isle of Wight, Icke started hearing voices which, rather unfortunately, guided him to the 'New Age' section of a bookshop he was browsing. Later on, he was greeted by a mysterious woman who told him he had been ‘put on this earth to heal it’. He had been ‘chosen from childhood to lead mankind into the truth’. His career in football had taught him discipline and given him the ability to cope with the disappointment and ridicule he would encounter in speading his message to mankind. Before you could say ‘nutball’ he was off to Peru and was consulting a peculiar shaman who ‘filled him with knowledge and brought about a great awakening’. Just what this knowledge was, the world was about to find out.

Icke had been pencilled in to appear on ‘The Terry Wogan Show’ the following year. Jim Davidson had top billing that night, but his limelight had already been well and truly stolen. There had been rumours in the tabloids all week that David Icke had been acting strangely, and as he wandered onto the stage it rapidly became clear that something was up. Icke was dressed from head to toe in an incredibly tasteless turquoise shell suit. Upon being questioned about his attire by the bemused host, Icke said that he was wearing turquoise because it was ‘the colour of the universe and a conduit of positive energy’.

David Icke

The warning signs had been there. Earlier, at a specially convened press conference at Gatwick Airport, Icke had let it be known that his spiritual advisor would henceforth be referred to as the Daughter of God while his wife was to be called the Spirit of the Angel of God. He had also predicted the Second Coming and said that the Channel Tunnel would never be built. Best of all, he said that Cuba, the Isle of Arran and the White Cliffs of Dover would all disappear. Now, before the eyes of the nation, he announced that he was the son of god and that everyone who had ever lived would be judged by him in heaven.

Why you?" asked Wogan, it seemed a fair question. "People would have said the same thing to Jesus," David Icke replied. "Who the heck are you? You're a carpenter's son. "He then went on to prophesise Britain’s destruction by Tsunamis and Earthquakes. "When might we expect tidal waves, eruptions and earthquakes?" asked Wogan. "They will certainly happen this year," David replied. This prediction was met with howls of incredulity from the audience. "Why should we believe you?" said Wogan. "I'm saying that these things are going to happen this year," said David, "so we'll see, won't we?" ."And what will happen to you if they don't happen?" asked Wogan. "They will happen," said David. Having left the stage to mass laughter and applause he became the most ridiculed man in the country, it looked like the end. Icke recalls

“One of my very greatest fears as a child was being ridiculed in public. And there it was coming true. As a television presenter, I'd been respected. People come up to you in the street and shake your hand and talk to you in a respectful way. And suddenly, overnight, this was transformed into 'Icke's a nutter'. I couldn't walk down any street in Britain without being laughed at. It was a nightmare. My children were devastated because their dad was a figure of ridicule”

And yet all was not lost, Icke was about to discover the path to recovery. He began to dabble in conventional new-age thinking, spliced with Neo-Nazi conspiracy theories. After a couple of years banished from the limelight he began to write books that proclaimed the world was ruled by a secret group called "The Elite", or "Illuminati," which he linked to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fake anti-Semitic tract. He also alleged that a small group of Jews had financed Hitler, manufacturing the holocaust in order to help the Zionist cause.

"I strongly believe that a small Jewish clique which has contempt for the mass of Jewish people worked with non-Jews to create the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the Second World War. This Jewish/non-Jewish Elite used the First World War to secure the Balfour Declaration and the principle of the Jewish State of Israel (for which, given the genetic history of most Jewish people, there is absolutely no justification on historical grounds or any other). They then dominated the Versailles Peace Conference and created the circumstances which made the Second World War inevitable. They financed Hitler to power in 1933 and made the funds available for his rearmament."

This attracted the skinhead contingent who began to follow him around on his speaking tours. Perhaps encouraged by this adulation, Icke’s theories got steadily more strange. He wrote that 'the global elite are hopelessly drawn to strange rituals', that they run around in robes and burn giant wicker owls at a secret summer camp called Bohemian Grove in the forests north of San Francisco. ‘Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller are rumoured to be among the be-robed’, he speculated. Icke came to believe that the global elite were manipulating free-trade legislation to ease the world for global domination; their lair was the White House, which contained a secret harem of kidnapped and hypnotised underage sex slaves.

David Icke

Then in 1999, Icke published his masterpiece, a book claiming that the world had been taken over by a race of lizards. He had apparently discovered primitive cultures that had carved effigies of lizard-men descending from the skies, these reptilians decided to live among humans and control their society from within. In “Children of the Matrix” Icke describes the lizard's agenda,

“The Reptilians and other manipulating entities exist just outside the frequency range of our physical senses. Their own physical form has been broken down and they can no longer reproduce. Thus they have sought to infiltrate human form and so use that to exist and control in this dimension.”

Prominent figures such as the Queen, George Bush, Bill Clinton, the Queen mother and Kriss Kristofferson were exposed as lizards, who shape-shifted into human form and drank the blood of children. Icke said in an interview

“I knew of a guy called Ted Heath, who was Prime Minister of Britain from '70-'74, and I knew that he was involved in some serious horrendous things, like sacrificing children, and all this stuff, because of people who had seen it. But until now, I never suspected him of being a lizard”

Every strata of British and American society was apparently infiltrated. Icke wrote that, according to Christine Fitzgerald, a confidante of Diana, she had believed that the British royal family was connected to reptiles and said they could shape-shift. Icke revealed

‘It is clear that Diana knew about the true nature of the royal family's genetic history and the reptilian control. Her nicknames for the Windsors were the "lizards" and the "reptiles" and she used to say in all seriousness: "They're not human"...The brotherhood obsession with Scotland, she said, was because there are many entrances their into inner-Earth where the physical reptiles live... She said that during the sacrificial rituals the Queen wears a cloak of gold fabric inlaid with rubies and black onyx. The Queen and Charles have their own ritual goblets, inlaid with precious stones signifying their Illuminati-Brotherhood rank. The Mother Goddess says that that queen makes cruel remarks about lesser initiates, but is afraid of a man code-named 'Pindar' (The Marquis de Libeaux) who is higher in the Satanic hierarchy...the main reptilian gene carriers were given names like Lilith, Lili, Lilutu and Lillette. Another version is Lilibet or Elizabeth and this is why the present British Queen is called Elizabeth (El-lizard-birth) and was known to her family circle as Lilibet. She is a major reptilian gene carrier who produced a major reptilian full-blood called Prince Charles. Both are shape-shifting reptilians, a fact that will be supported by later evidence."

Hollywood in paticular had become infested with the creatures and the proliferation of cosmetic surgery amoungst it's celebrities could not be put down to mere vanity alone. According to Icke “Cosmetic surgery is necessary to conceal exactly what is being done to them on a biological and genetic level". The elite would stop at nothing to rob humans of their independence, orchestrating mass shootings to build up opposition to guns, staging the Bosnian war, the lockabie bombing and September the 11th and, worst of all, planning to implant microchips in everyone’s bodies coded with the satanic number “666”.

‘The "mark of the beast", the microchip, is planned to be moved from the smart card to the human body when a story can be hatched to persuade people to accept it. Some researchers suggest that the human barcoding system will include three sets of six digits in the computer - hence 666, "the number of the beast". Once we have agreed to the end of cash and there is no turning back, we will have to accept the microchip implant or we will have no means of purchasing anything when they decide to phase out smart cards.’

On the 10th of January 2002, came Icke's moment of triumph. Two scientists at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, combined light from over 200,000 galaxies within two billion light years of Earth. They discovered that the colour of the universe had in fact been turquoise all along. David Icke was finally vindicated, he declared

‘If a scientist from John Hopkins University says it, he's credible. If an ex-television presenter says it eleven years earlier, he's crazy. Way of the world, I'm afraid....Don't think for yourself, let those with fancy titles and letters after their names do it for you. Go back to sleep, your experts know best. Zzzzzzz....So if a shade of turquoise is the base colour of the universe, wearing turquoise will help to "tune" you to the universe and all the knowledge, wisdom, and intuitive "knowing" that exists there. It will help you connect vibrationally to the Great Infinity of existence by tuning you to its wavelength.’

David Icke now lives on his beloved Isle of Wight and continues to spout crap on topics as diverse as ‘The war on Terror’, ‘Child Vaccinations’ and the Bush family's ‘Reptilian agenda’. He is the author of ten books, which have sold extremely well and continues to be popular amongst the loonies of the world. He has several web sites, an e-magazine, his own publishing house, and at least 9 books and 4 videotapes to his credit. He is constantly on the road, touring North America, Europe, Australia, South Africa, the Pyramids, and elsewhere, speaking to crowds of 1,000 a time. Icke was once the most mocked man in Britain, yet in almost every other way possible, it is he who has had the last laugh.

Official site: http://www.davidicke.com/

David Icke interviews: http://www.freedomfiles.org/davidtv/truthvibrations.htm

Vancouver interview where he claims ‘it would be staggering if the earth wasn’t run by lizards, and gives examples of shape-shifting incidents’

http://www.newsforthesoul.com/icke.htm

Saturday, 15 October 2005

Abusive phone call of the year

One of the many problems with the public sector is that every single trivial action is subject to Byzantine sets of rules and procedures. For instance, to order a new part for the printer, I was required to fill out a number of complicated forms, which were then cross checked by no less than eight separate members of staff. Even answering the telephone is subject to a set of unnecessary guidelines. Last week, my boss handed to me a booklet entitled ‘The Guide to Effective Communication’, a patronising and somewhat repulsive document, offering advice to public servants on how to answer the telephone.

Leafing through the pages of the guide, I learnt that I must be ‘diverse’ in my dealings, and ‘sensitive to the differing needs of members of the public’. This is easier said than done. Some of the clients who ring my telephone have a command of the English language roughly akin to that of Manuel from Faulty Towers. Instead of being mindful of their deficiencies, they frequently get irritated and abusive when I ask them to repeat things.

Since the department was informed of its fate, things have got a little bit slack. Yesterday, the sum total of my work was to draw a couple of Mickey Mouse ears on a picture of Mao Tse Tung. I then added the caption ‘Mickey Mao’ and hung the image above my desk.

Mickey Mao

Just as I finished doing this the telephone rang ominously. I lifted the receiver. ‘Good afternoon, Nottingham Works’ I said enthusiastically, making a concerted effort to communicate more ‘effectively’. I was confronted with heavy breathing from the other end of the line.

‘I did free driving lessons with you’ came a gruff female voice that conveyed more than a slight sense of menace. ‘Sorry, can you repeat that?’ I said, having not quite heard what she had said. The breathing increased rapidly. She now sounded like an asthma victim who had been forced to climb a steep flight of stairs.

‘FOR FUCKS SAKE!!!, I…took…free…driving..lessons..with..you,’ she replied, demonstrating a lack of what the H.R department have termed ‘people skills’. I didn’t let my façade of cheeriness drop and said politely ‘ah, I see, and how is it I can help you?’. ‘I need the number for East Midlands driving school’ she said with a total absence of warmth or affection. ‘Okey Dokey, let me just look it out for you’ I replied and my boss began to sort through the driving academy file looking for the required information. After about a couple of minutes I could tell that the caller was getting slightly frustrated. She began to snort into the receiver and launched into wave after wave of abuse in my direction. ‘FFFUUUCKK!…….FUCKING HELL, WHY THE FUCK IS THIS TAKING SO LONG!!!!’ she began to scream down the line. ‘Just a moment’ I said diplomatically, ‘my colleague is just looking the number out for you, she’ll have it in just a moment’. ‘FUCK YOU!’ came the somewhat abrupt reply. It appeared that the caller was impatient as well as chronically stupid

Technically I am within my rights to put the phone down at this stage, but working such a dull job, incidents like this are like gold-dust. My boss had retrieved the number and was now reading it out to me from across the office. Unfortunately I was having trouble hearing said number because of the racket emanating from my phone. ‘WHY THE FUCK IS THIS TAKING SO LONG!!, DON’T YOU KNOW THIS IS COSTING MONEY!!!’. It sounded like the caller was on the brink of a prolaspe. I had just received the number and was about to read it to her when she finally slammed the phone down in disgust. It not often you get to deal with people who have the social skills of Attila the Hun after a twenty-four hour drinking binge.

I felt proud, I had followed the guide to effective communication to the letter and done my very best to serve the public. One must be sensitive to the differing needs and requirements of our clients, even if –as is often the case- they happen to sub-human morons.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Downfall

The German Race have been the subject of contempt amongst the Clarke family since they, rather unsportingly, decided to bomb my great aunt Bertha whilst she was visiting friends in Bristol during the blitz. However, last night as I sat through ‘The Downfall’, a film that chronicles the last days of Hitler, I felt a strange affinity with the ill-fated protagonists. It reminds me very much of my current employment. Its October at the council, and that can only mean one thing…redundancies!. Accordingly, my department has just been informed that it will be axed as part of council ‘re-organisation’. Now, like an SS commando, I cling doggedly to my desk while the whole corrupt and decadent regime collapses around me like a house of cards. Sadly the historical comparison ends here, there’s no chance of senior management blowing their brains out after a last despairing salute to the mayor. This is a cause for some concern. Over the past few months I have come to the opinion that it is right and proper for the manager of a botched department to commit hari-kiri. Failed managers never atone for their disastrous actions; they simply get re-assigned to another position of authority in the council and acquire another department to run into the ground with their incompetence. The next time the councillors contemplate another H.R restructure; they would do well to consider issuing cyanide capsules.

I feel bad for my comrades in arms, who sit around dispirited, browsing jobs websites and playing epic games of solitaire which a scarcely disguised contempt for the organisation that has so cruelly rejected them. We were found worthy of destruction, and yet other drains on the public purse are tolerated. For instance, several council managers recently went on a fact-finding mission to China at an overall cost of around £25,000. I can think of no better way to start World War Three than to send our petty bureaucrats on a subsidised holiday to a touchy eastern superpower. It’s rare that you find an example of irresponsible public spending which is both a careless waste of funds and a threat to world peace.

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In this cruel and cynical new environment, it is necessary to find a fresh and deserving avenue for my hatred. I can find no better candidate than ‘Impact’, the council employee magazine. The word ‘Impact’, suggests that within the glossy pages of this magazine, one is guaranteed to find something dynamic, exciting and energising. Instead the publication contains what can be politely termed ‘soulless propaganda’. A turgid mixture of tedious articles and photographs of mysteriously happy employees, all of whom have the same cheesy smile etched across their face; I assume they were airbrushed on later. If you took a snapshot of the average council department, you would capture a total absence of joi de vive; you would find more of a party atmosphere on Death Row.

One of the drawbacks of being a public servant is that I am bombarded with a constant stream of propaganda. In 1946, Lord Haw Haw was tried for war crimes and executed by the Allies. Nowadays, he would be rewarded for his ‘services to spin’, assigned to Rottingham on Trent’s P.R department, and would probably spend his working day filling my inbox with spam. Last week I was treated to a newsletter, that displayed a series of carefully selected newspaper headlines about Rottingham-on-Trent. ‘Rottingham is now ranked 3rd for U.K retail’, they declared. The other headlines from the national media, such as ‘Rottingham is a crime ridden sewer’ had been mysteriously omitted. The next time I get beaten up by a gang of teenage muggers, I shall take solace in the fact that the city has a new TK-Maxx store.

It would be somewhat scurrilous for me to accuse ‘Impact’ of dishonest journalism without a modicum of textual analysis. Here then, is a good example from September’s issue.

‘The sight of so many people enjoying the Test Match in the sunshine at Trent Bridge and on the big screen at Wollaton Park countered the outrageous slur broadcast by a Channel 4 programme last month that Rottingham-on-Trent is somehow the ‘second worst place to live in the UK’. Former England bowler Angus Fraser was quoted in the Evening Post as saying: “Rottingham-on-trent is not somewhere you dread, it’s somewhere you look forward to coming to”, while Australian fan Fiona Sellar said: ”Rottingham-on-trent is beautiful. In fact, I’d like to live here.” Not only is Rottingham-on-trent great for cricket, it’s also great for gardens and parks, according to an hour-long Gardener’s World Special on the city which went out on BBC 2 a few days after the Channel 4 programme’

I saw the T.V program, entitled ‘The worst places to live in the U.K’. It based its assessment on crime figures, house prices and poverty statistics. Impact based its retort on the opinion of a man who probably didn't stray very far from the idyllic setting of Trent Bridge cricket ground. They also used the somewhat dubious testimony of a pissed up Australian fan. Not the most convincing of arguments, but when you have a captive readership, objective reporting is by no means a necessity.

I love Nottingham’s parks and gardens, especially the gloriously over the top Memorial garden that lies about 5 minutes walk from my house. I would enjoy them a whole if they weren’t infested by crack whores who sit around on the grass yelling ‘business!’ to passers by, or those chavic youths who drive round on their mini motos at all hours, tearing up the grass and making a dreadful racket. Some slightly moronic chap wrote in to the Sun Newspaper a while back saying ‘what happened to the Britain of my youth where kids were safe to play in the streets?, now you are afraid to let them out because of all the pedophiles’ (No, I didn’t make that up, I half wish I had). Frankly, I would rather the little blighters stayed in their respective dwellings. Instead, they hang around on street corners, trying to get people to buy them cider from the corner shop and riding their motorbikes up and down the street. Perhaps the answer to this chaos is to spread a rumor that a large number of child molesters are being ‘re-housed in my neighborhood’.

Another thing that annoys me about Impact, and most of the literature produced by the council, is the general insistence on describing Rottingham-on-Trent as ‘diverse’ in every other sentence. The typical piece reads ‘welcome to the diverse city of Rottingham, a European city bursting with cultural diversity, where all the citizens are diverse and there is something for everyone. There has to be another way of saying that the city has a large number of ethnic minorities – or ‘wogs’ as my white-supremacist grandma would describe them. I like living in a multicultural city, but do we have to keep harping on about it the whole time?, its beginning to look like desperation.

One interesting thing did come out of the last issue of ‘Impact’. I noticed a staggering similarity between the last Area Managers Meeting and the Nazi Nuremberg rallies of the 1930’s. By way of illustration, here is a photo comparison. Coincidence?, I think not. Now where’s my P-45?.

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Sunday, 25 September 2005

The Photocopier, 'Re-organisation and Cricket

Things really haven’t moved on since Victorian times, I mused as I twisted my hand inside the photocopier, as if I were a vet struggling with a cow's rectum. In the mills and factories of the industrial revolution, small children were often forced to place their limbs inside dangerous machinery in a bit to stop it from clogging. Now, in these supposedly more enlightened times, I am regularly called upon to risk my fingers extracting troublesome paper jams. I hate the photocopier. It sits there smugly, blinking its lights at me as it stubbornly refuses to do my bidding. I instruct it to print double-sided A4, it laughs in my face and prints the document in extra small size on an A3 sheet of paper. Since I held no great desire for the thing to transform the minutes of last weeks meeting into an optician’s chart, I find this habit immensely irritating. Most of the time it jams after several copies and buries the paper within its deepest darkest recesses, refusing to continue until it is removed. The photocopier-repairman’s union obviously had a word with the manufacturers and the equipment is notoriously difficult to manipulate into clearing the blockage. Often the offending scrap of paper remains tantalisingly out of grasp. As well as having the work ethic of a truculent teenager, the photocopier also fancies itself as a minimalist artist. I am often asked to reproduce a document 200 times, only to discover on my return, that the errant machine has reinterpreted my original vision with a series of criss-cross black lines over every copy.

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I often describe myself as ‘the photocopier’s bitch’, yet I've come to believe this is a slightly too simplistic analysis of our relationship. In truth, I could easily switch to the more reliable photocopier downstairs. However, like a bad relationship, I just keep coming back to the 3rd floor copier, no matter how badly it treats me. There is a certain comfort in familiarity.

I want to kick the damn thing, but sadly it’s higher in seniority than me. As the last temp in the office I am living out a precarious existence, placed on a knife-edge between wage-slavery and redundancy. Were it to be discussed at a departmental meeting whether to get rid of me or the cardboard cut-out of Darth Vader that stands imposingly in a corner of the office, I would almost certainly get the chop, or ‘reorganised’ as it is termed at Rottingham-on-Trent city council.

‘Re-organisation’ is occurring all across the exchange buildings at the moment. This process occurs at public authorities when higher management feel the need to do something to show they have a purpose beyond writing waffle-ridden memos to each other. ‘Hey!’, ‘one will say to the other’, this office needs a shake-up so we can improve communication and efficiency within the team’. ‘What a great idea’ the other will say, ‘how can we achieve this?’. ‘We’ll move everyone to different desks’ the other will say, uttering the words as if they are somehow akin to the revelations of Archimedes.

Management have been having this eureka moment for generations it seems. ‘I’ve been moved six times in the four years I’ve been here’, moaned our poor finance officer, as he engaged in yet about round of ‘musical chairs’. Such re-organisations are counter –productive since many important documents are lost as everyone moves to the next desk along and tries to get to grip with their new surroundings. Perhaps more could be achieved if the entire department was axed altogether. Rottingham-on Trent’s unemployment problem could be far better solved by extensive carpet-bombing of St-Anns.

I cant help feeling that as spiritual beings with a limited life span, we should be spending our days pondering the nature of our existence and engaging in hedonistic pleasures. Instead we spend vast quantities of our precious existence staring at a computer screen, compiling boring -and often highly inaccurate- stats and being patronised by ‘Council initiatives’. The latest ‘initiative’ from senior management is that we must answer the telephone within six rings. If this target isn’t met, then there will be serious consequences when the next quarterly review comes around. Given that half the department are getting laid off before the next quarterly review, I’m surprised senior management expect anyone to give a flying fuck about their pointless proposal. I have little interest in answering the telephone. When I lift the receiver, I usually find myself talking to a member of the public, a vast proportion of whom, appear to be ignorant and rude. ‘Humphrey’, said one of my colleagues on my first day, ‘as you’ll soon discover from working here, quite a lot of these people are unemployed because of their obnoxious personality’. I may be a servant of the public but that doesn’t mean I have to respect them.

One of the more contemptible practices of the English is our habit of taking ancient and established local pastimes and turning them into boring, overcomplicated sports, saturated with unnecessary rules, regulations and codes of ‘etiquette’. In medieval times, the sole premise of football was to get a sheep’s bladder to the other end of the village whilst causing as many injuries to the opposing team as possible. The Victorians took this noble pastime and converted it into the shambles we see today. By far the worst of the sports created on these fair shores is undoubtedly Cricket.

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Whilst I applaud the efforts of my fellow countrymen in wrestling the ashes from the Australians, I feel I also have to condemn it. Generations of school children, including me, have been forced to play it against their will, and frankly this process is equivalent to child slavery. At school I launched a one-man boycott of cricket because I felt it was wasting valuable seconds of my life that could be better spent engaged in less futile activities. This attitude was sparked by one infamous incident. One sunny afternoon at the crease, I went to slog a ball and was hit firmly in the bollocks by the bowler’s delivery. As I slumped onto the ground in agony, I was disgusted to hear the other team appeal and the umpire accordingly raised his hand to send me back to the pavilion. After that, I refused to play and I was subsequently put in charge of the scoreboard. Since I never bothered to learn the rules, this rapidly descended into a farce and the board never had any sort of link to what was occurring on the pitch. This left me the subject of some scorn and I recall my master shouting at me:

'I think its disgraceful that a lad like you is going to my former boarding house at Uppingham when you clearly have no appetite for the 'gentlemen’s game'

(This isn't a working class hardship story)

Since I was often relegated to the sidelines, I had the advantage of pondering how utterly worthless the game is. Cricket is essentially a battle between the bowler and the batsman. Everyone else in the team is rarely called into activity and is effectively excluded from the proceedings. Occasionally the ball comes to you, you throw it back, that’s the sum total of your participation.

It’s very much an allegory of life, large periods of suffering and boredom in which nothing very interesting occurs. When something exciting does happen, you are rarely involved. Cricket is the most boring, over-complicated, field sport ever conceived, and to claim that it could ever supersede 'the beautiful game' is farcical in the extreme'. Any movement to establish it as the national sport will force me to turn to terrorism.

Sunday, 11 September 2005

Upheavals

My boss sauntered over to my desk as I was reading the BBC news online page for about the 20th time that morning. ‘We are just having a bit of an office reshuffle, would you mind moving back over to Amanda’s desk’ she said. I always seem to get moved on from desk to desk in this fashion as if I’m a particularly troublesome family of Travellers. I’ve subsequently learned that this seemingly innocuous sentence is actually management speak for ‘we have just sacked your best mate in the office, get over there and keep quiet or the same thing will happen to you’. I had been wondering why my unfortunate comrade had been sitting there in floods of tears for the best part of the morning – I had assumed it was just that the drudgery of mail merging had got to her. Eventually she could no longer take it and stormed off home in distress.

‘Did she leave her security pass when she left’, my boss asked. This seemed a tad insensitive until I realised that this is simply the way of the workplace; we are all expendable cogs in the bureaucratic machine and must routinely blame all our mistakes on other people as a method of survival. The office is similar to that show ‘Big brother’, and as a temp I am constantly up for eviction. I learned subsequently that there was a debate over which temporary employee to sack and I came out on top - no so much survival of the fittest, more survival of the fattest.

Apparently Amanda was sacked for being incompetent. This seems to me to be a tad harsh as the entire organisation is founded on incompetence. Instead of putting some money towards improving our abysmal crime statistics that are wreaking the city’s reputation, we are spending £300,000 on hiring a bunch of P.R people to spread propaganda. Crime in Rottingham-on-Trent is both troubling and hilarious. Apparently my neighbourhood is infested with a bunch of louts called ‘The Waterfront Gang’. This explains why there is infantile graffiti all over the place saying things like ‘WFG tru soldiers for life’ and ‘P.C Johnson is a black bastard who smokes crack’. One of the gang members who is being tried for the Danielle Beccan murder, apparently had his postcode tattooed on his head. It goes without saying that this is incredibly stupid - what happens if he moves to a different area?. The only possible advantage I can see it that when you get whacked in a drive by shooting, or something of that ilk, you can be posted back to your neighbourhood. Its incredibly silly, but I suppose that’s what happens when you spend your days sniffing glue and pretending you live in south central Los Angeles and not a sleepy English suburb called ‘The Meadows’ – its not the most ‘Gangsta’ sounding placename.

Another thing to come out of that meeting is that the council employs a rather KGB-esque group of busy bodies, whose task is to spy on our Internet history and make sure we aren’t sending any dodgy emails. They seem to have twigged that the working day of me and a large percentage of my colleagues consists of playing solitaire and googling random stuff on the Internet. The truth is that my job involves a lot of mindless data entry and I need something to keep my brain going, hence I read encyclopaedia articles in between rare bouts of activity. If I didn’t do this I would probably go insane, declare an ‘office jihad’, scrawl ‘Help Me’ on my chest in biro and set about attacking my colleagues with the Referrals folder. This, I suspect, would be more of a barrier to productivity than me wasting time on the internet.

I’ve been trying to think of ways to fight back against ‘the machine’. The only plan that I’ve come up with so far is to send normal office emails such as ‘Here are the stats for quarter March 05 – August 05’ but to give them snappy titles like ‘Anal Hardcore Action XXX’. This should fox those nosy parkers who spy on all our correspondence, or get me fired.

Friday, 26 August 2005

The Scent of Summer

As I wandered happily through the Meadows, I found myself temporarily filled with Joi d’ Vive. A gentle breeze rustled through the trees and the air was filled with the scent of summer. True, on the odd patch of pavement, this consisted mainly of the smell of petrified dog turd, but in the main, my nostrils were filled with the odour of cut grass, sizzling barbeques and ice cream. As always in the city of Rottingham on Trent, this mood is often the prelude to the appearance of something abysmal.

As I wandered along I recalled in my head the eloquent verses of William Blake’s ode to summer

‘O thou, who passest thro’ our vallies in
Thy strength, curb thy fierce steeds, allay the heat
That flames from their large nostrils! thou, O Summer,
Oft pitched’st here thy golden tent, and oft
Beneath our oaks hast slept, while we beheld
With joy, thy ruddy limbs and flourishing hair…….FUCKING PERVERT!!!!!!!!’

My train of thought had once again been cast asunder by a barrage of expletives. Usually these come from hooded teenagers outside the Bridgeway centre, but I sensed these came from something altogether more terrible. I turned in the direction from which the shouting had come and beheld the ugliest creature I had ever seen. Its head was completely bald except for a few straggly threads of hair and it was wearing what appeared to be a tea cosy. It’s ears were red in texture and pitched forward so that its face was oddly reminiscent of a dormouse. It wore a stained T shirt and ripped jeans, its head was held rigid in what appeared to be a neck brace. In it’s right hand it clutched a bottle of carbon white, the low budget alchie’s tipple of choice.

‘FUCK OFF, F F F F FFUCKING PERVERT’

The woman -at least I thought it was a woman, the thing appeared to be genderless- staggered ever closer, as she approached I detected that delightful cocktail of aromas that occur when you relive yourself in your underwear but can’t be bothered changing. I found it hard to determine whether she was addressing me, it seemed not to matter. Hurriedly I sped up my stride and wandered home as quick as I could. Later Katie saw the creature flashing her breasts at the bus stop, putting beyond doubt the question of her sex, and later investigations revealed her name to be Rita. Apparently she is a local resident of some note.

In the Office kitchenette, the laws of the frontier apply. Pathetic attempts to establish the rule of law through reproachful messages, such as ‘Please stop stealing our milk’, are completely ignored. Some of the more deluded members of staff attempt to protect their milk using the flawed policy of writing their name on the carton. In my view, this displays a tactical naivety not seen since the Mexican general Santa Anna decided it would be a great idea to make his entire army take a siesta in the middle of a war zone. The reality is that in the shared kitchen, any system of ownership is frowned upon and I have enthusiastically adopted the methods of plunder demonstrated by my colleagues.



And yet, the kitchenette has a certain set of regulations. When sharing this space with another person the unspoken rule appears to be that you must stare blankly in front of you and make no attempt to communicate whatsoever, all the while shuffling uncomfortably like a priest who has inadvertently wandered into a sex shop and found himself face to face with the Archbishop. I have noticed that this is also the correct procedure to follow when you are standing in the lift.

The main rule of the workplace is that you must be as incompetent as possible throughout your employment. A brief glance at the upper echelons of management in any office clearly demonstrates that being bad at your job is no barrier to promotion. Since it is against the law to write a bad reference, you need not also fear that your mistakes will linger like a black mark against your name. If you show even the tiniest shred of ability then you will inevitably fall foul of the process of ‘delegation’, whereby people higher in the office food chain than you, will heap all of their work on your desk and expect you to merrily plough through it. I find myself wishing I had worked out the peculiarities of this system before falling foul of it. I have decided that in the future I shall emulate the emperor Claudius by pretending to be a hopeless halfwit; who knows, In the topsy turby world of the council this might even earn me a promotion and an upgrade to a scale 2 salary.

The phone next to me rang ominously and, upon lifting the receiver, I found myself on the receiving end of a bollocking from a certain Mr Gentle – not the most appropriate of surnames, Mr Arsehole would have been far more suitable. The main focus of his complaint was that I had spelt his name as ‘Mr Grentle’ during one of my epic mail-merges. ‘It doesn’t say much about your organisation if you can’t even get my bloody name right’, he ranted down the line at me. Although I still have a certain amount of fear of answering the phone I have learned to deal with these situation by simply imagining that the person on the other end of the line is a truculent genie who has become inadvertently trapped in the receiver. ‘Oh Dear’ I replied, trying my hardest not to show even a shred of remorse. The letter I had sent him had asked him to write a reference for one of our clients and it was this, I detected, which was the real reason behind his anger. ‘Well what do you expect me to do, I’m far too busy to write a reference!’ he droned on incessantly. I felt this last statement was hugely ironic in view of the fact he had enough time on his hands to phone me up and complain about my badly spelt mail merge letter. After some negotiations he clamed down and the conversation ended with some attempt at a meeting of minds, namely that we both detested each other. The next series of phone calls I took came from outraged companies who were complaining that we had not only misspelled their name on their ‘Celebration Event’ invitation, but changed it beyond all recognition, and, as they rightly pointed out, we not did have the right to arbitrarily rename their company. Since these are the same companies we are trying to impress so that they take on our clients, this is somewhat unfortunate. Its amazing how much outrage a incompetent mail merge can create.

Sunday, 21 August 2005

Invoices for Biros, and other exciting stuff

As I unenthusiastically turned the pages of budget number 14560039, I found myself wondering whether I was meant for greater things than inspecting invoices for biros. This is the nature of modern life. Unsatisfied with our dull and uninteresting existence, we construct more exciting destinies for ourselves. 16th century French peasants had few ambitions beyond owning a small plot of dirt and a rusty pitchfork; we in these enlightened times refuse to accept the fact we are condemned to mediocrity and accordingly, plunge ourselves into vast amounts of debt in order to achieve that impossible dream.

A Biro

‘50 biros –large, engraved with project logo’ read the almost comically unexciting piece of paper, and yet in the bureaucratic nightmare that is working for the council such documents are often clamoured for by over zealous auditors, eager to expose the slightest modicum of corruption.

Of course, all they have to do is look at the story behind the invoices to expose the wastage that goes on in this department. For example, most of these logoed biros are now completely useless as publicity material because some bright spark decided to change the name of the entire project to ‘Ideal Opportunities’ after the branded stationary had been ordered. The council is surprisingly frugal in some areas, refusing to buy us plastic cups for the water cooler, but squandering vast sums of money on a glossy council magazine that most people simply chuck in the bin as soon as it arrives through their letterbox. Rightly so, because these magazines are carefully honed instruments of propaganda and about as truthful as an ‘end of year update’ letter from the Goebbels family.

Then there is the ironically titled ‘celebration event’ at the end of this week where we are wasting a grand of tax payers money on a party for those students who have successfully completed our courses. Our project has a noble aim, to give people the skills they need to get back into the job market, and yet simply offering to pay all the course fees, childcare and travel expenses isn’t enough to get people to enrol and better their lot. In addition, we have to offer £100 vouchers to our student when they successfully complete 80% of the course; these are to be handed over at the ‘Celebrating Achievement’ event. The result is that many people simply turn up for most of the course and then drop out when they are entitled to their voucher. This, of course, is hardly the Socialist dream; in fact my political views are rapidly becoming more Victorian as the weeks go on. I used to believe in a generous welfare system, now I find myself subscribing to Malthusian notions of letting the excess population of the United Kingdom simply starve itself out of existence.

My colleagues in the office have a demeanour that, I imagine, is strongly reminiscent of the inhabitants of old Muscovy, when informed that a large horde of bloodthirsty Mongols were approaching from the eastern horizon. Apparently the - rather too idealistic- ‘ideal opportunities’ program is being shut down come March because it is a complete waste of money. Hence my comrades are displaying very little of the protestant work ethic and mostly seem to sit around playing solitaire and browsing the Internet looking for other jobs. Our management have reacted to this crisis by bravely going on holiday; with such inspiring leadership its hard not to reach new heights of cynicism.

In reaction to this climate of poor motivation, I have set about making myself useful by designing motivational posters that will inspire me and my admin team-mate Amanda into Herculean feats of office administration. The first poster I made bore the inspiring logo ‘TEAM ADMIN’, resplendent in front of a flaming background. After struggling to think of a suitable motto, I decided to write ‘No problem too big, no task too futile’. Then, deciding the poster was looking a little drab, I included a picture of Lord Kitchener, who declares through a speech bubble that we are ‘mail merging for a better tomorrow’. This was received fairly well in the office, and, emboldened, I decided to work on something a little more controversial. An email had earlier been circulated that displayed a photograph of the fattest cat I had ever seen. This, I thought, was the ideal mascot for the City Council. After a swift, and rather amateurish, foray in photo-shop, I scattered bundles of money at the cats feet and gave him some bling to wear. Having added the Rottingham-on-Trent city council logo, my inspirational poster was complete. ‘Wasting public money for a better future’ I added at the bottom. Having shown this to my colleagues they expressed their approval, but told me in no uncertain terms that it would be prudent to banish this creation to the darkest reaches of my desk drawer. The Admin logo has been a success however, and I have taken to adding it to the phone messages I have to write down for people; now the header reads ‘Team Admin – Because we can’t afford an answering machine’.

There are many things that I have an opinion on, but a cucumber isn’t one of them. If you asked me to discuss the tactical flaws in ‘Operation Barbarossa’, then perhaps I would be able to hold my own in a discussion, however, vegetables inspire no strong emotions in me whatsoever. I find that this makes shopping with Katie a tad problematic because I am often asked to venture an opinion on supermarket produce; my failure to do so is usually met by a tidal wave of resentment. One thing I do have a very strong opinion is this new fad whereby some person –usually a big brother contestant declares something along the following lines

‘I don’t bitch behind people’s backs, If I don’t like someone then I tell it to their face’

This is often said with a certain degree of pride, as though it is somehow an admirable quality. Well, if you subscribe to this dogma then let me enlighten you, telling people straight out that you don’t like them is just being extremely rude. It’s as simple as that. In contrast, bitching behind peoples back is both a noble and a necessary part of belonging to the human race because it allows us to harmlessly expunge the negative views that pop into our heads on a regular basis. If this process did not occur then we would live our lives as seething cauldrons of hatred, ready to explode at the slightest pretext. As an illustration, if you applied this moronic ‘telling it like it is’ principle into the world of diplomacy then we would be bathed in nuclear Armageddon within seconds, and deservedly so.

Wednesday, 3 August 2005

Feedback frolics

I winced as the shrill sound of the office phone disturbed my peaceful daydreaming. As I lifted the receiver I cursed the long decayed corpse of Alexander Graham Bell. My most famous ancestor, Robert Whitehead, was largely responsible for inventing the torpedo, a weapon the Germans later copied, dubbed the blackhead, and used to sink millions of tons of British shipping. His creation was unfairly given the moniker ‘the devils device’ yet I feel this adjective has more resonance when it is applied to the telephone, that most loathsome of instruments that connects me with the outside world.

‘Good morning, Ideal Oppotunities…How may I help you’ I recited robotically into the headset. I had uttered the words with about as much passion and enthusiasm as man who has been sentenced to life imprisonment in a Siberian Gulag. ‘Hi there, I was just enquiring about the retail academy’ came the voice on the other end. I hurriedly pressed the recall button and redirected the call through to one of my superiors, the whiney voice on the other end stuttered briefly and then stopped abruptly as the call was patched through. I sat back with a sigh of contentment: my phone had been temporarily exorcised of annoying members of the public asking questions I haven’t the foggiest how to answer. With the click of a mouse I went back to reading the BBC news website and counting down the seconds until 5.00, so it goes in the modern workplace.

In the beginning there was the working class, strong, noble and defiant, the very engine of the British Empire, toiling and sweating to produce goods that would be sold around in every city of the world. Then the manufacturing sector collapsed, jobs moved elsewhere and the long established professions of the lower classes became worthless amidst the new service economy. And so, the powers that be looked down and said ‘look at all these new office jobs being created, and look at all these unemployed people, if only those people had the skills for those jobs, then all would be well in this country!’. A great idea had been conceived, the problem being that most wonderful ideas - communism, universal health care and freeing Iraq from tyranny- are somewhat flawed when it comes to the actual execution.

Working in an office requires some basic fundamental ‘skills’ such as the ability to work in a team without causing vast amounts of friction, a basic understanding of Microsoft Office, and to be able to communicate ones views without offending everyone in the building. Quite a few of the people that get selected for our courses shouldn’t even be remotely contemplating working in an office because they can’t do any of these things, and yet that is what the job market dictates. Hence I now find myself drafting patronising ‘feedback reports’ for these poor buggers to tell them exactly why they failed the assessment: it’s a somewhat tragic task but, with my cynical outlook, its also one I thoroughly enjoy.

I find writing these things very similar to those awful school reports I was subjected to throughout my pre-university education. My father insisted on reading these out to me on the sofa, purposefully adopting a woeful tone of voice, that made every achievement sound like a disaster and every bad comment sound like he was announcing the death of a close family member. ‘Humphrey….has been improving in maths’ he would read, dragging out the ‘has’ in order to extract every ounce of cynicism from the sentence possible. ‘BUT THERE IS ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT IN HIS GRASP OF ALGEBRA’ he would continue, dramatically, as if this phrase alone were enough to put an everlasting stain on my character. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and I find myself writing these ‘feedback reports’ for grown adults: whoever said it was childhood that held the most pleasures.

On the assessment day one woman in the ‘teamwork exercise’ had been thoroughly rude, shouting her ideas out over the rest of the group and staring with a look of outrage and disgust at any other team member who dared say anything. You would have thought the word ‘teamwork’ would have given her some clue as to what was required. We had had a meeting after the assessment to determine which of our candidates would be selected for recruitment; the notes I had taken for this particular client read ‘domineering, rude, arrogant and overbearing’. I struggled to think of subtler wording to convey this to her. Having pondered the matter at length, I decided upon ‘In her enthusiasm to communicate her views, the candidate dominated the discussion at the expense of other team-members’. Then I added –laughing my head off as I did so- ‘Effective collaboration within a team requires listening to the points of view of other members of the group and encouraging them to contribute’. I was beginning to spout Human Resources like a born bull-shitter.

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The next failed candidate I turned to proved more problematic. My notes read ‘clearly mad, started talking about “crystallisation”, rude in the team exercise’. I struggled for something nice to say and decided upon ‘Throughout the assessment, the candidate was pleasant and approachable’, this, I find, is an incredibly useful generic term; heck, even Idi Amin was pleasant and approachable if you were on the right side of him. I then advised the blighter to ‘develop his communication skills’; not going on insane, psychedelic rants during the interview stage might be good place to start. Hopefully work will throw up yet more opportunities to be a patronising bastard.

Disclaimer: All characters and events in this story are fictitious, and any similarity to a real person or city council, living or dead is entirely coincidental and unintended by the author.

Sunday, 29 May 2005

My Garden

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To me, gardening had always seemed much like holding in a fart, a futile and pointless attempt to halt the true course of nature. Much better, thought I, to let the land lie fallow and see what happens. As a result, when presented with a patch of land by my parents to garden as I pleased, it rapidly turned into something resembling a Viet Cong sanctuary. My old age has brought profound changes in my demeanour and I’ve finally begun to take an interest in the great outdoors, or more specifically, the tangled mess that confronts me every time I step outside to dump more rubbish in the back shed. Once this was a nice little garden, tended by a sweet old lady with an appalling taste in tacky garden accessories. Then, the rugby girls moved in, and the garden rapidly degenerated into an urban jungle, infested with snails, small bugs and weeds. When I first cast my eyes over the thicket at the rear of my property, I saw its potential. Like a pioneer settler could see myself carving something out of this wilderness, a place where I can sit out in the sunshine and be at one with nature. I learned subsequently that nature has other ideas.

My backyard contains several items I have selected for extermination. A small but offensive pond is the principal offender; once upon a time it may have contained goldfish, now it appears to have become infested with putrid green algae. Towards the rear of the garden are some bizarre multicoloured sticks that look much like psychedelic toilet brushes. These rated extremely high on the bad taste scale and I swiftly banished them to exile in the shed. The Peruvian wind chimes were scheduled for a similar fate but they seem to have grown on me. In one corner is a tall wooden seating arrangement that has clearly seen better days. A large section has fallen to the ground and, judging by the foul stench, I deduce that the local tabby has marked his territory on it. I repaired this structure with twine and sticky tape but the roof subsequently dropped on my head when I sat down to ponder the fruits of my labour. Having uttered several unpleasant, but original expletives, I came to the conclusion I should have paid far more attention in woodworking class and learned the basics, instead of making battleships out of plywood and staging mini recreations of the Battle of Jutland. Another object I’m not keen on is the ‘passion flower’ that dominates a small corner of my garden. It is supposed to be a moderately rare plant but it looks like something from ‘Day of the Triffids’ as it spreads its tentacles around the flower beds, suffocating all in its path. I’ve cut this back but it can’t be long before it stages a renaissance, if I does, the parrot beak is at the ready.

It may sound as if my garden resembles a scene from ‘Heart of Darkness’, but it’s a small corner of paradise compared to the awful backyards of my immediate neighbours. The people who live on my right were clearly inspired by Le Corbusier (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Le_Corbusier); their garden consists of a square of cracked concrete, broken only by a large phallic washing pole, a motif presumably meant to convey ‘a complex understanding of modernity’s impact’. To the rear of the property, my neighbours seem to have gone for a mixture of bad taste and urban gothic. At first glance, their garden only seems to contain a couple of grotesque garden gnomes, concrete slabs and a small, unimposing flowerpot. Its main feature becomes only too apparent when I head out into my garden for some peace and quiet. The aforementioned neighbours appear to have a ravenous beast of Hades chained to my fence. I can hear it clawing at the wood, dying, no doubt, to launch itself at my testicles and tear them to pieces with canine relish. The barbed wire on the top of my fence –although aesthetically repugnant- is clearly there for good reason and I’m starting to appreciate the P.O.W camp chic. The neighbour to the left has gone for the wild look, and his hedge boundary is steadily uprooting my wooden screen and claiming more and more of my territory. Previously I marked out the snails infesting my garden as second-class citizens who must be subjected to a programme of forced emigration. I decided to retaliate against neighbour number three by pitching them into his garden; a primitive form of biological warfare you might say.

Katie and I have temporarily joined the ranks of the unemployed, this situation requires living on a budget and living off Tesco’s ‘value’ produce. The Tesco’s value bread must have unusual chemical properties. It goes stale as soon as it comes into contact with the air and deteriorates rapidly over the next 24 hours. By the following morning, it has transformed into a putrid block of fungus – very useful for medicinal purposes no doubt but scant use when you want to bake a cheese toasty. The milk, on the other hand, has provided good value for money -in fact it appears to have transformed itself into tuna over the past week. Upon opening the container this morning I was greeted by a fishy aroma. Efforts to pour the substance formally known as milk into my coffee proved fruitless, as it rapidly solidified and formed a layer at the bottom of my mug. ‘Value’ seems to be an inappropriate adjective, ‘shite’ would be a more worthy substitute.

Tuesday, 24 May 2005

Richard and Judy and the 'Mail Order Bride Technique'

img src=" http://www.biography-clarebooks.co.uk/usrimage/richardjudy.jpg" alt="Evil" />

One of the many things that keep me in a state of perpetual outrage is ‘The Richard and Judy Show’ on Channel 4. Its one of those programmes that always seems to be on the box when I take leave of my senses and turn the damn thing on. I hate everything about it, especially the self styled ‘first couple of television’, that smarmy Richard Madeley and his hideous wife Judy, whose face seems to get lumpier by the day. I even hate the title sequence; the camera sweeps across the landscape of Britain, through twee villages and small towns, over terraced houses and onwards into urban sprawl, until finally it zooms into an individual household’s television set. The inference –that the entire nation both watches and loves the show- I regard as a personal insult. This arrogance is unjustified when you consider the content of the programme. It consists of bullshit astrologers pontificating about ‘celebrity star signs’, the odd insane guest with a baseless claim to be the illegitimate son of Princess Margaret, and turgid discussion of current issues such as ‘can we hear the voices of the dead in the static from our T.V’ and ‘how is the war on terror going to affect middle England’. Surely there must be more important matters to contemplate than housewives superstition?. The last episode I watched featured the loathsome presenters sniffing the armpits of male guests to determine if they were gay or not. Needless to say this ‘experiment’ was an outright failure and achieved nothing except to provide further evidence of the death of modern culture.

A similar technique was adopted by one of Richard’s music teachers, a woman who by all accounts had well and truly lost it. At the beginning of each class she would make her pupils assemble in regimented lines and perform unusual finger exercises to ‘loosen up’. On one of these occasions an errant pupil decided that this would be an opportune moment to violently break wind and did so to much amusement. ‘Who was that !?’, screamed the teacher, her face turning purple with rage. Her question was met with silence. ‘Right’, she proclaimed, ‘I’m going to find out who it was if it’s the last thing I do’. To the amazement of the class, the teacher bent down and smelt the behinds of each pupil in turn. This unorthodox technique actually worked, and she was able to pick out the guilty party, although it’s questionable whether this triumph was worth the loss of dignity.

Déjà vu is mainly caused by a neurological anomaly, however, it commonly occurs as a result of going through the same tedious experience again and again. One of the more irritating side effects of having committed your body and soul to a person for the rest of your life –and beyond, existence of the afterlife permitting- is that you get subjected to interrogation on a regular basis. People ask all sorts of awkward questions about rings, wedding dates and all the other matrimonial accessories, forcing you to regurgitate the same subject matter time and time again. The fairer sex in particular, seem highly fixated in the whole rigmarole, often the questioning gets intense and it becomes incredibly difficult to extricate yourself from it. You go down under a flurry of enquires, ‘where is the ring’, ‘what does it look like’, ‘how did you propose’, ‘where did you propose’, all coming so rapidly that you barely have time to catch your breath. There is a way to avoid the whole unpleasantness completely by strategic deployment of what I call ‘the mail order bride technique’.

Mail Order

‘I hear you are getting married’, said one girl at a party I was at a couple of weeks back, I could see the whole process starting again. ‘Why yes I replied’. ‘Oooh, how exciting’ she said ‘where did you guys meet?’. ‘On the internet’ I answered, deploying the first stigma. ‘Oh.. really, in a chatroom or something?’. ‘No actually, I saw her advert on a bride website’. I was beginning to wring the romance out of the conversation. Seeing she was looking a bit deflated, and feeling slightly guilty about the whole thing, I decided to give the game away and delivered an implausible comment, ‘yeah… her name is Lo Wing Ping and she is from Thailand’. I looked over at my victim; I thought I had spoken with sufficient sarcasm for her to twig, apparently not. ‘Yeah’ I said, ‘she’s coming over from Bankok in a few days and then we can get married, Thai women are great you know’. I then went on a chauvinistic rant about how Thai women are less tainted by feminist values than western women and are more compliant when it comes to housework and child rearing. Surely she would understand I was joking. Instead she beat a hasty retreat to the next room, presumably to tell her friends that I buy women on the Internet. Again, it remains questionable whether this triumph was worth the loss of dignity.

Working Man

I don’t know Ali Mbomba, but I detest the blighter. At the time of his birth in the war torn jungles of Angola, it was by no means evident that our paths would cross. Then he made the decision to leave, and somehow made his way across the dark continent, sailed the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean sea and arrived on the shores of Britain. At the end of this long journey Elizeu ended up amongst the red brick terraces of Rottingham-on-trent, far from his native land. Having tried unsuccessfully to find work he decided to apply to the Council for funding. Meanwhile, in another corner of the same city, a lowly temp by the name of Humphrey Clarke struggled unsuccessfully to input his badly drafted personal information into a poorly designed database. The form before him looked as if it had been filled out by Guy Fawkes after a lengthy session with the torture rack. Having stared quizzically at this illegible document for a good hour -partly in an attempt to decipher its contents, and partly to waste as much of the working day as possible- I concluded that I had incorrectly spelled his name when I had entered his records earlier in the day. This meant I was going to have to go back through the entire system and painstakingly correct every single entry.

Fate had offered a limited range of options, either stay unemployed and lose brain cells watching ‘The Trisha Show’, find some explosives and blow myself up in the name of Islam, or whore my services out to a temping agency and earn some much needed cash. I now work in the Economic Department of the main council building.

Working for Rottingham-on-trent council provides a startlingly relaxed atmosphere. Looking around my office I can see a half dozen people whose only role in the team is to play solitaire and read ‘The Metro’. However, the work does involve a hideous amount of bureaucratic nonsense. In the real world, if I fancy going to the pub, I simply pick up my coat and my wallet and head down to the local brewery for some much-needed sustenance. Were I doing this as part of my employment with the council, I would first have to submit a ‘Pub application form’ to the economic department stating my reasons for this action and a financial breakdown of all the money I intended to spend. This form would have to be produced in triplicate and sent to other departments on special headed notepaper, with one photocopy retained for filing in the records. The entire request would then have to be logged in two separate computer databases in case of an Audit, and could only be acted upon after being the subject of a departmental meeting. By the time the request had made it back from head office, it would probably be closing time and too late to go to the pub anyway. Newton’s third law of motion states that ‘every action has an equal and opposite reaction’; when you work at the council, every action creates a mountain of paperwork the size of the Eiffel Tower.

In theory, my job is to help people with no skills or qualifications find employment; in practice, I tend to sit around looking baffled and confused, attempting unsuccessfully to avoid becoming the ‘Office bitch’. This isn’t easy when you have an Admin role, as part of your job description is to perform any task that a member of permanent staff feels is too demeaning, dull or downright futile for them to do themselves. The aim is to train ‘disadvantaged people’ by offering courses in an area like Admin or Taxi driving, at the end of one of these courses we guarantee them a job interview and hopefully get the poor buggers into employment. Easier said than done. Despite offering them free travel to the college, complete funding for their course and £100 gift vouchers if they make it to the end, even then, some of them still can’t be arsed to turn up. This leads me to conclude that Jesus was a tad naïve when he said ‘blessed are the meek’, some of them are clearly scum.

Last week I attended an employment assessment day. The aim of this event was to put some of our clients through a series of tests to determine whether they would be offered a job interview later in the week. I found myself sitting awkwardly in a meeting area, surrounded by unfriendly faces. I began to wish my colleague hadn’t left the room; years on the dole had seemed to foster a demeanour of resentment amongst some of these people and they looked on at me with distrust and antipathy. I realised with horror that I was running out of things to staple. This had been my pretext for avoiding eye contact, now I was going to have to take the plunge. Looking up from my files, the whole room appeared to be staring at me, as if they expected me to juggle for them or perform an assortment of amusing card tricks. A rather twitchy looking chap was sitting close to me and I decided I should make some sort of an attempt at conversation. ‘Where have you come from today?’ I said. By the look of disgust on his face you could be forgiven for thinking I had asked ‘are you in the habit of fornicating with your sister?’. ‘Where..have I come from?’ he replied. It had seemed a simple question, It wasn’t as if I was asking him to reveal his entire ancestry. ‘Er….what part of Rottingham?’ I replied, seeking to clarify what I had said. ‘Brexstowe’ he said, as if he were delivering a cutting insult. Conversation is a two way process, if the other person isn’t willing to play ball then there’s not a great amount you can do. After saying ‘Oh…’ I decided not to continue talking and looked for other things to staple.

My colleague returned, ‘Humphrey is just going to take your photograph for our files’ he informed the assembled company. I, looking embarrassed, picked up the camera and motioned the first person over to the wall so I could take a Polaroid of them. To my dismay, I tugged on the film too hard and the contents of the camera spooled out onto the floor. ‘You should take that out of his wages’ said the twitchy chap, helpfully; deciding to stay professional I contented myself with muttering, ‘I hope you never get a job you bastard’ under my breath.

The day having drawn to a close we began the process of selecting which candidates had made it through to the final stage. This yielded a chance to see affirmative action at its very best. Having spent a while sorting the candidates into ‘yes’ and ‘no’ piles based on their test results, we came to the sudden realisation that most of the ‘nos’ were ethnic minorities. A swift reshuffling, and political correctness was restored. A tad unfair perhaps, but very ethical.

There was one fellow on the assessments who I could tell was slightly mad and this fact became steadily more apparent when looking over his in-tray exercise. In reply to the question ‘A female co-worker has cut her hand badly, what priority should this be given?’, we were expecting our candidates to simply regurgitate a load of health and safety stuff. The mad fellow had written ‘this situation may require some personal diplomacy, but all will be right in the end, at any rate it is not in the least bit urgent’. Beside the scenario ‘The chief executive has arranged a meeting, what priority should this be given’, he had simply written ‘You ignore the word of the chief Executive at your peril!!!!!!!!’. We decided, on reflection, to let him through to the interview stage. Sadly he failed to make it through because during the interview he refused to discuss the questions at hand and instead went on a bizarre rant about ‘crystallisation’ and ‘energy flows’. I don’t think he is the maddest person to ever be on one of our courses. Whilst flicking through one of the files the other day an application form drew my attention. It was filled out in a large, erratic scrawl; under ‘why should you be considered for the course’ it read ‘I WANT JOB’; under disabilities it read ‘SCHIZOPHRENIA’. Attached to the back of the form was a letter, which read ‘during the course, this students behaviour has been unusual. He sits in class, writing on himself in biro and mumbling, some of the student have complained that he often tries to steal their chocolate’. Getting such miscreants into work is going to be challenging to say the least.

Disclaimer: All characters and events in this story are fictitious, and any similarity to a real person or city council, living or dead is entirely coincidental and unintended by the author.

Sunday, 8 May 2005

Warballs

Eighties revival is in full swing. Duran Duran have reformed, stupid haircuts have once again become de rigour, and now bomb attacks in central London are back with a vengeance. Yesterday morning, with the better half safely off to work, I settled down for my customary diet of daytime television. To my dismay I discovered that ‘Houses under the Hammer’ had been cancelled in favour of that curious phenomenon of the modern age, a death and destruction T.V marathon. A bunch of terrorist rascals are evidently bent on destroying my way of life once again. Since my way of life currently consists of sitting on my fat arse watching ‘The Trisha Show’, a part of me feels this isn’t such a bad thing after all.

There is a British code of etiquette for these occasions, perhaps best encapsulated in one of the concluding scenes of ‘Carry on up the Khyber’. Whilst under siege by the angry forces of the Khazi of Kalibar, Sir Henry Rough-Diamond and his entourage decide to carry on as if nothing is happening and hold an impromptu dinner party. With parts of the room exploding and spear wielding tribesman rushing into the room, they maintain a stiff upper lip and carry on as if they are oblivious to the events unfolding outside. The advice given by President Bliar, was to ‘maintain our resolve’. Unhelpfully, no explanation was given as to what this entailed. I decided the best recourse was to keep my upper lip as stiff as possible, to which Katie retaliated by stiffening both lips in a bid to out-stiff me. The competition having reached a stalemate, we settled down to watch the many hours of news coverage.

It seemed as if a lot of the sound bites had been robbed directly from one of those Pathe Pictorial newsreels from the nineteen forties, a sort of a modern rekindling of the Blitz spirit. After a while the endless Churchillian rhetoric got rather wearing. I knew I had watched far too much of it when I uttered the moronic words, ‘Isn’t it a bit unfortunate that that news reporter’s surname is ‘Bombs’. I had mistaken the news title for the reporter’s name, and had been under the foolish impression he was actually called ‘London Bombs’. Too much suffering on the box evidently has the effect of frying the brain.

The atrocity is apparently set to become the new 9/11, yet the date is a bit unfortunate; 07/07/05 doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue in quite the same way. The easy solution is to jumble the date up so that it reads 007/05 and forms a more stirring rallying cry for the struggle ahead. I attempted –briefly- to do my bit for Britain by finding Osama Bin Ladin’s cave on Google’s new satellite imagery program; after about half an hour of staring at badly pixelated Afghan hillside, I decided my efforts were better directed elsewhere.

It appeared that the best thing to do under the circumstances was to head to the brewery to sink a few patriotic pints down at the Castle Lock Brewery. Things were fairly normal until a strange man dressed in a cowboy costume strolled up to the bar. His dress rather reminded me of Chevy Chase in ‘The Three Amigos’ and he appeared to be completely insane. ‘Look mate’, ‘I’m not going to serve you!’, shouted the indignant bar manager. The man stared back at him like Clint Eastwood in ‘The Good the Bad and the Ugly’; ‘Why won’t you serve me?, because I’m a cowboy!’ he replied. He then concluded that the chap behind the bar did not exist because he wasn’t smiling and left the pub to be mad elsewhere. I love nutters, they add colour to a drab neighbourhood.



During the odd free moment I have been scouring the Internet to find out what some of the fuckwits of the world are saying about the attacks. The neds on Bawbag.com gave a characteristically sensitive response to events in London

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‘it wisnae terrorists it wis me, GIT THEY ENGLISH CUNTS TAE FUCK.. they terrorists arnae daein it fir ther beliefs, ther daein it as a favour fir us’

The conversation then turned to what the ned response would be to a terror attack on their Glasgow hovels.

‘fukn paki bastards!…..aye there durty fukin cunts,see if the even think about any bombins up ere,theres about 30 ov us going on a rampage dunn the shaws n govenhill n banglashields,every fukin mosk hing is gettin it’

I'm getting the impression that the message of the 'One Scotland, many races' campaign got lost somewhere along the line.

‘The government have no one to blame but themselves for yesterdays bombings, if they hadn't let the paki bastards in the country in the first place this never would have happened. Get the pakis out to fuck, couldn't trust the dirty wee bastards as far as i could throw them….. were gettin sum spray paint n hittin banglashields at the wkend’

The Nazis on Stormfront seem to have a very similar mindset

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‘The white race traitor lemmings are just as much to blame for this as those who planted the bombs. Those lemmings that have sat by for the last fourty years on their rear ends and done nothing constructive while our country was flooded by the turd world.’

Lemmings are actually very active creatures that shun hibenation, you would be very lucky indeed to find one 'sitting on his arse'

‘David Duke spoke again today in his broadcast, that the muslim problem is only as a result of jews controlling our governments and media. But wow, some dickheads continue to dismiss what David Duke is on about and they further dismiss the jewish problem as 'conspiracy theory'. People who dismiss the jewish problem are shabbos goys, and they play into the jewish hands with their 'anti-muslim' rants. The more you bash the muslims, the more laws our traitorous governments will introduce to ban WN.

* The jew in his daily media rant says - "o'h look at these nasty islamic terrorists, their bombing your'e White people!"

* The dickhead says - "get the muslims, burn them out!"

* The WN says - "hold on a minute, it was you jew who let them in the first place! GET OUT OF MY COUNTRY JEW!"’


Ah, so the Jews are behind it somehow, glad they cleared that one up.