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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