Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Curses- your foes run in fear

More smoke room talk: Top Curses to employ against your enemies:

1) ‘May the fleas of a 1000 camels infest your armpits.’ Ancient Arabic curse

2) ‘May all your souvlakis be made from the scrotum of a goat.’ Ancient Greek curse.

3) ‘ May all your leeks be in your roof’.’ Ancient Welsh Curse

4) ‘ May all your semtex sweat and the barrel of your Armalite be bent in a bizarre accident with a potato.’ Ancient Irish Curse

5) ‘May your head turn orange and fall off at an inconvenient moment. ‘ Ancient curse of the Blackadder Family.

6) ‘May all the contents of your sporran belong to the taxman’ Ancient Scottish Curse

7) ‘ May all your projects run over-budget and your name be on every authorisation memo.’ Ancient civil service curse.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Your best friend's rain-coat

I was wandering the local ‘everything for a pound’ shop today during my lunchtime boredom break. Amidst all the usual whale-based hand creams, radioactive washing up liquids, dodgy ‘real badger hair’ paint brushes ( no real badger added) and crappy Taiwanese toys like ‘Action Transsexual with super-zap-blaster-mega-death cannon’ (batteries or removable penis not included): I found several packets of condoms neatly stashed away next to the fully animal tested cosmetics- the brands were ones I’ve never seen before, with names like ‘¡Hey muchacho grande!’ ; ‘Мошонка стали’ & ‘Ich dringe jetzt Ihre Eierstöcke mit meinen mächtigen kleinen Soldaten ein’ ( http://babelfish.altavista.com/….. ;-) ) I got thinking- with all the killer groin destroying diseases in the world or even the prospect of 18 years of child support….. would you????

p.s. I’ve got a packet of ‘voyez ma arme puissante’ in my pocket for the weekend- well you never know……………. and it was only a quid.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Stonehenge- the mystery solved at last!

We were having a smoke-room discussion about Stonehenge today and what it actually was for. My favourite explanations were:

1) It was a prehistoric doughnut stand:- This, apparently, is borne out by a colleague’s suggestion (and he should know, he trained as an archaeologist ) that the stones have strange markings on them called ‘cup and ring marks’ that do, upon scrutiny, look suspiciously like pictures of doughnuts…. Makes sense, I can just imagine Ognog the Hairy going to the spotty gormless youth in the bison skin cap behind the counter and asking for two weevil sprinkled ring doughnuts and a wildebeest crème horn. And then complaining it doesn’t look the one in the picture.

2) It was the first ever Macdonalds:- After all, when those stones were standing upright there was an awful lot of big M’s around…..

3) It was the first ever Civil Service planning project:- Just think all the man-hours in effort, blood, sweat and toil of hewing the raw rock; dragging it from Wales across sea and festering marshland at vast cost in tax-payers’ goats or dinosaur snot (or whatever the bloody hell they used as currency). Only to have the project abandoned half-way through as the senior management realised the didn’t actually need the world’s first multi-storey car-park as the combustion engine wouldn’t be invented for another 3000 years.............

Communication- the mother of all cluster-f**ks

Have been in a huff today. Found out that my project is, in fact, being duplicated by someone else and neither of us had any idea the other was doing it. Apparently two of the grand fromages from upstairs had the same idea, but didn’t actually bother to talk to each other (or even us lowly serfs!); so I’ve just wasted four months of my time.

“ I’m annoyed and surprised.” I said to my colleague at tea-break .

“ I’m surprised you’re surprised.” He retorted.

“ But it’s just re-inventing the wheel!” I cried despondently.

“ Ah,” he said, “ but there is no wheel. It’s now a spherical motion propellant device. It’ll take ten years and millions of tax payers pounds before we call it a wheel again.”


Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Love is the drug

A friend of mine, knowing I’d been down about the break-up with my ex, e-mailed me an article from New Scientist: It claims that love may be an addiction; like smack or pork scratchings or when girls collect furry things for their car. Apparently when you fall in love, an unholy ménage a trios of the occipital frontal lobe and the chemicals oxytocin and dopamine all get together and have a toga-party in your brain.

Coke and class A addicts have a similar response when they see visual stimuli related to their nefarious activities.

I called him. “ That’s fine mate, but how do I detox?”

He thought it over.

“ You need to replace the addiction.”

“ With what?”

“ Beer. “ he said emphatically.

“ Oh great, so I become an alcoholic instead.”

“ There’s an upside,” he said philosophically, “ everyone likes a happy drunk, but nobody likes a miserable love-sick bastard.”

res ipsa loquitur….. as I used to say (when I was a happy drunk in university)

The Secret Art Of The Civil Service Memo

Over the past week or so, I've been learning a secret art.... How to write a civil service memo to people senior than you. It's not as easy as you would think- I mean what could you include? The facts, obviously- deadline dates-a brief explanation about the nature of what you're working on.... Simple. Oh No.

I was in the smoke room again today going over my memo when I bumped into someone who has been in the CS for many, many years- I'll call her Brenda.
" What do you think?" I said to Brenda, proudly showing her my memo.
She perused it for a while, smoke trickling from her nostrils in concentration.
" No." she finally said.
I looked at her perplexed. "Why?"
" Fundamental error. " She replied thoughtfully. " You've taken responsibility in the memo."
" But it's my project. " I blustered.
" Yes," said Brenda. " But you never say it's your project, that's suicide."
Still more perplexed I asked again. "Why?"
Brenda gave me a tolerant smile and replied with a tone of voice as though she was explaining the birds and the bees to a six year old.
" If your name's on it and you get it wrong, they'll blame you. If they mess it up, but your name's on it, they blame you. Basically if it goes wrong for any reason- incompetence by anyone, boredom, stupidity, too many pints at lunch time, Act of God or invasion by aliens- they'll blame you- your name's on it."
" That's ridiculous!" I protested.
" No." said Brenda. " That's management. Why take the blame when some idiot has put his name to it and you can blame them?"
I mulled this over.
"What do I do then?"
"Give it here." said Brenda and went to work with a red felt tip.
When she had finished, I re-read my memo. It was now vague, complex to the point of incomprehsibility, startlingly lax in detail but most importantly, throughly anonymous. You couldn't tell who had responsibilty for what.
"There. " Brenda smiled with a strange look of satisfaction and triumph. " Now when it goes wrong they won't blame you."
" You mean if." I retorted, mildly offended.
" Darling, " she smiled sweetly. " this is the civil service, it's always when it goes wrong...."

Lesson learnt......

Friday, January 07, 2005

Revenge- a dish best served with curry sauce

I sat for the last hour in work today staring sightlessly at my computer screen. Revenge was on my mind. Revenge in general towards my careless ex-girlfriend and, in particular, against her poisionous best friend who was indirectly responsible for our split. Not serious revenge you understand, but enough to make life difficult for the cows. A petty revenge.

Feeling pious I googled 'revenge' on the net. I was amazed to find a plethora of web-sites devoted to the black art- everything from sending anonymous e-mails (purile and rather sleazy) to breaking eggs down the intake grill on someone's car (sorry, but I'm with Travolta in Pulp Fiction "never f**k with another man's automobile..." )

And then a strange thing happened as I was plotting my dastardly deeds. At first, I felt oddly sated as though planning revenge is somehow revenge in itself. Then, suddenly and unexpectedly, I felt saddened and somewhat lessened. In truth I felt downright shabby.

What is it that makes us seek revenge, seek to hurt those who have hurt us, even when that someone is a person who you have deeply loved? The answer, I think, is selfishness- the ego is hurt, the heart is bruised- it's a vain and deeply primitive instinct that taps the dank corners of the soul- I hurt and I must share that hurt and from the depths something hungry raises its dark eyes and smiles.

I switched off the computer, grabbed my jacket and left, nodding to the guard on the way out of the building. I felt sick with myself.

But then, driving home, I made a new resolution. To try to forgive everyone; my ex, her poisionous friend and, not least, myself. Not because of some vague notion that forgiveness is good for the soul, but it's simply that to hold onto the idea of taking revenge corrupts you and makes you less than you were. It anchors you in the bad times.

To celebrate my new found righteousness I bought curry and chips for tea. Sod the diet, its soul food...

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Orca eggs for sale

I was sitting in the smoking room at work today (yes, I know it isn't big and it isn't clever), when the subject of conversation turned bizarrely to favorite animals.

" What's yours?" asked the attractive seventeen year old YTS from admin, puffing demurely on her Lambert and Butler.
" Orcas" says I, trying to drag as much Malboro into my rebelling lungs for the remaining 30 seconds of my smoke break.
" What?" she replied looking puzzled. " Pigs?"
"Orcas, not porkers." I said, stubbing out my fag.
" What's that then?"
" A killer whale."
"Urgh!" she said, making a face like she'd just seen John Prescott in his y-fronts. " I hate fish."
" It's a mammal" I replied standing up to leave.
She chewed the thought over. " Does it lays eggs?"

I made my excuses and left

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Back to work... oh hum

Back to work... oh hum

Oh well, it's back to work. Got the train in; a novel experience with herds of miserable looking people blowing their noses and pretending to read the Guardian. As it's my first time back for a couple of weeks , I've been desk jobbed and put on a project; good thing too- I wouldn't trust me out in the field dealing with real people!

My department exists in a kind of twilight world- the higher echelons like to think that we are a sleek corporate machine- where in reality we are a Ford Cortina. With no wheels. There's lots of management speak about 'thinking outside the box' and 'deep diving' and the rather scary sounding 'grabbing low hanging fruit' but in reality very few of them understand where the box is, what we are supposed to be thinking outside it for and whose fruit it is we are supposed to be grabbing..... A colleague of mine best summed it up when he said the civil service works on Platonic logic (or was it Aristotle???) i.e.

All goats have four legs

My cat has four legs

Therefore my cat is a goat

This roughly translates in the civil service as:

We must do something

This is something

Therefore we will do this and keep our budget

And to think you let us run your lives................