Wednesday, August 29, 2007

My eyes are burning!

The front page of today's Irish Examiner scared me. I am still shaking.

Maybe I am not so old after all.

Ladies of a certain vintage would go all weak at the knees at the sight of it. I, however, screamed in the canteen when I was presented with it by a cruel co-worker, arousing the attention of several Department staff, among them senior managers.

What was this thing?

A topless Wee Daniel. Och, bless him.

Even now, the sound of ripping paper and snipping scissors carries on the breeze from the nursing homes to my window.


Edit - I would post a link, but once was enough! Go find it yourselves!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Further thoughts on ageing

I was born a few days after the demise of Elvis. His passing overshadowed the rejoicing that should have accompanied my glorious birth.

Could I be the reincarnation of the King? - I once mused. No, for he had more talent in the clippings from his big toenail than I have in my entire body. I can not sing, gyrate my pelvis, play a musical instrument, or perform any kind of dance. In short, my work does not enrich anyone's life.

However, given my current occupation, it is likely that I, too, will meet my end being overweight and sitting on a toilet.

Grey Anatomy (Special Edition)

I turned 30 today. And I found a grey hair.

I'm getting old.

Which means I can bitch and moan even more than usual.

So I went to work today, took an extra long tea break, sat in the sun at lunchtime, then did another little bit of work in the afternoon before going to tea yet again.

Didn't advertise the fact at work. Too fucking embarrassing. Nothing worse than co-workers coming up to you with cheesy greetings. Or buying cakes. Any excuse to buy cakes. Civil servants love cakes. Big feckin' chocolate cakes. With double cream.

And then going home some cunt in a jeep turning right at a "Yield" sign cuts right across me (when I had right of way), at which point I live up to my blog title by honking my horn and extending my middle finger and swearing a lot. Cunt. Jeeps should be banned. In fact, nothing would give me greater pleasure than to get all the jeeps (except the ones that actually go in fields, like farmers' or builders' ones) in the world, put them on an island somewhere, then nuke the fuck out of them all. Then become ruler of the world and make everyone drive non-intimidating cars that don't belch out so much carbon monoxide (It being Ireland, public transport isn't really a viable option for most of us). Al Gore would be proud of me.

Hope I make the grade as an old person.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Grey Anatomy Part 1

The civil servant, or functionarius indolentus, has many distinguishing anatomical features, all brought about by a swift evolutionary process which has its origins in the civil servant's environment, namely, the Department. In fact, it could be said that this evolutionary process is the quickest and most efficient system in place in a given Department at any given time.

Many of the anatomical changes begin from day one of a civil servant's career. It is actually possible to arrive at a reasonably accurate estimate of the time at which the process begins. 11 a.m. This is the beginning of the legendary Departmental "Tea Break". In no other organisation will you find this. Private sector employees daily scald their tongues on their coffee before running back to their posts. Civil servants, on the other hand, allow their coffee to become pleasantly warm each morning as they stuff their faces with butter-laden croissants, greasy sausages and great big lumps of foie gras. And when the last mouthful of substandard coffee has vanished down the oesophageal tract, they remain in position, ruminating, almost, as their buttocks make a near-permanent, sweaty impression on the seat. Indeed, retiring officers have often been presented with a handsome bas-relief of their favourite canteen chair, with a perfect rendition of their arse thereon.

The cumulative effect of many years of Departmental "Tea Breaks" bring about two major anatomical changes:

1. The very large bottom. This appendage eventually becomes disproportionate to the rest of the officer's anatomy. It can be quite alarmingly so. Even on the males. Arses on some male officers have been recorded as being so great in circumference, that they could block out the sun if the officer stood in a particular spot. The Gluteal Eclipse is a phenomenon of mythical proportions, and no Government department has ever admitted to keeping a record of one. They are probably far too embarrassed.

2. Colonic changes. Widely documented in this blog, a combination of unhealthy diet and sedentary occupation bring about this aspect of the government employee's anatomy. Post 12 p.m. on a daily basis the Departmental lavatories are a no-go area, as those who didn't go at home when they got up like normal people evacuate their lower intestines.

In Part 2. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and its sister condition, Inky Fingers.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

What the hell is this?

Those were my very words (barked, Father Jack-like at no-one in particular) as I wiped the goo from my eyes this morning and looked out the window before making the daily crawl to the Department.


Fuck this, I said, and decided to call in the old flexi time. I've none left now, and have to go in tomorrow. Knowing my luck, it'll be even nicer tomorrow, and utterly shit at the weekend.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Shut the fucking windows!

What the fuck is it with the weather these days? Sun beating down one minute, sub-Arctic conditions with a nice Polar wind thrown in for good measure the next. Some fucking August.

As a consequence, civil servants in the Department are getting loads of much-needed exercise jumping up and down to open and close the windows in their sections as the weather dictates. Recently the wind has been blowing relentlessly through the aisles upsetting the forms all over the floor and causing a lot of people to bend down more often than they are used to. There should be danger money for this additional strain on our flimsy functionary functions. And there is real danger of someone's fat arse emitting a loud fart as they crouch down to pick things up. It hasn't happened in my presence, but it's not a pleasant thought (My feelings in relation to bodily functions in the workplace here). It can set off a chain of events that can be damaging for people's careers.

Imagine, if you will, a mini tornado blowing around the section I work in, and a form has just fluttered to the floor.
Me: Oy, you, pick that up at once!
CO: Yes boss.
(CO bends over to pick up the form.)
CO's Arse: Brrrrrap!
CO: Oops!
Me: You dirty bastard. I'm writing you up for that.

And this problem isn't necessarily contained within a given section. Neighbouring sections, separated from ours only by thin partitions, who insist on flinging their windows open with wild abandon whatever the weather, could have a lot to answer for.

So think before you open a window in these unsettled times.

Think, god damn it!

The ultimate insult...


"You are SUCH a civil servant..."


Sunday, August 19, 2007

We are still here, you know.

That is what Senior Management said to me the other day. Not in so many words. Nor, indeed, directly to my face. Nope. A directive came down to me, through the ranks. At precisely the time when I was thinking, "Gosh, I wonder what all the senior management folk are up to today, in their big offices. Filming their bottoms, maybe, with the videoconferencing gear."

Suddenly a piece of paper that I'd worked on six months ago and forgotten about, thinking it all to be signed off, landed on my desk, courtesy of my immediate supervisor. "They want this bit changed, and can you insert these two words here?" said el jefe.

They were tiny changes, which took me five minutes and which made absolutely no semantic difference to the text.

Sometimes I think senior management get a map of the building with everyone's desk on it, stick a needle in it and say:
"Who shall we piss off today? Oh look, it's an EO. Let's give them some meaningless task to do, just to keep them thinking that we are working up here, and that we know what they are up to."

Cue image of senior managers sitting around a big table sniggering, the blood from the recently sacrificed chicken still coagulating on its surface.

Yes, guys, I know you're still there. Thank you for caring.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


I had a glimpse of the future today. I saw myself as a fat, waddling, decrepit civil servant, chained to a desk worrying about benchmarking and forms.

I should get out, I know, but I can't find the door.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Bring back the dress code... now... PLEASE????

Our workplace has a more or less non existent dress code, particularly for those of us not in very senior management or who don't face the public very often. We can come in wearing tracksuit bottoms or jeans or tee shirts with swearing on them. I myself am a scruffy bastard, and like to wear all of the above. I also like to change my clothes when I come home from work (damn the years of school uniforms!), and if I wore these, what the hell would I change into when I get home? So I tidy up a bit for work by wearing trousers that don't have rivets or draw strings, and tops and ladies' shirts with collars.

Having a relaxed dress code is a great thing, but it could be tightened up, just a little:

Three reasons why I say this, based on random observations of people in the corridors:

1. Middle aged women who don't wear bras. Bras should be forced on them by law. There should be a Bra patrol. The security guys could have a reserve of bras under their desk for women who forget to wear one. Actually, they probably do already, the dirty feckers.

2. Girls who wear those tops and jeans that show off the tattoo above their arses that are supposed to be unique but in reality everyone down the local meat market night club has one. A really apt one for that particular part of the lower back for people who work in our office, would be an arrow pointing downwards bearing the legend: "Poo comes out here".

3. Flip flops. They should be banned from the office. There is nothing that distracts and disturbs me more at work than two COs walking up the aisle discussing Saturday night when wearing flip flops:
"And he was GORGEOUS!" **WHACK, WHACK**
"Really?" **WHACK, WHACK**
"Yeah, so I got off with him..."**WHACK, WHACK**

Fucking flip flops. It's not even a proper fucking summer for fuck's sake. And then they wonder why their feet keep getting wet.

As for the blokes, they are less offensive. The ones with dandruff or who smell like cheese could do better, and the ones with nicely sculpted pecs and arses could wear things that give the ladies a better eyeful.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Anal prob-ation

I had yet another probationary review recently. Apparently I joined the civil service too soon - if I had started around a year ago, my probation would only last a year. For me, it's two years, ending in a few months. So I have to keep my nose clean until then. I just wipe it on forms anyway.

Apparently I'm doing fine, even if certain work practices that I adopt don't really meet with the approval of my boss - but they are effective. The ends justify the means anyway, so fuck off boss.

I dread the day when I have to fill one of these new forms out for one of my staff (at the moment, they're all out of probation, but this may change), it's like a mini PMDS form where the supervisor not only has to give an overall rating on the scale of 1-5 (like the annual review stage), but also on each individual competency. It's several pages long, and has to be signed off on by the jobholder before being submitted to Personnel for filing. In a dusty file that'll only be opened again when the jobholder retires, commits suicide, gets welded to a toilet seat or explodes.

Is it any wonder the civil service is such a slow moving monolith of an organisation, when all this internal stuff gives so many people so much to do. I sometimes wonder if there isn't a toilet paper requisition for when you want to do a poo at work (which, if you have read my previous postings, is a popular activity in my workplace).

I reckon there is an entire division of civil servants in the Department of Civil Service (wherever they are) who spend the day dreaming up new forms to keep themselves and thousands of others in jobs. Form Creation Division, it'll be called. It'll have round-the-clock tea breaks and incubation units for newborn forms. There'll be a Research and Development Unit, where forms will be stress tested, strapped to crash test dummies, set alight, shoved up a HEO's arse and thrown off a tall building. The only assessment that won't be done will be an Environmental Impact study on the number of forms to be binned because they have the wrong contact number or a tiny typo in the small print. This would prove the civil service to be one of the biggest producers of waste in the country.

And I'm not talking about the smell in the toilets.

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Upward Feedback

Dear Boss,

When I am on the phone, please do not stand directly behind me eavesdropping on the conversation, and, when I hang up, stand there criticising my phone technique.

Unlike you, I don't suffer from paranoia, thinking that every single external phone call is a threat to the integrity of the Department. Nor do I have your ability to turn a simple statement into a sewer full of verbal diarrhoea (which is a wonderful strategy for deterring people from ringing government departments, by the way).

What I mean to say is...


You bollocks.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

A Typical Civil Service Day Part Two

So, following on from the previous posting in this series, I enter my section and await the replacement HEO squad, which takes five minutes, possibly the quickest thing ever to take place in the civil service. The replacement HEO looks identical to the one whose head exploded earlier and leads me to think that all middle to senior managers have clones waiting in the basement.

The HEO leaves me alone for a bit, which allows me to boot up my computer, which whines like every one of the fifteen or so sets of double doors I have had to walk through already this morning. I can check my email, have a quick game of Arse Race and scratch my head while I wonder what to do this morning.

Oh yeah, see what the COs are up to. Or else the HEO will ask for a progress update and I will look like a tit if I don't know. I approach the nearest one, known to all the section for being a bit weird. I intend to have a bit of banter about last night's soccer match, but it dies on my lips as the CO's head rotates slowly away from his monitor and towards me, for what seems like an eternity. When he is facing me full on, his cervical vertebrae do not stop there. Oh, no. His head just keeps on rotating. Until it reaches a full 360 degree revolution. I stand there, speechless. When his neck has gone full circle, it suddenly starts to spin faster, and his eyes light up red. "YOUR MOTHER FILLS FORMS IN HELL", he screams at me. I begin to retreat to the safety of my desk, but I am too late to avoid the green pea soup type substance that erupts from his mouth and spatters all over my top.

After I go and clean myself up, making a mental note never to wear dry clean only tops to work, I return to the section, throw a sick form at the CO with a post-it stuck to it saying "Damien, do you need to go home for the rest of the day?", and duck for cover. No more pea soup is forthcoming.

By now, it is time for tea, and as I exit the section, the HEO pounces with some work he couldn't be bothered to do. I say I need my caffeine fix first and I do, I really fucking do. He can see the caffeine withdrawal in my expression, and backs away, for fear that I, too, might puke green vomit on his shirt. I have to sit alone in the canteen due to the funny smell off my clothes. Fuck. I still take 50 minutes though. And a quick trip to the toilet, to make it up to an hour. Or so I think. The toilets fucking ming of raw anus. That, combined with the malodorous top I am now wearing, make me throw up my entire breakfast all over the toilet, the seat, the wall, the door, the ceiling, basically any surface I could reach with my anti peristaltic trajectory.

"Serves the workplace shitters fucking right", I think, and run out before anyone can see who was responsible.

Back in the section, I glance nervously at the clock. Lunch is in half an hour. I still haven't done any fucking work. Damien is scowling in a corner doing some filing and doesn't acknowledge my note, and I really don't care at this point.

I spend the next 20 minutes getting updates off the remaining clerical officers. Then I go back downstairs where I look at the clock, waiting for the beginning of the lunch period, ready to swipe out and go home for a change of top. This I do, and I drive merrily out of the main gate. "See you in two hours, suckers", I say to no-one in particular.