Sunday, February 24, 2008

My lovely turkey...

Still on the subject of birds... delighted to see that Dustin is representing us in Belgrade this year. Go on ya good thing! It's time Ireland started having fun at the Eurovison, instead of trotting out diddley-eye bands in tweeds and lace. Everyone else is pulling the piss, just because we've won seven times (yes, I like Eurovison statistics) it doesn't mean we have to be all po-faced about it all.

It brought back memories of Father Ted and "My Lovely Horse". What would Dermot Morgan think?


Feathered Fuckers

Very bored this weekend, so I am writing in an even more unhinged way than usual about mundane matters.

I have fucking birds in my chimney. Crows, in all probability. This neighbourhood is full of them. I haven't lit a fire yet, so the bastards have nested up there. I could hear the fuckers this afternoon gurgling and squawking and shitting and God knows what other disgusting noises. I've had to put a board across the fireplace to stop the shit and bits of berries coming down and scattering all over the floor. I'm doing this until I sweep the chimney and get a guard fitted.

I don't mind birds in the garden. But I don't want them in my fucking house.

I could get a clerical officer to sit up there as a scarecrow. Untidy Guy would fit the bill nicely. I'd have to lure him to my place with the promise of organic lentil and asparagus stew (seems to like that kind of stuff). Picture the scenario as I go to unlock the front door:

Untidy Guy: Ooh, Govstooge, I'm really looking forward to this healthy repast you have invited me to your home for.
Govstooge: Yeah, yeah. Err... just what the hell do you think you're doing?
UG: I'm coming in.
Govstooge: Like fuck you are, knobjockey. Get up on that roof.
UG: What?
Govstooge: Here's a ladder and two saucepan lids. Get up there and scare those cunting birds off.
UG: I must warn you, this goes completely against Union regulations.
Govstooge: Shut the fuck up. We're not at work now. But I'm still in charge. Bwahahahahahaha! Remember the "additional duties at the discretion of manager" bit on your role profile form? You do? Good... now get up there or I'll give you a grade '1' on your next PMDS review. And then I'll set the form on fire, and shove it up your arse.
UG: (Under breath) Bitch.

Three hours later...

UG: Err, Govstooge, can I come down now? I think I managed to scare them all off.
Govstooge: No, just another while longer. I think I hear them coming back.
UG: But it's cold and uncomfortable up here. The ridge pole is digging into the cleft of my buttocks. And I'm hungry.
Govstooge: (throwing stale bread onto roof) Here, eat this. Oh shit, look what I've done.

The sky is suddenly black with birds.

UG: Arrgh!
Govstooge: Bwahahahahahaha!

Several hours later Untidy Guy is allowed to climb down from the roof. His clothes are in tatters and there are several chunks of skin taken out of his arms.

UG: So, can I have my lentil and asparagus stew now?
Govstooge: No. Piss off home.
UG: But I don't have a car, and my house is 30 miles from here.
Govstooge: Walking's good for you. Fuck off. And don't be late for work tomorrow or I'll write you up.

An alternate ending to this would be Untidy Guy falling off the roof to his death, but that would have been too mean.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Carbon footprint?

The Office of Public Works has come up with a plan to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in 250 or so of their buildings by 15% over the next two years. A laudable objective, but consider this:

Much of the CO2 build up in government offices is due to hot air.

I propose a series of initiatives to reduce this pollutant from our workplace.

  1. Reduce the number of meetings held annually.
  2. Give managers a certain quota of words to use per day; eg they should not speak more than 20,000 words. This will force them to be more concise in their delivery and will reduce waffling and the resultant confusion among their staff. A good start to this would be banning “management-speak” clich├ęs immediately.

If this should fail, which it might, as change is almost always poorly managed in the civil service, I propose the alternative strategy:

  • Use the CO2 as a renewable source of energy to power office equipment such as computers, fans and photocopiers. This could be adopted on a localised basis by attaching small portable wind turbines to each HEO to convert the hot air produced by said managers into electric current.

Also what about methane? CH4 is a far more deadly gas than CO2 don’t you think? It being highly flammable and all?

If the methane gases produced on a daily basis by civil servants in the office toilets were to be diverted to an external storage tank, this would heat the building in an eco-friendly and sustainable way. Also people using the toilets after the CH4 has been released would no longer have to suffer the appalling stink. Flame throwers using methane as fuel could also be given to each EO as a motivational tool.

Finally, when considering noxious gases, let me remind readers that the abbreviation for clerical officer is the same as the chemical symbol for a molecule of carbon monoxide. And yes, both can provoke thoughts of asphyxiation.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Just cause...

There is a procedure in my Department, which, I imagine, is in place in all Departments and maybe in many private sector companies, where if an employee forgets their ID/ swipe card, they have to manually record the times they arrived at work/ went on lunch/ went home and get this authorised by their supervisor. A perfectly reasonable procedure, in fairness.

One of the clerical officers I supervise has a tendency to do this a lot. Most weeks, sometimes even twice a week I have to authorise these sign in times. This wouldn't be so bad except each one is accompanied by a spiel of what exactly was happening at the time they left home that they forgot it (there was a cat on the driveway/ my mammy called me and told me my shirt was ironed and ready / I needed a last minute poo). I also get a run down of the actual sign in/ out times, even though they are written on a form in front of me.

I really don't mind signing these things. I know the person in question is telling the truth, as I have seen them arrive and leave at the times they say. I just don't want a big long explanation, which can sometimes be accompanied by showers of saliva. Don't drool on your boss, you manky fucker.

For this year's staff suggestion scheme, I propose that employees who are prone to this specific kind of waffling have their ID cards tattooed on their foreheads. That way they can just press their heads up to the clock every time they go past and it will record their clockings.

I will even offer to do the tattooing myself. I have a set of Magic Markers, and I like playing with sharp objects.


Bracing...?

Forgot the headphones for my iPod thingy today. Damn, damn and blast! I realise this may sound pathetic (like that old joke with the blonde who wore headphones all the time playing a recording “breathe in, breathe out”), but it has had a catastrophic effect on my plans for the day.

You see, I am rather partial to a stiff constitutional in the afternoons. On my lunchbreak, there’s nothing I like more than to go for a stroll in the vicinity of the Department. Especially in this lovely biting cold weather. It has many benefits, among them strengthening the immune system and warding off the ill effects of civil servant arse. Listening to up tempo tunes on the iPod means I tend to walk faster, thereby increasing the benefits even more. Or so I’m told by people in tight vests. I usually return to the office with a healthy glow, which contrasts dramatically with the pallor of everyone else.

Without the iPod, I am no longer insulated against traffic noises. The racket from big fuck-off trucks and those fucking Transit vans assault my eardrums. Not having it with me also removes my isolation from other people. I am not very sociable on my walks and the iPod allows me to adopt a far away expression as I mentally (in my mind, that is, not in a fashion that might be considered mental by a casual onlooker) sing along to my favourites by the Stone Roses and the Smiths. By lunch time I will already have spent four or so hours sitting in close confines with a mixture of normal people and complete and utter knob jockeys, so this walking time is for ME and for me alone. I don’t want to have to listen to other people's inane conversations, their noisy shoes, their sneezing and coughing. If I can’t escape all of that at work, then I’ll avoid it on my own time.

As a consequence I have spent my lunch break indoors, in the Department. Looking out the window. Just like any time of the working day. I miss the cold on my cheeks and the small circles of underarm sweat I usually have at this time (Sweaty I may be, but I will never smell as bad as Cabbage Water Man. And my top will not be worn for the next four days like those belonging to some colleagues.).

It’s absolutely fucking pathetic I know. It won’t matter in a few years, though. I’ll have used the iPod at such high volumes by then I won’t have a single hair cell left in my inner ear and won’t have to worry ever again about hearing things I don’t want to hear.

Memo to self: Find out what doctors’ surgeries do with the stuff they syringe from people's ears. Maybe I can have some implants?

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Kafkaesque nightmare

Had one of those last night. I was in a giant open plan office, so full of people that not everyone had desks, but some were sitting on the floor. Due to the immense heat generated by the overcrowding, several massive fans were attached to the ceiling, which was painted black. At one point a senior manager came in to make an announcement, but people just kept on doing what they had been doing, because they couldn't hear him with the noise from the fans anyway. Some people even got up and walked out. I was given a job to do but I had no information on how to do it.

My first dream about being a civil servant. Even my subconscious acknowledges that it's inefficient and pointless and completely shit unless you have your own office. I am becoming institutionalised.

And unemployable anywhere else.

Anti

So here it is, the anti-Valentine's day. This post is dedicated to HATE... and more specifically, the things I hate most. No particular order.

1. SUVs in the city. If you work in insurance and drive one of these, then you are a cunt. Since when do you need a vehicle with the words "land", "trail" or "pathfinder" in its name to get around the suburbs? Twats.
2. Those bloody vans and lorries with the yellow flashing lights on top. Who the hell do you think you are, some sort of alternative emergency vehicle? Fuck off and stop trying to make everyone unfortunate enough to be stuck behind you epileptic.
3. People who stand still on escalators, often two abreast, so no-one else can get past. Just because the stairs are moving doesn't mean you have to stand there with your mouths open staring ahead. No wonder your fucking arses are so fat. Go to the London Underground and try that at rush hour. You'll be lucky to get out alive.
4. Commercialism. I will not have marketing and advertising executives controlling what I do and when I do it. If I want to celebrate my alternative Easter in November by eating stones instead of overpriced crappy chocolate eggs, then that's what I'm doing.
5. City Planners. No explanation needed.
6. That fecking Jake guy on the telly. I would love to shove his fucking newspaper up his hole. Whistling bastard.

God, I must be going soft. I love a good rant.I can only come up with six for the moment. Maybe it's the day that's in it.

Friday tomorrow, though. Wooyay.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Dies Irae

It was bound to come, sooner or later. The day of reckoning, Judgement Day, Rapture, the Apocalypse, call it what you like, it was inevitable. What was unexpected was that it would come about at my own hands.

Today I was working on a very long and very boring document. For ease of editing, I decided to print it, and sent it to print on one of the ageing machines adjacent to the section. Imagine my disgust when I went to the printer ten minutes later to discover that only a tenth of the document had printed, due to a paper jam. I opened the covers and removed the offending paper and waited for it to come back online. Two more pages printed. It jammed again. I cleared the paper jam once more and waited. One page began to print, but gave up half way through. Ink stained my fingers and the innards of the machine scalded my hands as I attempted to pull the shreds of paper out.

This went on for several minutes, and the attention of people working close by was being attracted by the repeated banging noises coming from the printer room. A closer look brought them to witness a red-faced EO with black hands slamming the cover of the ancient printer down while foaming at the mouth. They backed away pretty sharpish.

I got about ten additional pages printed before a message flashed up on the printer's display screen: "Error 666 - Call maintenance". I pressed the "Cancel job" button on the printer. I picked up the screws I had shaken loose from the printer and threw them out the window. I then gathered the crumpled sheets of my report and threw them in the bin. Then I went to the bathroom to wash the blood... er... ink from my hands. Finally, I walked calmly back to my desk and proceeded to send the print job to another machine at the opposite end of the building.

And all the time I was doing this, the "Ride of the Valkyries" from Apocalypse Now was on repeat in my internal jukebox.

I have defeated my arch-nemesis. And now I'm looking for something new to kill.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Braaains?

I absolutely love zombie films. I have all my favourites on DVD. Night of the Living Dead, Return of the Living Dead, Evil Dead, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Shaun of the Dead and of course the Irish one, Boy Eats Girl which is actually quite a decent film. 28 Days Later and 28 Weeks Later, while not actually zombie films, are very similar and are also bloody excellent.

I had a discussion with some colleagues today on what would happen if zombies attacked the Department and all employees were trapped inside. Some suggestions were along the lines of boarding up the windows and doors like in the films to stop the zombies getting in and eating our brains. Or setting forms alight and using them to ward off the corpses to a safe distance while we run for the cars and fuck off, driving over them in the process.

There were major flaws in the plans though. It being a civil service department, how can we tell the zombies from the non-zombies? The amount of blank expressions, thousand-yard stares, decomposition smells and drooling that I witness on a daily basis is testament to this. Not to mention the fact that our brains leaked out through our ears and nostrils within a few months of joining the civil service, thereby rendering us of little or no nutritional value to the undead.

So I think we're safe. Next random shite discussion please.

Anois Teacht An Earraigh

God, it really felt like spring today. I hadn't seen sun like that in quite some time. You just know that the sap is rising when you go for a walk at lunchtime and have to negotiate twice as many dog turds on the pavement than previously. And you can also tell it's spring by the amount of pink and red tat in the shops and the number of saps buying it up.

It's bollocks isn't it, Valentine's day. Another spurious "holiday" dreamt up by the card manufacturers to fill the lonely gap between Christmas and Easter. A day when people are stupidly conned into buying a bunch of withered crappy roses and some about-to-go-off chocolates from the local Statoil for their significant other. Where's the spontaneity in that? Why do they have to buy that stuff on February the 14th? There are plenty of other boring dates in the calendar that you could stick a knife in at random and surprise your loved one with goodies that haven't been marked up for the "occasion".

And yes, I may be cynical, but it's cynicism borne out of a hatred for overblown commercialism rather than the fact that I am single-and-proud at the moment. This "occasion" cheapens what is a beautiful aspect of human life. Valentine's day can fuck off.

But if I was to buy into this crap, who would I pick to send a Valentine to? The pickings at work are slim. The fat guy who wears the same shirt for the whole week? The smelly fucker in my section who seems to wash his clothes in cabbage water? The bloke with things growing in his beard? The ignorant bastard AP from another division who recently blocked my car in the car park? The guy with the "lobotomy look" haircut?

Probably best to leave them alone. I don't want them to get the notion that they might be able to breed. And, if they already have done so, God help the gene pool.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Boo Shit

Well, I got hammered last night, went to work hung over - from which it took me most of my working day to recover. Ok, it was a silly thing to do, but I had a laugh and it helped me forget yesterday's role profile meeting with the malignant knobjockey CO.

So I'm now back on form to deal with the voluminous clouds of shit that are coming my way in the next few weeks. Getting time off in the coming weeks will be difficult. Unless, of course, you are a parent. Having a sprogling comes in handy - sometimes. I am not a parent (the very idea of someone as feckless as me being in charge of another person... heyyy... wait a minute!) so I and the other sprogless wonders will be manning the place while the majority take time off for the mid term break. I will have to resort to one of my remaining uncertified sick days if I decide I need a break.

The curse of the "family friendly" workplace. Maybe I should campaign through my union for something similar for people in my situation. Something like "Hangover nursing day" or "Burnt out EO day" or maybe even "Had a curry last night I fear an exploding rectum" day.

Well, I have seen more ridiculous ideas already in place. Anything is possible in the civil service. You might be retired or dead by the time anything happens though.
----------------
Now playing: HANDEL - Air
via FoxyTunes

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Rotten

Today I completed, for the last time, a role profile form with the section nutjob. I thought, ten minutes for the meeting, in and out, get the stupid fucking form out of the way once and for all. Then I can hand them over to their new manager, and they may now fuck off. No such luck.

Having completed the form, I then went through the feedback bit at the bottom. "Does the job holder wish to give feedback?" it said. My hopes of ticking "No" and getting the fuck out of there evaporated as the smell of the nutjob's BO and the tension in the room escalated.

All of a sudden I was subjected to a litany of grievances about how the place was managed. Most of them, admittedly, directed at more senior management rather than at me.

Most prominent in the criticism was: "I hate the HEO." When asked why, no answer was forthcoming.

Well, I'm sorry, there is absolutely fuck all I can do about that. What am I supposed to do, use Rorschach tests and word association and various other psychometric tests to determine exactly what the problem is?

I could have said: "Well, look at it this way, I REALLY hate you, and I can give you several reasons right NOW."

But instead, I signed the form. Let someone else worry about it. I don't get paid enough for that kind of shit.

For the record - the reasons I hate this person are:
- They smell
- Desk like a fucking tip head
- Irritating voice
- Irritating mannerisms
- Chews loudly
- Has to be asked seventeen times to perform a simple task
- Resistant to any kind of management driven initiatives to improve workloads and working conditions.

There are many more, but I'm going to the pub now, so fuck it!

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Scary

One of the more harrowing experiences of my recent trip to Dublin was this toilet door I encountered on the journey.


Seriously, what the fuck are those holes for? Lesbian toilet voyeuses? Fulfilling the need for sexual pleasure of men with multiple penises of various shapes and sizes - who just happen to have a chipboard fetish?

Either way, I finished my business as quickly as possible. The threat of another lady glancing through that aperture at me as I hovered made sure I did not linger.

I was not alone, I'm sure of it, because ALL THE FUCKING DOORS WERE LIKE THIS!!

I'm becoming very, very scared of public toilets.

Now, where's that complaint form?

Saturday, February 2, 2008

Something that occurred to me...

... when I had nothing better to do.

In relation to submitting information to a government body do you:

- Fill "up" a form?
- Fill "out" a form?
- Fill "in" a form?

I know I use all of the above variations. When I have a pint too many and think about this, I feel like my brain is going to explode. And also the brains of those around me who have to listen to my confused ramblings.

Ah fuck it.

Just say "Complete a form". That'll settle it. But it loses the alliterative beauty of the post label below.


Crap as usual

Woke up this morning to a white-shrouded building site (No, I will never make it as a blues songwriter). My heart leapt with joy at the thought of pulling a sickie and staying at home building a snowman in my back garden. A snowman who I would build lovingly and then christen with the name of my least favourite co-worker, before kicking the ever-lovin' shite out of the fucker.

Well, bollox anyway. By the time I had my coffee, it had turned to sludge. Bastard.

The weather in this country is really crap. It's almost as if it doesn't even try.

It's like some senior civil servant in the sky got a great idea six years ago to give the country snow on February 1st, 2008, spent the intervening years planning the project only to find that, on the day itself the implementation of the project failed miserably and it had to go back to the drawing board at a cost of millions to the taxpayer. The project would probably have been called "Precipitation Planning And Related Stuff" (or PPARS for short).

So it's back to shitty rain and wind for us poor damp sods.

And don't get me started on the summers.

Is there a way of tilting this planet on its axis so that Ireland ends up where the Canary Islands are? Like a big nuke or just get Mary Harney to jump up and down for a few hours?

Office Etiquette

I was at the doctor today gettting my bitch valve replaced (having worn out the old one from spewing vitriol on this blog) and while I was waiting I thumbed through the magazines in the waiting room. Amazingly, they were all current editions, not ancient copies of National Geographic or Kay's catalogues from 1988 with the bra pages torn out, such as I have become accustomed to over the years.

I came across a copy of Image magazine, an Irish glossy I only read if a friend passes it on to me, because most of the stuff in it is geared towards women who live in giant houses in Dublin 4 with barrister husbands and who can afford to spend more on a scarf than I earn in an entire month.

This particular edition was different, however; it was geared towards women in business. It made for interesting and inspiring reading. It featured articles on women setting up their own businesses and suitable business attire for board meetings etc (again, all items costing an absolute fucking packet - what's wrong with a suit from Next, girls?).

The most interesting thing in it for me, though, was an article by Terry Prone on office etiquette. At the end of the article, she had helpfully appended a list of dos and don'ts for people who want to make the right impressions on their co-workers and bosses.

Close to the top of the list were two of my regular transgressions.

- Don't swear.
- Don't eat garlic during the week.

Jesus, does this mean if I tone down my language, stop eating curries, and spend €3,000 on a designer suit, that I'll be admired and respected by all?

Fuck that for a game of soldiers. I'm a civil servant, so it doesn't matter what I do. But, as a protest, I will arrive at work on Monday morning in a beer-stained hoodie that I have slept in all weekend, while calling everyone bastards.

Take THAT, Image magazine!

GONG...!

So I discovered that I'm on the long list for the "Best Newcomer" award at the Irish Blog Awards 2008. I am very, very flattered to be up there with a lot of people whose blogs I dip into regularly. I'm very grateful for the nomination; I hope I can continue to live up to it. Fecking great! My only wish is that I could boast about it at work, but then everyone would know what I've been writing about them and I could get carpeted by the Department dickhead.