Monday, June 30, 2008

Just an examination, just an examination

Well, I emerged unscathed from the AO exam on Saturday, despite my initial trepidation at having to spend three hours of my day off in a draughty hall in the company of civil servants, both existing and prospective.

I must say it went very well for me; I managed to tackle every question in verbal and numerical reasoning and the job simulation and even had some time left over at the end to make sure I'd filled in the right boxes on the answer form. Considering how I fared at the "examples" bit at the start, this was fortuitous.

I can never do the examples. I want to save my energy for the real thing. Three example questions which are of no consequence. I always get at least one wrong, even if it is:

"The ________ sat on the mat
(a) cat
(b) dog
(c) Taoiseach
(d) Hippy
(e) Adjustable Spanner"

"10% of 10 is
(a) 1
(b) 3
(c) half an ounce
(d) 2,086.987
(e) Hitler"

And of course, the folk administering the test will walk around and look over everyone's shoulder to see if they made the right marks. A gentle nudge from a civil servant in a very fancy shirt and a whisper in my ear, "Have another look at question two there, pet."

FUCK OFF! If I ace this exam, I will hunt you down, shiny shirted person, and I will rub my results all over your face. And I will stick your whiny feedback-y microphone where the sun doesn't shine.

Results by mid-July. I'm not going to buy the Vaseline just yet.

And in all probability, even if I do make it onto the panel, a recruitment freeze will probably put paid to my hopes of a job with no staff.

Friday, June 27, 2008

AO - let's go!

I can't go to the pub tonight. I have to do the Administrative Officer (AO) exam in the morning.

For feck's sake. A Saturday. I can't even claim a half day exam leave.


I had better make it worth my while.

The Bore War

It has recently become a daily pastime for me and a colleague to see who will get caught for the longest with workplace bores. I usually win, because I use my iPod in the office as a defensive strategy, particularly when I'm busy (yes, that's right, busy) and don't want to be interrupted.

The office bore is a generally pleasant chap who can hold highly opinionated lectures about the relative merits of one national road over another, why MDF is better than chipboard or OSB, what angle should the windows be opened at for optimum ventilation of the office, and Wavin pipes. The lectures are usually punctuated with the occasional "Okay?" to make sure he still has the attention of his audience. I have learnt to never, NEVER let my eyes meet his as he walks into the room, otherwise I am a prime target for his next talk.

A new colleague is still perfecting her evasive technique, and so is the current favoured target. I couldn't keep a straight face today as she was on the receiving end of a five-minute description of some curtains. "Ha ha", I sent in an email as the lecture drew to its conclusion.

Later today, however, I lost the battle.

I received a phone call from a colleague in another office who is notorious, not for being boring, but for taking a quarter of an hour to get her point across when five minutes would suffice. I had already answered the phone before I looked at its incoming number display. The conversation lasted ten minutes, and could easily have taken two. I knew I was losing when my interjections of "Great, I'll sort that out for you and I'll have the forms to you early next week" went unheeded and the time online crept towards double digits.

A pop-up window on my computer screen caught my attention: "You have new mail".

"Double ha ha", it said. (Wouldn't that be "ha ha ha ha"?)


I can't stand losing.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Que sommes nous? D’où venons-nous? Où allons-nous?

This is the most self-aware piece of masonry I've come across yet.

Apologies for the lazy post. I am exhausted from a hangover-hangover. Normal service will resume.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

C*nty Council

When will the fucking county council stop tearing up our roads?

As regular readers will, no doubt, be aware, I live in Ballyfuck, which is down a bog road with grass growing up the middle in the arse-end of nowhere. It has a church, a school, a shop, and several pubs. All within walking distance.

My commute to work is lengthy and not without interest. It takes me over mountains and hump-backed bridges, past farmyards plastered in inches of cow scutter and pubs in the middle of forests that I must visit for a few pints before the drink-driving laws cause them to close. Occasionally my travel time is increased by a herd of cows being brought for milking, suicidal pigeons and fucking crows literally throwing themselves at my front bumper, stoned pheasants JUST STANDING THERE in the middle of the road and, on one occasion, a deer with its white arse turned towards me in a gesture of defiance, the fucker. It’s wonderful and the rising petrol costs only detract from it slightly.

Lately, however, the county council have been fucking it up. Recently they decided to tear up the main street of another village which I pass through on my way to work. This resulted in my having to take a small detour. This went on for so long that I had almost forgotten the place existed.

This week, they are working on a stretch of road near that village, which I now can no longer get into from Ballyfuck direction. To get there, I must now take a long detour.

I’ve started to explore the network of “roads that aren’t even roads if you look at them on a map” in order to reach my destination. Some of these work out extremely well, but they rely on a sharp sense of direction, as there are, inevitably, no signposts. These, I believe, are adorning the walls of some old-fashioned pubs.

The trouble with these roads, though, is I run a real risk of being stuck behind a big tractor pulling a trailer load of silage or an evil-smelling shit spreader. Or sometimes I take a wrong turn at a - typically unsignposted - junction and drive down a narrow public road which bizarrely tapers off into someone’s private driveway and I have to do a hasty turn as the occupants of the house gaze in bewilderment from the front windows. Only yesterday was I chased half a mile (thank god for being encased in a metal thing on wheels) by an irate, unmuzzled Rottweiler, and a Jack Russell with a nasty habit of nipping at my wheels.

I suppose it still makes for an interesting journey. And I got home in one piece.

Only to find that the council are tearing up Ballyfuck’s main street for the third time in as many months and there is now a crater six feet deep which is full of men in hi-vis vests drinking tea.

And my fucking water is cut off. Again.

If the wider civil service could transfer to county councils (we can’t) I would gladly do so and attempt to fuck things up for them (just ahead of transferring back to the Department), like putting dead pigeons (see above) in their water tanks, digging a big hole in the county engineer’s parking spot and putting “DIVERSION” signs and traffic cones in the corridors of power.

That would fix ‘em, the bastards.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

What's the capital of Portugal then?

Now that the Lisbon Treaty vote is concluded, with a resounding "no" from the percentage of the electorate who bothered to turn up and vote, what's to happen next?

Now, I don't claim to be any sort of political commentator, offering timely and in-depth analysis of any given situation, but I have given the above question some considerable thought - admittedly it was last night, in a pub, over a table crowded with empty Bulmers' pint bottles.

And I have arrived at the conclusion, which, I don't doubt many others before me already have, that if the powers that be don't like the outcome of Thursday's referendum, well, if they ask the electorate again, more nicely this time, mind, then they might get the result that they were hoping for.

Now I'm off to make some coffee and I'm going to have two Nice biscuits as well. Yum yum yum.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Torch Pong Soliloquy

I was in Limerick city centre today. Limerick features regularly in the media for the relatively high level of gangland crime occurring there. What surprises me, though, is the fact that we don't hear more about instances of spontaneous human combustion taking place there.

Or, indeed, in any other area in the country where tracksuits predominate. A leisurely stroll down William Street this afternoon meant I shared the pavement with a variety of tracksuit-clad folk in varying shapes, sizes and ages. All of whom, and I mean, ALL, were smoking fags. Now correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't nylon flammable? I don't smoke, nor do I wear cheap synthetic sportswear so I'm not an authority on this stuff.

I watched them expecting one of them to turn into a human torch at any moment. My hypothesis, unfortunately, went unfounded for today.

But I did experience some form of interaction with them. "Hoy, ya, bitch, what da fuck are ya lookin' at?" - which I took to mean "Excuse me, young lady, but I couldn't help noticing you looking in my direction. May I inquire as to what interested you about my appearance?"

Fascinating subspecies. Now Bill Oddie should be watching them - feck Springwatch - let's call it Scobewatch.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Bastard Birds... again!

Fucking crows have decided to use my washing line of clean blouses for shit-target practice.


I'm going to get myself an air rifle and then see how the dirty black fuckers like it.

It might even come in handy for this year's PMDS Interim Reviews, which I haven't been arsed to get around to yet.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Vanity Foul?

Red Leeroy’s recent post (the Borrowers) which begins with people brushing their teeth in an office toilet reminded me of yet another thing that gets right on my fucking tits.

I arrived at work yesterday to find much of the same sort of thing going on. I swiped in and went for a wee in the downstairs loo before going to the section. What greeted me was a scene very similar to a scene in any nightclub ladies' toilet on a Saturday night. No, there wasn't a girl being sick in a toilet while her friend held her hair away from the blue-tinged WKD vomit as it spewed forth. Nor was there the sound of drunken sex coming from one of the cubicles.

Nope. I am talking about the preening of the ladies before beginning work. There is usually one person touching up her hair in the bathrooms at any given moment, and rightly so, 'twas a windy morning yesterday.

However, yesterday, each sink in this particular ladies' room was occupied by a girl attending to not only her hair, but in many cases her eyeliner, mascara etc etc. I had to ask one to excuse me while I washed and dried my hands. It brought back memories of sticky carpets, the pong of Red Bull in the air and incredibly overpriced beers (for I have not darkened the door of such an establishment in several years, preferring instead to drink my pint in a traditional music pub where my companions and I can actually hear each other speak).

There is nothing inherently wrong with a person taking pride in their appearance. For lazy me, it just means making sure I've had a shower that morning, that my hair isn't standing on end like that of someone just out of Electro-Convulsive Therapy, that my top is clean and ironed and that I've not put it on inside out. Well, I’m not at my best in the mornings. I usually stumble around the kitchen moaning zombie-like into my breakfast - when I can be bothered to eat one. Applying maquillage so early would just be a disaster. I’d probably end up looking like Pauline from the League of Gentlemen (And she’s an evil civil servant too!) – viz:

(Just look at that lovely hair do[n't]!)

Fair play to the girls, I suppose. With several rather fit looking male temporary clerical officers around the building it's nice to look your best.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Apologia pro vitae suae

To my colleagues:

I'm sorry I growled and spat venom at you all today.
I'm sorry I said "CUNT" loudly at the tea break table, causing many heads to turn in our direction.
I'm sorry for muttering under my breath after you left my workspace having brought me yet another pile of forms to sign.
I'm sorry for shouting "BOLLOCKS" in the office every time my phone rang.
I'm sorry for the temporary CO who I may have scared off from coming in ever again.

O God, just what have I become?

I'd better avail of some anger management classes before the Department management see fit to send me to a home for burnt-out EOs.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Here comes the summer...

Well, you could be forgiven for thinking that it is summer, rightly enough. I emerged from the bank holiday weekend burnt to a rather nice hue much reminiscent of a particular species of crustacean which is well known in gourmet circles. Thanks to genes inherited from the non-ginger side of the family, I have now begun to brown nicely. Just as the wind picks up in Ballyfuck bringing more inclement (and more typically Irish) weather in from the Atlantic.

Work was wonderful today. I finally managed to convince myself (and others) that I may be able to do my job correctly after all. The coming of summer brought with it a slew of TCOs - temporary clerical officers - to replace term-time leave taking mums - some of whom are reporting to me, and who have to receive training from me, may God have mercy on their souls.

The great thing about being a TCO is you get out at the end of ten or thirteen weeks or whatever length of time your contract is for. You get to go back to college, go travelling, go back on the dole or even get a real job. TCOs can glance smugly over their shoulders as they walk out of the sections for the last time in September knowing that THIS IS NOT IT - that they may actually make some use out of their MA unlike their boss who is swearing and getting upset about lost forms for a measly €36k a year.

Christ, what did I do wrong? I was a TCO once. The ad for the EO jobs in the national papers lured me in with the promise of actual decision making and various other opportunities for evil. But in reality, I spend most of my time doing review forms and signing annual leave applications for those under my care. No evil potential there, then - even signing my name backwards on the forms, making the "8" in "2008" into a pair of hairy testicles and drawing a devil's tail on the "y" in my name went unnoticed.

Just as the sunlight hits my pineal gland and I stop feeling depressed along comes another reason to kick me in the teeth. Where did I put that bottle of vodka?