Tuesday, July 29, 2008


... are famous for a fantastic techno track entitled Insomnia.

Which is what I'm suffering from right now, and in six hours I will have to be at work, so may God help anyone who pisses me off at work tomorrow (today?).

Bereft of the Civil Service Code for inducing a vegetative state in which I might get some rest, I've decided to do some more blogging.

I had a look earlier at the Statcounter thing and note that a colleague in the Revenue Commissioners came to the blog by means of a search for "ireland personal hygiene civil service". I hear you my friend, I know what has been inflicted upon you. Although my period of inhaling the aromas of a clerical officer's armpits is over, I have not readily forgotten it.

Other things that the Google search above will bring you to is an information leaflet by the Northern Ireland Civil Service for their employees regarding E. Coli infections. This amused me on many levels, not least the typo announcing that the aforementioned bacterium may be carried asymptomatically "BE cattle".

Employees are advised to "Tell their supervisor if they have symptoms". Yes, it's aimed at staff working with animals and carcasses and poo, but anyone can be infected if they don't wash their hands after going to the toilet or if they eat undercooked meat etc. Even office staff.

I can just see it:

A typical day in the Department. An ashen-faced CO approaches their manager.
CO: I think I might be infected with E-Coli. See this leaflet here. I have to tell you about it.
EO (Jumps out from behind desk and backs away from the CO with hand covering mouth): Oh yeah? What sort of symptoms are you having?
CO: Err... can we go somewhere private?
EO: No, I don't want to be stuck in a small room with you and your filthy germs.
CO: Oh right then. Well, I have just shat more than I ate in a month.
Assembled section: Eurgh!
CO: Do you want to know more details? Like colour, or smell? Actually, you might find that second one out for yourself if you go down the corridor.
EO: That's nothing new in this place. Quick, get out of here and get to the A&E department as fast as you can. Try not to fart on the premises.
CO: Thank you so much. You have been very kind. My last EO made me give a sample. Are you sure you don't want one?
EO: No thanks, my germ warfare days are behind me.

CO staggers to door holding abdomen but doesn't quite make it, explodes, and the entire section get a nice half day being decontaminated with industrial disinfectants in the ambulance bay of the local hospital.

The moral of the story?

There isn't one. It is a shit story.

Boom boom.


Nope, I'm not thinking about auditioning for Louis Walsh's new girl band. I believe those auditions are a front anyway for a grand scale genetic engineering project going on to perfect the perfect looks/ vocals for a pop act and so there's no point in going along. My DNA combined with that of a thousand Tango girls trying to sound like Amy Winehouse might bring about a terrible sweary mutant prompting public outrage and lynching (Shane Lynching?) of Louis in his penthouse apartment by right-minded Irish citizens bearing torches.

So no, I will not inflict this on our society. Aren't you glad I am so public-spirited?

Seriously, the title of this post refers to my having been at a GAA match recently. After the match, while sporting my county hurling jersey I was apprehended by a journalist from my local rag looking for a comment and a picture. This was a great source of amusement to me, family and friends for a few days but now I'm not so sure.

I can't help but think that this picture and my commentary accompanying it is now being peed (and worse) on by non housetrained pets, being used to clean windows or as toilet paper in some of the more backward rural pubs.

It has probably lasted a millisecond longer than the aforementioned girl band are likely to though...


Is it just me noticing this or are all work colleagues' holiday stories - especially the package holiday stories - boring as hell? I'm not a fan of package holidays myself anyway, preferring to "make my own", so maybe I'm just biased, but I find they all follow a formula as each sad looking colleague returns to a chorus of "welcome back" from more pasty faced colleagues.

I don't care about the fact that the grains of sand on the Playa de la Mierda are bigger than on the Playa de la Violencia.

I am apathetic about the standard of airline food offered on Slimeair flights to Malaga.

I am indifferent to the variety of steak and chips outlets (and the relative merits of each one) in the Algravy.

I fail to get excited when shown yet another picture of a swimming pool.

I realise the stories are sanitised so as to be inoffensive to the majority of colleagues. For instance, we are not told about the "inspection shelf" feature of many a Continental toilet (that always disturbed me). Nor are we told about the sexy stripping male bar staff in Gran Canaria, or the bad dose of the squits caught from the water in a Bodrum hotel.

Mind you, the variety of sweets and choccies abounding in the office as a result of these trips is rather pleasing, as is the box of posh truffles set aside for the EO.



Monday, July 21, 2008

Sisters are doing it for themselves…

Having rented rooms in several shared houses in four different cities since the age of 18, I can really appreciate the merits of having a place all to myself. Not quite “Hell is other people”, rather “Hell is SOME other people”. I’ve had to put up with all kinds of stuff in the past. Smelly people. A religious nut. An alcoholic with lesbian tendencies (kept my door locked in that house). People with appalling table manners – a pet hate of mine. A girl who attempted to order me about like a strict parent. A girl who would stomp around in high heels in her wood floored bedroom next door to mine every morning and make a mess with makeup in the bathroom. It hasn’t been all bad, though; I have also made many friends from several countries.

Living in Ballyfuck and having the place all to myself means I can have friends over to stay any time I want, I can have a whole shelf in the fridge reserved for BEER, and I don’t have to put up with other people’s bathroom habits, noisy shoes or stinking dinners made from dead sheep. It hasn’t been possible to rent a room out in such a remote place, so I’ve resigned myself happily to managing the fixed-rate mortgage on my own.

The new living arrangements have brought new challenges into my life. DIY. Yes, I can enlist the help of friends living close by or my dad when my parents come for a visit, but I like to try things for myself when I can. I have become adept at gluing bits of plywood together to make a crappy bookshelf or end table. My nails are permanently short to avoid dirt and breakages when working. I don’t think a “Dowel” is the father of a Minister for Justice we once had. However when a flat-pack says “two people needed to assemble” I don’t divide myself in two by a process of mitosis; I seek help.

Recently I needed to do some more heavy duty work and decided that I should invest in the tools to do the job. So I took myself off to my nearest Argos (because I get to fill in a little form at the start – woohoo! Form!), chose a decent electric drill from the laminated catalogue with a lollipop sticking page 236 and 237 together, paid for it and waited for it to come out on the conveyor belt while studying the people around me. A tracksuited bleached-blond teenager of uncertain sex was intently studying the range of Elizabeth Duke products on offer. A man had bought up all the batteries in the store and was waddling to the door with them. A stray dog had entered the store and peed on the faux leather display sofa near the door (why do they hunt these fauxes?). A cheerful Polish girl was marking dockets and handing customers their purchases over the counter.

When Order number 534390924.222∞ was called, I stood up, ready to claim the device that would symbolise my initial foray into the wonderful world of power tools. The Polish girl glanced around and, noting the corresponding number on my docket, looked at me, gave a nervous laugh and said “Oh you don’t need THIS; you are a WOMAN!”.

I couldn’t help but laugh and say “Shit! I forgot to hide my boobs!”

She did have lovely nails though.


Disappeared off the face of the blogosphere for a bit I know. And it was rude of me not to say I was going. May I apologise.
There was copious alcohol to be drunk and several GAA matches to be attended or watched on telly. And more alcohol to be drunk after the matches.
I've also passed the AO exam and am placed rather well on the order of merit. That was another reason to consume intoxicating liquor.
Anyway, t'was good, and now I'm back on form.

Ha ha!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Brian! You're a very naughty boy!

Cutbacks. Yawn.
Today the Government announced a reduction in public expenditure in order to meet the growing demands of the welfare system, due to falling employment levels. It means a 3% reduction in the payroll of Government departments, a recruitment freeze and puts the decentralisation programme on hold.
Looks like foie gras is off the menu in our subsidised canteen.

Friday, July 4, 2008

The Alternative Civil Service Job Simulation Test

Doing the AO exam recently got me thinking that some of the scenarios they give us in the job simulation are - although they are plausible - not wide ranging enough to encapsulate the full civil service experience.

So I’ve come up with my own, alternative job sims for an EO role. To do this test, you must pick what you think is the best course of action out of the five options for each scenario.


Scenario 1:

You are an Executive Officer working in an incredibly boring Government Department. It is just approaching your tea break. The clerical staff you normally go on tea break with have signalled that it is time for tea, and just as you get up from your desk your HEO arrives down with a question. You know that your HEO was on the phone to her husband all morning, and you find it annoying that she has waited until now to talk to you.

What do you do?

(a) Make all the clerical staff wait for you until your HEO is finished with you.

(b) Tell everyone to go ahead and that you will join them later.

(c) Tell the HEO that you would like to go on your tea as your blood sugar levels are dropping and you may go into a coma at any minute due to hypoglycaemia.

(d) Run away.

(e) Grab the nearest letter opener and stab the HEO in the jugular while laughing maniacally. The HEO’s blood spatters you and all the clerical officers and you all walk calmly towards the canteen, ignoring the stares of passers-by.

Scenario 2:

You are an Executive Officer working in an incredibly boring Government Department. You have been asked by your HEO to give a talk on Health and Safety to the staff in your section. Your HEO has asked you to include a few specific Health and Safety infractions which he has seen in recent weeks. The issues he is raising relate to personal hygiene, incredibly untidy desks and swearing managers.

What do you do?

(a) Agree to do it and research the topic in full and present a draft of the talk to your HEO before giving the talk to ensure that the issues are covered in the correct manner.

(b) Book a conference room, so you can do a Powerpoint presentation with pictures you have taken on your mobile phone of smelly employees and messy desks. Give freebie deodorant samples to each participant along with diagrams of the parts of the body where the deodorant is to be used.

(c) Ask the HEO why can’t he do it himself because you don’t really care as long as you don’t have to sit next to the smelly bastards.

(d) Run away.

(e) Kick the HEO in the balls, shouting “You should have sorted out your own fucking health and safety before asking me anything!”

Scenario 3:

You are an Executive Officer working in an incredibly boring Government Department. It is coming up to the year end and you must conduct the end-of year PMDS reviews for all of your staff. There is also a deadline approaching for the preparation of a report on something so tedious you fall asleep every time you touch your notes. Your HEO has stressed that all PMDS interim reviews must be done by a certain date which coincides with the deadline for the report.

What do you do?

(a) Take all the clerical staff into a room where you have a bunch of numbers in a big hat. Ask them to take one number each. When they have all chosen, tell them that’s their PMDS rating for the year and walk out. Go back to the report.

(b) Work late for a few evenings (yes, later than 7pm so no flexitime) to do the report so that you can get the PMDS done during the day when everyone’s in.

(c) Prioritise the report and “forget” the deadline on PMDS. No-one ever gets them all done on time anyway.

(d) Run away.

(e) Take all the clerical staff into a room and kill them all with a big knife. When you are finished, come out and tell your HEO that all your staff are dead and there’s no need for PMDS. When the HEO tells you that the “P” can stand for “Posthumous” you stab him too. Go back to the report.

More to be posted later as I think of them.