Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Great Paper Chase

Christ, what a week it's been. It's been one long marathon of alternate annual review forms and meetings and drafting new role profile forms for 2009. I have been buried in paper. The paperwork with these things is UNREAL. The clerical officers were grand though, none of them made any additional work for me. Bless them all.

The meetings varied in length from ten minutes to half an hour, depending on how the private audience with the manager was valued by the clerical officer, or how scared they were that the EO might swear at them.

I had to schedule a lot of meetings for early in the morning, a time when I'm not at my best (see OED definition for Uncaffeinated Troglodyte), however several other EOs and HEOs beat me to the meeting rooms for the afternoon slots.

I even had some bastard nick the room which I had legitimately booked at one stage. I didn't protest, because I thought this might happen:

Govstooge: Here, I had this room booked for 3.30!
Other EO: Whoops, sorry Govstooge, but we won't be long. Can you give us half an hour?
Govstooge: For fuck's sake, I go for my COFFEE at four!

So I ended up having to do the review in a quiet-ish corner of the canteen. Over coffee, naturellement. Still not ideal when the canteen staff were dropping things that go CLANG and the HEO with the incredibly evil laugh kept overshadowing the proceedings. And other members of my staff, seated a safe distance away, kept glancing over to look at our facial expressions, to gauge where on the five point scale their colleague was going to come.

Sometimes I think what it must be like for the clerical officers. Most of them are older than me. Some of them even have adult children older than me. And, to make matters worse, I am one of those people who still occasionally gets asked for ID when doing a beer run. Some of them don't give a shite and happily sign the forms. The others think it's all bullshit, but sign the forms anyway, anything to get them out of the way. And I don't even have to bring in a gun.

My own review, now that's a story for another day.

I'm glad it's all over now though. Did I mention I had several other shitty things to be getting on with?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Is this us now?

Stolen from the World Wide Weird Web:

Civil Servants

• Ten civil servants standing in a line, One of them was downsized - then there were nine.
• Nine civil servants who must negotiate, One joined the union - then there were eight.
• Eight civil servants thought they were in heaven, 'Til one of them was redeployed - then there were seven.
• Seven civil servants, their jobs as safe as bricks, But one was reclassified - then there were six.
• Six civil servants trying to survive, One of them was privatized - then there were five.
• Five civil servants ready to give more, But one golden handshake reduced them to four.
• Four civil servants full of loyalty, Their jobs were all advertised - then there were three.
• Three civil servants under review, One left on secondment - then there were two.
• Two civil servants coping on the run, One went on stress leave - then there was one.
• The last civil servant agreed to relocate, Replaced by 10 contract workers at twice the hourly rate.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Obama Day!

Great day today, with the inauguration of Barack Obama and all.

Before he even sets to work in the Oval Office, some of the commentary is bordering on hagiography. His task will not be easy, considering the astronomical expectations placed on him. (But he's got to be better than the last guy, though, eh? Even his embarrasing bodily noises would be more articulate than Bush.)

I wish him the best of luck. Having to clean up the mess the last guy left can't be easy. Why is it always the guys from Offaly who get the shit?

Monday, January 19, 2009


Lots of it fell from the sky today. It brought dozens of civil servants to the windows, where we gazed out, rapt and speculating - will it stick or won't it?

It didn't. It turned into brown slushy mush within an hour.

But most folk were sensible enough to have dressed for the weather. I myself was attired in a warmly lined leather jacket coupled with an enormous scarf and a big wooly hat. I look like someone about to go a-burgling when I'm in that gear. But it's comfortable! (I am one of these people who choose function over style at all times.)

And so, too, was the anorak type coat favoured by one of our more corpulent colleagues. Putting it on to go home, she moaned, "Why do we have to wear all these clothes"?

I squirmed, picturing the alternative, and retorted, "Well, just think of what would happen if you didn't wear any. You would end up in prison."

My colleague looked around her and said, "I thought this was it?"

This was the highlight of what was otherwise a very shitty day during which I was for the most part in bad humour.

Coming home through areas where snow did lodge - before dark, I was able to enjoy white fields and conifers sprinkled with delicate frosting.

Shame it doesn't last. It gives us something new to talk about.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Whining Shite

The perfect end to a shit weekend... my bloody power's out. Fuck this fucking weather and all the attendant crap.

So I'm using my laptop to keep warm while the air around me slowly freezes. Mind you, it does smell nice, I'm using scented tealights and great big Yankee candles to light the way to the toilet.

And ER's on in an hour.


When the laptop battery runs out, I'll have to go to bed in a jumper and two pairs of tracksuit bottoms.

I'd go to the pub, except it's probably the same situation down there.

Serves me right for laughing at my irritating neighbour when one of his trees broke clean in two in yesterday's wind.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The First Civil Service Law of Physics

The work-related velocity of a middle manager is directly proportionate to the relative proximity of a senior manager.

Discovered this the other day. I never saw a HEO move so quickly as at the moment a senior manager entered the room.

The Second Civil Service Law of Physics governs the chain-reaction like activity which immediately follows the departure of the senior manager. Middle-manager energy is volatile due to their almost permanent state of inertia so must be diffused down the line as quickly as possible to prevent a dangerous explosion.

I also discovered this the other day, five minutes after my discovery of the first; I was approached by the HEO who said "I need this done, immediately!"

I'd write formulae for these except I'm utterly shit at physics.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

I've had to wash my mouth out today. Not surprising, the regular reader would think, considering the frequent bursts of staccato expletives that issue from me almost constantly. Maybe my HEO called me aside to tell me that I was upsetting the rest of the section.

Not quite.

Today I conducted PMDS Annual reviews with a number of people. I was organised, professional and courteous throughout each meeting. In short, very manager-like.

So where did the swearing come in?

It didn't.

Today in the meetings I used phrases - unconsciously I might add - that included:

"Going Forward"
"Across the Board"
"Sweeping Changes"
"Singing off the same Hymn Sheet"

Fuckityfuckityfuck! HEO-speak on an EO salary! Uhurrrgh! I'm turning into one of them!

I'm off to the church now to seek absolution before what remains of my soul is gone forever.


... well, at least I didn't use "Touch Base". I fucking hate that one.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

My week ahead...

In graphical form.

Unfortunately, as I am already overloaded, I can only estimate the number of staff I have to review. The number of drinks needed, however, is correct.

And it's not because of the people I'm reviewing. They're grand. It's just me and the form filling and trying to be serious even if they couldn't care either way.

PMDS. Oh god, why can't it go away?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

The Not-so-Great Escape

It's a colleague's birthday later this month. They're very excited at the prospect and there is much hinting to the section in general about presents, cakes and other such silliness.

I have promised to bake a cake. And I'm going to put a file in it. Like in the old prison escape stories, where a visitor would bring a cake to the prison and the inmate would eat the cake and use the file to saw - very slowly - through the bars. The cake would have to be a Victoria Sponge or similar (rather than a big creamy chocolate one) in order to not make the inmate too fat to squeeze through the gap in the bars. The file would have to be of a size large enough not to be inadvertently swallowed by the prisoner, as then the escape would be delayed by a couple of days until the cake and file are pooed out.

Except we're civil servants, not inmates of a penitentiary. So the file will have to be one of those hanging ones for filing cabinets, and it'll be full of old forms.

Can't wait to see the look on my colleague's face.


This cold weather is great. I'm a big fan of proper winter weather like snow and frost. (Though, not, obviously, of dangerous roads and old folk dying of hypothermia.)

Looking out the window first thing in the morning, everything is dusted with lovely glittery frost. The water I pour on the car to remove the ice doesn't do a very good job, preferring instead to freeze instantly into some fantastic reticulate patterns around the edges of the windscreen. Then, as the day goes on, there's some sun to enjoy during a lunchbreak walk.

In the Department, colds and sniffles are abounding. I have recovered from my illness, and am deriving some small amusement from those of others. The window war is in full throttle. One colleague wants it open, just a tiny crack, as the sun is turning the place into a greenhouse, even in these temperatures. Another colleague jumps up, races to it and slams it shut, complaining of a sore throat, which, in all probability, is caused by the stuffy germ-breeding atmosphere in the first place.

The work's not too bad either, if I don't mention PMDS.

Still, glad to have a job. Getting my P45, defaulting on the mortgage and having to move back in with my folks would be a fate worse than having to do PMDS for the entire Department while hanging upside down over a cauldron full of Brussels sprouts with Daniel O'Donnell's greatest hits playing in the background.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Feliz Ano!

Well, back in the land of the living again. I had a shit end to a shit year... a big dirty chest infection. It is just my feckin' luck, in a job with paid sick leave, to get sick on my feckin' holidays! (Not that I have ever regarded the sick leave as an adjunct to my annual leave. I'm far too principled for that.)

Back on form in time for New Year's Eve and some relatively sensible drinking thereon.

I must admit, I bounded through the Department's front doors this morning with enthusiasm. I waved a cheery "Happy New Year" to the reception staff. The enthusiasm continued as I swiped my card at the clock, hearing the familiar bleeping sound.

Before entering the section, I went to the bathrooms. I suffered a blow here, as I will always remember the first Department smell of 2009 as not that of brand new forms, or chocolate, or coffee, but that of things that fall out of people's arses. Gurrgh. Having washed my hands seventeen times and opened the door with my elbow, I continued my journey to the section. "What do I have to do today?", I mused to myself. I made a short mental list. First was sorting out clerical officers' timesheets for the festive season. Second was to see about organising a boring meeting which had come up at another meeting before Christmas. Third was.... third was.... PMDS! Fuckin' PMDS!

Oh God, it's that time of year again. Stupid forms, no private rooms, telling people off, massaging egos, uttering platitudes. And those stupid ratings, which are a fecking joke.

I pushed open the double doors to the section. In a mere couple of minutes, my face had gone from a ruddy January pink - via green (remember the toilets?) - to a morbid civil servant grey. I greeted those already present with a muttered "happy whatever", removed my coat and fired up the PC. Colleagues glanced at one another, knowing better than to ask.

I perked up once I got some coffee in me. It wasn't all bad.

Still, it's got to be better than 2008, though, right??