Tuesday, June 26, 2012

For Whom the Bell Tolls

Downtime's a bitch. After several weeks of frenetic activity in my unit, there is now a brief period of a couple of weeks to get my breath back before I start all over again. The Hexecutive has seen to it that the work allocation per EO in the unit is staggered, so we all get a crazy few weeks and a bit of brief respite. (This is new to me, as the only staggering this EO had ever done prior to this was out of the pub on a Saturday night.)

I don't like when it's my turn for downtime. I find it very difficult to revert to the customary plodding pace of the stereotypical bureaucrat after having rushed around like a maniac for an extended period. It's the equivalent of grinding abruptly to a halt after a run, instead of warming down gradually. (I know. I fucked my knees up once doing this.)

To alleviate the tedium, I invent 'work' for myself. Learning new software programs, that is, or swotting up on legislation, policy documents, cornflakes boxes, anything I find lying around. I'm being good, because I want a good stab at HEO the next time there's a vacancy. (No, I don't want to actually stab a HEO, except, maybe...on occasion... sometimes... the Hexecutive.)

Fairly soon, I'm in my own little world of personal development. My colleagues are rushing around, just like I had been earlier, and, for once, I do not envy them their meetings and conference calls. Until, that is, their phones start ringing. Often I'm alone in the office during my downtime and find myself picking up other people's extensions and taking messages. I can do this remotely from my desk, which is handy, as if I had to sit at Nosher's desk and use his phone, I might have to be cut free from all the sticky jam which covers everything within his arm span before I can get up again. 

So it begins:

"Hi, is Nosher there? He hasn't called Buns-r-Us for his doughnut order this morning, and we've extra staff on to handle the job, I'll have to send them home again if we don't get it."

"... ... ... ..." Silent phone call. I leave a message for the Trappist EO. 

"Hello? Morticia?"
"No, sorry, Morticia retired / died / something or other in 2010."
"Oh. What are you wearing, you little minx?"

"Is my mum there?"
"No. I'm afraid not, she's at a meeting."
"Oh. Ok."
Five minutes later: 
"Is my mum there?"
"No. I'm afraid not, she's at a meeting."
"Oh. Ok."
Five minutes later: 
"Is my mum there?"
"No. I'm afraid not, there has been a terrible accident. The corridor to the Boardroom has become engulfed in flames, and the Fire Brigade are held up in traffic, and there's been a chemical spill in the carpark... and...OH NOOOOOO!  ZOMBIES! Run away! Run awaaaAAAAHHHHH!"
"Oh. Ok."

"Hello, could I speak to Francis, please?"
"No, I'm sorry, he won't be back for an hour. Would you like to leave a message?"
"This is the Larry Bang show on FUFM. He has just won a case of the finest wines available to humanity."
"Aah! I see! I do apologise, actually that's me. Frances. With an E. Yahoo. I won those. Can you ship them to Ballyfuck? Now?"

When my colleagues return, they find their computer monitors festooned with badly scrawled sticky notes and I must spend another hour translating for them as my handwriting's bloody awful. By the time I've finished, it's almost time for my busy period.

But not before a stern talking to by the HEO re an upset eight year old who thinks her mother's been eaten by revenants. Some people have no sense of humour. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012


Is it wrong to like Jedward? 

Answers on an old form please, or the back of a €20 note if form not available. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I get these strange compulsions from time to time. I get the sudden urge to do something completely irrational or stupid. 

As I walk through the open plan office space as I go from the printer to my desk, with a look on my face like I have just sucked a lemon, it might be difficult for the casual observer to imagine that I am merely suppressing the urge to do a silly dance between the rows of desks while shouting 'Wibble' or 'Big Fat Cocks'. 

When I walk by a river, I want to throw things into it. Not useless objects like rocks, twigs or the Trappist EO, but things that enhance life, such as an Mp3 player or  my shiny smartphone (not of the variety prefixed with a lower case 'i') with its Monty Python soundboard.

When I see a BMW X5 parked on a footpath, it's all I can do not to let the air out of its tyres, and lie in wait for its inevitably Ugg-booted occupant to return, so I can kick her up the hole. 

I've been successful so far in the suppression of my urges, but I very nearly put my fucking foot in it yesterday. 

The Hexecutive was speaking to me about boring filing systems (yet again - yawn!) and asked me for my opinion on where a particular type of document should go. I took a deep breath.


...was the response that instantly popped into my head. No, I didn't say it. I took another deep breath and murmured something about filing it under the 'miscellaneous nonsense' section, excused myself to the bathroom and did that whole lemon-sucking facial expression all the way there to prevent myself from laughing out loud like a loon. 

 I'm worried now. I wonder is coffee the reason?

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Department of Pedantry - in glorious fecknicolor

I stumbled on this rather hilarious website recently.

Unusable stock images? It doesn't surprise me in the least bit. I can reveal that a great number of these images were taken at the Department of Pedantry. Here's the story behind some of them.

The moment  when Govstooge realised  it was not going to be a bad day at work after all.

Nosher on laundry day.

The facilities management HEO after an argument with the canteen manager.

A novel way for civil servants to look busy.

The real reason why the photocopier's always fucked.


The Hexecutive receives her upward feedback in Govstooge's PMDS meeting.

The Secretary General announces more efficient arse-kissing procedures.

The Assistant Principal wanted everyone to know who he was, so he got a sash made up with his grade on it. Unfortunately, in his hurry to put it on, he neglected to read it.

Nosher after a tiring day.

Detachable willy fails to impress cat.

Those new cyanide-impregnated forms were going to be a roaring success.

The Chief Medical Officer awaits her meeting with yet another referred loon.

The ladies bathrooms refurbishment didn't stand a chance against the emissions from Department canteen dinners.

Gay HEO depends rather heavily on his amazing flying EO for everything.

Childhood photo of the last Department employee who tried to re-enact Columbine at the office.

The Outside View - Part the Second

 A visit to the Department of Pedantry by Doctor Constantin Constantinopodopoulous of the Department of Psychiatry and Public Service, University of Chipping Sodbury - Part Two. 

I looked around at the remaining civil servants. One CO was still happily working away with her stapler collating what forms remained. The other CO was entering the details from the forms on a database. 

The three EOs were in various states of wakefulness. One, a morbidly obese  middle-aged man who appeared to be wedged immovably into his chair was dozing peacefully over his daily paper, seemingly oblivious to the earlier commotion. A half-eaten scone  was on the desk beside him. Another middle aged male was dealing with a query from a member of the public, which was causing him difficulty, as several times he had to put the caller on hold and ask the remaining HEO for advice. A certain desperation about him indicated that he wanted to transfer the call to the HEO, but the HEO was not taking the bait, as she was engaged in a serious conversation with the third and final EO. This last EO, the one who had wiped up the blood earlier, was the youngest of the three, and she was also the only one not to smell vaguely of decomposing cabbage and old biscuits. A steaming mug of industrial-strength coffee on her desk wafted pleasing aromas around the room -  aromas far more pleasing than the smell of stale axillary sweat emanating from the corpulent, sleeping colleague.

In spite of a readily available caffeinated beverage, the EO appeared to be in a state of anxiety caused by the presence of the HEO, who was firing questions at her in staccato bursts: "What is the ETA of this project?" "Do we have quantifiable returns on that circular?" "I need eight copies of your Role Profile Form for a comedy workshop I'm doing after work." "Did you have a nice weekend?" This last question seemed to baffle the EO, and she replied tentatively, "Err. Yes. Did you?" The HEO replied "Oh I did. I went out for dinner to the Hackballscross Hilton and I had a lovely meal of quail's legs washed down with a bottle of obscenely expensive wine. And the famous composer Phillip Window-Glass was at the next table, how lovely... " Rollling her eyes, the EO directed the conversation back onto work related matters, obviously regretting the polite enquiry as to how the HEO's weekend went.When the HEO left the room with a gait that suggested a large pole had been inserted firmly in her rectum, the EO issued forth a sweary tirade on how her job had become harder since the arrival of the HEO, especially as the other two EOs just seemed to be marking time by generally doing "fuck all."

It would seem that the more useless you are in a civil service job, the less tasks are asked of you. If a civil servant is in any way competent at their job, more and more work gets thrown at them. I took my leave from the unit, taking care not to slip on the drool left behind on the floor as various staff went to their tea breaks.

The only solution I can envisage for this Department's problems is the detonation of a large neutron bomb in the offices, wiping it off the face of the earth. Who would miss it? It is truly a silly place.