Ah, Friday, the day that heralds the end of all the madness at work, and the start of the madness at home. Woo! Onward, I have lots of work to do before I get to, er, clean the flat!
The work was interrupted by a sudden email from the Megaboss’s secretary, informing us about today’s lunchtime meeting, where we would be given ‘a six-month update on the CRES roll-out’.
Well, it’s been a while since we were invited to a Meeting. I think the only other one was the fire safety one. What is CRES? we said to each other. Then we said it to my colleagues next door too, but nobody knew. It must be that new database they keep saying they’ll replace HIS with! said some of us (including me). I’m sure I remember it had a really funny name, but maybe they changed it, and do we not already have HIS and CRIS and various other similarly-named things? CRES is, logically, the next one! Well, frankly, what relevance has that to us plebs? When it is rolled out, we will get training; at that point I will start paying attention, but in the meantime, I have, like, this enormous workload I’m expected to work on!
It is about the NHS being privatised and us all getting downsized, said my Colleague Who I Suspect Is Up To Something, who keeps telling us she only just survived by jumping ship when that exact thing happened to the Royal Mail. (It is only now, in fact, that it occurs to me… isn’t the Royal Mail still not privatised?)
Bet it isn’t, I said, searching the intranet, semi-trusty resource for staff.
Nothing on the intranet. I reached for trusty google. And here we go… CRES: “cash-releasing efficiency saving”. Uh-oh. Both because that is never good for the plebs and also because I don’t believe it, she’s right about something. Potentially. I think, perhaps we shall go to the lunchtime meeting after all!
Sadly, ‘we’ turned out to mean me, my Colleague of Skull Scarves and my Colleague I Suspect Is Up To Something, the latter two of whom loathe each other so strongly it hangs in the air like pure and frozen malice, more visible than our very breath. Only a constant stream of wittering on my part saved us from stomping along in grim and antagonistic silence for all to see.
It will be a tangle of management buzz-words we don’t understand! I predicted as we went and I tried desperately to make my hair behave in a manner not antagonistic to management (this, I believe, is the reason Snape hated Hermione Grainger – it well appears to be the reason I got threatened with the sack in Dublin that time). They will be designed to sound soothing to the untrained ear but really mean things like ‘axe three hundred secretaries by next Christmas’ and, ‘make sure that one with the unmanageable hair is among them’! I shall take notes! If only I had had more warning, I coulda downloaded a buzzword bingo chart and we coulda played! As long as nobody yelled ‘house’ out loud!
It was. At least, I think it was. I see from my notes there were two typos and a grammatical error in the first slide, and after that I was just swamped. It’s times like these I realise how thick I really am. My Colleague of Skull Scarves memorised and translated the lot without moving a muscle, though she has not yet told me the bad news; I got distracted trying not to crack up at the unintentionally hilarious slogan “People Matters”. Proofreading must have been cut already.
Yes, I’m a pedantic pleb. It doesn’t make me any friends.
There were no questions at the end, even from me, though I was dying to say something that I would eventually regret, like, If you guys have been making so much effort to let us know all about how CRES will affect our jobs, why did nobody in our entire department, or in Eyes, ever even hear about it till today?
Please fill in our survey! they ended by exhorting us. Yeah. I filled it online just this morning, and I really wish I hadn’t now, not just because they said it was anonymous and then demanded your email address in order to even see the damn thing, so I ended up pondering questions like ‘On a scale of one to five, how freely do you feel you can speak your mind?’ and wondering if I dared put a ‘1’. (No, in the end, which at least made me laugh). Now, I’m wondering if I accidentally put my head a bit far above the parapet there anyway. And if it’s gonna be like that, I want my form back, because I put a ‘3’ (neutral) in the box for, ‘How well-informed do you feel about the bigger picture going on around you?’, and it obviously isn’t the case at all.
On the way back, we ran into a lassie from records who asked me why I was ‘always giving that guy scones and is there something going on there?’ Er, what? Those muffins were for him to hand around the records department, so I would look pure dead brilliant and everyone would forgive me when they wanted things that were tracked to me but which I didn’t have (which happens roughly every second day). For months now I’ve been making up little parcels of them and giving them to him to hand around – and he told me he was doing so.
Now, it turns out he scoffing the lot himself, in front of everyone too, and so there appears to be some speculation as to why this is going on; and, not unnaturally, people are coming to the sort of conclusion you would expect people to come to, which is very bad because he is married and his wife is rather seriously ill, and I now look like a monster.
While I don’t think he intended this consequence to happen, he is nevertheless a dead man. Also, I need to spend the weekend thinking up an emergency PR coup to repair the damage done by my last PR coup. Hmmm. I see where this is heading.
So my liberality is getting me into trouble, and my honesty with the survey of doom is about to get me into trouble and you can only guess what bitter regrets I will have when someone Important discovers this tiny, insignificant part of the internet.
(Since I may as well put my other foot in my mouth at this point; the new database is called PMS. As the lassie from records noted, ninety-five percent of the users are gonna be female, and we get landed with this. Someone’s having a laugh, but it ain’t us.)
And when I got home and had cleaned the place and my ex-flatmate had come round to empty the freezer, I sat down and decided to have a wee read of some blogs…
Dear JESUS. I don’t get much media these days so maybe I missed something, but there be folks out there getting stiffed far more massively than we might be, so that puts things in perspective and no mistake. I see from Sparky the lawyer’s blog that our trusty government just decided the country is too broke for legal aid to be available any more. Therefore, justice in the criminal court, family court, ‘your employer runs a ramshackle factory of death’ court, whatever, has just been priced right out of the reach of the sort of people who might need it most. What? I am fairly sure the Vikings could afford some sort of justice system that sucked less than this, and not only did they run round setting fire to monks, I have the vague idea their GDP was based on horned helmets.
And now we have established the level of my grasp on History. But there’s more – at the weekend there, I was given a link to an article saying the government has decided the country is so broke we can’t possibly afford not to be cruel to animals. Again, what? That’s worse than, if you take the analogy of the country to a nuclear family, the prime minister announcing that now that daddy’s been laid off, you kids can feel free to play a game called, ‘Kick the shit out of the cat’, cos at least it’s free. That’s worse than…
Well, put it this way – I’ve always had the feeling that I’d live to see civilisation as I know and love it utterly destroyed (apparently, I am not alone, there are squads of us in every generation, hee). But I rather thought that the oil would run out first and the government would left be desperately shoring up humanitarian impulses and literacy levels*. This, however, seems to be a top-down demolition job on everything that matters about civilisation before we’re anywhere near up against the wall. The belief in justice, the belief in protecting and caring for those who are less fortunate, the belief in not being cruel to animals even if you’re going to eat them afterwards… what the fuck is next? No, I don’t want to know. And yeah, I’m high-horsing it like anything here, but if we ‘can’t afford’ these things any more, we’re not just broke, we’re morally bankrupt.
*(Mind you, I also believed that at the first sign of a nuclear war caused by, er, politicians, all parties responsible for the calamity would leg it to the nearest bunker and leave us plebs to fend for ourselves. Now I think about it, these are two very mutually exclusive beliefs. What else haven’t I noticed?)
Maybe it won’t come to this, at least. There are skads of people out there outraged at the way donkeys are being treated in third world countries where their owners are nearly as undernourished as they are (there still are these skads of people, right? Right?) Surely we are not going to all stand aside for that sort of thing to happen over here?
In other news, however, apparently the UN’s just voted to let governments kill gay people for shits and giggles. No really. As I understand it, Finland suggested a new international law saying that no ruler could arbitrarily execute their own citizens without due process. Meaning, you can have the flimsiest sham trial and do it anyway, Amnesty International be damned, but you can’t openly kill folks for being, black, or female, or Jewish or something (or even, for being white, or male, or straight, which I do suspect isn’t quite as frequent) – you at least have to pretend to frame them for murder or, I dunno, writing about their government in a similar fashion to the way I’ve just written about my work, ho hum. And everyone said, Yeah, that might be a plan, but then seventy-nine countries also said, Oh hey, but leave out the bit about ‘if they’re gay’, alright?
- We didn’t have this law? It wouldn’t have saved anyone’s life anywhere, I suppose – if your government really want to off you, they will come up with some sort of excuse, but –
- Why even bother waving a big banner saying ‘IT’S OKAY TO KILL PEOPLE OVER THEIR SEXUAL ORIENTATION’ then?
- I am living in a seven-billion person madhouse. And I would like to be let out, please.
- I suppose, I had better try to remember how one goes about being politically active while trying to forget I am desperately shy and retiring. Opportunities to get naked in public aside.
- First, I’m having a well-needed drink. And not in a ‘woo it’s Friday!’ way any more.
Well, at least the UK wasn’t one of the countries that voted for that amendment. Bloody slim consolation after everything else They’re announcing though. Right. Protest letters; it will change Nuffin’, and there go all my Christmas stamps.