We're taking a bit of a breather while the world rearranges its underpants. Meanwhile, the other blog is here.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Olympian table tennis

The first of a brace of meetings with Arthur Sixpence, one of our friends in IT. As expected, it's bad-tempered and functionally useless to anyone wanting to actually get something (anything!) done but a fascinating terpsichore for the disinterested observer. People who know me are amazed when I claim that I don't contribute to the bad temper of these meetings. This isn't because I'm not very, very annoyed. It is because I'm very, very annoyed with both parties to the arguments -- I think they're both feckless, useless lumps -- and to get involved in the rows is to have one or other claiming me as their champion and expecting me to get them out of the latest fix they've got themselves into. Ah, no, learnt that lesson early on. This meeting revolved around a project for automating the various notices we send to borrowers, including telephone and text contact. We were told rather late in the day that we had the funding for it and that we had four months in which to have it all done and dusted and paid for. Two obstacles: we'll be relying on the guy in IT who's been "ordering that software next week" for another project for 25 months; and there's no way I can this project on my own. I've told T. Aldous that I need help with it. T. Aldous responded by running out of my office and refusing the discuss the matter further. These are the people having the meeting.

It really is impressive, truly. Forcing myself to take a step back and not get involved, lest I kill one or both, I suddenly realised just how good these guys are at what they do. What they do is their utmost to avoid being held accountable for anything. Anything that happens is a result of somebody else deciding on a course of action and imposing their will upon the blameless waif. Watching one or other on their own is infuriating. Watching the two in mortal combat is fascinating, like watching two chess grandmasters at the peak of their powers with games lost or won by sequences of apparently minor nuances. Or two ghosts trying to nail blancmanges into each other's backs.

Forty-five minutes later, the meeting adjourns with honours equal and each convinced that the ensuing stalemate is a resounding personal victory.

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