Travelling to a meeting by train I'm joined at the platform by Ken Barmy. He is a disturbing travelling companion.
"Hist! Are they the singing sands of the Asian desert, intent on luring us to lonely, unmarked graves?"
"They're announcing the arrival of the next train."
"Are you telling me that's not a disembodied voice designed by devils to mislead the unwary traveller such that their loved ones may never see them again?"
I had to concede the point.
Like most local government employees lately, we got to comparing notes on Pay & Grading.
Note for the unwary (English public sector workers may want to skip this bit)
A decade and a bit ago it was pointed out that "women's" jobs were paid less than "men's" jobs in English local government, regardless of the relative importance of the jobs and/or requirements on qualification, training, etc. So the government told local autorities that they had to review their staff's pay with a view to providing equal pay for equal value by 2007. Not many local authorities met the deadline. Many faffed about. Most took it as an opportunity to save a bit on the staffing budgets by equalising down. Many took the opportunity of cutting the salaries of specialist staff on the basis that there's less of them and it's harder for them to find examples of jobs of equal worth to compare themselves with. This is a bowdlerised account but you get the gist.
I asked Ken how he got on.
"They've cut my salary by £3,000. How about you?"
"Twelve percent cut."
"Of course, you know it's a job creation scheme for Personnel departments, don't you?"
"Eh? How do you work that out?"
"If a large number of disaffected staff worrying themselves sick about how they'll be paying the bills isn't a problem requiring a Human Resources solution, I don't know what is."
In a sane and just world he'd have a statue.