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

Friday, July 31, 2009

A very good starter kit for the youngsters

A missive from the Major:

"I’ve worked here for years and things still delight me. Down in the basement where I was checking on the installation of a new fire door (oh yes) I came across these wonders.

Classical urns
a flatbed cart with a lot of small, rectangular boxes

"That’s a cart loaded with house bricks which have been wrapped in brown paper and sealed with sticky tape. I wonder if your escape committee could make use of these props."

I quite envy them. We'd love to have a cart loaded with house bricks wrapped in brown paper.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Sybil's annoyed.
"How come, every time we get an Inter-Library Loan request for a mucky book I always have to tell them that we can't find our last copy?"

Apparently, somebody's lost the last copy of "The Anne Summers Book of Amazing Sex." I am astonished that we had one in the first place.
"It was bought by accident."

"How does anybody buy 'The Anne Summers Book of Amazing Sex' by accident?"

"God knows. Anyway, it went into stock for the Housebound Library [the old dears in particular like a bit of filth] but then a customer at Umpty put a res. on it and never brought it back. Half of bloody Yorkshire thinks we've got hundreds of dirty books that the staff keep for themselves."


This can't be good...

In a meeting this morning Frog referred to "the denizens of the Tamponarium" and we all took it for granted that he was referring to Policy Team.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

They say it's storms out at sea but I blame the telly

We've been casting what's left of our minds at the business of official Helminthdale Library Service merchandising, what with there being a recession and all.

Here we have the Helminthdale Library Service Umbrella, a snip at just twenty guineas.

As you can see, in keeping with our general philosophy there is no cover for a rainy day and the whole sorry mess is falling to bits.

You must have sat on a damp horse

Pregnancy is an extreme measure but staff morale is low and confidence in the tunnels is at low ebb. Even one of the young lads on the counter is asking people if his ankles look swollen. Two of the girls are comparing morning sicknesses with the experiences of some of our more mature ladies.

"I can't keep anything down. I keep trying to eat healthy food but it all comes right back up. The only food I can keep down is chips and crisps."

"That's your body's way of telling you the baby's going to be born in Helminthdale."

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dog eat dog

Pansy sends over an email about the new mayor who's been elected at Scarscastle on a "waste-cutting" ticket. It sounds great. In theory. He's one of these who'd have been a member of the Ratepayers' Alliance in the old days.

"Before you get too enthusiastic, check out what's going on in their libraries," I warn her.

She does.

"My God. It's not good, is it?"

It isn't.

When library systems folk get together, Helminthdale and Pardendale are looked upon with pity. Even the hardest hearts hear stories about the routine mismanagement of our organisations and feel sorry for us. We, in turn, feel sorry for the folks in Scarscastle.

Poor beggars.

Along came his mum and she said: "By gum! You'd better wipe that off the walls!"

Frog's been out to the community centre at Spadespit. He's doing a completely different type of story telling for severely-handicapped children. He's done nothing like this before and he was as nervous as a kitten beforehand. As it happens, and as most of us would have predicted, it went down a storm and the care workers were profuse in their appreciation.

He was telling us about the session and the responses from the children (in a few cases they are so much sensory impairment that any response at all is a major positive). It sounds really good.

Mary listened a while and chipped in with:

"I couldn't help noticing that you used some of the booksale boxes."

In case of fire Mary's always got a bucket of cold water to hand.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Gentlemen, shoot your linen!

I bump into Ken Barmy, browsing by the Mecanno Department in Hannigan's Truss Boutique. I ask him how things are back at his pit of despir.

"Splendid, splendid. My pay cut's been finalised."

"Is it still as bad?"

"Twelve percent."

"Oh shit. Are you OK?"

"I'm fine. Frankly, it feels like somebody's taken a huge weight of responsibility from my shoulders."

"Are you still worrying about...?"

"Not any more. It was never my problem to begin with."

Every cloud...

Friday, July 24, 2009

New from the Escape Committee: are you getting enough?

Sibyl's taken over as Milk Monitor. She's only doing it so that she can collect the bottle tops for to make military buttons for our uniform disguises.

Great crowds gathered round to welcome

Joy be unconfined! We've actually filled two vacant posts. We had come to the conclusion that they were going to be deleted due to the economic downturn (like the ones we lost during the years of plenty) but no, we have new staff.

One's taking the Assistant Librarian's job that Bronwyn vacated at the beginning of last year. I'm told she's young "and a bit weird," which makes a change from all the weird baby-boomers we've got on the staff.

The other is Jim's old post, which has been filled "as a matter of urgency and priority." The incoming poor devil is "keen to take on new challenges," though I would say this one is verging on the masochistic.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Very warm for May

The council is struggling with this year's budget. One way to make a massive saving would be to switch off all the air conditioning in its buildings across the borough and knock some holes in the walls. Every building in the borough built after about 1980 has the air condition for the building that was designed, not the building that was built after some clown decided to change fundamental parts of the specification in mid-build. For instance, the services for the housing department offices were specified for a five story building, not the seven story building that was built. Which is why the air conditioning and the lifts struggle. But not why the roof leaks like a sieve... but that's another story.

During the very hot weather we were freezing cold down on our floor while the lending library staff were dropping like flies in the heat. Now the weather's cooled down a bit and is a bit muggy we're all of us gasping for air like beached mackerel.

A friend's office is even worse. They've been languishing in 90°F and over for the past three weeks. She's been threatening to go to work in a swimming cozzie, which I have to say is no bad thing as I still have fond memories of the leggings she wore when we used to work together twenty years ago. They've made representations to their buildings manager, who has responded with some extremely useful advice.

"These offices may appear to be very warm in the summer weather. Do not open the windows as this will impair the effectiveness of the air-conditioning. You may help you to keep cool by drinking water or by wearing loose clothing."

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Crack open the Aldiss lamps, Mavis!

Maisie's got the day off. T.Aldous' 'phone is still diverted to Maisie's, which in turn is diverted to Maudie's 'phone. Four times in the past hour Maudie has taken a call for T.Aldous, tried to put it through to T.Aldous and had it ring on Maisie's. We're all under instruction to pick up calls from unoccupied desks so one or other of us picks the call up. Maudie then has to run over to T.Aldous' office to tell him that there's a call on whoever's 'phone is now occupied (the call having gone through so many relays that Maudie can't pick it up).

Each time we hear the following:

"Can you put it through to my 'phone?"

"No, it's going through to Maisie's 'phone. x has picked the call up."

"I must take my 'phone back from Maisie's so that I'm not interrupting people's work."

Of course he doesn't. He never does, not in all the nearly two decades we've been in this building. We'll miss it if he ever does.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Mostly coloured yellow

More fun with the school holiday events at the non-existant library...

Seeing as how the community group told T.Aldous that they didn't want any of the performers we've got on contract this season Frog decided he'd do a craft activity and storytime himself. It's been scheduled, the room in the community centre's booked and it's in all the publicity we've rushed out last minute as usual.

Billy Meredith comes in from the Mobile Library run.

"Hey, you'll never guess what," he says to Frog. "After all that palaver about sorting out a holiday event at Mattressbrook, one of 'em just turned to me and said they didn't see the point of it 'cos their grandkids are on holiday that week."

Yes, you'll never guess what: we've been paying performers to go to a non-existant library to do a turn specifically for one family. For years.

Your tax pound at work.

From the dew-soaked vetch

One of the peculiarities of this place is that we are always trembling on the Apocalypse but we never actually get to there. Mind you, given that we never get anything done and dusted it ought not to be surprising that we never get round to the end of the world.

Each day we wonder if, and how, we'll be keeping the doors open at all our libraries. We'll get by by having the caretaker lend a hand on the counter or the reference enquiry desk at Helminthdale Central. Or staff on rigorously-fixed hours that can on no account be tweaked for fripperies like doctor's appointments, or funerals, take thirty minutes for their lunch hour at three o'clock. We're not buying the stock we should be: not enough is being ordered, which is as well as the Acq. Team are down in numbers again, and anyway the orders and invoices aren't being signed. Most service developments are on hold: lack of staff time, lack of resources, uncertain economic times, but mostly the dither and lack of direction of senior managers. Staff are demoralised, spread thinly and expected to deliver much, looking forward to next year's pay cuts and working in an organisation that drifts from one crisis to the next and in which you don't know if you've ever done a good job but get to hear about it quickly enough if you've made a mistake.

So we spend another year tottering about on the knife edge of oblivion. And what of our fearless leaders? What stirring words of spiritual uplift and confidence-building import pass their lips? Do they speak of sunlit uplands? Do they gird our loins for battles ahead? Do they swaddle us in their confidence in our capacities and capabilities?

It upsets me greatly to see our staff being sold down the river by a feckless and dilatory management team. It would be diabolically awful if they were doing it on purpose. The fact that they're doing it by default just makes it so much worse.

Friday, July 17, 2009

A bearded baby in a three-wheeled pram smoking a clay pipe

One of the Family Service Managers at Dogford Community Office arranged with Frog to do some story and poetry activities for children during the summer holidays. He's set the time aside to do the planning and delivery and has sorted out the material for the gig.

Imagine his delight earlier today when he bumped into said FSM who says:

"Hello Frog. We're going to cancel those sessions with you. We've had a better offer from the Parks Department."

Frantically looking for runaway fleas

A Big To Do. Somebody's transferred four - count them - four! tatty old books were tranferred to Tench Road Library.

Peeling away three days' worth of senior management fuss and fustle the message can be summarised as: "If a book's too scruffy to go on your shelves, don't transfer it to somebody else's library. If you receive one that's too scruffy to go on the shelves, withdraw it from stock and don't have it inflicted on the poor bloody customers."

How much hard work is it to say that? Far too much for The Professionals

Some long-lost uncle of grime

It's pissing down today. Absolutely teeming down. Frog's been out to Victor Maddern Park to walk through the arrangements for a poetry in the park event this summer. He comes back in absolutely sodden wet, his raincoat black with rain water and the brim has collapsed on his Yorkshire Seamen's Mission ushanka.

Voice from the stalls:

"Bloody hell! Are we doing Chekov?"

A turn-up for the books

An exchange in passing by the kettle. I'm starting to enjoy watching these ping-pongs of insolence from the ranks.

Julia: "I don't know why we keep on buying all these books. We don't have any room left on the shelves."

Voice from the staff room table: "you might want to try encouraging people to borrow some of them."

Thursday, July 16, 2009

I had my tray table up and my seat back in the full upright position


"There's something very wrong with a man who sees an upturned umbrella in the bath and doesn't have to quell a violent primeval urge to have a crap in it."

Autograph hunting

There's a huge pile of paperwork by Noreen's desk.

"What they?" I ask.

"Invoices to be signed by Mary when she comes in."

"She was only in on Monday. Have you done that much work since then?"

"Oh no. She's doing the usual 'leave it with me, I'll do it in a minute,' but there's only half a week to chase her up in and we've no idea whether or not she's in from one day to the next so it all just gets left."

"Who signs invoices in the half a week she's not in?"


"So what happens when Corporate Procurement ask questions as to why it's taking so long to pass invoices?"

"T.Aldous or Mary come over to ask us why it's taking us so long to receive the incoming stock."

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Monte Carlo or bust

The lads have just taken the van to a Mobile Library meet.

"It were great," says Billy, "we had loads of visitors. They thought we were a vintage model brought in special."

"We had a look around one or two of the others. I were looking at some of the DVDs and the bloke asked me if we had DVDs on our mobile. I told him: we don't even have DVDs in our main library."

Healthy living

Year in, year out, the front-line staff in our libraries and in the one-stop-shops have had to cope with whatever germs The Great British Public brings through the doors. Flu, norovirus, winter vomiting virus, chciken pox, measles, mumps, malaria, whatever. It should come to no surprise, then, that some are occasionally of sick with one thing or another. The council's reaction to this is to hold quarterly inquisitions about these services' sick leave statistics.

First sign of swine flu in the area and the Town Hall reception area is kitted out with antiseptic wipes and all surfaces are swabbed down with a religious fervour.

We hope this is borne in mind in the next round of sick leave inquisitions.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The plot's very simple: he stays a frog all his life

Wendy, one of the Reference Librarians at Umpty Library, has been making it clear that she "doesn't feel able to deliver the sessions outlined for this year's Family Learning Month at her library. I can't say I'm surprised. Salome's given the job of trying to sort out a salvage operation.
"She's told Julia and T.Aldous that she hasn't had much opportunity to get to grips with the internet," she tells me.

"She's had a networked PC on her desk for twelve years," I reply.

We both know that this won't count for anything in the scheme of things round here.

Changing rooms

We're having a bit of a domestic about meeting rooms in Helminthdale Central Library at the moment. We've got four meeting rooms in all: Meeting Room One (counting from the left) and Meeting Room One (counting from the right) are for staff use downstairs on our floor. These are usually reserved by our writing on a board by the doorway. Meeting Room One, which is the big room in the lending library, is available for use by staff, community groups and other parts of the council whereas Meeting Room One, which is the small room behind the reference library, is only available to staff, community groups and other parts of the council. [This all sounds mad when I write it down. No wonder we're cracking up.] These rooms are reserved by ringing the lending library and having them record the booking in the bookings diary kept there. Unless you ring downstairs and have the booking recorded in the bookings diary kept there. Or ring the reference library and have the booking recorded in the Day Book. Anyway, it's all pretty simple and transparent.

Today, Maudie had booked Meeting Room One for the Asian Ladies' Reading Group; group of youth workers had booked Meeting Room One; and downstairs Maudie had booked Meeting Room One for a meeting with the auditor, which left Meeting Room One free for Doreen and the Assistant Librarians to have a chat about how to address with the swine flu outbreak in one of the local schools now they've received official advice from the Health Unit...

Until T.Aldous commandeered that room for a meeting with a furniture salesman to discuss some new tables for Carbootsale Library. Which left Milton with a problem as he wanted to have a meeting with me to go through a programme of activity we've suddenly discovered is being planned for Catty Library. And both of us with a problem as a key piece of work had been arranged to be done with the PCs in Meeting Room One and the IT guys had come over to do the necessary. But this was OK as Maudie and the auditor had decided to work at her desk anyway. Which was just as well as a carpet salesman arrived to show T.Aldous some samples for the proposed foyer at Umpty Library.

So, while T.Aldous had simultaneous meetings in two different rooms; and Julia went to find some staff to have a look at the carpet samples; and everybody found something else to do so that they didn't spent the morning looking at table samples (really); and Milton checked that the IT guys were OK with the project; and Maudie walked the auditor through the e-procurement processes; and Salome supported the reading group; and Bronwyn moved the display boards for this week's author visit out of Meeting Room One so that it could be poshed up for a Big Chiefs' Pow-Wow; and Maisie made teas and coffees for the youth workers because T.Aldous told her to; I got on with my morning's work and hoped for the best.

Monday, July 13, 2009

I never wear buttons but I got a cool hat

A minor mutiny in the Branch Managers' meeting this morning. They will not take minutes of their meeting. It is not in their contract. Salome, attending the meeting as a representative of the Junior Management Team, tried to talk some sense into them.

"Do you want to have these meetings?"


"Well in that case you'll have to take minutes of the meeting to show what was discussed and anything that needs to be taken up and addressed elsewhere."

"But we haven't got time to write minutes."

"Make the time. If the meetings are important enough for you to come along to them, and for people to take the time to make the arrangements to provide cover for you at your libraries then they're important enough for one of you to take the minutes."

"Can we take the minutes and get somebody else to write them up?"

"No. I've been told we're not to dump any more work on Maudie. She's busy sorting out the materiel for your summer holiday activities."

"Well, it doesn't say anything in my contract about doing secretarial duties."

"I think you'll find that your job description says: 'Any other duties required by the Library Service.'"

Eventually one of them got fed up and volunteered to take the minutes. Salome made a point of telling them that they wouldn't be required to do them next time, too. This went down a storm with the others.

Salome told me about this afterwards. I couldn't understand the problem: the Branch Managers in the other areas of the Borough take the minutes of their own meetings and have never made much of a drama about it to my knowledge. They just take turns in alphabetical order and get on with it.

"What? Even little libraries like Glass Road?"

"Yes, even little libraries like Glass Road."

A few 'phone calls confirmed this. Salome is now determined that there should be no question of the Branch Managers in her area not doing similar. Quite right, too, even Policy Group minute their own meetings these days.

Of course, there is always that element of doubt. Salome, like me, is all too aware that everything is optional in this Library Service. If somebody decides they don't like something they can not do it and nothing will happen. Quite the reverse, in fact, the bollocking generally go to the people who try to get things done. Hey ho.

As I lay bleeding there on the asphalt

Bronwyn and Maybelle are back from a meeting. They're the latest ones to tell me what other library authorities are doing on Facebook, Twitter, et al. A lot of it is just the usual rubbish but there are occasional sparks of creativity in trying to reach new audiences, or not lose the ones they've got. I receive this as positively as I can, bearing in mind that I want to scream at them that this is precisely what I was trying to do with them and a few others this time last year and they didn't want to know.

Last week it was T.Aldous: "Dourly Libraries are on Facebook and Twitter, they've done ever such a lot. It would be good if we could do something like that." Yes it would, it would be splendid if librarians listened to new ideas and perhaps even shifted themselves a bit and did something once in a while that didn't involve creating lengthy explanations why things can't be done.

"Why aren't we doing..." is a question I'm sick of hearing. The answer is that we've no management processes; no idea processes; no direction; no responsibilty; no accountability; no hope; no shame.

We are on Facebook and Flickr and quite a few other things. Unofficially. "We" being me, effectively. Given how much hard work is involved in dragging input from the librarians for to update the library web site we've only had for the past thirteen years I don't hold out a lot of hope.

Maybelle's dead keen on doing something for a couple of projects so we have a chat to explore the possibilities.

"I feel a bit bad about not picking up on this last year."

"So you should."

"Is anyone else doing anything?"


"It's really dispiriting isn't it?"

"Shall we see what we can do with these projects?"

And yes, it is really dispriting. Really, really dispiriting. And not really anything new.

Try to avoid any Virgos or Leos with the Ebola virus

We are on Full Swine Flu Alert, which is nothing to laugh about but we are struggling to take it seriously. For years and years and years we've had to buy our own cleansing materials as we've never much fancied the thirty-year-old bars of old Buttermilk soap. Despite all the cycles of local epidemic illnesses. All of a sudden we are swamped with antibacterial wipes, telephone sanitisers and keyboard deodorisers. Everything smells of chemical swipes. Telephone calls trigger asthma attacks.

Maisie's spent all day again today getting COSHH cerificates from sundry companies "in case somebody decides to drink any of it," which is either a reflection of the collective mood or a reaction to our recent Health & Safety intervention.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

In the House of Lies there are vacancies

Once upon a time, in an earlier life outside the Library Service, I was up on a disciplinary on the heinous charge of Not Trusting My Line Manager. As the manager involved was a gay activist who outed three of his staff who had confided in him while they tried to resolve issues with families and children; and who was later asked to consider his position in the organisation after being found to be fiddling his expenses, I'm pretty cool about this transgression.

I had entirely forgotten this episode, which is odd as I really am one to bear a grudge, until reminded by an old friend. Whose partner is currently working under a regime where one of his colleagues has been given a warning for having an aggressive Scots accent.

The older I get the more I yearn for the old days of managers who were focussed on getting things done and didn't much give a shit whether or not you loved them. This new generation of touchy-feely we-love-our-workers managers generate so much childishly vindictive nonsense it makes me want to heave.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Now we finally got to Coruscant

T.Aldous has spent the past three days writing and re-writing a set of directions for a meeting here.

Ordinarily you'd think that folk could use a map or a sat-nav but this bunch apparently require to be told which lane to be in at each traffic light all the way from the M6.

Oh, did I say it was a Big Chiefs' Pow-wow?

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Slumped over a peewit

I walk past Sybil, who has her head in her hands.

"Are you all right?" I ask.

"We'll never get that bloody tunnel finished," she replies.

Life is rosy

As part of the ongoing health & safety intervention it has been suggested that we should all avail ourselves of the online training packages to which the council's subscribed.

So I go onto the first module: Stress Management.

The network is so slow that it crashes after the first screen. So I try again. After the sixth attempt it dawns on me that this is corporate Helminthdale's attempt to reduce the headcount by natural wastage.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

We're just technologically impaired

We've had an official complaint from a customer that a microfiche reader has been out of order for weeks. Which came as a bit of a surprise as we didn't think there was a microfiche reader anywhere except the Heritage Studies Centre in Sheep City. It turns out that the fiche reader's up in the reference library, where it's been made available to customers to look up titles in Books In Print.

We haven't bought a fiche copy of Books In Print since 1997.

Ever since then we've been using online resources, which cost the same but are regularly updated.

Maisie is told to try and get a new light bulb for the fiche reader. She finds it and it's horribly expensive. She girds her loins and prepares to go to ask T.Aldous for a cost code.

"How much?" I ask.

She tells me. I suck my teeth and explain what the fiche reader's used for. She goes and asks T.Aldous for the cost code. And tells him what the fiche reader is used for.

"Are they really letting customers use the fiche reader to look up Books In Print?" he asks me.


"How old is that copy of Books In Print?"

"Well before the millennium. We've not bought one for at least a dozen years."

"What on earth do they think they're doing inflicting antediluvian old stuff like that on their customers? You are sure about the fiche?"

"I honestly didn't think they still had it."

"Oh, they hang onto everything regardless," he said, stalking off.
Half an hour later he's back downstairs, a broken fiche reader in one hand and a set of the 1997 Books In Print fiches. After a brief 'phone call he comes out to talk to Maisie.
"'Phone this customer and tell him that we're happy to give him this set of fiches and that Sheep City are happy for him to pop in to use their reader to read them."
Bravo, T.Aldous!

So darn dysfunctional and Generation X-y

That time of year already?

T.Aldous bustles around asking people if they've had any achievements recently so that he can include them in his report to Committee.

I've given up suggesting that we keep a record of what we've done and what we're doing as we go along so that we can all know what's happening in our libraries and Policy Team can have no excuse for not knowing what their staff do for a living.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Colourful life

We have a Library Assistant measuring out a roll of cellophane and cutting it into three-inch lengths in readiness for the summer holiday craft activities for children. I ask Frog the obvious question.

"Wouldn't it have been more efficient and cheaper for us to buy twenty tins of Quality Street and save the wrappers?"

"Absolutely. But I'm only empowered to buy long rolls of cellophane."

Did you know this junkyard slave

I come in to find a box on my desk. I open it to find a pair of earphones.

"These earphones are broken"

the note said.

"Good luck to them."

I said as I threw them straight in the bin.


Corporate Helminthdale sends a global email to all staff inviting ideas on how to make savings on the council budget.

It's almost too tempting to send a reply. Especially seeing as Frog's getting bogged down with the summer holiday events for a non-existant library today.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Not wanted on voyage

email from Hettie at Catty Library

Please, please, please can I throw this PC through the window?!

Reluctantly I say no. It's not the printer's fault. It's not the PC's fault. And it's not the staff's fault. Everything is so nailed down by the IT department that it won't work on the network.


A bunch of psychic porn star midgets who were all nude

The dangers of irony...

I was asked for ideas about a rewrite of one of the notices in the reference library. I remembered Lavinia's offering of a while back and suggested that in jest. Then spent quarter of an hour frantically steering us away from inflicting it on the poor bloody public.

I could shine my pennies or clean my lava lamp

Time was, if I heard that none of the printers anyway are working and that four public PCs in our libraries have been out of commission for more than I fortnight I'd have taken it personally and would have tried to jerry-rig some solution or other to keep the show on the road while we awaited a fix. Time was.

These days everything is so nailed down by the IT department that I couldn't sort out the problems if I tried. And given how much we're paying for the privelige I'm disinclined to even try. All I can do is try to establish the nature of the problem and then pass it over to the help desk and hope for the best, knowing that they're in pretty much the same position as me on their side of the fence.

Sunday, July 05, 2009

And not a sign of Nicholas Parsons

Browsing through the racks in Hannigan's Truss, looking for this season's Tenor's Friend, I bump into Ken Barmy. We got to talking about Pay & Grading, which is occupying far too much of our minds of late. He's just had his appeal hearing and is waiting to hear the decision. Which is almost certainly going to be "it doesn't matter what the evidence says, we're cutting your pay" as this seems to be the universal constant in English local government.

Not helped by councils being in yet another budget crisis and the Audit Commission saying that there should be pay freezes to help the economy as this would "be painless." What a comfort to those cleaners, library assistants and housing benefits clerks who aren't being paid all that much more than the minimum wage to begin with. When the good time roll, of course, public sector workers are told that they can't have pay rises because they've got job security (true enough: in my quarter of a century in the public sector I've only been made redundant four times) and when the bad times come they're told that they can't have pay rises because it would hurt the economy. Regardless of the fact that in small towns like Helminthdale most of the economic activity is driven by the spending power of the council employees. Meanwhile, the wankers in the city who caused the crash in the first place are being paid humongous bonuses to clean up their own mess. What a world...

Ken's appeal process sounds right in the peculiar way that the Pay & Grading processes seem to be working, which is to say: like the game show you are engineered never to be able to win.
"We're given fifteen minutes in which to present the argument for not getting a pay cut without hesitation, repetition or deviation from the subject."

Interestingly enough, although all of their staff have been told that they do not require advocacy skills, and so cannot claim value points for this, they are being required to put together and deliver the argument against pay cuts in presentations to a panel including the head of service and someone from the Borough Solicitor's section. Ken's argument that he must have specialist knowledge as he's the only person in the Borough who knows how all the library systems work was queried on the basis that he's not a member of senior management team and so couldn't have specialist knowledge. Council personnel sections have their own dictionaries.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Ecky thump

We have had an Health & Safety intervention. Thus it is that the new H&S noticeboard has been removed from behind the staff room door and stuck in the corridor round the corner where people will bump into you when they're running to the toilet due to the after effects of their new diet pills.

Unfortunately, there's not enough room on the noticeboard for the mandatory Swine Flu instructions ("do not kiss a pig if it has a runny nose") so that's had to be stuck up somewhere else...

Behind the inward-facing door in the staff room.

My God, they've surrounded the place with Anona Wynn

There's always some poor bugger worse off than yourself. A colleague's just updated me on the building work on their new library.

"They had the official turning of the first sod this morning. Press and everything. Three of us have just gone over to have a look and we can't find any sign of digging whatsoever. The publican from the Duck & Pullet joined us to try and find out what had been going on.

'Ah... It's your typical English. A load of high-paid idiots stand around pretending to get something done then it'll be us poor bloody Irish will have to come and do the proper digging.'"

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

How I climbed Everest with an international party of nymphomaniacs

Working in a library, as I do, I'm surrounded by the glittering prizes of literary endeavour, the breadth of world cultures and the wisdom of the ages.

Overheard at lunchtime:
"Well then: what's he like then?"

"Barely a mouthful."

Don't look down: we've taken the ship away

A lack of leadership today.

Not the usual lack of Leadership, really just a lack of "leaders." All we know is that T.Aldous has scribbled a note on the board to say that they're all at Primrose House. Doing what, why and if/when they'll be back we do not know.

Luckily, we are information professionals and word from the Town Hall is that they've joined in with "the second corporate management conference." As we were all entirely unknowing of a first one, let alone any outcomes or consequences, we are a little bemused so my source passes on the gen.

As soon as we find out the conference is entitled "Communication, Co-operation and Customer Focus" we start to lose it a bit. By the time we get to the bit about "creating a league of nations within the council" we were rolling around the floor with mirth. If we ever see the agenda or supporting material they'll be taking us out on stretchers.