As the great Sir Terrence Wogan once said: Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana. Can it really be 82 days since we last heard the shameless cries of ‘Foul’ from the Wankers of Westminster, having been caught bang-to-rights with their fingers in the till ? Let me get this right, they turn up for work once a week to get their mugs on camera on a Wednesday lunchtime, steal our money, use that money to fund their businesses and gardeners AND get 82 days off summer holiday? It’s a tough life. 82 days off ?? I’ve had shorter marriages. It only seems like yesterday that I was here ranting about Jacqui Smith and Hazel Blears, and if I’m not very careful I shall start again.
It’s amazingly over 3 months since I left the magazine and started working here at The Thunderer. Christ that’s flown by. I still get that new-boy feeling every now and again, but have finally remembered the names of most of the people I work with (although in conference the other day I couldn’t think of my Editor’s name, which wasn’t a great career move). The very sad thing is they keep giving me work to do, which is not what I signed up for, but it means I never clock-watch. Well hardly ever. But the time flies by, and that’s really all we can ever ask for, isn’t it? And dirty great wads of cash. And the odd pint. And a laugh.
When I joined the Ashes hadn’t yet started, Michael Jackson had died of natural causes and Gordon Brown was quaffing heavily in the Last Chance Saloon. A 100-odd days later, Jacko’s doctor is to appear before 12 men good and true, charged with Whackicide, the Aussies have returned home, urn-less. Gordon is now standing sobbing at the back of that saloon, refusing to go home, while the cleaners mop the floor, the bar staff bottle-up and the bouncer slips his big paws round the waist of a drunk teenage girl and offers her a lift home. I bet time isn’t flying for poor old Gordon. I wonder if he ever wakes up in the morning, stares at the ceiling and thinks “Oh fuck it, I’ve had enough”. How tempting must it be to ring Cameron and say “It’s all yours, have the sodding country, see how you like it.” It can’t be far away now.
How different might it all have been for Gordon had he still had the benefit of some nasty little bastard running the show like Alastair Campbell, or even better Malcolm Tucker? Neither would have let catastrophe after catastrophe befall this government. Malcolm would never have let Gordon back out of that original, promised election last year, Alastair would have taken Hazel, Jacqui and the rest of the expenses cartel around the back and horse-whipped them. And neither would have overseen the financial crisis without at least a dozen members of the Square Mile, the FSA and the ONS being strung up by their cajones and swinging from those lollipop clocks in Canary Wharf.
How reassuring it was to see Mr Tucker back on our screens on Saturday night. Usually I steer well clear of violent, venom-spitting Scotchmen, and I’ve met a few in my time, but I can’t get enough of Malc. I only wish my anger would manifest itself into such lines as ”Did you know that 90% of household dust is made up of dead human skin, that’s what you are…to me”.
This week he had Glynn’s chair thrown away. It was one of those chairs that is supposed to give you maximum support and perfect posture- you know the ones. Got anyone in your office who sits on a large brightly-coloured beach ball instead of a chair? Bet you have. I’ve seen a few in my time. Oh for a lit cigarette or a scalpel. “But, Mike, I have a bad back and this ball really helps. And the colour matches my RSI gauntlet. There it is, next to my S.A.D. light”.
You get where I’m coming from, right?
So for the three months I’ve been here I’ve been the recipient of several emails, each one more insistent than the last, from our Health, Safety and Environment Dept informing me that I need a ‘Workdesk Assessment’. They need to make sure I am comfortable and not at risk of developing any aches and pain while at my desk. Yes: It’s Sitting on a Chair Lessons. I ignored the first two invitations. Replied that I “was fine” to the third. The fourth came by return to which I wrote “No, honestly, I’ll be ok: I’ve been sitting on chairs for years, with a 98% success rate”. Only the threat, in the fifth email, of being hauled up in front of the beak has made me relent. I am still, after all, on Double Secret Probation and I wouldn’t want to jeopardise that now, would I?
Imagine all the money large companies could save by frog-marching out of the office all the HR Depts, Occupation Health Officers and the like ? Fortunes could be saved. They do nothing for no-one, apart justifying their own existence. Nothing. “But what about all the days-off-thru-sickness we save industry ?” Cobblers: It’s the same sort of people in offices throughout the land who are habitual RSI-getters (you can spot ‘em a mile off). Nothing anyone can do will change this type. Takers and slakers, every man jack of ’em. They spend a luna month in the nurse’s office throughout the year; never get a sniffle, they get Beriberi or Green Monkey Disease, and they are lacing up their running spikes at 5:58 every afternoon and are off out the door like Usain Bolt before you can say “actually could you just give me a hand with this”. I’ve seen Occ.Health people come to desks and measure angles and distances of keyboards, monitors and, of course chairs. Next time you see them in action, just watch the face of the worker they’re attending to, forming a skiving-off strategy. “Do you suffer from pain in your wrist, shoulder blade or achilles heel while at your desk?” they’re asked. “Well, now you come to mention it I have developed quite a sore knee when I’m asked to log on, yes”. “Hmmm…thought so. You need a new chair, a foot-rest and every other Friday off with stress. That should see you all right. Also, we’ll make sure your boss doesn’t give you too much work”.
I don’t need to name these people, we know who they are and THEY know who they are. They all look the same, with interchangeable names. They’ll be one sitting near you in your office today (unless you ARE one of them, in which case you’ll be reading this from the comfort of your home sofa). Of course people get ill, we all do. Some just get ill more often than others. A good mate of mine, I won’t name him (another Jock) came limping up the office once and I thought “oh here we go, he’s either fallen off his scooter or he’s got RSI of the ankle. Manky scotch git!” Neither were true. Turns out it was gout, and I couldn’t have been more pleased. I was so glad that I wasn’t the only one feeling the effects of time on my aching body. Gout! Brilliant: traditionally associated with old men and heavy drinkers, and my mate was at least one of them. Time catches up with us all in the end.
On Thursday, I officially enter the world of late-middle agedness when I take up the company’s offer of a free flu-jab. As noted on these pages previously, I am a magnet for a cold and flu bug. Typically, I make sure I have spread it throughout the office before I go off to my sickbed. Well, I’m determined this year to nip it in the bud (or bug). I always thought that flu jabs were for the elderly or infirm, and so here I am. It’ll probably make me feel like death warmed up for the rest of the day, but I won’t be calling for a footstool, wrist-brace or truss. I shall merely sit at my desk, and when the Occ Health girls come to call, I shall merely quote Malcolm Tucker and say :”Come the fuck in, or fuck the fuck off”.
I may even put on a scotch accent.