My life is very dull indeed. This is one reason why PooterGeek is mostly about other people—or just made up. Robert Harris once wrote an article about how the absence of world war had “deprived” his generation of Englishmen of a real heroic purpose in their lives. His father’s peers would tell their children tales of Dunkirk or the African desert, while Harris’s own contemporaries could only reminisce of “the day they won the Pizza Hut account”.
The scatological British spoof children’s comic, Viz, used to have a strip devoted to a family of conference organisers. The joke was that the medium of war stories, superheroes, and the improbable adventures of children with unique talents should devote a page to the bone-crushingly tedious scrapes of people who travel from provincial motel to provincial motel putting up poster boards. One of Cambridge’s clutch of local listings magazines is called Agenda. In the current issue there is an interview with an event organiser. The subject of this interview is cursed or blessed by a complete blindness to how boring his work is. Some might say that failing to appreciate how boring your work is is the key to huge success. If that is true, this man will go far:
“Sean Malone and his team are passionate about their work. He heads up Malone Associates in Fordham, Cambridgeshire, who number names such as Microsoft and Royal Bank of Scotland among their clients.”
I’m sure Malone Associates is completely different, but usually, in the flattened hierarchy, multi-tasking workplace of today, when a “team” is “headed up” it means “many underpaid graduates with multiple degrees struggle to compensate for the mistakes of one overpaid autocrat with a third in Estates Management from Durham” and “passionate” means that they “work excessively long hours because of poor planning and a macho culture of presenteeism“.
The page-turning continues:
“Sean remembers that fateful day…”
“That fateful day” Al-Qaeda loyalists stormed the Savoy during a blue chip CEO’s opening PowerPoint presentation? “That fateful day” Malone and his “team” had to make an emergency landing when the tail rotor of their ‘copter was lost during an approach to Docklands heliport for an international arms sales gathering?
No. “That fateful day” when…
“…we were offered a much larger room [at The Birmingham Metropole] at no extra charge.”
The excitement mounts:
“Several hours later—and with the clock ticking—disaster.”
Men in black balaclavas abseiled down from the roof and crashed in through the windows, tossing stun grenades and screaming Islamist lust for the blood of infidels?
“In our enthusiasm, no one had thought to measure the height of the new banner against the set. It was two feet higher than the original one, making the set look lost and miserable, with a big, ugly gap where it should have run flush with the ceiling.”
“It was already late evening and the team was tired already. What to do? It took just a few painful minutes to decide that our duty to professionalism meant that sleep was not a possibility. The set had to be rebuilt, and fast. In A-Team style, we set up a temporary wood yard…”
(The episode in which the A-Team‘s B A Baracus set up the temporary wood yard—where they could build a tree-house in which to imprison a group of South African drug-dealing neo-Nazis—was one of my favourites.)
“…in the moonlit carpark and set to work through the night. As dawn broke, the new, larger set was completed and put up in the space. The client never knew…”
[Spooky detail: the XEmacs spell-checker thinks that “Islamist” should be replaced with “Islamise”.]