Wednesday 25 January 2012

Meeting, Meeting We’re Having a Meeting

Quite the benchmark today as I attended my 900, 000th pointless meeting/presentation in the workplace. It passed without ceremony. In fact more of a fuss was made over colleagues nearby in the open plan office talking, at reasonable levels, while we were listening to a woman talk. A woman from my meeting went over to ask them to keep it down. She did it in a nice way, a nice way with the distinct fragrance of ‘you are being a bit rude as this is quite important what we are listening to’. It was a little bit like two people having a conversation in the cinema complaining about the noise of the film they were talking over. A bit. I didn’t say it was a lot like that; I said it was a bit like that.

I don’t really care for this other section but they were, as I said, just talking at a reasonable level at their desks. On the other hand we were listening to a woman give a presentation in an open plan office. There are meeting rooms and other more discrete areas in the building but, no, we had it in the middle of a large office space (and didn’t tell anyone else we were doing so).

And what we were listening to wasn’t important. It was white noise it was only fitting that my 900, 000th was just as vague and as pointless as 899, 978 of the previous ones.

(It wasn’t really my 900,000th meeting. I haven’t kept count but I  have been to a lot of pointless meetings where people spend more time describing what they are going to say and the order they are going to say it in for it to feel like I have been to that many. I have probably been in about 200.)

Give Peace a Chance

I got to meet my new departmental head today. When she was leaving she did that thing where she was hanging about waiting for someone to book her a taxi so she came and had a quick word. I just wanted to tell her to calm down and that no-one would judge her if she just shut up. I didn’t though. I just carried on reading the Tweenies storybook, Dancing Feet. I felt the only way to react to being caught reading a book aimed at small children by a new, quite important boss-type was to behave as if it was someone I have no respect for. This came easily to me.

She couldn’t resist highlighting it. She actually said “it’s like The Office with seeing someone reading a children’s book in this setting”. You mean we’re in an office and The Office was set in an office? Because, and I have watched it many times, there is no part of that where anyone reads a children’s book quietly at his desk purely because he is interested in the contents of the book. (Incidentally it’s a brilliant book, Jake – from The Tweenies – wouldn’t join in with dancing the national dances when the others decided to dance the dances they had learned. He wasn’t being a moody shit, he was embarrassed because he couldn’t dance and didn’t want to look stupid. This Jake thing reminded me of me and how I choose to extract myself from much of life because I don’t want to try it, though admittedly it is more often because lots of things people do and talk about seems shit and doesn’t interest me.  I wont give away how it ends, suffice it to say that Jake ends up dancing without realising he is properly dancing and he loves it and everyone is chuffed that he dances with them.)

She responded well to my good natured banter – I accused her of intellectual snobbery and warned her that she was lucky to pick on someone for whom a Tweenies storybook did not represent the peak of their intellectual capacity, for there are a good few people within the organisation who would look at completing Dancing Feet as too much of an effort to read something of that length.

I did try to engage her in further debate as to the value of reading children’s literature as an adult as it removes the layers to a simple message. She ignored me and asked if my Julius Hibbert figure¹ was ‘that man from The IT Crowd‘. I left that one there.

¹That’s not mine but it looks like that.

Geldoff My Land

Would any current blog be complete without a mention of Frank Skinner? And reference to something that didn’t happen today but I didn’t write about at the time? Well then rest assured because this is neither mentions Frank Skinner nor did it happen on a day other than today. No, wait – it does mention Frank Skinner and mainly refers to a podcast I listened to about a week ago.

Skinner mentioned he hated Bob Geldof during a conversation about something or other. His two main reason were, firstly at a film premier Geldof walked over to him and tried to take some of his popcorn; Skinner alleges this was not accompanied with a request but merely by Geldof saying, “I’m starving” as he probed the Brummy comedian’s trough of popcorn. Skinner did not give him any popcorn. Geldof said, “Give me some popcorn” in a more insistent manner but he was again rebuffed by the Three Lions star who told him to get his own. Secondly, Geldof – at a later event – approached the former Fantasy Football host and told him of his suit, “that suits you, Frank, it’s like you: cheap” in his whiny Irish voice (I have imagined that, nay assumed it; one imagines Geldof always speaks with that voice you hear him speak with on television, perhaps he speaks differently when away from the media spotlight).

There were a couple of things I thought about this; One, Skinner missed a chance to point out the irony of Geldof begging for food for himself; Two, the fact that his choice of phrase evoked his famous “Give us your fucking money” Live Aid plea¹, almost as if the aggressive pursuit of popcorn to satisfy his own avarice is on a par with him desire to stop people dying in Africa in 1984. Three, it removed any guilt I felt at laughing at Russell Brand’s gag at the NME awards the other year when, in response to Geldof calling him a cunt, he said “Really it’s no surprise he’s such an expert on famine. He has after all been dining out on I Don’t Like Mondays for 30 years.”

Turns out that doing something really great in your life for lots of other people doesn’t mean you can’t be a shit.

¹It’s apocryphal that Geldof said this, watch the clip I have linked to if you don’t believe me. I don’t believe me and I have watched the money. I definitely have seen a clip of him saying “Give us your fucking money”. He didn’t, though, print the legend I say.

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