Tuesday 16 July 2013

Today I spent 14 hours (ish) away from my home – the 14 hours was all in aid of attending a two-hour meeting in Guildford*.

Ironically (‘not irony’ sense of irony) the journey down was as smooth as a character played by George Clooney before he got powerful and started playing ambiguous characters who often had a beard. In fact me and my travelling companion arrived 90 minutes ahead of the starting time of the meeting. We thought it a good idea to find some colleagues in our sister office and have a chat but it turned out no-one we knew was about – just a bunch of extras from television shows who just seemed to be making it look like a busy office. We asked these people why they were there but if they’d have answered us they would have had to been paid £300 and they weren’t in Equity.

The meeting itself definitely justified several people travelling from Manchester – as it just involved us having a conversation with people, something our video conference suites were clearly deemed inappropriate to service. It was the kind of meeting without any interaction other than speaking which emphasised that this needn’t be a face-to-face meeting. The content – to be fair – was the kind of thing on a level where being in the same room  helped.

The following isn’t what was discussed as there would clearly be a breach of confidentiality if I were to share what was aid. If you just imagine there is an algorithm that can take a conversation from one context and apply it to another context. Imagined that? Well this is the kind of level we were talking about something but as spoken by firefighters talking about fire.

-So we are all agreed that we’ll carry on putting fires out when people ask us to?
– Can I just say that it’s good that we’re putting out fires but can we also make sure we don’t start fires? Putting out fires does reduce the number of fires but if we don’t make fires we are also keeping that number down.
-That’s a useful point, Paldon, I’m going to add a non-arson chassis to the workflow.
– Can I just say that I agree with Paldon? And that my idea is that we don’t create new fires as well.
– That’s not a new idea; you’ve not even rephrased Paldon’s idea – you’ve just said it again. But everyone here is just remembering you saying something positive in a meeting and so expect to be promoted regardless of you not knowing what a table is.
– Can I just put forward something that would definitely help with both fire prevention and putting out fires? It won’t really cost us anything and will make us a lot better?
– No. Our marketing department have done some research and we’ll just be giving a homeless man in Brentford some spare change each day as our main new project.
– That seems a bit irrelevant to putting out fires. My idea is well researched and I can prove it.
– No. Their research is beyond questioning – they did DEGREES IN MARKETING for fuck’s sake.
– It seems like their extensive research has just been asking a homeless man in Brentford what he wants.
– Can we move on questioning the marketing department and get on with blindly following whatever they say we should do? I don’t remember anything going wrong with their campaign about pouring petrol over people and setting them on fire with matches.


So, it was a great meeting. And it would have been OK if the Euston – Manchester train hadn’t been delayed and then cancelled. Then the next train was delayed. And then when they let people on they announced they had cancelled all reservations. And then a drunk woman got on with some other people (who might have also been drunk – but might not have been). There were some people sat in seats she had reserved. That is all I can say is an agreed fact.

I have to assume she asked the people if she could seat in her seats that she’d reserved and that they told her that all reservations had been cancelled. At this point there were definitely seats available on the train elsewhere. At this point my thinking would have been thus: they probably aren’t lying and I’ll just go and find somewhere else to sit. If it turns out they ARE LYING I can come back with a member of staff and get my rightful seats.

What this woman thought was that she should try and make people move out of seats that to which she now had absolutely no rights. And when a member of staff got involved and confirmed that the reservations were no longer valid she decided that arguing that this wasn’t fair would be the best way to ultimately resolve the situation. Of course the more politely the train staff explained that they couldn’t change this now and that there were other seats the more she shouted about people being in her seats.

This delayed the delayed start of the train. And then when we got to the first stop, Milton Keynes, we had to wait while she was arrested by the police for being abusive to the staff of the train. While I supported the woman being punished for being a shit I didn’t half not want to wait an extra 20 minutes.

We did have to wait, though. And I didn’t get back home until 11pm – after leaving my flat at 9am. And those people in wars think they have it bad.

*Yes – it’s a place and not just an adjective to describe a small number of bombers.

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