Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Spot The Misdemeanor

OK folks it's time to play a new, fun and exciting game that I've created called Spot The Misdemeanor.

I'm going to describe something that I actually saw happening and you have to guess, from the details given, what nefarious deeds were underway.  To preserve some sense of interest the answer will be given in the comments page - but please read the blog before turning over.

So - here is the scene: Myself and Herself were driving home one evening early in the year when we saw Suspect No#1 (and I checked - that actually is his name.  I'm not saying he's a criminal, but I would say that he can often be seen Helping The Police With Their Enquiries...if you catch my meaning), a local lad aged between 12-16, cycling along the road towards us.  On the handlebars of his bike was perched Suspect No#2 - holding a spade in his hands.

So: from the above can you spot the misdemeanor?

This was actually the third event in less than a week that finally persuaded us that it was time to move to a nicer and safer location: possibly the Somme, circa 1914

The first was when I was on my way back from work and waiting at the train station for Herself to pick me up when I got a call to say that her friend was coming instead because the valve from the tyre of our car had been stolen.  It had taken Herself a few metres to realise something was wrong, by which time the flat tyre was torn to shreds.  Apparently there had been a speight of this in the area.

The second was a few days later when I was practicing my saxophone upstairs: I had just finished and switched off the light when there was an almighty WHAM from the front of the house (and no, it was not Andrew Ridgley busking for change...a joke you will only get if you remember your 80s pop history).  I went outside to find that a wheelie bin had been thrown against our door.

To be fair: we had been talking about moving out for 12 months or more - ever since the New Neighbours had their 3-day bank holiday party during which the the whole of England seemed to traipse in and out of next door and there was much imbibing of fermented vegetable products (for starters)

Both of these events went into the Top Ten on our list of Occurrences:

10: The Annual Burning Of The Evidence
I have never understood the attraction of setting a bonfire without having fireworks and BBQs but every now and then there would be a loud crashing from next door as they kicked down doors at 4am whilst screaming at each other - followed a few nights later by them pulling a sofa out to the back garden so that they could grunt "man make fire" at each other in the hope that they might still evolve

9: Wallpaper Warehouse
Neighbours sitting on the other side of the house, at 4am loudly singing the tune of an advert for a  local wallpaper sales place to the tune of Waltzing Matilda

8: Swearing At Chickens
Every so often one neighbour or other would buy a pet whilst drunk at the pub.  On one occasion they came up with the brilliant idea of keeping chickens: this was brilliant until they realised there might actually be some work involved and resulted in one of them going into the back garden and yelling "shut the *&^% up!" at them.  Because, of course, chickens are well known for their understanding of English and its more colourful metaphors

7: Over The Fence
We had to get a security fence installed to stop one set of neighbours urinating against our wall and climbing over at 2am to get to their back door.  On the last occasion this happened one of them yelled "Oi McGuinness, you'd better climb over before he gets that fence installed", it took all my self control to refrain from yelling, "yeah, or before he works out who you are!"

6: Three Day Party
As mentioned above

5: A Pizza The Action
Immediate neighbours with the party wall enjoyed nothing better than screaming at each other all night, kicking down doors to get at one another and then laughing like it had all been so much water under the bridge.  One night the woman became obsessed that he "don't *&^%ing love me, cos you %$£&ing ate my £$%^ing pizza"

4: The Great Bedroom Fire
Does what it says on the tin really: one set of neighbours two doors down got evicted after someone at a party at their house decided it would be fun to set fire to a bedroom.  The smoke damage spread to the house next door and narrowly missed us as well

3: Bin Being Thrown At The Door
As above

2: The Halloween Incident
I've told this story here before, so I don't want to go into it again other than to say that a nice sweet young boy was taken trick or treating the first year we were there by someone who was barely sober enough to stand.  The fact that there was no one in that kid's life who was sane enough to stop this from happening still haunts me

1: Under Age, Over The Limit
But the one that stays with me the most is the 6 year old tottering alone in the middle of the road, holding a can of lager it had clearly been given to keep it quiet.

This August, sitting in the back garden of my new house, it took me nearly half a day to realise that this was a) the first time in 13 years I had felt able to sit outside in my garden without worrying about neighbours shouting abuse and b) the first hot Bank Holiday where I had got any sleep prior to 2am in more years than I could remember.

I now live in a nice, respectful area where it's permanently quiet, with neighbours who smile and say hello instead of sneer and ask what the duck you are looking at, where no boy racers scream around the streets in stolen cars at school letting out time and where the loudest sound is probably me practicing my saxophone, at respectable hours, without fear of Refuge Revenge.

Thursday, 10 September 2015

The Peter Principle

It is a sad fact of life that I was born without a sense of ambition.

None whatsoever.

Well - there are things I'd like to do, but it really is in a vaguely unfocussed way as and when they come to mind, with my usual inimitable style of bumbling genially through life whilst trying to cause as little damage as possible - with no real end point in mind other than to find something that occupies my mind for a short while and is enjoyable to do - preferably in the company of people who are Fun To Work With (IE equally geeky with warped senses of humour).

Which is why I have little time for people who describe themselves as Life Coaches and talk of time optimisation, career actualisation and end game perspectives (or whatever) - I can't see a situation in which I would ever find a use for such a person: other than perhaps to buy me a cup of coffee at one of their far too frequent team bonding effication moments.

I mean sure - I play saxophone (for instance) and I'd like to be much better at it but 8 hours a day practicing - really? Where's the fun in that?  A hobby is something I do for pleasure and that sound a bit like hard work

And yes, sure I'd like to be doing something a bit more creative and fun at work, but I have no real idea what precisely that is nor how to achieve it - and as for promotion well...

I've actually been a manager a few times.  I had a team of 15 people that I looked after and whom I was supposed to check on a daily basis that they still knew their jobs and hadn't forgotten it all over the weekend (instead of, you know, trusting them to just get on with it)- and I was placed in the very odd position of finding and training my own replacement when my job was offshored, leaving me at risk of redundancy and my question to all those career-oriented people out there is - who needs it?

I'm quite happy to keep my head down, stay out of trouble and do the job in front of me the best way I know how.  A little recognition wouldn't go amiss, but hey...

I'm just not cut out to be a Manager - but to be honest life has left me with the distinctive impression that neither are any of them.

Douglas Adams famously said in Life, The Universe And Everything that anyone who was capable of getting themselves into a position of power and actively wanted to be there was, by very dint of that fact, the absolute last person you should allow to be there and there's a similar thing called The Peter Principle

Based on a theory by Laurence J Peter the idea goes that promotion is often based not so much on the ability to do the next job in line as upon proven track record in a current role - thus every Manager eventually rises to his or her own level of incompentence - where they can no longer cause any active harm, cannot be promoted any further and inevitably become paranoid of the young upstarts who are climbing the ladder behind them.

I've had every type of manager: from the David Brent/Ricky Gervais type who tries too hard to be your mate to the shouty/moody type who makes your life a living hell just because they can - but what I really want from a boss is this:
* Someone who understands the role I do and appreciates the difficulties of the job
* Someone who is open and honest about what they are doing and why and is not just looking after number one
* Someone who recognizes that we are part of a team and can be trusted to have your back
* Someone who I can have a joke with, but can take control when required
* Someone who would rather I asked time after time than didn't know something and would have the patience to reply

Someone a bit like me I guess.

Shame there's no power on earth that would make me want to do it.