Sunday, 30 October 2005

Blame and Fame

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I think it was Issac Asamov that claimed ‘Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent’. If he had bothered to develop this thesis further, he would have discovered that the first refuge is Rottingham City Council. It’s a culture that not only encourages incompetence, but also rewards it. For example, there’s a chap in the next door office who has been working for the council for most of his adult life, eventually reaching the higher echelons of service manager. He was made redundant in a previous ‘reorganisation’ and was placed on the Council redeployment register. This is a wonderful device whereby an employee who is axed is placed in a different role when it becomes available. The great thing is, this drop in status isn’t accompanied by any drop in wages. Hence this guy is now getting paid £40,000 a year for a job that should technically pay around £20,000. Whenever I walk in he is sitting contentedly at his computer playing hearts. It’s a pleasing sight that leaves me with the hope that there is a gravy train at the end of it all.

Sitting at my desk in this poorly ventilated building, I cast my eyes fervently around searching for sources of blame. Should we accuse our impotent senior manager, who sits at his desk fiddling with himself while Rome burns around him?. Sun-Tzu, writing in 500 B.C said that the principle elements of leadership were intelligence, humanity, courage, credibility and discipline. Now leadership seems to be based on shifting blame, passing your work off onto other people and writing dull memos to your colleagues as a means of camouflaging your inactivity.

Should we blame the staff of our regional partners, a group of people whose collective I.T literacy is roughly equivalent to that of a pack of mentally retarded Neanderthals?. No doubt the cold, hard eye of the external audit will discover the real perpetrators, but by then they will probably have jumped ship into different jobs.

Rottingham suffers from the same problems as any large post-industrial city, a vast pool of unskilled labour with few qualifications, completely unsuited to fill the jobs that are on offer. The purpose of this project was to approach companies, discover what skills they required in their applicants, and to train our clients to this standard so they could reach employment. My office acts as a central hub for the organisation. We send out information about our courses, the clients read this material and go into the regional offices, the regional offices then send us the application forms and we then enter the clients on the courses. The trouble is, since this is a trial project, and this is public money we are dealing with, every action needs to be recorded accurately in a central database so that it can be rigorously audited later on. It was agreed that a central, online database be developed at vast expense. This database is known as Angry Fish.

I despise the name. It’s something only techie geeks with that kind of irritating ‘random’ style of humour, plundered shamelessly from Eddie Izzard, would find entertaining. We bought this system, at considerable expense, at the behest of our regional partners. The problem is, no one has been using it. Clients have come and gone, enrolled on courses, gained qualifications and entered employment, but virtually none of it has been documented, mainly because the staff of our local partners go into a blind panic the minite they encounter anything more complicated than Notepad. One can partly understand their concerns, the whole program is badly designed - for example, the 'delete record' button is about a pixel away from the 'open record' button.

As a result, our expensive new database is about as accurate a reflection of reality as Al Capone’s tax return. Those records that have been entered have often been duplicated several times or inputted with vital information missing. Of course, come the Audit, the Neighbourhood Renewal Fund are going to want to know what happened to all the money they gave us. God knows what our departmental management will do then; probably move everyone to different desks.

Various writers, pundits and social commentators are fond of telling us that modern society affected by some form of malaise, that standards are crumbling, manners are steadily becoming redundant and we are all descending into anarchy. Casting an eye over the history of the twentieth century, it seems clear that things have turned for the better rather than worse. Sure we seem to have less of the ‘manly’ Victorian values that made this country great, but at least no-one is dying of polio. One thing, however, troubles me immensely. At no point in human history have our inadequacies been rubbed in our faces quite so much. Flicking through the channels on my television set, I am treated to such depressing spectacles as ‘lifestyles of the rich and the famous’, and ’50 things you’ll be too skint to do before you die’. No wonder we seem to be suffering from some sort of collective status anxiety. We exist in a culture in which we are led to believe that we are all destined to live the lifestyle of the super rich. As always, it’s hard to harmonise ideological expectations with cold hard realities.

Watching documentaries about Paris Hilton makes you realise people turned up in their thousands to watch the French nobility being decapitated at the hands of the mob. One more special about the size of Puff Daddy’s new yacht and, come the next revolution, you’ll find me cheering on the steps of the guillotine as the odious new nobility of the modern age are dealt a dreadful, but deserved justice. That is assuming that I haven’t already been beheaded for having an absurdly posh name.

Friday, 28 October 2005

The Madness Of Snooker

Snooker

Having watched the snooker coverage –the one sport other than the indoor bowls championship the B.B.C still has left in it’s arsenal-, I can only conclude that the commentary team have one of the easiest jobs in the western world. The game is characterised by long periods where nothing very much happens. Instead of filling this interval with any thing particularly profound, the commentators prefer to say nothing at all. When they do open their mouths it is usually to utter something moronic like ‘If he hits this shot into the cushion, he stands a good chance of hitting the black into the red’. I personally don’t blame them. Their particular universe consists of a green table with a limited number of different coloured balls, six pockets, and a series of generic sportsmen with no real personality or flair. Such an environment only lends itself to a limited range of possibilities. I’d imagine this is fairly claustrophobic, and in some cases, the sense of restraint and endless repetition can drive you mad. The imagination longs to escape the narrow confines in which it now finds itself and yearns to break free from pondering the destiny of coloured balls. For one man, the levee well and truly broke, that man was David Icke.


David Icke

For many years David Icke led a successful but fairly unremarkable life. He was born and raised amoungst the working class estates of Leicester. Much like the pope, he began his carreer as a goalkeeper, and played professionally for Hereford United and Coventry city F.C, until arthritis prematurely ended his career at the age of 21. Having left football he took up a job at the BBC as a sports announcer and became well known for presenting the late night snooker highlights. Things were about to go badly wrong.

Icke’s autobiography goes rapidly downhill around March 1990. On a fairly boring trip to the Isle of Wight, Icke started hearing voices which, rather unfortunately, guided him to the 'New Age' section of a bookshop he was browsing. Later on, he was greeted by a mysterious woman who told him he had been ‘put on this earth to heal it’. He had been ‘chosen from childhood to lead mankind into the truth’. His career in football had taught him discipline and given him the ability to cope with the disappointment and ridicule he would encounter in speading his message to mankind. Before you could say ‘nutball’ he was off to Peru and was consulting a peculiar shaman who ‘filled him with knowledge and brought about a great awakening’. Just what this knowledge was, the world was about to find out.

Icke had been pencilled in to appear on ‘The Terry Wogan Show’ the following year. Jim Davidson had top billing that night, but his limelight had already been well and truly stolen. There had been rumours in the tabloids all week that David Icke had been acting strangely, and as he wandered onto the stage it rapidly became clear that something was up. Icke was dressed from head to toe in an incredibly tasteless turquoise shell suit. Upon being questioned about his attire by the bemused host, Icke said that he was wearing turquoise because it was ‘the colour of the universe and a conduit of positive energy’.

David Icke

The warning signs had been there. Earlier, at a specially convened press conference at Gatwick Airport, Icke had let it be known that his spiritual advisor would henceforth be referred to as the Daughter of God while his wife was to be called the Spirit of the Angel of God. He had also predicted the Second Coming and said that the Channel Tunnel would never be built. Best of all, he said that Cuba, the Isle of Arran and the White Cliffs of Dover would all disappear. Now, before the eyes of the nation, he announced that he was the son of god and that everyone who had ever lived would be judged by him in heaven.

Why you?" asked Wogan, it seemed a fair question. "People would have said the same thing to Jesus," David Icke replied. "Who the heck are you? You're a carpenter's son. "He then went on to prophesise Britain’s destruction by Tsunamis and Earthquakes. "When might we expect tidal waves, eruptions and earthquakes?" asked Wogan. "They will certainly happen this year," David replied. This prediction was met with howls of incredulity from the audience. "Why should we believe you?" said Wogan. "I'm saying that these things are going to happen this year," said David, "so we'll see, won't we?" ."And what will happen to you if they don't happen?" asked Wogan. "They will happen," said David. Having left the stage to mass laughter and applause he became the most ridiculed man in the country, it looked like the end. Icke recalls

“One of my very greatest fears as a child was being ridiculed in public. And there it was coming true. As a television presenter, I'd been respected. People come up to you in the street and shake your hand and talk to you in a respectful way. And suddenly, overnight, this was transformed into 'Icke's a nutter'. I couldn't walk down any street in Britain without being laughed at. It was a nightmare. My children were devastated because their dad was a figure of ridicule”

And yet all was not lost, Icke was about to discover the path to recovery. He began to dabble in conventional new-age thinking, spliced with Neo-Nazi conspiracy theories. After a couple of years banished from the limelight he began to write books that proclaimed the world was ruled by a secret group called "The Elite", or "Illuminati," which he linked to The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a fake anti-Semitic tract. He also alleged that a small group of Jews had financed Hitler, manufacturing the holocaust in order to help the Zionist cause.

"I strongly believe that a small Jewish clique which has contempt for the mass of Jewish people worked with non-Jews to create the First World War, the Russian Revolution, and the Second World War. This Jewish/non-Jewish Elite used the First World War to secure the Balfour Declaration and the principle of the Jewish State of Israel (for which, given the genetic history of most Jewish people, there is absolutely no justification on historical grounds or any other). They then dominated the Versailles Peace Conference and created the circumstances which made the Second World War inevitable. They financed Hitler to power in 1933 and made the funds available for his rearmament."

This attracted the skinhead contingent who began to follow him around on his speaking tours. Perhaps encouraged by this adulation, Icke’s theories got steadily more strange. He wrote that 'the global elite are hopelessly drawn to strange rituals', that they run around in robes and burn giant wicker owls at a secret summer camp called Bohemian Grove in the forests north of San Francisco. ‘Henry Kissinger and David Rockefeller are rumoured to be among the be-robed’, he speculated. Icke came to believe that the global elite were manipulating free-trade legislation to ease the world for global domination; their lair was the White House, which contained a secret harem of kidnapped and hypnotised underage sex slaves.

David Icke

Then in 1999, Icke published his masterpiece, a book claiming that the world had been taken over by a race of lizards. He had apparently discovered primitive cultures that had carved effigies of lizard-men descending from the skies, these reptilians decided to live among humans and control their society from within. In “Children of the Matrix” Icke describes the lizard's agenda,

“The Reptilians and other manipulating entities exist just outside the frequency range of our physical senses. Their own physical form has been broken down and they can no longer reproduce. Thus they have sought to infiltrate human form and so use that to exist and control in this dimension.”

Prominent figures such as the Queen, George Bush, Bill Clinton, the Queen mother and Kriss Kristofferson were exposed as lizards, who shape-shifted into human form and drank the blood of children. Icke said in an interview

“I knew of a guy called Ted Heath, who was Prime Minister of Britain from '70-'74, and I knew that he was involved in some serious horrendous things, like sacrificing children, and all this stuff, because of people who had seen it. But until now, I never suspected him of being a lizard”

Every strata of British and American society was apparently infiltrated. Icke wrote that, according to Christine Fitzgerald, a confidante of Diana, she had believed that the British royal family was connected to reptiles and said they could shape-shift. Icke revealed

‘It is clear that Diana knew about the true nature of the royal family's genetic history and the reptilian control. Her nicknames for the Windsors were the "lizards" and the "reptiles" and she used to say in all seriousness: "They're not human"...The brotherhood obsession with Scotland, she said, was because there are many entrances their into inner-Earth where the physical reptiles live... She said that during the sacrificial rituals the Queen wears a cloak of gold fabric inlaid with rubies and black onyx. The Queen and Charles have their own ritual goblets, inlaid with precious stones signifying their Illuminati-Brotherhood rank. The Mother Goddess says that that queen makes cruel remarks about lesser initiates, but is afraid of a man code-named 'Pindar' (The Marquis de Libeaux) who is higher in the Satanic hierarchy...the main reptilian gene carriers were given names like Lilith, Lili, Lilutu and Lillette. Another version is Lilibet or Elizabeth and this is why the present British Queen is called Elizabeth (El-lizard-birth) and was known to her family circle as Lilibet. She is a major reptilian gene carrier who produced a major reptilian full-blood called Prince Charles. Both are shape-shifting reptilians, a fact that will be supported by later evidence."

Hollywood in paticular had become infested with the creatures and the proliferation of cosmetic surgery amoungst it's celebrities could not be put down to mere vanity alone. According to Icke “Cosmetic surgery is necessary to conceal exactly what is being done to them on a biological and genetic level". The elite would stop at nothing to rob humans of their independence, orchestrating mass shootings to build up opposition to guns, staging the Bosnian war, the lockabie bombing and September the 11th and, worst of all, planning to implant microchips in everyone’s bodies coded with the satanic number “666”.

‘The "mark of the beast", the microchip, is planned to be moved from the smart card to the human body when a story can be hatched to persuade people to accept it. Some researchers suggest that the human barcoding system will include three sets of six digits in the computer - hence 666, "the number of the beast". Once we have agreed to the end of cash and there is no turning back, we will have to accept the microchip implant or we will have no means of purchasing anything when they decide to phase out smart cards.’

On the 10th of January 2002, came Icke's moment of triumph. Two scientists at John Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, combined light from over 200,000 galaxies within two billion light years of Earth. They discovered that the colour of the universe had in fact been turquoise all along. David Icke was finally vindicated, he declared

‘If a scientist from John Hopkins University says it, he's credible. If an ex-television presenter says it eleven years earlier, he's crazy. Way of the world, I'm afraid....Don't think for yourself, let those with fancy titles and letters after their names do it for you. Go back to sleep, your experts know best. Zzzzzzz....So if a shade of turquoise is the base colour of the universe, wearing turquoise will help to "tune" you to the universe and all the knowledge, wisdom, and intuitive "knowing" that exists there. It will help you connect vibrationally to the Great Infinity of existence by tuning you to its wavelength.’

David Icke now lives on his beloved Isle of Wight and continues to spout crap on topics as diverse as ‘The war on Terror’, ‘Child Vaccinations’ and the Bush family's ‘Reptilian agenda’. He is the author of ten books, which have sold extremely well and continues to be popular amongst the loonies of the world. He has several web sites, an e-magazine, his own publishing house, and at least 9 books and 4 videotapes to his credit. He is constantly on the road, touring North America, Europe, Australia, South Africa, the Pyramids, and elsewhere, speaking to crowds of 1,000 a time. Icke was once the most mocked man in Britain, yet in almost every other way possible, it is he who has had the last laugh.

Official site: http://www.davidicke.com/

David Icke interviews: http://www.freedomfiles.org/davidtv/truthvibrations.htm

Vancouver interview where he claims ‘it would be staggering if the earth wasn’t run by lizards, and gives examples of shape-shifting incidents’

http://www.newsforthesoul.com/icke.htm

Saturday, 15 October 2005

Abusive phone call of the year

One of the many problems with the public sector is that every single trivial action is subject to Byzantine sets of rules and procedures. For instance, to order a new part for the printer, I was required to fill out a number of complicated forms, which were then cross checked by no less than eight separate members of staff. Even answering the telephone is subject to a set of unnecessary guidelines. Last week, my boss handed to me a booklet entitled ‘The Guide to Effective Communication’, a patronising and somewhat repulsive document, offering advice to public servants on how to answer the telephone.

Leafing through the pages of the guide, I learnt that I must be ‘diverse’ in my dealings, and ‘sensitive to the differing needs of members of the public’. This is easier said than done. Some of the clients who ring my telephone have a command of the English language roughly akin to that of Manuel from Faulty Towers. Instead of being mindful of their deficiencies, they frequently get irritated and abusive when I ask them to repeat things.

Since the department was informed of its fate, things have got a little bit slack. Yesterday, the sum total of my work was to draw a couple of Mickey Mouse ears on a picture of Mao Tse Tung. I then added the caption ‘Mickey Mao’ and hung the image above my desk.

Mickey Mao

Just as I finished doing this the telephone rang ominously. I lifted the receiver. ‘Good afternoon, Nottingham Works’ I said enthusiastically, making a concerted effort to communicate more ‘effectively’. I was confronted with heavy breathing from the other end of the line.

‘I did free driving lessons with you’ came a gruff female voice that conveyed more than a slight sense of menace. ‘Sorry, can you repeat that?’ I said, having not quite heard what she had said. The breathing increased rapidly. She now sounded like an asthma victim who had been forced to climb a steep flight of stairs.

‘FOR FUCKS SAKE!!!, I…took…free…driving..lessons..with..you,’ she replied, demonstrating a lack of what the H.R department have termed ‘people skills’. I didn’t let my fa├žade of cheeriness drop and said politely ‘ah, I see, and how is it I can help you?’. ‘I need the number for East Midlands driving school’ she said with a total absence of warmth or affection. ‘Okey Dokey, let me just look it out for you’ I replied and my boss began to sort through the driving academy file looking for the required information. After about a couple of minutes I could tell that the caller was getting slightly frustrated. She began to snort into the receiver and launched into wave after wave of abuse in my direction. ‘FFFUUUCKK!…….FUCKING HELL, WHY THE FUCK IS THIS TAKING SO LONG!!!!’ she began to scream down the line. ‘Just a moment’ I said diplomatically, ‘my colleague is just looking the number out for you, she’ll have it in just a moment’. ‘FUCK YOU!’ came the somewhat abrupt reply. It appeared that the caller was impatient as well as chronically stupid

Technically I am within my rights to put the phone down at this stage, but working such a dull job, incidents like this are like gold-dust. My boss had retrieved the number and was now reading it out to me from across the office. Unfortunately I was having trouble hearing said number because of the racket emanating from my phone. ‘WHY THE FUCK IS THIS TAKING SO LONG!!, DON’T YOU KNOW THIS IS COSTING MONEY!!!’. It sounded like the caller was on the brink of a prolaspe. I had just received the number and was about to read it to her when she finally slammed the phone down in disgust. It not often you get to deal with people who have the social skills of Attila the Hun after a twenty-four hour drinking binge.

I felt proud, I had followed the guide to effective communication to the letter and done my very best to serve the public. One must be sensitive to the differing needs and requirements of our clients, even if –as is often the case- they happen to sub-human morons.

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Downfall

The German Race have been the subject of contempt amongst the Clarke family since they, rather unsportingly, decided to bomb my great aunt Bertha whilst she was visiting friends in Bristol during the blitz. However, last night as I sat through ‘The Downfall’, a film that chronicles the last days of Hitler, I felt a strange affinity with the ill-fated protagonists. It reminds me very much of my current employment. Its October at the council, and that can only mean one thing…redundancies!. Accordingly, my department has just been informed that it will be axed as part of council ‘re-organisation’. Now, like an SS commando, I cling doggedly to my desk while the whole corrupt and decadent regime collapses around me like a house of cards. Sadly the historical comparison ends here, there’s no chance of senior management blowing their brains out after a last despairing salute to the mayor. This is a cause for some concern. Over the past few months I have come to the opinion that it is right and proper for the manager of a botched department to commit hari-kiri. Failed managers never atone for their disastrous actions; they simply get re-assigned to another position of authority in the council and acquire another department to run into the ground with their incompetence. The next time the councillors contemplate another H.R restructure; they would do well to consider issuing cyanide capsules.

I feel bad for my comrades in arms, who sit around dispirited, browsing jobs websites and playing epic games of solitaire which a scarcely disguised contempt for the organisation that has so cruelly rejected them. We were found worthy of destruction, and yet other drains on the public purse are tolerated. For instance, several council managers recently went on a fact-finding mission to China at an overall cost of around £25,000. I can think of no better way to start World War Three than to send our petty bureaucrats on a subsidised holiday to a touchy eastern superpower. It’s rare that you find an example of irresponsible public spending which is both a careless waste of funds and a threat to world peace.

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In this cruel and cynical new environment, it is necessary to find a fresh and deserving avenue for my hatred. I can find no better candidate than ‘Impact’, the council employee magazine. The word ‘Impact’, suggests that within the glossy pages of this magazine, one is guaranteed to find something dynamic, exciting and energising. Instead the publication contains what can be politely termed ‘soulless propaganda’. A turgid mixture of tedious articles and photographs of mysteriously happy employees, all of whom have the same cheesy smile etched across their face; I assume they were airbrushed on later. If you took a snapshot of the average council department, you would capture a total absence of joi de vive; you would find more of a party atmosphere on Death Row.

One of the drawbacks of being a public servant is that I am bombarded with a constant stream of propaganda. In 1946, Lord Haw Haw was tried for war crimes and executed by the Allies. Nowadays, he would be rewarded for his ‘services to spin’, assigned to Rottingham on Trent’s P.R department, and would probably spend his working day filling my inbox with spam. Last week I was treated to a newsletter, that displayed a series of carefully selected newspaper headlines about Rottingham-on-Trent. ‘Rottingham is now ranked 3rd for U.K retail’, they declared. The other headlines from the national media, such as ‘Rottingham is a crime ridden sewer’ had been mysteriously omitted. The next time I get beaten up by a gang of teenage muggers, I shall take solace in the fact that the city has a new TK-Maxx store.

It would be somewhat scurrilous for me to accuse ‘Impact’ of dishonest journalism without a modicum of textual analysis. Here then, is a good example from September’s issue.

‘The sight of so many people enjoying the Test Match in the sunshine at Trent Bridge and on the big screen at Wollaton Park countered the outrageous slur broadcast by a Channel 4 programme last month that Rottingham-on-Trent is somehow the ‘second worst place to live in the UK’. Former England bowler Angus Fraser was quoted in the Evening Post as saying: “Rottingham-on-trent is not somewhere you dread, it’s somewhere you look forward to coming to”, while Australian fan Fiona Sellar said: ”Rottingham-on-trent is beautiful. In fact, I’d like to live here.” Not only is Rottingham-on-trent great for cricket, it’s also great for gardens and parks, according to an hour-long Gardener’s World Special on the city which went out on BBC 2 a few days after the Channel 4 programme’

I saw the T.V program, entitled ‘The worst places to live in the U.K’. It based its assessment on crime figures, house prices and poverty statistics. Impact based its retort on the opinion of a man who probably didn't stray very far from the idyllic setting of Trent Bridge cricket ground. They also used the somewhat dubious testimony of a pissed up Australian fan. Not the most convincing of arguments, but when you have a captive readership, objective reporting is by no means a necessity.

I love Nottingham’s parks and gardens, especially the gloriously over the top Memorial garden that lies about 5 minutes walk from my house. I would enjoy them a whole if they weren’t infested by crack whores who sit around on the grass yelling ‘business!’ to passers by, or those chavic youths who drive round on their mini motos at all hours, tearing up the grass and making a dreadful racket. Some slightly moronic chap wrote in to the Sun Newspaper a while back saying ‘what happened to the Britain of my youth where kids were safe to play in the streets?, now you are afraid to let them out because of all the pedophiles’ (No, I didn’t make that up, I half wish I had). Frankly, I would rather the little blighters stayed in their respective dwellings. Instead, they hang around on street corners, trying to get people to buy them cider from the corner shop and riding their motorbikes up and down the street. Perhaps the answer to this chaos is to spread a rumor that a large number of child molesters are being ‘re-housed in my neighborhood’.

Another thing that annoys me about Impact, and most of the literature produced by the council, is the general insistence on describing Rottingham-on-Trent as ‘diverse’ in every other sentence. The typical piece reads ‘welcome to the diverse city of Rottingham, a European city bursting with cultural diversity, where all the citizens are diverse and there is something for everyone. There has to be another way of saying that the city has a large number of ethnic minorities – or ‘wogs’ as my white-supremacist grandma would describe them. I like living in a multicultural city, but do we have to keep harping on about it the whole time?, its beginning to look like desperation.

One interesting thing did come out of the last issue of ‘Impact’. I noticed a staggering similarity between the last Area Managers Meeting and the Nazi Nuremberg rallies of the 1930’s. By way of illustration, here is a photo comparison. Coincidence?, I think not. Now where’s my P-45?.

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