Blogathon 18/20: Recruitment consultants need help

I had a call from a recruitment consultant this morning.

Now then, contrary to popular belief, I’m not the kind of guy who loads up the 12-bore shitometer and gives people both barrels of shit at point blank range for no good reason…

And I didn’t do that this morning, either.

Even though I should have.

The RecCons in question (no names to spare embarrassment but she works for a company that boasts they are – and I quote – Serious about talent) started asking me about a contract I worked on in 2011.

That’s nine years ago.

As the RecCons continued to not get the point of me saying I haven’t worked in that industry (doing much the same job that I do now, but her take on this was industry-specific), it became obvious she was a new employee and trying to find her feet.

So I uncocked both barrels of the shitometer and put it down and tried, patiently, to explain to her that my knowledge of that industry was nine years out of date.

So then she asked who I answered to on that project.

Wut?

There are times when I can’t remember who I spoke to nine minutes ago. The chances of me remembering who I worked for nine years ago (for context, that was eight employments ago because at that time I was a contractor, living on three-month gigs which sometimes extended and sometimes didn’t) are slimmer than Rizzla paper.

I explained this to her.

So then she started asking how I got into ‘that industry’ – painfully showing she hadn’t appreciated that a contractor in my role works in many different industries over the course of their professional life.

So this is my point…

If I were a RecCons I would at least make sure I understood the difference between permanent employees in a specific industry and contractors who float between many different employer-types.

That’s what I would do.

Wouldn’t you?

Still, she had a very pleasant telephone manner, so there’s that.

Blogathon 17/20: No, it’s my BBC

Because I do like to appear as if I am both an irascible old git yet, in complete contradiction, a kind and considerate human being…

So, all this furore about the BBCs financial future and a shift to subscription funding and other nonsense?

Yes, I do see the point that people are making about:

  1. The woefully inadequate performance of BBC News and Current Affairs over the last five years
  2. The wholly awful performance of almost everybody who has operated under the BBC Comedy banner over the last ten years, and
  3. The wilfully one-sided positioning of the BBC in times of politically ground-breaking moments (simple hint: if someone says it’s snowing outside, it’s not your job to get someone on to disagree with them, it’s your job to get your wellies on and go and see if it is actually snowing, and where it may be snowing, and check how that snow may affect people in the whole country, not just in the little London bubble which the BBC seems to inhabit. This is of course an illustrative argument which you could apply to lying politicians or lying politicians or lying politicians).

But for all of the very many faults that the BBC has, funding the BBC must continue to come from the public purse, and must never become an elective source of income.

You wouldn’t, for example, say ‘I don’t use schools (or education, or roads, or hospitals)’ so I’m not going to pay for them.

That’s not how public-services are funded.

And again, for all its faults, the BBC is a public service.

Which is why I strongly feel that the licence fee *should* be abolished, and the BBC should be directly funded out of public taxation.

That way, not paying the licence fee can be decriminalised, meaning all those nice licence-fee chasers at Capita can find something else to do with their time.

And the courts don’t have to deal with non-payers.

And everyone funds the BBC (if they pay tax).

This is a win.

Of course the BBC needs drastic and urgent reform, but the very first step on the ladder is to fix the funding model.

When that’s done, we need to remove political interference.

And then remove the threat of funding caps.

And then make political journalism the sharp-toothed thing that it needs to be.

Only then can the BBC be re-orientated into the kind of public service broadcaster that it needs to be.

Blogathon 16/20: Trapped!

Storm Dave (whatever) together with Nottinghamshire County Council have been conspiring.

You see, the lane that runs through it is the only road into/out of the village.

So when Nottinghamshire County Council decided to close the road so they can resurface (read: scrape the old surface off, lay new surface, paint new white lines etc), they cunningly decided to do the northern end of the lane first, and the southern end of the lane last.

That’s clever, yes?

That means that the people affected by this work can just use the end that isn’t being worked on, yes?

No.

And it’s a very hard no.

Storm Dave (whatever) has thrown so much water down, that the end of the lane that isn’t being worked on right now is closed. Due to flooding.

And it’s serious flooding.

It’s ‘evacuate your homes and camp out in the leisure centre’ kind of flooding.

Fortunately we’re not affected by this because our little bit of the village is about 150′ above the flooding, on a little hill.

Now I’m not saying that the lane shouldn’t be resurfaced because it should. It has so many huge potholes it’s a serious hazard to all kinds of traffic.

The lane has suffered from decades of neglect and from years of unsatisfactory repairs by ‘surface dressing’ (each attempt at ‘surface dressing’ having failed to cure the problem which, of course, was a lack of proper resurfacing in the first place).

And I’m not saying that giving people an alternate in/out route while the surface is being properly fixed is a bad thing, because, obviously, people shouldn’t be left marooned in their homes due to roadworks.

What I am wondering, though, is why it seems to be beyond the wit and wisdom of man (or Nottinghamshire County Council in this instance) to split the work across the north/south lanes of the road?

You know, do the entire east side first, thereby allowing traffic to use the west lane for north/south ingress/egress (traffic-light controlled, obviously).

And then, when that’s finished, do the opposite side, and control ingress/egress through the same temporary traffic-light system.

Because that way you automatically build contingency into your roadworks.

And Robert’s your Mother’s brother.

Except he isn’t. Not in Nottinghamshire County Council, it would seem.

Anyway, the bit down the bottom end of the village with the serious flooding?

There are several houses down there still empty from the last lot of flooding.

It’s a proper low-lying bit of countryside.

And the local authority wants to build up to 2,000 new homes down there.

So that’s OK then.

Blogathon 15/20: What’s in a name?

After Storm Ciabatta (whatever) a few days ago, I find that today we are deep into Storm Dave (whatever).

I quite like the alphabetical storm-naming convention, but I think The Powers That Be could do with looking at where they choose their names from.

I mean, Ciabatta and Dave aren’t names that convey meaning or menace, are they?

Ciabatta, that’s a lump of bread, yes? And Dave, that’s a TV station dedicated to showing Red Dwarf, yes?

So instead of the next one being Storm Ectoplasm, or Storm Eggplant, or Storm Earwig, TPTB should choose something with an air of menace, to convey to the Great British People that Storms Are Very Dangerous.

As alternatives to the soft, namby-pamby names that have been used so far this year, I would like to offer Storm Executioner, or Storm Eliminator, or Storm EffortlesslyKillsEverythingInItsPath.

Names like these should stop things like this happening, yes?

Blogathon 14/20: VD

Today is one of those very special days.

If it wasn’t for days like this the entire greeting card and florist industry would collapse

Yes, it is Valentine’s Day (or VD for short).

In the Customer Service Centre (the building that the many, many teams of customer support operators work), messages of affection were delivered by one of the staff dressed like cupid.

Some messages were signed, some were anonymous.

Awwww…

They used to do that at school too; a whole internal post system suddenly popped up to convey messages between pupils who, ordinarily, would avoid speaking to each other.

Or so I liked to think.

Pauses for thought.

In these days of social media, I’m a bit surprised at the Cupid service in the CSC.

I would have thought most people would give someone a poke on FB or somesuch.

Blogathon 13/20: Sex Education

Netflix is streaming a multi-season programme called Sex Education.

The programme revolves around a magnificently socially awkward high school student and, erm, sex.

Not so much his, as that of almost everyone else around him.

I have enjoyed S1, and despite a couple of flat-spots, I enjoyed S2 too.

It’s a bit of an odd show. It ‘feels’ not British (though it unquestionably is); there’s just something about the High School that is a touch… transatlantic.

I enjoy the characters (Maeve is a delightfully rebellious personality), and I love the stunning locations (largely shot in the Wye valley, and it’s good to revisit, through the lens, places I frequented when I was much younger).

I also enjoy the way the show broaches sex, sexuality, and sexual behaviour. It tackles all of these things in a matter-of-fact, non-preachy way.

But the single thing I enjoy most about it (apart from the locations – so good to see Tintern and Llandogo looking so pretty!) is the way pupil relationships at school are portrayed.

And when I say ‘relationships’, I mean that in the broadest sense of the word.

Even if someone isn’t in your crowd/gang/clique, that someone is known. And is spoken to (even if slightly disparagingly).

S/he is an actual person.

I like this because when I was at secondary school (we didn’t call it High School back then) that isn’t what happened.

We might have known the names of fellow pupils from registration, but we didn’t know them well enough to speak to.

Or maybe it wasn’t even ‘well enough’, we just didn’t want to speak to them because they were unknown?

Whatever the rationale was, we just didn’t have the same kind of ‘soft’ relationship that the pupils in Sex Education do.

I really hope the programme is accurate in this one aspect more than all of the others.

It would be good to know that today’s teens are being more adult towards each other than we managed to achieve.

Blogathon 12/20: Pregnant bitches and the mutt’s nuts

Robyn has had her first ‘season’ (bless).

Apart from this being an indicator that our little girl is growing up, it was also a sign that she wasn’t very happy.

She had a tough time of it, and was very uncomfortable for several weeks.

So we discussed her situation (the family – Robyn isn’t much of one for discussions. Cuddles and hugs, yes. Discussions, not so much) and decided to get her ‘done’.

The veterinary surgeon we are registered with does a simple laparoscopic operation, rather than the more drastic ‘cut ’em open, take bits out and stitch ’em up again’ procedure.

We like this school of thought.

So a few weeks ago we trundled off to the vet for a pre-op inspection and guess what? Robyn is having a phantom pregnancy.

She can’t have the operation while her body thinks she’s pregnant, so we set it back a month.

The trouble is that young Chewie’s reproductive urges are starting to wake up.

So there’s a very real chance that Robyn could get actually pregnant, instead of phantomly pregnant. Or pregnant with phantoms. Or whatever.

So we booked Chewie in to get ‘done’ (which actually means ‘castrated’), to stop Robyn getting cheggers preggers.

And then I foolishly started reading up on dog castration. The final straw was an article in/on Psychology Today (Neutering Causes Behaviour Problems in Male Dogs)

To cut a long story short, we have discussed Chewie’s castration and decided that it’s not what we want for young Chewie, even though it would be a desirable contraceptive/preventative measure.

This means that we’re winging it for now, and hoping that Chewie and Robyn stay platonic friends, until we can get Robyn done.

And hopefully that will happen before she has her next season.

Blogathon 11/20: Not my BBC

The television world has changed so much in just my lifetime.

We’ve gone from two black and white TV stations on 405 lines, that began broadcasting at 4pm, barely gave an hour of children’s programming a day, and shut down at 11pm every night, and now have access to several hundred 24/7 broadcast TV stations (several in HD), and a handful of full-time streaming services.

Whether the quality of the programming is better or not… well, that’s a point based largely on public taste.

Perhaps we were less choosy in past days? And now, with so much multiple choice we’ve come to demand more high quality of what we like.

And because we have so much choice, we also choose from where we want to consume our high quality what we like.

And that’s the point: fro where we consume our television entertainment.

As a family, we don’t watch BBC TV.

Also, we don’t listen to BBC Radio.

And yet opting out of the BBC tax (aka licence fee) is more difficult than a very difficult thing.

There’s been a lot of discussion lately about whether the BBC should be funded by subscription.

Certainly the technology exists to make BBC TV a pay-per-view service.

But would that be a good move?

What about my comment above, about the viewer demanding more high quality of what they like?

I mean, if Mrs Brown’s Boys can be voted Best Comedy at the NTAs, would a BBC TV subscription service be a fast journey to the bottom of the Sea of Taste?

Does having a BBC tax licence fee protect the quality of BBCs programming?

It has strongly been argued that the quality of BBC News needs improving – a view with which I would agree.

Indeed, the very poor quality of the BBCs news and current affairs output is yet another reason why I no longer use the BBCs services.

But aside from its dire output in news and current affairs, what has the BBC ever done for us?

Well, in years gone by BBC Comedy gave us Dave Allen – a show which would be unlikely to make it to air in these sensitive times.

And Monty Python of course – a show which would definitely not make it to air these days.

And Flowery Twats Fawlty Towers – see above about not making it to air.

I could go on, but the qualitative examples of past BBC comedy have been set here, and the bar is very, very high.

These days BBC Comedy gives us Miranda (not a comedy), and Frankie Boyle’s New World Order (not a comedy), and Michael McIntyre’s Comedy Car Crash Roadshow (not a comedy).

Maybe I’ve got that wrong, perhaps I’m being a bit down on the BBCs comedic output.

Perhaps, in thirty years, consumers will look back fondly on episodes of Miranda and chuckle with mirth.

Alright, I concede that’s an unlikely event, but just for the sake of balance let’s leave that view in there.

And under the current affairs banner, the BBC used to have Panorama when it was a crusading firebrand of investigative journalism.

These days we have (and I can’t quite believe I’m saying this) Question Time.

In short, I don’t know whether a shift to subscription would be a good thing or a bad thing – either for the BBC or for the BBCs viewers.

Only posterity can judge that.

I do know that our household could save £154.50/year, and we wouldn’t miss the products or services that not paying that tax would take away from us, not miss them one bit.

Blogathon 10/20: Not getting to work (or home again)

The city of Nottingham has the River Trent (plus a couple of carnals canals) running through it.

It’s no Venice, but the Trent is very deep, fast-running, and very wide; it does give Nottingham a bit of character.

At the moment it’s a bit of character a lot of people could do without.

There are three bridges that span the Trent; one pretty far out of town, well to the West, another in the opposite direction, to the East. And there’s Clifton Bridge that is the middle bridge across the river.

The trouble is the Clifton Bridge spectacularly failed some safety checks last week, so northbound traffic is reduced to one lane. Southbound traffic has to find a different route across the Trent.

And that has meant that getting in to work in the mornings has taken up to two hours (instead of 20 minutes).

Getting home in the evenings has taken up to fourteen weeks (instead of 20 minutes).

Well, not really with the fourteen weeks; it has just seemed like it.

Apparently it’s too expensive to put another bridge over the Trent, so there’s that.

Blogathon 09/20: A hell of a blowjob!

Storm Ciabatta (whatever) is in full effect although I only know this because I took my earbuds out and looked through the patio doors.

When I walked the dogs at 6am it was just blowing, but now it’s hammering down sideways with all the aggression of an angry weather deity who hasn’t had his traditional bacon sandwich for breakfast.

One of the local FB ‘spotted’ groups has a photograph of a tent that someone found in their garden.

I don’t think there was anyone in it when it landed, Wizard of Oz style.

The 10yo is playing Fortnite which involves speaking monosyllabic words into her gamer headset whilst apparently shooting holes in the ground and beating up a jeep with a big axe.

Oh well.

Meanwhile, I have been editing.

After a significant amount of thought I have decided to change the direction that novel #2 was going in.

So I’m on a mass edit and a major rewrite, having decided to drop a character and structurally alter elements of (but not the whole) plot.

The novel has been out for consultation with various reader-types, and I have just started the submission process of talking to Literary Agents.

This rewrite doesn’t materially affect the book, but I think it will help make the story tighter, reduce the dialogue, and sharpen the overall focus.

Plus, reading the novel from the very beginning again has given me the opportunity to scrutinise every word for editability.

I’ll have to get it over to my editor soon though, before she starts sending me angry emails again.

The interesting thing is on this read-back, edit, and rewrite, is that the dialogue in my head says this isn’t a book; it reads like a film script.