Sunday, July 24, 2011

Show us yer plums!

I'm almost wondering where Summer went: the Michaelmas daisies are in bloom and already swallows are congregating on telephone lines ready for the off.

My garden is a riot. Quite literally (I suspect foxes, though the goldfinches have a guilty look about themselves). The blackcurrants and boysenberries have performed nicely and the rowan groans with fruit. Yet again the cherry disappoints, which is entirely my fault, the tree's doing its best in the circumstances. My dad's trees have provided enough fruit for every beggar and his dog for miles around and I spent part of yesterday picking for the freezer. It still looks like nobody's bothered. The plums and damsons are the same: my brother's Victoria plum is absolutely weighed down with fruit that's starting to go coppery purple and my dad's damsons are also colouring up nicely. My garden's at a higher elevation (well, I'm just up the road) so mine are usually a week or two later. It's looking like the makings of a bumper crop, so we'll be giving the jam-making kit a bit of a pacing this year.

Bad news: no figs. I think the tree needs a lot of TLC after the past two winters.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Playing the averages

I got quite cross the other day reading an article banging on about that old canard about the average public sector worker now being better off than the average private sector employee.

I get very impatient with averages. Especially when they are the mean figure for a whole host of variables that aren't self-explanatory.

The fact that the average public sector worker is better paid is scarcely surprising and owes nothing to the efficiencies of the market and the private sector's ability to keep down labour costs. It's simple, really; the public sector has been haemorrhaging low-paid jobs for the past three decades.

Most of the front-line workers; all the school caretakers and bin men and traffic wardens and street cleaners; the swimming pool attendants and men what paint the white lines down the road: they don't work for the council any more. The municipal departments that once employed them are replaced by two or three people whose job is to manage the contracts. Less than half of my colleagues at work are actually on the council payroll.

And so it will continue. With The Big Society, The Localism Bill and wholesale cuts in public sector budgets the logical end point is for each council to have outsourced all those services that have survived "we're all in it together" leaving just a chief executive and a handful of contract managers.

And the journalists will then complain that the average council employee is paid almost as much as a hack writer on a national daily.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

All gas and phasers

Every so often it really hits me that The Small Object Of Desire and myself are a pretty good fit. Like the other night...

It was the end of a very long day at work and we were both too tired to sleep or do anything other than loll around talking rubbish. Which is my default setting anyway.

"I was thinking about Derek Nimmo," she said.
Like you do.
"Except I got his name confused and kept thinking: 'Derek Nimoy'. And somehow I couldn't get the idea out of my head. Derek Nimmo as Mister Spock, with pointy ears and a dog collar. And Captain Kirk saying to him: 'What's our position Mister Spock?' and he'd say: 'Oh golly gosh.'"
I am utterly beguiled by this who idea. I can see it all now: Mervyn Johns as Captain Kirk, John Barron as a Klingon, Robertson Hare as Scotty...

The younger generation may be wondering what I am blathering on about again...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Playing to the audience

It's all very well Alan Gibbons telling a library conference that "A library without a librarian is just a room." He doesn't have to work with some of the buggers, let alone try and deliver services despite them.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Family homes

The Small Object Of Desire is settled into her new house and it's started to feel like a home (leastways, she's leaving her socks in the dining room). It's a nice Victorian terraced house; discussing it the other day we found we'd both come to the conclusion that it was like an old auntie. Much beloved and slightly disreputable in her way.

I asked what she thought of my house, which I've always seen as a barmy old uncle (perhaps projecting my own personality to the building). "Oh, it's a cheeky nephew," she said. "Its face is a bit dirty at times, but it's one of those nephews that you just have to love. You just roll yours eyes and think: 'bless'."

How nice.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Ladies, look away now

The new workplace (oh yes) has room in the gents for more than just the one lavatory bowl and a sink and it's a reminder to me of the etiquette of Office Gents'.

There are those people who will occupy a cubicle, with the door open, as they stand and have a pee. This is because they are Scared Of Somebody Seeing My Willy. Which is bad news at busy lunchtimes for those of us Scared Of Somebody Seeing Our Bottom Because We're Having To Shit In The Urinal.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Detective rules

"in all the detective stories I've read there is usually a good-looking and highly educated young officer who falls in love with a rich and beautiful girl and, after rescuing her every ten pages from a fate which is popularly supposed to be worse than death, marries her on page 366 and lives happily right up to the end cover."
— Edgar Wallace
"The House Of The Candles