Contrary to general opinion most people that work here are generally pretty skint, Sara Beetroot who sits across from me actually keeps a spreadsheet to monitor her daily in and out goings (money, not the other sort) and if things fall in the red she pleads poverty and a bad foot and forces me to buy her tea and food. Bearing this all in mind you might be unsurprised to realise that it’s not uncommon for staff here to augment their income using other means.
There are those who choose to make jewellery from bits of old rabbit hutch and hawk them on e-bay as examples of original San bushman shaman regalia. There are those who choose to give massages with or without happy endings behind the bike sheds (yes we do have bike sheds, yes you can get behind them, no there is generally no happy ending) and there are those who take an altogether more perilous route and open up their homes to foreign students.

They say an Englishman’s home is his castle which in my case is quite accurate. My house is falling down, I have birds nesting in the ruined chimney and my porch bears a frightening resemblance to a drawbridge that has been ravaged by a marauding band of Vikings. Take all that into account though and I can heave a huge sigh of relief that what I do not have is a lost fourteen year old Columbian boy in national dress wandering round at night looking for the toilet!
The thought of having my house invaded by homesick foreign teenagers makes me want to pull my teeth out…….through my arse! Teenagers are rather like the Albanians, lazy, surly and smelly with random mood and opinion swings and a penchant for never changing their socks. Imagine all that coupled with an inability to speak our language and the need to clean up after them and make their breakfast and dinner everyday and you are starting to see how the marauding Vikings are looking like the more attractive option, not that I find blonde beardy men in armour and pointy helmets arousing I’d like to add!

So anyway I have decided to come up with some fun uses for foreign students, aside from the money of course that could make their stay with you constructive and enjoyable, for you at least.

Dress them up and fight them – for example if you have a Spaniard and a Russian staying (they tend to split up nationalities by the way) you could dress the Ivan as a bull and give Pedro a cape and some skewers, hours of fun! Bored with that then you can play Chechen insurgents…. All you need is a fur hat for each of them, some sharpened spoons and a media blackout. You could always ask for specific nationalities for a specific historical event, do you have a hankering to re-enact the battle of Stalingrad? Simply ask for a German (or Hungarian) and a Russian …..simples……

Teach them the wrong words for things – They are here to learn and learn they shall, its just funnier if you teach them that the name for a kettle is ‘Darth Vader’ and the way to ask someone the time is to say ‘please, my buttocks hurt, do you have any margarine?’

Hire them out – no, NOT for that! You could hire them out to your friends and relatives as cleaners, chimney sweeps or to play the parts of foreign child sized chess set pieces at garden parties.

Play Mind Games – hide fake body parts in the fridge and a chainsaw behind the sofa. Measure them up with a measuring tape when they arrive and start to build a coffin in the lounge. After the first day when they arrive back from school dress up as a pirate and pretend you have no idea who they are. You are only constrained by your imagination and how quickly the police can find someone to translate the 999 call and send a car round.

When I started writing this I was dead against opening my doors to students and wanted to poke fun at those who do, but the more I think about it the more uses I can find for them and the more I am warming to the idea of being paid to have a pet that I can give back when I get bored. The only sticking point, not sure Mrs. D will have the same outlook as me.


There are mornings when it’s just impossible to get out of bed, the alarm has gone off and you should be in the bathroom scraping polar bear fur from your teeth and contemplating another day of drudgery in the orifice, instead all you can do is summon just enough energy to lay there like Christopher Reeves staring up at a horse’s arse wondering why he can’t feel his feet. It happens to the best of us, not being paralysed in a fall from a horse which is less common and moderately more annoying I am of course referring to that extreme lethargy known as cant-be-arsed-itus
Whilst nine times out of ten we soldier on, claw our way from beneath the duvet and stagger on regardless there are times when it’s simply too much and the only thing to do is text in a lame excuse to your manager, turn over your pillow to hide the claggy cold patch of dribble and re-enter the land of nod, safe in the knowledge that no suspicions will be aroused and your secret will be safe.
Nearly every one of us has at some point made up a reason to be late to school or work (dentists appointment, pets circumcision, car won’t start) or to not come in at all (dentists appointment, own circumcision, car on fire with you trapped in it) and nearly all of us know when our colleagues are attempting to try and pull them wool, the art to this, and it is an art, is think big and brazen and I don’t mean Dawn French!
I have compared below some of the usual excuse suspects and replaced them with more interesting, outlandish and let’s face it eminently more believable alternatives, besides if you are going to get a reprimand and possibly end up unemployed it might as well be for something original!

‘I don’t feel well and have hardly slept’ – ‘My neighbour works at Huntingdon life sciences, his pet Macao escaped and bit me and now I am exhibiting all the early symptoms associated with a military grade small pox infection, If you own a biohazard suit I suggest you put it on.

‘My car won’t start’ – ‘3 Middle Eastern gentlemen have been seen in the vicinity of my vehicle acting suspiciously and because of my old job with the Government (I can’t talk about it) I have had to call out the bomb squad and evacuate all the houses in my street. Don’t expect me to be in contact, all mobile phones signals are about to be jammed to prevent remote detonation. If anyone with a tan comes around work looking for me you have permission to stab then in the ears with a pencil.

‘My random relative has died’ – ‘My paternal grandfather has been secretly extradited from his holiday home in Argentina to Israel to answer to a charge of mass genocide. It’s all a case of mistaken identity but as my likeness to a young Grandpappy Heinrich is apparently uncanny I have been asked to dress up as a Waffen SS Major and have a black and white photo taken with some skinny models in pyjamas for some stuffy old judge to look at. I’ll be back once the next UN War crimes tribunal has met and sorted out the confusion.

‘I have an emergency dentist appointment’ – ‘my psychiatrist has changed my lithium dose to a new miracle drug and it’s turned the voices angry. I am afraid that if I leave the house then they will have free reign and the world will end in a blaze of homemade explosive glory. Apparently the side effects wear off in five days but until then if you see me please call the police, the coastguard and the nearest vet.

Of course once your coup de main has been achieved it is advisable to maintain the illusion until you are ready to reappear. It’s no good telling your boss you have Beri Beri and have been quarantined for a week to then be spotted out that night at a local hostelry several sheets to the wind! Note: In this case you have several choices; 1) pretend you have an identical twin 2) try to convince people that alcohol is known to have rejuvenative qualities for those suffering from Beri Beri or 3) lure whomever has spotted you out to the car park under a pretence and then…. Well ok maybe that’s going a bit far.

It would have been easy to have compiled a list of the best excuses for non arrival at work but it’s already been done numerous times on the interweb so instead I thought I’d share the top REAL, yes all these are real! excuses I have either used or heard first hand.

‘On my way to work today I was chased and attacked by a pack of wild dogs’ – I know I know but its true! The unlucky individual ended up with cuts, bruises and a lost ball and had to have several days recuperating. That’ll be the last time he comes to work dressed as Scooby Doo.

‘I have been bitten by a weird escaped venomous insect and my breathing is getting shallow, I am on my way to hospital now’ – That unfortunately was me….. Its always disconcerting when the nurse calls the doctor who calls the specialist who calls the cleaner who asks the question;

‘Have you come into contact with any highly venomous tropical insects recently?’ Like I wouldn’t have mentioned it!!!

They pumped me full of antihistamine and I never found out what it was that attacked me and left the fang marks on my arm but I slept in a mosquito net for weeks.

‘I met a girl in the pub last night, we came back to mine and we are going to spend the day in bed’ – Not me unfortunately…… the gentleman in question had used up all his holiday and obviously felt that honestly was the best policy. It was and the term ‘duvet day’ was never used in the same way ever again.

‘I am trapped in my house because a local film star has died and the city is rioting, if I leave bandits might beat me to death’ – Clearly my company has an office in Bradford! This one was good for a whole week of non work. I wish they did that here every time some B list nobody died, at least Jade’s life would have had some sort of purpose then.

On that note I have warbled on enough, besides I have to leave work early today, my dog has a headache and needs to be kept under close observation in case he explodes.

I am in the unfortunate position of having a birds eye view of the car park from my desk, it’s not even the interesting corner of the car park where the ladies running team warm down at lunchtimes and the work dogging club meets, oh no I get a marvellous vista of the disabled parking spaces near the door (where not much warming down and only nominal amounts of dogging are done)
Anyway in my position of ‘Physically Impaired Monitoring Person’ or P.I.M.P I have been closely observing the ‘Handicapped or Equivalent staff’ or H.O.E.S as they like to be known. Now as most of you are aware companies like my employer love hiring people with defects not because it salves a guilty conscience or out of a sprit of togetherness and inclusivity, it’s because they get tax breaks for every Stephen Hawkins stunt double they employ and all they have to do to accommodate them is knock up a ply wood skate board ramp by the door and install a children’s toilet.
What I want to know is when being a massive fatty became a disability………….I mean these people are assigned parking spaces which are clearly designated for those with disabilities and yet all they have to do to qualify is have a big hole at one end that they shovel food into quicker than they jettison it out of the smaller hole at the other end, more laziness than disability in my opinion.
At least two of every three H.O.E.S are just basically whale sized cake eating machines and it must really piss off the quadriplegic switch board operator Richard, known to his friends as clever dick who has to squeeze his postman Pat fliddy van in between their SUVs to park. That’s not to mention the danger to life and limb (ok not limb) that being that slow moving and made of meat represents around these Megalodon food Hoovers either.

What’s that’s noise I can hear? Is it a bird, is it a plane, is it a man on the plane setting his Y fronts on fire?


It’s the chorus of the fatties, and what’s their cry?

‘We have thyroid problems, its not our fault, we have thyroid problems its not our fault’

If it were up to me, and it isn’t but if it were I would make our big boned brethren park as far away from the doors as possible. Disabled spaces by the door for those with genuine disabilities and fatty spaces at the far end of the car park for those who like their cakes, we could even set up a burger van there to furnish them with snacks for the waddle.
To conclude, if you dear reader are sat at home reading this with a coke in one hand and a subway in the other and if the last time you saw your genitals was the wrong way round in a mirror then spare us the tired thyroid line and get out there and do some exercise! As the Arabs would say I declare a FatWar on you!

If there was ever a software tool that has revolutionised the way we arrange office affairs, organise our hectic social schedules, gossip about the bloke with the massive head we saw in the coffee shop that morning and occasionally do some work, it has to be instant messaging. You know the type of thing, its like real time text message conversation with little pictures that you can use to convey your emotions which generally, in the context of work, are pretty much exclusively sad, angry and depressed repeated ad nausem at least until someone comes up with ones representing futility, lethargy and a general loss of the will to live.
Still, it has its uses, no longer do I have to wrap a hankie around my phone receiver and furtively hide under my desk to tell the blonde from down the corridor she has a rack like two puppies fighting in a sack, I can just message her and tell her. Its somehow easier this way, more personal whilst being less personal – obviously in this case you have to frame your compliment in a easily misinterpreted way lest offence be taken and the thought police called, something maybe along the lines of:

‘LOL’ ‘winky smiley’ Has anyone ever told you that the top row of that spreadsheet you just send me looks like 2 puppies fighting in a sack?? ‘LOL’ ‘winky smiley’

Using Instant messaging in the office is somewhat different from how children and paedophiles use it on the internet and lets face it, they are the only people who do, after all, I can hardly pretend to be a twelve year old girl with an unhealthy obsession for Take That and cute puppies when this time yesterday we were sat opposite each other in a meeting room arguing over some imagined budget related slight. More to the point, everyone in the office is over 16 anyway therefore rendering the old ‘lure them into your van with offers of sweeties and then chloroform them’ tactic largely ineffective although not even I would wager with the woman who does things on the phone, I have no idea of her actual job title or responsibilities aside from eating constantly but by the look of her, she’d service the whole England rugby team for a chubba chubba lolly!
Whilst the instant message has had a profound positive influence on the so many facets of work life, it does also have to be treated with a little respect. Just like the family dog can one day, and for no discernable reason, turn round and bite you on the arse – so can this. Imagine the following scenario if you will…. I have had an IM from Gary(th) asking me a stupid, frankly borderline retarded question, at the same time I am having another conversation with a friend in another office, discussing the benefits of midget farming and how we could make serious cash from breeding small people. In a moment of lost concentration I type the following in the wrong window and send it to Gary(th), instead of my Umpa Lumpa farming compadre.

‘That oxygen thief Gary(th) has just asked me the most retarded question ever, he really is depriving a village somewhere of an idiot, in China they would have injected formaldehyde into his head at birth and saved us all this arse ache’

Luckily, in this case no offence was caused as Gary(th) just assumed I knew two people in this place called Gary(th), one of them in our Peking office – small world eh! but you can see the potential for disaster that this kind of situation can create!
Something else that has caused me to run the good ship Messenger firmly aground on more than one occasion is the fact that unlike a verbal conversation there is a record of anything that finds its way across the messaging ether. Imagine we have been having a conversation about what a total dimwit my esteemed leader is and how given half the chance and a total collapse of law and order I’d love to take his laptop and firmly stuff it where the sun does not and never will shine. Ten minutes later, and with the aforementioned dimwit at my desk, you type a reply to my last statement and up flashes in all its Technicolor glory for the whole world, especially those at my desk to see the whole angry rant… Oh how we laughed, all the way to the door marked ‘Human Resources – de lousing showers ahead’
I haven’t finished this subject yet, not by a long chalk so expect more on the virtual minefield that is instant messaging sometime soon. In the mean time you all just keep LOL’ing your way through 2010.

My boss has invited me to take up the challenge of arranging our department Christmas party, when I say invited I mean ordered, I don’t get a choice – those of you that know me will realise this is about as clever as asking Myra Hindley to baby-sit. This is a ridiculously bad idea for two key reasons, firstly I don’t really like Christmas and secondly I don’t really like the majority of the witless dribbling unwashed masses I am forced to interact with at work, a recipe for festive related disaster me thinks.
The princely sum of £20 per head is available for me to blow on this soirée so an evening at the Ritz is out, incidentally the term ‘per head’ is on the conversational ban list here as it is seen as being derogatory to minorities who were born without heads and also latterly victims of Al Qaeda like that scouse bloke Ken, anyway as usual I digress.
So, I have decided to come at this from a multi faith ethnically diverse and non exclusive approach which for those of you who do not work in directorate three of the thought police (ethnic festival management) means I am going to make it as un Christmassy as humanly possible. Not for the benefit of the PLO sleeper agent in our architecture team although he will be pleased but more because its my party and I don’t like Christmas.
In Bygone years Christmas in an office environment used to be a time of long pub lunches paid for by grateful management, time to bond as a team, to buy each other presents and if your luck is in or you have a spare fiver a ten minute knee trembler in the stationary cupboard with Janet the bike from accounts, all before going home to get ready for the big gratis evening dinner dance, partners welcome.
Christmas isn’t even called Christmas anymore, the ‘Festive period’ is no longer about peace and good will to all men (sexist statement) nor is it about management making that extra effort to make staff feel appreciated and included. It’s all about making sure your dates don’t slip, projects still march inexorably forward and people who know what they are doing are on call over the holidays to assist our offshore friends. As for the knee trembler with Janet well, the stationary cupboard has been rearrnaged into a windowless office with 8 desks crammed into it and even if it wasn’t Janet and her Yule tide duties are now being carried out by someone called Ranjeet in India, at least the post it note ordering part is anyway.
All in all celebrating Corporate Christmas is crap (alliteration mega streak!) its more about making sure work isn’t effected and minority groups aren’t in some way offended, not that any of the ‘minority’ individuals I work with care, the cynical amongst us might say its our paranoid directorate three friends keeping themselves in work and I would have to agree.
All that said at least my boss will be pleased that his year and probably slightly suspicious as I have for once decided to tow the company line, embrace our mission statement and ethos and pull in the same direction as management – in other words I have arranged for our department Christmas to be at our local curry house! Pint of Kingfisher anyone?

The atmosphere in the office this week has been one of electric anticipation although unfortunately not because someone has connected up my esteemed leaders swivel chair to the mains and is running a book on how long it will be till his ears burst into flame.
We have someone from the mothership visiting to give us a shot of morale in the arm and a good kick up the arse to boot (pun intended) just in case we thought someone has started caring. This is the smiling, teeth whitened, Grecian 2000 velvet glove which encases the iron fist of day to day stalag luft management of summary executions, public beatings and forlorn, forgotten hope.
This guy looks like an extra from the Sopranos and has a name to match, Jimmy ‘The Spreadsheet’ Ravioli or something equally New Yorky and minority without being too minority. The easy manner and predatory smile of a second hand car salesman or loan shark are offset by the sort of ‘trust me’ ‘man of the people’ mannerisms that defined Tony Blair or at least would be offset if it wasn’t for the fact that Blair is about as trust worthy as a randy Necrophiliac in a Morgue and about as much of a man of the people as PolPot was the 1988 face of spec savers or Nick Griffin is going to be the next poster boy for United Colours of Benetton.
As we are all corralled like reticent sheep towards two hours of total atrophy there is a very unseemly rush and tangle of the usual arsekissers trying to secure front row seats – it reminds me of the herd of thirty something lonely fatties at my wedding clambering over each other to catch my wife’s bouquet – note: I have been married for 5 years, the sad spinster who elbowed and bit her way to bouquet triumph is still single and will remain so, forever.
Jimmy the Spreadsheet greats us all with a cheery wave and a beaming smile – he reminds me slightly of an Italian Kim Jong Ill. Any minute this guy is going to start making a pistol mime with his hands and start picking off people in the audience – pow pow pow! I have decided that if he does I am going to mime running up on stage and setting off a suicide vest – boom boom boom! – I reckon he’ll see the funny side.
The next two hours pass in a blurred mixture of management bullshit, false bonhomie, thinly veiled threats and dictat- rather like Hitler’s Reichstag speech of December 1941 but marginally warmer and cuddlier, if I wasn’t such a cynic I might even have been drawn in.
Now comes my favourite part of these events, its question time! I love this. Its rather like feeding time at a zoo for retarded animals but being compared by a convicted child molester (that might not be true) with a hand held microphone and a comb over. Some of the dribble that these people come out with, have even practised the delivery of in front of a mirror beggars belief, its like car crash T.V.!

‘Hi Jimmy, I have a question, I notice that quarter 3 earnings are up 1.2 percent on quarter 2 earnings, does this mean that soft tip fineline pens will be back in stock in our stationery cupboards?’

‘Hi Jimmy, Welcome to England, I noticed whilst stalking you online that your facebook page lists you as being interested in water sports, for a small rise in grade I will let you wee on me as much as you like….. please Jimmy, pleeeeeeease, I love you!’

Well Jimmy, I have a question to which you won’t have a down pat twee politicians answer, put this in your management pipe and smoke it!

‘Mr Ravioli, I won’t presume to address you in the familiar, I don’t know you from Adam (alarm bells have started ringing and the smile is sliding off his smug fat Wop face) Answer me this…. How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if you hadn’t made him redundant and outsourced his role to India??’

Queue red faced head explosion……..

TUX%20TAILS%20TOPHATA black armband has been donned today and my alarm clock is broadcasting sombre martial dirges as yet another great British institution crumbles to dust in front of my disbelieving eyes, I am sure you’ll agree it’s a dark day for mankind and an even darker one for Gods favourite children, the English. I am of course referring to the appearance this week, and reader I type this with tearful eyes and angrily clenches buttocks of no less than a trannie on that international recognised pillar of Englishness, University Challenge.
Don’t get me wrong I have nothing against transsexuals, cross dressing midget vicars or gender benders of any shape and size, apart from short fat hairy ones that look like a rouged Ronnie Corbett of course. For one to appear on UC though, to cross the hallowed ground and sit at the quiz desk of dreams is akin to a tramp taking a huge steamy dump at the alter of St Pauls Cathedral smack bang in the middle of Christmas Mass, to coin an old adage ‘its just not cricket old man!’
I mean seriously, whatever next – are they going to have the black and brown (white is so 1920’s) minstrels pod cast the Queen Speech via the medium of rap? Will Cheryl Cole open the Houses of Parliament next year with a live rendition of her latest puerile gibberish dressed up as a gaudy and provocative beef eater? Enough is enough.
Before this moral decline began we wouldn’t have become embroiled in unwinnable conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, for starters we OWNED both these provincial back waters and more importantly at the first size of uppity locals we’d have sent in a couple of her Majesty’s gunboats to shell the crap out of the offending Fuzzy Wuzzies and nip any trouble in the bud. Before one of my more pedantic followers points out that Afghanistan is landlocked and doesn’t lend itself to the aforementioned gun boats they can be substituted by the 41st Regiment of Foot resplendent in mutton chops (the hirsute kind not stringy lamb) and scarlet tunics ready to take the bayonet to the enemy, they don’t like it up um they don’t!

I think it boils down to this.

Bring back:
Facial hair, not for the lady obviously, this isn’t Albania.
Devilled kidneys for breakfast, gentleman’s relish and steamed suet puddings.
Sword sticks, top hats and hansom carriages (without horses, I HATE horses!)
Servile working classes who know their place, doffing of caps and curtseying.
Capital punishment, corporal punishment and anal punishment (ask your Mum)

Get rid of:
Baseball caps, velour of any kind and training shoes not actually designed for sports but for fat unemployed people.
Mens moisturiser, low fat yoghurt, butter substitutes and Alco pops designed to be consumed by fat unemployed people.
Health and Safety of any kind – that’s what Darwinism is for.
Blackberries, not the fruit, they are fine but the stupid star trek style management style communicator. Gary(th) muttered something about keeping iPhones as he read over my shoulder, I think that’s what he said anyway, its difficult to tell what with his prolapsing cleft palate and all.
Reality T.V. or even better go the whole hog and turn them into running man style gladiatorial death fests for societies bottom feeders, Davina can still present……
The poor, the annoying, the poor and annoying, the habitually unemployed and anyone from North of the River Cam.

God Bless the Queen.