Optimist of the week – or possibly the year.

In a slight deviation from the usual 'Wanker of the Week', today I thought I'd venture into new territory and explore the sparkly, happy territory of the terminally optimistic, the folk who despite the fact that the waters of shit creek are up to their knees and rising fast, refuse to break out the canoe and man the oars because hey, things really aren't that bad are they?

And so I bring you:


Baroness Ford, the woman in charge of 'The legacy of the 2012 London Olympics', a job equal in stature and prospects as that of Gordon Brown's PR manager and Cherie Blair's wardrobe assistant. By rights she should be milking her expenses in anticipation of being unceremoniously fired when it inevitably turns out that £9bn of tax payers money has been pissed up the wall and we've been left with a fortnight's worth of boring athletics and a large yet useless stadium, a la 'Millenium Dome', however the Baroness has chosen to go down the route of blind optimism leaving me unable to decide whether she's a naturally sunny individual or a halfwit.

Apparently we were always going to be left with a 'world class stadium' but what she has done is 'opened the book around the other kind of value we can add to this stadium'. Nope. I've no idea what she's on about either.

The stadium was going to be scaled down from 80,000 to 25,000 seats after the games but the Baroness, in conjunction with Tessa Jowell (who holds the prestigious title of Olympics Minister and who is clearly depriving a village somewhere of its idiot as long as she remains in Westminster) have decided that the stadium should remain inordinately large in case 'we win the world cup bid'. Marvellous thinking ladies, I shall be stocking up on 12 ft chandeliers and butlers in case 'I win the Euromillions'. According to the Baroness 'Tessa and I agree that it is more important that we have a stadium built as an attraction'. Now leaving aside the fact that if Tessa Jowell agreed it was a good idea it's a fair sign that it's a shit idea, a stadium isn't an attraction in itself unless is is 2000 years old. People don't visit Old Trafford because they like a big round building with some seats inside, they come because they are interested in Manchester United. A concept that has gone flying past Tessa and the Baroness like an Aston Martin overtaking a Robin Reliant.

She would also like to create a permanent Olympic museum with a sporting hall of fame, an idea that is wildly optimistic given that we are absolutely shite at sport, or at the sports anyone gives a toss about anyway. We do ok in the equestrian events and the sailing, the ones that no one who doesn't ride or sail can name a single competitor in. Occasionally we have a decent swimmer but we're going to struggle to fill a whole Hall of Fame with 3 people. Oh, and I think we might be ok at cycling. Hardly a display of gargantuan sporting prowess.

I think however that my personal favourite comment from the Baroness would be her thoughts on the future of the Olympic park, "I think it will become a bit like Central Park in New York – beloved of New Yorkers but also a fantastic magnet for visitors to the city". Absolutely, I can see everyone in London trailing themselves to the arsehole of the East End in order to sit in a park overshadowed by a socking great stadium, which will no doubt be unused and crumbling as no one in business (the people they are hoping will take on this place when the games are finished) really requires an 80,000 seater stadium. After all, there's a reason why offices have roofs and what the hell else can you do with an 80,000 stadium other than kit it out with phones use it as an al-fresco call centre? Central Park is popular because it is, erm, Central. And it's huge. And it's the only decent sized green space in the city. It's also not managed by a British local authority which means it has facilities that work and isn't knee deep in litter, dog shit and park keepers who bollock you if you have a camera in your hand on the off chance that you might be a pervert.  

So, Baroness Ford, optimist with flair and vision or overpaid halfwit who has been put in charge of a giant white elephant because no one else was willing to pick up the poisoned chalice? You decide….. 

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This week – legendarily bad.

I've just noticed that I've been away from here for quite a while. That's because I went to Perpignan for week and was going to tell all the lucky people out there about my holiday but then this week happened and it all went out of the window. This time last week I'd just got back from holiday but it feels like about 4 million years ago. So, what went tits up this week? I'll tell you….

Swine Flu

Up until Monday our office had managed to remain swine flu free. An estimator had had a suspected case but had stayed at home and all had been well. N, my colleague who is 2 offices down from me had just got back from Spainand was on his first day back. As I walked past, he was sat at his desk coughing, looking like 17 different shades of shit and sweating like a cheese in the sunshine. As I walk past he informs me that his daughter has just got over swine flu and he thinks he might have it because he feels really ill and woke up in the night with a raging temperature. WHAT? And despite this you brought your germ ridden arse into the office to share your vile plague with the rest of us? Are you fucking nuts? Don't get me wrong, I'm as against skiving as the next person but for fuck's sakes, if you've got the goddamed plague stay at home you gormless pillock because I've no wish to get it. At 11am he decided that he had to go home and proceeded to cough all over his hands then leave the office, touching every doorrelease button and door handle on the way out. Well done that man, clearly cross-infection is a term he is not familiar with. I spent the rest of the day opening doors with my sleeve over my hand and trying not to breathe in as I walked past his office. Bloody plague-carrier. In the middle ages prats like him were responsible for wiping out entire villages and if I now get swine flu I'm going to make it my personal mission to piss on the rest of his year.


The main problem with N being off work is that I then got the urgent bits of his work to deal with, including the preparation for the massive site audit that his site had on Thursday. Normally this wouldn't have been a problem but I'd remembered at the weekend that I had an exam this morning and so had been planning to spend the week doing fuck all work, just reading the earth-shatteringly dull file on 'Environmental management' that I needed for the exam. Let's just say that my revision was minimal. So I get to this morning and start looking up bits and pieces ready for the exam that starts at noon, in the hope that the extra 3 hours of revision before the exam will get me through. Only the computer screen freezes up completely. So I get the IT department out to tel me why, expectnig it to be just  little problem,only it's not, the problem is that the hard drive is, to use a technical term, utterly fucked. And my password and login to access the exam that I now can't get at is stored in an email I now can't read. Splendid. Just what I needed. The IT guy scrabbles around for a while and eventually manages toget me the laptop that I'm typing this on, the oldest, slowest, grubbiest laptop I've ever seen. Seriously, each key is grey with dirt except for a little black bit on the top where fingers have hit them and you have to very carefully and very firmly press each key in order to make it function. The space bar only works sporadically. The M key has to be hit with the force usually used to remove the eyes of assailants in order to use it and Microsoft Explorer keeps experiencing a problem and having to close. 

On the plus side, a friend of mine has just bought the house that a little while ago me and Mr Vicola were looking at.His surveyor has come up with a couple more problems than we spotted, such as the fact that the front and back elevations need rebuilding, the roof is buggered and the granny flat/ extension breaches a covenant in the deeds and will most likely have to be flattened. As well as the fact that the most effective way of dealing with the interior would be to use napalm and then rebuild. 2 words – lucky escape. Perhaps there is someone looking out for me up there after all…. 

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Once again I find myself having to deal with the useless sacks of merde that are the DVLA. The reason is this:

My parents own a nursing home and so they had a Peugeot 307 that was a motability car for three years. At the end of this 3 years they had the option to buy the Peugeot so they did, and passed it on to me in return for me passing my Harlot Scarlet Fiesta on to my brother. Which all sounds relatively simple but of course a change of owner means dealing with the DVLA and as we all know, they don't do simple.

The tax disc on the Peugeot said disabled so after a long conversation with the DVLA monkey in Swansea, it was ascertained that I had to change the tax disc because I'm not disabled. Fair enough. So off I trundle to the Post Office with my new keepers slip (not the registration documents because they take 300 years or so to process apparently), the insurance documents and the MOT certificate. I pass them to the man in the Post Office and he looks at me blankly then asks me for an 'exemption certificate'. No idea what that is so he explains that to get a new disabled tax disc I need an exemption certificate. I explain to him that I don't want to new disabled tax disc, I want a not-disabled tax disc. He then tells me I can't do that because the new keepers slip has the car down as tax classification 'disabled' and so I can't retax it until either the new documents come in or I've been to the DVLA office in person to re-licence the car and until that point I must take it off the road. Resisting the urge to ask how the fuck I get to the DVLA office if I've had to take the car off the road I stomp out of the post office to ring the DVLA monkeys again. Who confirm that yes, I do need to come to their office to relicence the car and buy a tax disc and no, it's not a good idea to attempt to do the whole thing by post. And yes, by strange coincidence the DVLA office is only open during the exact same hours I'm meant to be in work. Fucking great, so now I have to book a half day holiday because despite the fact that we can put a man in space and can track virtually anyone on the planet wherever they may go, the DVLA is entirely incapable of operating online and still requires an office full of pen-pushers armed with biros.

So I set off to find the DVLA office. After much swearing and wrong turning I eventually find the bastard building and joy of joys, there's only 20 parking spaces which are all full apart from a tiny looking three quarter space that no one has dared attempt to enter. I decide to take the chance and begin my manoeuvre. Turns out, the car park was rather smaller and more badly designed than I had first thought because soon I'm wedged between someone else's car and some sort of rusty looking metal post. After ten minutes of desperately trying to get out of this jam I lose my temper and reverse back as hard as I can, flattening the post and denting the car bumper. Take that you bastard article. Despite the dent which I clearly don't have the money to get fixed, I feel a small sense of satisfaction looking at the post, which is now lying under my newly parked car. I smirk at it for a moment or so then head off into the office where I discover exactly why the public sector is so bloated.

The system in there is this: First you go to 'check in', where you explain your motor related issue to one of the 5 bored looking people chewing a biro behind a desk. There is quite a queue for check in because none of the staff are exactly exerting themselves and half the people in the queue don't speak any English. Once I'd spoken to a check in person who had filled in some bits of a form I was sent to a little desk with instructions to fill in my details and then take my form to the 'Preparation helpdesk' to ensure that I'd done it properly.  My issue with that is this: If you are too stupid to fill in a simple form correctly then clearly you should not be left in charge of nearly a tonne of moving metal. If however the form is so complicated that it requires a trained operative to ensure that it's filled in correctly then surely the form should be simplified because it's overly complex. Anyway, once the bored looking man with BO had checked my form was correct and that I had managed to accurately remember what my name was and fill it in, then it was off to 'check out' where a raft of people sat waiting to pay for things while 7 or 8 DVLA staff sat behind perspex screens doing fuck all and staring at the ceiling fan because they weren't allowed to actually take any payment and get people the hell out of there until the automated voice had called out a ticket number. God forbid that any of them should rebel and just get on with some work without being told exactly when to do it, democracy may crumble around our ears and the 4 horsemen of the apocalypse may arrive. Assuming they can find a parking space of course. Eventually my number is called and I am able to leave my seat and the fascination of watching the nits in the hair of the man sat next to me moving about. I pay my money, am issued with a tax disc and off I go.

Now can anyone tell me why that needs to be so god-damned complicated? Because I can't figure it out at all.  

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