Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bought Power

I don't know whether Gordon Brown has bullied anyone who worked for him.I suspect that the head of the Anti-Bullying Helpline had her own, politically-motivated reasons for breaking the confidentiality of those who reported him. But her lack of professionalism and the Government's protestations that they have a stringent anti-bullying policy at Number 10 doesn't mean it didn't happen. Employers have policies for everything. They're like the recorded voice outside Greyfriars Bus Station in Northampton warning people to use the stairwells or the subways to reach the station rather than crossing where the buses turn. People still cross the road with gay abandon but if one of them gets killed Stagecoach can defend itself in court by saying they were warned.

We've all seen bullying in the workplace. Many people have been a victim of it, including your esteemed author. And most people don't report it because they know that their lives will be made more difficult by their employer if they do, particularly if someone in the management hierarchy is the person doing the bullying. They will become a target, a figure of suspicion. And since no one has really left the culture of the Seventies behind, at work, they'll be typecaste as a troublemaker.Somebody who wants to bring the empire down.

And the investigator will be somebody who talks daily with the subject of the complaint, attends meetings with him or her, goes on training with him or her. They may fool themselves that they're impartial (some wouldn't bother with such manifest self-deception), but they can't be. It's in their interest anyway to defend the system that has given them their power.

What I can't understand, whether it be Gordon Brown (if the charges made against him are true) or the manager of some provincial office, is how a bully can live with him or herself knowing that they can only get away with the humiliations that they force on other people because those people need their jobs. Because they have to feed their children; keep a roof over their heads. That in any other situation, the power that they abuse would have no meaning and the same victim would push them in a mud puddle or walk away laughing and not give their would-be bully another thought. At least the hard man in the pub knows that people tremble everywhere he goes.

Friday, February 19, 2010

What's Worse, Bull-Headedness Or Grease?

The Dalai Lama meets Obama.
Charmer faced with perfect charmer.
The words expressed could be no finer.
Not one of them will upset China.

Advice To Friends Who Not Being Buddhists Anyway Will Probably Not Listen (I Definitely Wouldn't, Damn Snipe-Nosed Hippie)

Eternity found Mao Tse-Tung
Beneath a heap of karmic dung.
And soldiers doing what he told 'em
Got brown eternities, not golden.
So don't let nuts and vipers ruin
What you've spent aeons slowly doin!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

True Living

Everybody should try a fast run downhill over Victorian cobbles on a tea tray at least once in their life, but watch out for little dogs. And try not to get anybody but you arrested.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Excuse Me? Department

A Christian woman I know told me I had seizures from time to time because God and the Devil are fighting for possession of my soul.

Blimey, maybe I should stop taking the tablets and just go to church on Sunday.


Just one decimal point. That's all we got it wrong by. It's not 54% of teenage girls who are pregnant in some areas, it's 5.4%. So what? One little decimal point. Why do you Tory-baiters get hung up on such piffle?

Says George Osborne, who will probably be the next Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Monday, February 15, 2010

We May Not Need To Despair Just Yet

I have been hugely reassured by the kindness and the friendship I've been shown since I made the unavoidable decision to resign the other week. Treachery and bullshit are a major problem where money and power are concerned, but selfless consideration of others is still a heck of a lot stronger.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Frank Serpico Today

Fascinating footage of SUFFOLK PUNCH'S hero, the real Frank Serpico, as he is in 2010. Watch, then visit his blog

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Freedom My Hairy A***

This is not a free country. Not in any meaningful sense. You are free to walk down some streets without getting shot or raped, and in theory the police can't enter your home and drag you away to be tortured and imprisoned without reasonable cause. But you can't say what you honestly think about something, in most cases, without having the financial interests that run the country falling on you from a great height. Look at the number of people who have been sacked or disciplined by their employer for grumbling about their job on Facebook or MySpace. Look at the number of unofficial gagging orders put down in workplaces across the country when an employee has fallen foul of the bosses, and left. It's made clear to everyone who still works there that if they say anything about the problems their colleague has had, they will be sacked. And then it happens, though frequently another pretext is found for removing them; and it doesn't matter how ridiculous the pretext is, of course, because since the Thatcher revolution employees have no rights anyway.

I have even seen a manager warn employees still on her books not to attend a party given in the honour of a man who left after a run-in with her. Some went anyway, of course, and some of those irreducibly independent people are still in the job, but for how long that will be I don't know. She nurses a grudge like a suckling baby.

These are the Gradgrinds identified by Dickens in one of his books, the dour, unimaginative, middle-level folk who accumulate wealth and position by standing on the heads of those who in more communitarian times might have been their brothers and sisters. For those above the Gradgrinds it's just about the money. Issues of justice, morality and liberty are pure sentimentality. Your freedom, as far as they're concerned, is having a job. Being able to afford food so your children don't starve. Being able to heat your house for three hours a day during the worst of the winter snowfall. That's what you get and you should be grateful for it.

They need more freedom and luxury to motivate them to create the wealth you are given the merest portion of because they are a higher order of being than you. Dionysian, actually, and you'd better believe it.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Why He Walked

I walked out on my job today. I haven't done anything like that for fifteen years but I had no choice. The bullying and intimidation had got too bad. Everybody working in a McCarthyite atmosphere of paranoia and suspicion. Every mistake punished by disciplinary measures from the employer. Nobody dared shit without asking permission anymore because they knew their livelihood might depend on it.

Mine is gone now. I have a few quid in the bank to tide me over. I think I can last three months, if I'm careful. And then, if I haven't been able to find another job, I should be able to claim some benefits.

Oh, how I wish it hadn't come to this. But what can you do when the steel door goes down in your mind and you know that it won't open up again for anything except clean air, new horizons, people who aren't on the almightiest power trip in the history of poison bastards?