Friday, 30 November 2012

Escape Route Blocked

Thursday: Kicking My Heels

I checked out of my hotel at eight o'clock on Thursday morning and lugged laptop and suit carrier over to the principal Circle of Hell in London. We spent a couple of hours slicing and dicing server costs before we headed over to the client offices. The aim was to meet up and attempt to get clarity on the key information they needed that woudl allow them to make a decision on our proposal. It is fair to say that the meeting was close to a complete waste of time. The client CIO obviously isn't that familiar with IT outsourcing and needs to be hand held through the pricing. After demanding this he returned to his usual activity of moaning about the service we are providing. As we walked away from the meeting we analysed his comments and determined that he was creating merry hell about support at a site that is not covered by our contract. All he has to do is sign the relevant paperwork and we can give him what he wants. Fundamentally the guy is playing hardball with us but doesn't really have particularly good ammunition. The CSE and I have decided that from here on in we will be taking a much firmer approach with him as he is basically a lightweight, moaning bag of shite.

We headed back to the Circle of Hell, lunched and kicked our heels for a couple of hours before the remaining members of the Sales Team headed out for another session with the Client. I was not required and the CSE said that I may as well head back up to Worcestershire. This entailed a quick Tube ride across to Paddington where the Departures Boards carried ominous messages. The recent rains had caused flooding between Didcot and Oxford and there were a number of delays and cancellations. The advice was to take whatever train I could get to Oxford and then pick up a local train onwards to Evesham. I joined the rush for the next train and spent the next hour stood in the Buffet Car in a train filled beyond capacity. At Oxford it was a twenty minute wait and then again I joined the jostle and squeezed myself, along with several hundred other commuters, in to a three carriage "bus on rails". I was fortunate, found a seat and within an hour was being collected by 30% from the Station.

It was lovely to be home.

Friday: If I'm not careful this could get messy!

I had hoped that Friday would be a quiet day as I was supposed to be disengaging from this latest project due to budgetary constraints. However the CSE likes to have me around and insisted that I made myself available for the following week. He wasn't particularly clear on why I was needed and stuttered something about a possible client meeting ...

... sometimes I feel like a Security Blanket for the Sales Guys!

This morning there was a moment of clarity when it became apparent that they Sales Team and Account Senior Executive advised that they would like to re-work the entire server services solution and price by next Friday. I pointed out that there was no way on earth that this could be completed in time especially as I was on holiday for two days at the back end of next week. I gave them an outline of what I saw as achievable, challenging but achievable, and luckily got their agreement. As a result a significant chunk of my day was spent getting things lined up for a hectic few days next week.

The net result of this was that instead of having a slack day with plenty of time to potter I managed to squeeze in a walk around the Three Miler but spent the rest of the day in front of the lap top. It was gone six by the time I sealed the flap on the expenses claim envelope and put it ready for posting...

... an evening of vegetation followed.

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Hanging Around

After yesterday’s less than successful presentation session, the Team regrouped at one of the London Circles of Hell and we spent the morning shuffling the numbers and throwing them on to PowerPoint slides.

A little after lunch the Senior Execs headed back out to the Client’s Offices to persuade them that we had provided them with an offer they cannot refuse.

If I am honest I spent most of the day kicking my heels and, apart from answering the occasional question*, my most productive activity was when I took a coffee order and headed over to Starbucks.**

As four o’clock approached I had already attained the “knocking off” mind set when a member of the team was called by the Senior Execs. We were all to remain in the War Room as there were a number of activities that needed to be completed in advance of a meeting tomorrow …

… Oh Joy! We spent a happy couple of hours responding to further client questions where we basically tried to say “yes” whilst not exposing ourselves to anything that will cost more money.

 I eventually made my escape at seven and retired to a Thames side bar for a quick G&T before wandering back to the hotel for supper and an evening of TV and bag packing.
* I also knocked up a quick info-graphic slide for the Aussie Exec showing her Geographic range and in-scope countries which was all of ten minutes work with Google Maps and MS Paint.
** I managed to cock that up and came back short by one Cappuccino.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

I vant to be alone ...

After eleven hours sat in a crowded conference room the last thing I wanted to do was to decamp to a restaurant with the same group of people for a “team event”. Unfortunately I found myself wandering up Regent Street in the early evening to spend an unspecified number of hours in an even more cramped restaurant and be frustrated attempting to hone in on one conversation amongst a babble of voices.

I hastily pulled together a plan to stop off at the restaurant have a quick G&T, make excuses, leave and head back to the hotel for room service and an evening of solitude. Unfortunately that was never going to happen and I ended up sat next to my Sales Executive and opposite the Client’s EMEA CIO. Salvation was at my right hand provided by an Australian Exec and we spent much of the evening swapping stories and anecdotes. The Aussie was also my “get out” as she was understandably suffering from Jet Lag so when she decided to retire early I made my excuses and shared a cab with her and the Singapore Exec back to the Team Hotel.

To be honest the working day had been interesting. The presentations had been delivered effectively but it was apparent from very early in the day that the EMEA Client was not a fan and was going to do his best to pick holes in everything we had to say. He didn’t let facts or the responsibilities and failings of his own organisation get in the way of his criticism either. As the working day came to a close he set out his stall and informed us that there was no way that he could put our proposal or price in front of his Management team. This was an interesting position to take as he is responsible for a “Geography” and this is a Global Deal. The Global CIO and CTO seem far more aligned with what we were proposing. If the Global CIO decides to proceed the EMEA CIO would have painted himself in to a corner with his local Business Team, the Global Client Organisation and us as a Supplier. I wandered away from his stroppy positioning wondering why he would take such a resolute position that would be so difficult to recover from ….

… it was only later that I discovered that he is a Contractor and therefore has no real investment with the Client.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Catching Up

It is Monday evening and I have finally found a few minutes to jot down the comings and goings of the past three days.

Saturday morning was filled by working my way down an enormous “to do” list. It started with a trip in to Redditch to drop TP off for his voluntary work at the Charity Shop. I then filled up with Diesel and headed over to Alcester to collect some timber that I had ordered ten days ago. This was when my plans started to go awry. The chap at the Builders Merchant wasn’t familiar with my order so I was asked to wander around the warehouse in a search for the goods. We eventually located the timber and at this point I will quote the warehouseman; “if that is premier quality I’d hate to see their lower grades of timber”…

… it is fair to say that I politely declined to accept the timber and left somewhat frustrated at having waited ten days for nothing. I then drove out to Chippy Ian’s house and dropped off the cash we owed for the installation of the fire back. I then headed back towards home stopping off at the Feed Store to pick up some Layers Pellets.

This had taken the bulk of the morning and there was just time to walk T&M whilst 30% returned to Redditch to pick up TP. The weather was vile and the dogs and I were thoroughly soaked by the time we got back home. I had just about towelled them off as the remaining family members walked in through the door.

In the afternoon I took things at a gentler pace and managed a healthy snooze on the sofa. The second half of the day wasn’t entirely unproductive and I eventually wandered in to the Dining Room and made an elm spacing disk to pad out the door handle and stop the damned thing rattling. I appreciate that this seems almost inconsequential but this is one of those countless tiny tasks that need to be completed as we head towards the point where paint can get applied to the walls.

Sunday morning was an early start as TP was playing with the Under 17’s squad in a league match North of Birmingham. He was playing out on the Wing on a sodden pitch and it is fair to say that he didn’t really see much action. The heavy going meant that it was very much a Forwards match as the slippery conditions meant that the Backs were never going to demonstrate feats of agility and pace.  To be fair it was actually quite a good game and although we lost we held up well against a strong opposition especially as nearly half of our team was comprised of Under 16’s.

While I was spectating 30% called to let me know that our cellar had flooded. Basically the heavy rains over the past few weeks have raised the water table and it has seeped through the cellar floor over night. This was nothing too disastrous as it was only a couple of inches and having had this happen once before all white goods are raised on a course of bricks above the stone flags. There was no damage done but it did mean that 30% had a fun morning pumping the water in to buckets and carrying it up and out of the house. It is fair to say that when we got home she was absolutely shattered.

The afternoon saw me complete the regular walk around the Three Miler and then 30%’s Mum and Dad paid a visit and we spent the afternoon chatting, drinking coffee and sampling a very nice Banana and Chocolate Chip Tea Bread.

As the evening drew to a close I found myself packing a suit carrier as most of next week will be spent in London hopefully persuading a Client that they should continue to patronise Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell as their chosen supplier of IT Services. 

Time for an early night I think.

Monday started way too early as 30% kindly dropped me at Evesham Station in time for the ten to seven train. By ten o’clock I was drinking coffee in one of the London Circles of Hell and I remained in the same room for the next nine hours reviewing PowerPoint slides and preparing for the client meetings tomorrow.

It wasn’t as arduous as it sounds as the American Executive has a VERY relaxed approach to the sessions that will be held tomorrow. Personally I would have spent more time on some dry runs but I have to admit that his approach is infectious and I can honestly say that I am far more relaxed about a client presentation than I would normally be.

We ended up dining together at the Swan Inn on the South Bank of the Thames along side the Globe Theatre. A G&T, a steak dinner and some decent conversation followed by a wander back to the hotel under the gaze of St Pauls.

I’ve had worse days.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Off to see the "Head"

Friday was slower that yesterday but I had to remain chained to the desk just in case. A badly scheduled set of work and personal meetings meant that I didn't have time to walk T&M today. Fortunately 30% had a day off work and took them for a run around the football field. By the look of Tyson she had spent most of that session diving in the goal mouth as she came back plastered with a rich red mud.

Although I needed to be close to a phone and laptop all day I did have free rein to wander about the house and managed to clear spare timber and tools from the Dining Room. I also finally mixed and applied the heat proof concrete behind the fire back which allowed me to tick another job off the to do list.

In the early afternoon I closed down my laptop and 30% and I headed over to school for a meeting with TP's head master and English Teacher. This year there has been quite a furore in the Press following a decision to mark English papers more aggressively and TP has been an unfortunate bystander to this decision ...

... his papers were marked and he and a dozen of his peers all attained the necessary grades. Unfortunately the rest of his class were required to repeat a number of controlled assessments. The net result of this situation is that, since September, TP and his 12 mates have been sidelined whilst the teacher concentrated on the rest of the class. We first raised our concerns over the  lack of tuition more than a month ago but the word of reassurance we received were just that; "words" and matters came to a head when a number of the students complained to the Head Master that they were not being taught. This resulted in a "behind the scenes" set of meetings and one of the outcomes was TP's teacher sidelining his cohort and clearly pointing out to them that "they should not have gone to the head master and she has the teaching degree and therefore know best". It is fair to say that we were not best impressed so spent a hour with the Head and the English Teacher making clear that leaving a dozen Top Set students to their own devices for two months was not acceptable and neither was an admonishment when they made it clear that they wanted to be taught. We also made it very clear that when we are told matters are in hand we expect matters to be "in hand" and not, as it appeared, that they just carried on as normal.

The day finished with a trip over to Warwick Arts Centre to see Kevin Bridges stand up show.  I have to be honest and say that I wasn't really looking forward to the gig. We have been to Warwick many times in the recent few months and I am becoming a little bored with the whole event; the drive, the hanging around in the foyer with the smell of burnt panini arising from the cafe, the wait for the show to start, listening to a number of tracks from the Performers i-Tunes library. It is all getting a little "samey" and a piss poor, instantly forgettable, Australian support act did nothing to improve my mood. We wandered out and kicked our heels people watching for the mandated twenty minute interval and then returned for Bridges set ...

... I am delighted to say that he turned my jaded mood completely around with a very funny series of anecdotes and topical material delivered with a Glaswegian twist and perspective. It was a great night with a performance that reminded me of why I love going to see live comedy. I am still bored with the "Warwick Arts Centre experience" but I really enjoyed the show.  A definite 8/10.

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Long Lunch

It was another fairly quiet day and, after a boring ninety minute 'phone call with a Sales Executive, I trundled over to collect Band Man Senior and we spent a few hours chatting and taking lunch together.  I dropped him back at home in the early afternoon and returned to walk T&M in the rapidly fading light.

That pretty much sums up my day. In the early evening I had to pop out and pick up TP from a neighbouring village. He had rung earlier in the day to advise that school was closing early due to a fear of flooding and he was going to spend the afternoon at his mates' house. The rain came down heavily as we driving home and I have to say that the drops were absolutely enormous and so heavy that full beam could not be used as the rain just reflected it back in to the car. The last time I saw raindrops like these was during a tropical storm in Southern Mexico more than twelve years ago.

 That was my day, on the work front I still think that we are disorganised in terms of what we are to present to the client next week but I am not going to worry about that. We have a couple of rehearsal sessions on Monday and I am sure we will think of something to say.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

More of the same

It will probably come as no surprise to learn that today was spent reviewing PowerPoint slides and answering questions raised by the Client. Apparently it has become my role to take minutes and convert Executive scrawl in to polished prose. I was not best impressed at landing these jobs as we do have a team member specifically in place to perform those duties ...

... Lets call him John, "Hello John, what are you doing today". "Hello bad man, I'm sat out on the verandah drinking a Pimms. Do you know, I've a terrible mole problem out on the Southern Lawn at the moment"

That pretty much sums up John. He is a delightful chap, beautifully spoken with a splendid turn of phrase from a bygone age, but as a Bid Manager he is a complete waste of space. I have worked with him ... well I say worked, what I really mean that we have been assigned on the same deals a number of times and I have yet to see him do anything worthwhile and if he does do something it is usually wrong.

The first time I encountered him we were discussing a unit rate on an opportunity and I mentioned that the number looked totally wrong and seemed to be a pricing problem. He told me that couldn't be so. I did what any "newby" would do and ignored him and looked in to how this number had been developed. Surprise, Surprise! The Pricer advised that he had taken annual costs and converted them in to a monthly rate thereby producing a price twelve times higher than it should be.

From that point forward he has dithered around the far edges of my projects doing the bare minimum and taking a healthy bonus when they get signed. On rare occasions I have worked with proper bid managers that actually know what they are doing and they are an absolute boon. They really do take the weight and leave you to concentrate on the important elements. They will act as your chaser, your  compiler or your  event organiser and do it far better than you can because that is all they do. They are not responsible for delivering anything they simply collate and arrange. I am seriously considering becoming a bid manager when I get too old to perform my current role.

I will say one more thing about dear old John. On the reviews last week I noticed that one of the slides had a comment assigned to it. I clicked on the flag and noticed that it was one I made early in 2011. The lazy old sod had been repeatedly using the same deck on deal after deal and had never bothered to review and delete irrelevant and possible confusing information.

Talk about a quality product.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012


Today the work on the PowerPoint presentation continued and, if I am totally honest, I threw together a simple set of six slides and passed them out for review while I got on with more important things like tidying up in the dining room and preparing for the application of heat proof concrete behind the fire back.

After lunch I attended the daily call where my slides were discussed ...

... sort of ! There was no actual critique. In fact there was no real discussion of any sort other than an acknowledgement that they existed. What the discussion revolved around was the slides that didn't exist. Our slides need an Executive Summary and Introduction up at the front and a presentation of the Financials at the back. My stuff sits in the middle. These slides need to be drafted by the Sales Executive and the Account Executive with support from the Pricer. As the call progressed it became apparent that the Account Executive was totally overwhelmed by the amount of work she had on her plate and had absolutely no intention of drafting anything. It was clear that all she had time for was a review of slides drafted by someone else. I did what any good citizen would do and kept my mouth shut and let this discussion pan out. To be blunt, I had been the only person on the team that had actually stuck their neck out proposed some ideas and developed a draft of the material that I needed to present.  There was no fucking way that I was going to volunteer to draft slides for subjects about which I know little and for people that don't seem to be particularly concerned about organising their time to get  this work completed.

I have reached that nirvana state that is neatly summed up by the phrase bollocks to them!.

 Away from work it was 30%'s brothers 30th birthday today so we joined him, his girlfriend, parents and sister for a couple of drinks and watched them eat dinner. The reason for this peculiar arrangement was that TP had rugby practice at a nearby pitch and the timing of dinner and rugby antics meant that a) TP could not attend and b) there was insufficient time for us to eat dinner before we needed to collect TP. As a result we stayed as long as we could and ended up absolutely famished watching them tuck in to fine fare whilst we needed to get home before our supper could be had.
* My favourite TLA. SEP : Someone Else's Problem.

Monday, 19 November 2012

The Weak Link

Monday came and went from a working perspective. Next week I will be up in London as part of the team presenting our recently developed proposal to the Client. I am sure that will be great fun as the draft agenda had me stood up for an hour when I really only have twenty minutes of material at best and that includes a couple of jokes that wouldn't sit well in mixed company. The agenda also had me presenting the Financials which is a bit like asking a brick layer to carry out the re-wiring of your home ...

... definitely not my area of expertise. As a result much of today has been spent thinking about PowerPoint presentations, story boarding and whom will present what.

As is usual on this deal, the Sales Executive isn't exactly leading from the front and it is down to me to come up with the ideas so that he can agree and then I get left to knock them in to shape.*

This is the point where we both get a little worried as neither of us have a detailed knowledge of the Client or the services that are currently being delivered. We therefore see the exiting Account and Delivery Leads as having a key role in providing the detail and selling this extension of services ...

... and that is where nagging doubts start to surface. One of them manages to turn up for meetings and calls but is a bit waffly and seems slow to grasp what we are doing and where we are coming from but that is fantastic compared to the other one who is, at best, late for meetings but more usually just doesn't turn up, cannot manage their e-mail so has to be told which mails must be read and I am becoming a little suspicious that she actually uses illness or extreme business to avoid any significant involvement in our current project. I might be doing her a disservice ...

... but I doubt it.
* and we all know how hard it is to polish a turd.**
** but apparently it is possible to sprinkle them with glitter!

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Hat Trick

I woke at a horrible hour on Sunday morning and couldn't get back to sleep. As we needed to be up and about very early this morning I bit the bullet and rose a little before six and used coffee to ease my way in to the day. An hour or so later I "encouraged" 30% from her slumbers and we were out of the house a full twenty minutes before eight o'clock...

... The reason for this early start was that TP needed to be picked up following yesterday evening's party and then ferried across the county to the rugby club where one of the Wingers needed a lift to an away match at a club North of Coventry. We arrived at the ground shortly before ten after spending two hours in the car that should have been spent somewhere betwixt bedroom and the kitchen.

I don't like away matches as they have a tendency to knacker up my Sundays. The take away the opportunity to walk the dogs while TP warms up for a home match and consequently an "away day" just becomes rugby, a dog walk and preparation for the working week ahead.

As eleven o'clock neared 30% and I wandered up to the touch line and acknowledged that the summer sun on our faces was a pleasant experience. The lads gathered on the pitch and the match started. After last week's fiasco TP's team seemed to be making a reasonably job of things and within a matter of minutes TP was passed the ball close to the line and took it over for the first try of the game, a good omen perhaps? Over the next forty minutes TP's team kept the ball in their opponents half for the majority of the time and ended the first half with a commanding lead having only lost concentration once when the opposition got a well deserved five points. The second half continued in the same vein and TP added a further two tries to his tally and the final score was 53:5. The lads played an outstanding game and came away with a well deserved win. There is still room for improvement in a couple of areas but it definitely made it worth the very early start.

We got home a little after two and following lunch I took T&M for a walk and then crashed on the sofa for a hour or so before a spell of gently pottering in the Dining Room where further pieces of trim and architrave were shaped and fitted.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Getting on with Things

Before I make a start on Saturday's comings and goings I'll give a quick recount of Friday night's stand up session at Warwick Arts Centre ...

... it was great. I found it quite difficult to put my finger on why I found Alan Davies so funny but I think it comes down to the fact that whilst he is a well known TV personality he hasn't really performed a stand up routine on television for many, many years. As a consequence you have had no real exposure, or over exposure, to his material or delivery and his routine was therefore both a surprise and a delight. I won't put any "spoilers" in this brief review but to hear Jonathan Creek describing the removal of Thai Love Beads as a fine balance between starting the lawn mower and removing a Guinea Worm by winding it on to a stick had me in stitches. It was a fun night out and very refreshing to see Davies out doing what he is so good at. Definitely 8.5/10.

Having covered Friday night I'll amble in to Saturday. There is no point in rushing as it is the weekend after all...

... After yesterday's rapid sorting and packing of the half pig the fridge still seemed to contain a mountain of pork and I spent the first half of the morning cubing a shoulder joint for future casseroles. I also seemed to have bought a pig with two heads so the next job was to remove the cheeks and start another batch of Guanciale. Having finished that I was left looking at a huge pile of bones so the final task of the morning was to roast the bones and then drag out the Jam Kettle and some vegetables to make a cauldron of pork stock.

It was close to midday by the time 30% returned from dropping TP off in Redditch and a tour of various grocery stores. We lunched together and I then took T&M out for a walk whilst she attempted to clear the decks.

Saturday's DIY task was to cut and fix the oak quadrant around the hearth stone in the Dining Room. It sounds straightforward but nothing in the Dining Room is either square or level so each piece had to be planed to ensure it didn't sit "proud" towards the back of the stone. There is no such thing as a five minute job at The Pile.

Having finished that I actually took a few minutes to just do nothing before I was careering around the lanes of the Vale of Evesham taking TP and friend; Nathan to a party. I hurried home for 30%'s Lamb Pilaf which went down well with Pinky who had joined us for supper and an evening of chat.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Chuck it and run

Today is the day on which our Proposal needs to be polished completed and delivered to the client. I would like to say that this was just a simple matter of hitting a spell check button and then saving and sending but this has been a disorganised activity from the very first day and the two hour review call of our Proposal document suggested that our American Leaders really needed another couple of days to get their act together. The call also demonstrated that whatever our reservations are here in Europe the Americans were going to do their usual trick of just saying "yes" to everything. This opportunity has one of two possible destinations; nowhere or a complete new world of pain.

Theoretically I will be rid of it in two weeks time once we have presented our Proposal to the Client but I have a nagging doubt ...

... a couple of days back I mentioned that our Sales team have run out of budget and, as a result, I will need to be redeployed to other opportunities. Well, as I have already dipped my toes in to this one, I could find my escape a little more difficult than I expect it to be.

The working day was not particularly arduous. The most significant task was obtaining a couple of approvals from two very Senior Daemons. A carefully crafted email with reassuring phrasing took care of that and the rest of the day was spent tying up loose ends or listening to bullshitting Americans who clearly know not what they are doing.

At five o'clock sharp I closed down the laptop and headed out to pick up half a pig from Kathy H-R. This had to be hastily sorted and packed for the freezer as this evening we are out to see Alan Davies' Life is Hell tour at Warwick Arts Centre.

Expect a brief review and tales of butchery tomorrow.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Jumping Through Hoops

Today we have the final reviews that need to be passed before we can issue our Proposal and price to the client. The reviews are focused on the price and financials so much of the day has been spent answering questions asked by the Pricer and Sales Executive. In all honesty this is not an arduous task, I just need to be available and provide support and guidance where necessary. The same is true of the reviews, a couple of minutes are allocated for me to give a brief overview of the approved solution before I say "any questions", pause briefly and then hand over to the next Presenter.

The reviews went well considering that the profit is not as high as we would like and there were plenty of "we will have to fix that in the next round" type comments as the Approvals were sort of given. I say "sort of" as it was apparent that there was a huge amount of uncertainty over who could actually approve the release. The summation was therefore that the Proposal sort of looked OK ish but someone needed to go away and talk to a few Senior Daemons and hopefully one of them would have the appropriate trident of Power and would be willing to roar "APPROVED, RELEASE".

Is it me or does this look half-arsed?

I checked my in-box later in the evening and it looks like I too have fallen foul of the lack of clarity on the necessary approvals and will have to chase a couple of Executives first thing tomorrow morning.

Away from work I have finally managed to get the Dining Room refurbishment moving again and found time to cut and mount the cornice on the cupboard in the few spare moments today.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Interesting Times ?

Today was taken at a much more leisurely pace and, to be quite honest, I had a really easy time. A status report was knocked up and presented, a few calls were attended and opinions/facts given and arrangements were made to get approval to spend a week up in London at the end of the month. All in all it was a much needed lull after the preceding few stormy weeks.

At one point in the day IM called for a chat. He asked how things were going and to be honest whenever IM asks for a chat that is my first thought too; Where is this going? ...

... To cut a long story short it appears that the Sales Team have run out of budget and are no longer able to afford, and therefore procure, our services. As a result I am to continue working on my current project to the end of the month and then disengage. Other colleagues are in a similar position and there is a high degree of uncertainty over what we will be doing in to the new year, and perhaps beyond. IM listed a few possibilities which ranged from the impossible (work as a Subject Matter Idiot*) to the most undesirable (work within an Account Team in a similar but lesser role**).

Hopefully there will be a supporting role on some of the other projects that are running but the realist in me knows that they are under similar budgetary constraints and are cutting costs too. I know it could be far worse as my job is secure and this is a classic "funny money" situation that is a result of  internal accounting and cost pools procedures.

Fundamentally it looks like Dante's are about to redeploy me away from working on new business opportunities. The main reason behind this is because our rather Psychopathic Sales Director Daemon has spunked most of his budget*** by insisting that many of my colleagues spend all week in the most expensive city in the UK rather than working from their nearest Circles of Hell where they don't accrue a thousand pounds per week of travel and hotel expenses.

As is says at the top of the page, I appear to be living in Interesting Times but I am guessing that they are nowhere near as interesting as those of the Directors I work under.
* I come from a Contract and Project Management background rather than a Technical discipline and consequently am most unsuited to this activity
** I have played that game before and left it two years ago to take on my current role. I have no desire to go back to it.
*** it has also been slashed in the final quarter of the year. One wonders if that is because he has failed to win much in the current year.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Planning my escape

I woke early and took advantage of this to get ahead in the game…

… I had originally been asked to spend three days in London this week, however yesterday it had been agreed that I could return home today but I had a couple of hefty deliverables to produce first. I was therefore showered and checked out by quarter past six and was walking in to the Office at quarter to seven in the morning.

Today was much like yesterday; the same faces in the same war room chewing over the same “facts”. The light relief over the past two days has been provided by a colleague who I have worked with on several occasions but have never met before yesterday. She shares a similar view to me on the state of this project and we have a common interest outside work in that we both own Standard Poodles we therefore provided moral support and doggy diversions to each other on what is a really shitty deal on an Account that appears to be staffed by complete incompetents.

The main decision of any value today was that we will recommend that this deal be progressed by the Account Team should future work be required after the current round of fun. This will come as a bit of a shock to the Account Team as they think we are in this for the long journey but there is little, if any, profit to be had and a huge amount of hassle and pain making any progress, Fundamentally this can be summed up by the following thought directed at the Account Exec; “ If you don’t like what I have done why don’t you just fuck right off and do it yourself? Oh, I forgot, you don’t actually have the ability do you!”

 I made my escape from the Office shortly after five o'clock and made the six twenty two back towards Evesham. 30% picked me up from the station and by nine o'clock I was getting myself on the outside of a home made beef curry and a glass of red ...

... Simple pleasures after two very long days.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Some Things Never Change

Monday started early as I needed to be down in London for a couple of days to tie up some of the many loose ends that are left after the rushed job of knocking up the latest project.

30% kindly ran me in to Evesham for the ten to seven train and by nine forty five I was walking through the revolving doors of one of the London Circles of Hell. It was a long day stuck in a war room poring over the project costs. I have to be honest and say much of the activity was a complete waste of time as the number at the end of the day was incredibly similar to the one we started with. Fundamentally, for every estimate that we found was too high we found another that was too low or missed and the numbers wavered around the same point all day long. The only benefit to this exercise was that the Sales Executive now has a clearer understanding of the numbers and can no longer moan at me to “scrub cost”.

I eventually made my escape a little after seven and was ensconced in a hotel in Swiss Cottage a little before eight. I spent the evening in the company of a fine band of fellow Daemons who also use this watering hole and dinner, drinks and war stories were shared before I retired for a fairly early night.

The main irritation of the day was not the cost scrubbing exercise but the call I received while I was sat in Standard Class somewhere in the vicinity of Reading.  "Hello bad man" went the call, "Can you let me have the address of the circle of Hell as I have never been there before". I was a little indignant at getting this request as a) I know where the Office is but don't actually know the address, I just leave Southwark Tube Station and walk there and b) I'm not the meeting arranger, just some poor sucker that has been dragged from their pit way too early to tramp up to London. Cursing under my breath I Googled the address and sent it as a text message. Later in the day it transpired that the Requestor actually had a fucking smart phone and could have done all of this herself ...

... Lazy fucking cow!*
*If this was my first contact with this individual I might have been somewhat more forgiving but over the past few weeks I have found her to be one of the most lack lustre individuals I have ever encountered.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Getting Back to Normal

As I have now got  my arse in to gear and reopened the Journal I suppose I had better recount Sunday's activities ...

... The morning started like most Sundays with 30% dropping TP off at the Rugby Club whilst I walked T&M around the Three Miler. The walk takes about an hour which gave me sufficient time to grab a quick cup of coffee and a change of clothes before we returned to the club for the eleven o'clock kick off. After last week's fantastic game we were hoping for great things but unfortunately this was not to be.

After the match Sunday panned out pretty much as expected. It was busier than I had hoped but a lot better than the previous weekend which I had spent chained to the laptop. After lunch we popped over to see Bad Man Senior and Step Mum Sue. This was one of those multipurpose visits that included the giving of Birthday presents to TP, the drinking of tea and exchange of gossip and the need to provide some muscle as BMS had decided that one of his garden ornaments needed to be moved for aesthetic purposes. Unfortunately the ornament was not a lightweight Gnome but a many hundred pound staddle stone.* TP and I managed to heft the monster to it’s new home and it now sits in clear view of the house.

Once back home TP and I scurried off to the garage as he needed some assistance with his Resistant Materials Project. He plans to make an electric Ukulele and the body will be made from a piece of salvaged teak. This was way over size so we spent a good while running it through the Planer Thicknesser to get to the right thickness.

Having completed that I then spent less time that I really should have filling in a template describing my achievements over the past twelve months. This is the nightmare that is Dante’s staff appraisal process and I did a quick and dirty job working on the assumption that if they have promoted me they must think that my performance over the past year must have been reasonably up to scratch.

I was then finally able to wander in to the Dining Room and potter. I spent a happy couple of hours finishing off the skirting boards and fixing the upper frame of the cupboard in to place. Next on the list is to finish off the trim around the hearth stone and complete the heatproof concrete infill behind the fire back.

It was lovely to have my life back after a hectic few weeks. I know that the next two or three will also be busy but nothing like the past fortnight.
* a large, two piece stone “mushroom”. Many years ago sever of these would have been used as a base for hay ricks. They lift the rick off the ground away form the damp and the mushroom shape of the staddle stone prevents rats and mice form gaining access to the rick.

The Missing Fortnight

I would have liked to have used the title "I aint dead yet" but, I have already done so  twenty four hours after sampling my first attempt at air dried ham. Unlike Scobi I do try for a modicum of originality in my Journal titles so I am left with the very accurate header I have scrawled at the top today

The main reason for my lack of diaristic output has been work which has been incredibly busy. On the occasions that I have managed to step away from the laptop the last thing I have wanted to do was think or type so I have either been walking the dogs or watching television. 30% summed things up quite nicely the other evening when she said "we shouldn't have to work so hard at our age".

Fundamentally, the latest project can be summed up with the old adage "you cant fit a quart in a pint pot". Basically I have been asked to complete a set task and have been given nowhere near the required amount of time to do it and to make matters worse I have been allocated insufficient Subject Matter Idiots to do the job. One can then add in a Salesman that refuses to acknowledge reality and an Account Team that add huge costs in to my solution with one hand and then beat me with the other for being way too expensive. There is a phrase that sums them all up quite nicely and that phrase is ...

... What a bunch of [insert suitable expletive here]*

By Luck I have managed to pull the various strands together and get them through Dante's arduous review process and this weekend I point blank refused to do any further work on the damned thing after spending most of the last one pulling together death by PowerPoint for the final review that took place on Friday 9th November.

I have therefore managed to get back to some degree of normality which was lucky as yesterday was TP's sixteenth birthday and we celebrated with some fine dining at the Bridge in Bidford-on-Avon.

To be honest, apart from work, very little else has been completed. I managed to extract the most recent leg of pork from the salt and that is now hanging in the garage and on the DIY  front my brand new Morticer has sat on the work bench waiting to be set up since arriving ten days ago. I did manage to get the Fire Surround screwed to the wall yesterday and the final two lengths of skirting were also fixed in place. I also watched TP play rugby last Sunday where his team put in a cracking performance and came away with a one point victory after playing a fantastic match. TP had a great game playing at inside centre and managed to put one over the line in a game that went to the wire with a penalty in the last few minutes giving his team the win.

There is another match today and I am afraid I will have to sit at the laptop again his afternoon to type up my performance appraisal notes as they are officially overdue!

* I'd go with "cunts" every time.