26 April 2018 (Thursday) - Reflections on Management

I spent much of today thinking of times and people long gone, and being grateful I’m not the boss any more. It was all sparked of when my piss boiled as I listened to the radio this morning.

When I first started working in blood tests (in 1981) the boss was a senior chief medical laboratory scientific officer. When I moved hospital in 1984 there was another of those running the show in the place I moved to. When he retired his successor was a biomedical scientist grade 4. He was succeeded by a head biomedical scientist. I'm currently under the command of one of those.
For all that I've had trivial gripes with some of them over the years, they have all been people who know what is going on in the workplace. The clue is in the job title. They are senior people who have worked up through the profession they manage, and who know the job. You could go to any one of them with a professional problem and they would have the experience to deal with whatever issue might have arisen.

However during the 1990s there was a dodgy few years when the numero uno honcho was a "business manager" (!) Knowing nothing about the actual job, they were professional managers who would fart around in an office whilst those who got their hands dirty were actually running the show.
Dear old Gary was my first. He was someone we laughed at. He clearly didn't know his bum from a hole in the ground, and he would cover up his utter lack of knowledge of the department he claimed to manage by spouting endless meaningless management catch-phrases.
He was replaced by someone equally clueless who whenever faced with a workplace problem would use his catch-phrase of “I don’t do details”.
Thankfully the era of professional managers didn't last long in my world. But things would seem to be different for the water companies.

There was one such woman on the radio today. She'd been wheeled on to answer the criticism that twenty per cent of the nation's water supply vanishes into leaks. She glossed over the matter entirely and spent ten minutes wittering endlessly using words such as "contingency planning" and "fit for the future" whilst at no stage actually saying anything.
I was reminded of dear old Gary who once ordered me to a meeting at which we would decide our “strategic position” for another meeting. The fact that the outcome of this meeting for which we were planning had already been decided was a matter of the utmost indifference to him...

I was never very good as a manager. I always fell in to the trap of thinking that managing something was synonymous with running it.
After listening to the radio this morning I despair for the nation’s water supply.

25 April 2018 (Wednesday) - Early Shift

I *really* hurt when I staggered out of my pit this morning. I must have over-done the gardening yesterday. Mind you that stone bench and those concrete cores were probably just a bit too heavy for me to have moved on my own.
Over brekkie I watched last week's episode of "Gotham" (it was rather good) then wasted ten minutes trying to find what the puppy had done with my shoe before setting off to work.

As I drove the pundits on the radio were telling how the child Alfie Evans’ parents have been given the right to appeal the decision not to let their child ​be taken to Italy. Much as I feel sorry for the boy, having read up on the matter, he seems to have irreversible brain damage and will never have anything approaching a normal life. Is it right to keep him alive? I wish questions like this were a lot more straight-forward than they are.
Purely for myself, I've made it quite clear that if I am ever in that state I want my plug pulling. The pulling of Alfie's plug is not my decision (for which I am very grateful), but those who would be responsible for me if I was ever in that state know full well that I would consider not pulling my plug in those circumstances to be an act of cruelty.

There was also talk on the radio of a young lad who is taking the Home Secretary to court. Being an immigrant himself he feels that people in his position have to wait an unreasonable length of time before the Home Office decided whether or not to give then resident status. He's taking legal steps to get the process speeded up.
In the past I have blogged ad-nauseum about how the country needs immigrant workers, but in this case the chap should shut his rattle and face being put on the next banana boat back home. I'm sorry, but the UK is bending over backwards to help all and sundry, and people who have clearly benefited from this generosity are now taking this piss by using our own legal system against us.
This is *exactly* the sort of thing that fuels the right-wing hate propaganda that so many immigrants face.

Despite the efforts of some rather terrible drivers between junctions seven and five on the M20 motorway I eventually got to work for the early shift. I hadn't been working long when I was assigned my challenge for next month's works bake-off competition. I'm in the bread and pastry category, and I've decided I'm going to have a crack at making a malt loaf.
In celebration of this I had one of the cakes that was on offer at tea time. Two hundred calories for on piddly little apple pie!!

Being on an early shift meant an early finish. As I left work I saw that the geocache not five miles from work (that had gone live half an hour after my shift started) was still unfound. An FTF beckoned. I was unlucky – I was beaten by forty minutes.

Once I got home the dogs demanded a walk; we went round the park and burned off the calories in that apple pie I had this morning. But no more - one pissy little apple pie which took less than a minute to devour took an hour to walk off.
We got home beating the rain by seconds. I went out in just a shirt, and as we came home I closed the door to the start of seriously torrential rain.
That was lucky.

"er indoors TM" will be home soon. I hope she’s in a “cooking my dinner” mood. She’s got eight hundred calories to play with; which sounds a *lot* more than it actually is…

24 April 2018 (Tuesday) - Gardening

I’ve lost another pound in weight this week. Not bad. I was hoping for more, but even staying at a constant weight is better than weight gain.

As we walked the dogs this morning "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" was having a rant. Yesterday she’d stumbled across “Alfie’s Army”; a campaign set up to prolong the life of terminally ill toddler Alfie Evans. From what I can work out, Alfie Evans is incredibly ill and doctors in Liverpool wanted to turn off the life-support machines whilst the parents want to take the child to Italy where as well as the faintest hope of successful treatment, there are also religious laws preventing turning off the life-support. In fact the Italian government offered the child Italian citizenship yesterday in order to keep the life-support machine running. Apparently the Pope himself has got involved on Twitter; hoping that the child can be kept alive so more forms of treatment can be tried. The life-support was turned off last night, and the child carried on breathing unassisted overnight. The hospital’s press releases say he child is in a vegetative state with little (if any) hope of improvement.
Passions and feelings run high in this sort of case. What *do* you do for the best? On the one hand you want to keep your child alive. On the other hand you wouldn’t want to inflict needless suffering on a hopeless case. Personally I can’t help but feel I’d take the advice of medical experience.
Long before "er indoors TM" became pregnant we discussed this sort of thing at length and decided that we would not allow a child to remain suffering. Were we wrong?

With dogs walked we came home. I’d already spent the best part of an hour pulling the weeds out of the graveled areas of the garden before "Daddy’s Little Angel TM" arrived, and with no better offers for the day, I carried on gardening.
I gathered up as much rubbish as I could and went to the tip. The tip was heaving today. Had one or two people parked sensibly then twenty people could have got done in a fraction of the time. Tempers were frayed there today, and the rather stupid woman shouting at everyone to move their cars because she wanted to go really wasn’t helping. I came home via the co-op where I got lunch.

Regular readers of this drivel may recall that over the last year or so I’ve replaced broken fence posts. In doing so I’ve acquired a small collection of concrete cores. I wanted to make a feature of them; I spent a back-breaking half-hour dragging them into a pile. Not quite the feature I was hoping for, but this pile is less likely to collapse now.
I then got the pressure-washer out and scrubbed down the back yard. Pressure-washing is fun; even if it does flood everywhere.

I paused for lunch; as I scoffed a wrap and a bag of crisps (over a third of my day’s calorie allowance) I watched an episode of “The Mighty Boosh”, then got on with the garden. Over the weekend I’d potted two plants; today I wanted to put weed-proof membrane and gravel over their soil. I thought I had a *lot* more gravel than I had; gardening went on hold whilst I went on a little shopping trip.
Bags of gravel aren’t cheap. It wasn’t that long ago that they were four quid each, or three for a tenner. Today I paid nearly seven quid per bag. I also got some pansies. I like pansies; I think they are rather pretty, even if I do get stick about them. I blame the name. I’m sure they would command far more respect if they were called “double hard b*stards”.

Home again. I got membrane and shingle on to the new plants. I potted my pansies. And then I looked at potting the palm I bought yesterday. First of all I had to get rid of the dead acer. Last year I’d put membrane and shingle in its pot. That stuff is far easier to put down than take up. Getting the dead acer out of the pot took some heaving. By the time I’d got the palm in place (and membrane and shingle done) I was ready to collapse. I’ll sort the paving slabs, replace the shed curtains and jet-wash the front garden another time.

I’d been working in the garden for a shade over seven hours, and when I’d finished it looked pretty much the same as when I’d started. I *hate* gardening; you break your back just to stay still. The very early days of this blog featured the transformation of what was once a jungle into a half-way decent garden. The whole idea was that with much of the garden being shingle or water, there wouldn’t be *that* much maintenance to do. I suppose there isn’t really much. But there is still far more than I would like to do.
I ache now…