A cunning plan.

So, this red folder has appeared at work, it sits on a display table. The display table changes from week to week and is managed by the equalities officer (this is public sector, by the way). You never know what the display is going to be from one week to the next.

I think this week it was a display about National Inuit Dairy Produce Week. Down here in the sticks we only get the display, up at HQ in that London they get the whole shebang, and we see the emails and the links on the intranet home page. We have a picture of some woman swaddled in polar bear fur sat on a little stool milking an elephant seal, at HQ they’ll have a demonstration. ‘Please feel free to come along to the refectory/theatre at Administratum House on Wednesday afternoon for a demonstration of elephant seal milking and an eskimo ice-cream tasting session, just ask your line manager to release you, it will only take an hour and all are welcome.’ Somehow I doubt some bloke in Coleraine asking to go to London for the day to see the elephant seal milking will get the undying admiration of his line manager.

They live in a different world up in London, they have a subsidised canteen, we in the sticks have a bloke that comes round in a van with some depressing and over priced sandwiches. They have a theatre/auditorium. We’ve got a reception area.

Anyhow, this folder. It contains a printed copy of the department’s equality policy. I hadn’t seen it before the other day, so I wondered over to leaf through it and see what it was. The section about religion and belief was most enlightening. I wasn’t able to read it properly, the lack of elephant seal milking and a line manager who was likely to react well to a request to watch same meant I had work to do. I will have to study the text properly at some point, but as far as I could work out, so concerned are the department about causing even the merest milligram of offence, anything goes.

One thing we do have is a ‘multi-faith prayer and reflection room’. I think I know one member of staff who has used it in the few years we’ve been in the building. It has to be multi-faith, and has to take into account those who have no faith at all. According to the text, lack of faith is just as important as active faith, so I suppose I could go down and have a good reflect once in a while if I wanted. I’ve never been in there, but I understand there is a strategically placed arrow pointing in a certain direction. Set as it is in deepest Kent, well, this ain’t exactly Bradford. Takers are few and far between.

One thing we are absolutely not allowed to do, unsurprisingly, is smoke in the building. Indeed, we’re not even allowed to smoke on site. We have to walk off the property in order to have a gasper. Here the law of unintended consequences comes into play. You see, the building’s car park backs onto the motorway, and tucked away round the back is the bike shed. What with this being rural Kent very few people cycle to work. The bike shed is only used slightly more than the multi-faith yada yada room. The bike shed is under cover, but woe betide the poor sod who tries to have a smoke under there during one of the regular coastal squalls that blows up.

This is an organisation that is obsessed with image. However ‘Leper’s Corner’ is on the pavement out the front, where everyone can see us. There are two box style ashtray/dog end bins attached to the fence, but in a wonderful bit of public sector logic, the cleaners are not contracted to clean off-premises. Accordingly the fag bin is overflowing and dog ends litter the corner like confetti after some kind of bizarre wedding.

In the old days we had a smoking room. People who smoked would go in there, people who didn’t wouldn’t. People who smoked would sit in there doing their work whilst they smoked. Now they go outside and do nothing but make the place look untidy while they smoke.

Where am I going with this?

I had an idea after leafing through the file, I suppose you could call it divine inspiration.

Leg Iron is a proponent of using the rules against those who put them in place, and I feel a hand of victimhood poker coming on.

I think I’m about to develop a devout belief in Baccus. No, not Bacchus. Baccus, his Aboriginal American cousin.

Baccus is the God who created the tobacco plant. He came to me in a dream, and very convincing he was too. You see, hundreds and hundreds of years ago Baccus created the first tobacco seed and then sent his son to Earth to plant, germinate and nurture the seed until it grew into the first tobacco plant. But there was a problem. The land that the tobacco seed was planted in was very poor soil, and in order for the the plant to thrive, Baccus’ son, Germino, had to give his life so his earthly, mortal body could be buried under the plant to feed it. In doing so, his spirit was taken up into the plant. This means today that when we smoke, we celebrate Germino’s sacrifice, releasing his spirit back into our mortal plain as the tobacco burns. Think of it as the Father, Son and Holy Smoke.

Beautiful, isn’t it?

Baccus was telling me it is vital when we release his son’s spirit into the world that we focus completely on the action, it must be carried out in warmth and comfort, reflecting the warmth and comfort that his son brings to the world. Conversation is very important as well, the movement of the lips, tongue and larynx improves the circulation of Germino’s spiritual re-emergence. The smoking must be done thus, to smoke stood outside in discomfort is a cause of great sadness to Baccus, it is an abomination.

Therefore it is vital that a room for this observance is provided. The congregation must be seated in comfy armchairs, facing west to the lands of Virginia. The High Priest must be sat in a leather wing-back chair in front of them, dressed in a silk smoking jacket, holding the silver cigarette case of devotion. On either side in front of the High Priest’s chair must be two freestanding dress mirrors, facing away from the congregation so the High Priest’s gaze may also fall west.

There is also a litany:

High Priest: Welcome one and all, we are gathered here in the sight of Baccus for fag time.

Congregation responds: Thank Germino for that, I’m bloody gasping.

High Priest: Please, be seated. (Congregation sits. High Priest pats hits pockets) Which one of you bastards has had me lighter?

Lay member from congregation: Not me, boss. But you can borrow mine.

(At this point, if it is High Church, and the High Priest has a cigar the Lay member should respond: You shouldn’t use a lighter on a cigar, you’ll make it taste of gas.)

High Priest (having checked all pockets): Oh no, bugger me, there it was all the time. Please, spark up. Baccus, we faithful gathered here before you dutifully release your holy son’s spirit in our most devout observance.

Second lay member from congregation: Bollocks, I’ve left mine in the car.

High Priest: (Giving deep sigh and addressing youngest or newest member of the congregation) Please give your brother/sister one of your smokes, or we’ll never hear the bloody end of it.

Youngest member: For crying out loud, why is it always me?

Second lay member: It had better not be a bloody menthol or Silk Cut.

Youngest member: You’ll smoke what you’re given and be thankful. (Tosses cigarette over) And who keeps putting their cellophane in the ashtray? Cut it out won’t you? Why does nobody ever empty these bloody things? The bin’s only over there.

High Priest: Brothers, sisters, please settle down and let us enjoy our smokes in pleasant conversation.

(Smoking commences with general discussion, gossip and character assassination of that twat in IT.)

(Upon cessation.) High Priest: Thank you brothers and sisters. Let us reconvene at the next appointed moment.

Congregation: Yes, see you in a bit. Oh well, back to the bloody grind.

This to be conducted at intervals of no less than once every ninety minutes.

Now, what do you think? If we can sell this as a religion, it’ll probably be illegal under equality laws to deny the observance. Much sport would ensue.

So who’s up for being a Baccunite? Can I get a witness?

Reign of confusion.

It makes little difference to me, as far as I’m concerned they’re a private members’ club with no importance in my life. However, as they’ve decided to appoint themselves guardians of my moral and spiritual wellbeing, I’ve been trying to get a handle on the latest pronouncement from the Church of England.

Apparently, ‘a decision by the Church of England to allow gay men in civil partnerships to become bishops has prompted criticism from both liberals and traditionalists.‘ No doubt the wonderfully mediaeval laity will have something to say about this, but nevertheless, as far as I can make out, the following applies:

If you are a heterosexual male you can get married in their clubhouse, you can conduct the wedding and you can be the boss of the person conducting the wedding.

If you are a heterosexual female you can get married in their clubhouse, you can conduct the wedding, but you cannot be the boss of the person conducting the wedding.

If you are a homosexual male, you cannot get married in their clubhouse, but you can conduct the wedding and you can be the boss of the person of the person conducting the wedding.

If you are homosexual female, you cannot get married in their clubhouse, but you can conduct the wedding, however you cannot be the boss of the person conducting the wedding.

It’s all a bit screwed up, isn’t it?

If you are bi-sexual post-op transgenderist, you’ll probably cause a huge rift in the fabric of the religious/ethical continuum.

So, in summary, if there any bi-sexual, post-op transgenderists reading this, please apply to join the clerics in the CofE, just for a giggle. I’d love to see them tie themselves up in knots over that one.

Reform? Absolutely.

Just a quick one this evening, I’ve been a little busy.

I note that Francis Maude has stepped back from his calls to introduce tougher union laws.

Now, as I’ve made clear on here previously, I don’t have a lot of love for the unions, but the ballots to strike have been carried out in a perfectly democratic fashion. I don’t think it is right that a small portion (in percentage terms) of the population can hold the government to ransom, but by the same token, a parliament of around 650 regularly hold the rest of the country to ransom, and I ain’t too keen on that either.

The parallel between government and unions is an important one to draw. I understand that Maude was demanding that in order for a strike ballot to be acceptable that the union concerned would have to have at least a 50% turnout. As an aside, I think the main reason turnout wasn’t higher in this round of industrial action ballots was because the result was a foregone conclusion.

And here really is the point; that is exactly the same reason why turnouts are so poor in general, by, local authority and European elections in this country – for many constituencies and wards the result is a foregone conclusion.

So, what’s good for the goose must also be good for the gander and any calls for a 50% turnout to legitimise a union industrial action ballot must also be met with a 50% turnout threshold in any constituency or ward for that constituency or ward to return an MP, MEP or councillor.

Not only would it make the unions think a little more about how they conduct business, it would also focus the minds of the politicians a little more.

Just saying. . .

The One That Is Saying ‘Enough. Stop Now’. . .

It really does beggar belief. I can think of no pithy or salient introduction to this absolute arsewater, so let’s just jump straight in, shall we?

Police have been urged to avoid using greetings such as “evening” and “afternoon”, because the words are “somewhat subjective” and could cause confusion among those from different cultural backgrounds.

It’s the Muslims, must be, they don’t have afternoons, not proper afternoons like Christian people, their’s are probably different. And because Senior Police are so consumed with the feeling that we aren’t all just members of the public, this imaginary afternoon problem must be stamped out.

A spokesman added: “Terms such as ‘afternoon’ and ‘evening’ are somewhat subjective in meaning and can vary according to a person’s culture or nationality. In many cultures the term evening is linked to time of day when people have their main meal of the day.

“In some countries including the UK, the evening meal time is traditionally thought of as being around 5-7pm but this might be different say for a family say from America who might have their main meal earlier and thus for them ‘evening ‘ may be an earlier time.

This is just an avoidance of the old dinner/tea debate, isn’t it?

‘Hello? Is that the IPCC? This un-PC came around my gaff and accused me of having my tea, at dinner time, he thought I was common. I’m incredibly offended, I demand a five figure sum in compensation and that the officer be cast into a dark pit.’

That seems a little unlikely to me.

Confusingly, staff are also barred from using the word “homosexual”, for which they are instructed to use the term “gay”, while they are warned against using the phrase “straight”, and told to say “heterosexual”.

Right, well, that makes perfect sense then. I’m not gay and have no strong feelings on the gay/homosexual word debate, I understand that queer and poof are not well thought of, so that seems fair enough. Being straight (deep offended intake of breath) I don’t particularly care if I’m referred to as straight, heterosexual or even just hetero. I was even called a ‘Breeder’ once, I think it was supposed to be perjorative, not that it bothered me.

I’m not a breeder, by the way, I’m a civil servant. Perhaps there’s money in breeding? Perhaps I could do that instead?

Anyhow, let’s think of the chiiiiiiiiiildren:

A number of organisations, among them Essex Police and Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, now instruct staff to avoid the phrases “child, youth or youngster”.

The 52-page guide used by both organisations states that such phrases could have “connotations of inexperience, impetuosity, and unreliability or even dishonesty”. It also states that addressing someone as “boy” or “girl” “may cause offence”. Instead, officers and firemen are instructed to use the phrase “young people”.

Well now hang on a moment, if you call the nearly dead ‘old people’ the indignant whining from the Righteous reaches such a pitch that dolphins start knocking on their front doors asking them to leave it out as it’s giving them a headache. Surely this should be ‘younger people’?

Now I really am offended.

London Fire Brigade instructs its staff not to use the terms “businessmen” or “housewives”, because it says they “reinforce outdated stereotypes”.

Does that mean that a married woman who raises the kids is an outdated stereotype? What about all those men who wear those off the peg suits and sit on the train into London everyday, on their way to an office where they do God knows what, but the end result seems to be a paunch, baldness, stomach ulcers and an aneurism? Are all they outdated stereotypes as well?

This, people of non-judgemental, all perfectly equal gender is what happens when you have a phalanx of equality and diversity officers.

Mrs. Snowolf has responsibility for the disability stuff at her place of work, most of it goes right over my head, the legislation seems to be complicated in the extreme, but given the phone calls she gets from other places for her advice, she seems quite good at it.

She writes the policy, makes sure it is applied and then puts the policy on the shelf. Once in a while, the policy is reviewed to make sure it is still current. Simple. If you employ Equality and Diversity Officers once all this stuff is done, they’re left with nothing to do, so they have to dream up enemies, slights and struggles to be fought.

It’s all bullshit, no-one is going to be offended because a Police officer rolls up at 1720 and says good evening, when you consider the evening to start at 1730.

Why not spend money on fighting crime and fires rather than agonising over what part of the day it is?

Give me strength. . .