Thursday, 24 February 2011

Timewasters - For Fox Sake

In London we love to build hooj vanity skyscrapers, the next one is called the Shard, it's supposed to look like a piece of broken glass, yeah. We also have the most hilarious attachment to the disneyfication of animals, even mangy foxes that live off dropped takeaways. 

A fox has been found living on the job site that's the Shard, so instead of  ignoring it until it made its own way home, the chaps saw the chance to loaf around for a couple of hours and chat to the pretty girl the newspapers sent to cover the story. So they gave the fox the name Romeo (the papers are hardly going to send Lucinda Posh-Bit down for a nameless fox are they?) and called the council, who despite having better things to spend our money on sent Les Leonard, pest control manager at Southwark Council to spend the afternoon fooling about catching the fox.

The work-shyness doesn't end there! One Barrie Hargrove, cabinet member for transport, environment and recycling at Southwark Council, felt he had nothing better to do with the time we pay him for and chipped in "Romeo has certainly been on a bit of a jaunt, and proved rather elusive, but I'm glad our pest control officers were able to help out. He's obviously a resourceful little chap, but I'm sure he's glad the adventure is over and hopefully he'll steer well clear of skyscrapers in the future."


Preparedness: NYC

My connection to recent events in New Zealand has moved preparedness to front-of-mind, instead of actually doing something to be prepared, I thought I'd take a look at a time when I was in a city that suddenly switched off and see what if any lessons could be learned.

A while back I was visiting the New York office of an English company while writing my long lost book "The Ankle Swingers of Rat-dog Land". It was getting towards the end of the afternoon. Stifling an air conditioning inspired yawn I ventured down 39 floors to the lobby in search of sugary snacks and coffee. But instead received a lesson in preparedness, and the publics response to surprise.

Thursday, August 14, 2003, at approximately 4:11 p.m

The First Signs
There were slowly increasing numbers of people standing around, checking their crackberries, and just standing, where only moments before the torrent of worker ants was relentless it was now suddenly momentum-less. I went back to the lift [elevator] where the doors were half open and a woman was about to get in, she turned to me and chirpily asked "wanna take a chance?". I don't know about you but I've been led astray my glamourous older girls before, but this time the doors didn't look like they'd ever close so I bowed-out.

The Assumptions
Meanwhile back in the lobby: the startled stop had been replaced by a belligerence that was taking its toll on the building's security staff. The chick behind the desk looked more frightened than the public.  She was using the words "we'll let you know as soon as we know" as an ever shorter stick to push back the tide of  ever more belligerent requests for information. One of her colleagues spoke to the group so Securi-chick and I got into conversation.
SBW: So I guess, no one is telling you anything and everyone is asking you for everything?
"I just don't trust them terrorists!" she confided in a note of rising panic. I have to admit I had to stifle a laugh. Surely that is the point of terrorism? But telling her that would have been counter productive. I'm an optimist by nature and optimism can be just as contagious as fear, the idea 'it's too early to tell' seemed to cheer her up. Looking out over the sheeple she agreed that panicking wasn't going to help, and I left her, good nature restored, confidently directing people to stay calm.

On the walk home I stopped off to chat with the Dry-Cleaning Guy, as usual a font of wisdom. I told him about the panic mongers working themselves into a frenzy certain of a terrorist attack. He responded with this wonderful ambiguity

"Bullshit! That's the first thing that comes out of their mouths"
He went on to sight a principle that I'm a big believer in. Offering this more likely speculation  'It'll be a blown relay in Canada"

Evil happens occasionally, incompetence is happening right now.

As we'll see in part 2 even in the worst of situations, incompetence is far more likely to get you than anything else. For the meantime I'll leave you with this sobering thought:

'Preparedness' is a process not an event

Its also a catch-all term for people from the heavily armed nut job of popular imagination to the just plain prudent - who have a water container, a first aid kit and some batteries to hand. Just because you don't feel the need for a foil-lined hat doesn't mean you wont feel the need for some batteries and a drink of water. It's worth mentioning that there aren't enough batteries or torches in the supply chain between factories and shops at any one time for everyone who needs them to buy them once the situation has started.

Just sayin'!

more soon
your pal

PS The art work is by the amazing  Christop Niemann