23 February 2011

A found memorial poem, being of little or no artistic merit

"It's the nasty rubbery mouth" - Pavel Konnolsky, Smolensk

In Memoriam, Lord Sir Matthew Grove 1826 - 1894

Auburn Neophyte, legate from the heath,
Stalking the benches of green and leather,
He did away with (altogether) the
Tiresome waste; the Poor's schools and teachers,
Which withered 'neath his noble features.
School funding he gave its funeral wreath.

With utmost clarity he saw, no doubt,
That only those with Pater's cash to bet
Upon themselves, and unafraid of debt
Could hope for success in the schools he'd free
Or get through University.
So wisely he kept all the others out

All rubbery, robbery, public school snobbery
It ill behoved the men who strove to mock what drove Matthew Grove

To Offices of State more wholly
Fitting to his grand demeanour,
Did this red son of Aberdeen, A
Worshipper in Scotland's Kirk,
(Turned Church of England's knighted berk)
Rise up. Thus Grove rose from work so lowly

As to become the Secretary for
Home Affairs, where at his escritoire
He drafted the Bill that gave him power
To continue in his own tradition
And close the borders, save extradition
Of those least likely to work in Britain; the Poor.

All rubbery, robbery, public school snobbery
It ill behoved the men who strove to mock what drove Sir Matthew Grove

Once more rose he to the Chancellor's desk.
His budgets outlawed those poor as a mouse,
Swept through with the full support of the House,
Legislating that only men of means,
Could make claim to be subjects of the Queen
Victoria; the beggared deemed grotesque.

He'd saved the nation from education;
Made one-way only the nation's borders,
He'd rewrote the bankers' Standing Orders,
Built England for the few not the many;
Gave chance of gain to those with plenty.
The House of Lords was his elevation.

All rubbery, robbery, public school snobbery
It ill behoves the men who strove to mock what drove Lord Sir Matthew Grove

All manner of retrogressive votage
Became his personal goal in ermine;
Against modernity he determined
To act. Whenever it raised its youthful head
He'd seek to smash it back; stop its spread -
Ever more resolutely still in dotage,

Which came quicker than one could foretell
And left the lately great politician
At the mercy of his own physician
Who, quite appalled at all Groves's doings
Treated him with peculiar brewings
And sent his Lordship down to burn in hell.

All rubbery, robbery, public school snobbery
It ill behoved the men who strove to mock what drove to devil's stove that Matthew Grove

Geoffrey Meacle Twyford - 14th March 1894

Any resemblance to any person living or dead is purely coincidental. No similarity to any person either living or dead is intended or should be inferred.

20 February 2011


Or 50 days.

This is the amount of teleport time left for graphite fully to beam through as I have explained here.

Mrs Graph and I have therefore indulged ourselves in a piece of self-indulgent nonsense so self-indulgent as to put you off your cornflakes (or any other food stuff you might be considering consuming).

Be warned; what follows is cloyingly sugary and (in case I haven't already said so - which I have) self-indulgent.

In recognition of the 50 day ETA of the alien graphite, we have drawn up a (little considered) set of 50 reasons for it to be pleased to have reached planet earth. It is not exhaustive by any means; it's just the first 50 things we thought of, okay? And it's almost certainly Eurocentric. It's just stuff we like, off the top of our heads...

Puddles; Homemade cakes; The Antiques Roadshow; Swimming in the sea; Tickling; Doctor Who; Hedgehogs; All Music; grandparents; Me; Match of the Day; Cheese sandwiches; Bicycles; Having friends; Beer; Weekends; Sunshine; Fishfingers; Trees; Books; Cinema; Doggies; Ice cream (vans); Chip shops; Art galleries; Looking out of the aeroplane window; The Guardian; Cosy fires; Camping; Blankets; Sunday morning breakfasts; Roast dinner; Granny's moussaka; Falling asleep on the beach; Curry; The noise of seagulls; Homemade soup; Staying up all night; Jigsaw puzzles; Toast; Old, damp building smells; All people (are brilliant); Rome; Laughing; Italian food; Getting home; Dog Sledding; Wine; Words; Singing.

And if you don't like it, make up your own!

14 February 2011

You Go, Baskerville! (Hugo Baskerville? Never mind...)

Well, it seems it takes just one post on a "professional" subject and one can develop quite a taste for it; so before this blog disappears under the looming cloud of graphite nappies, sleeplessness and Tommee Tippee paraphenalia, it seems to me to be important to respond to a quite stunning blog post - Sticks and Stones - by Sarah Baskerville (or @Baskers, on that there twitter).

@Baskers situation, being on the wrong end what seems to me to be some real tosh at the Daily Mail, described here as "vicious pillorying", "bullying" and "abuse" has been well rehearsed. And it's been addressed by better folk than me. So that stuff is for others. That's not why I am blogging about this today.

I'm blogging about this today, because Sarah Baskerville changed things for me, in an important way. At least on-line.

She has been a bit of an inspiration. For years and years and years "pseudograph" has been me but nameless; a place to hide. @pseudograph was so completely anonymous on twitter for a long time that some people I work with - at a distance, but people I see once a week, or once a fortnight - genuinely did not know it was me they were following until recently.

pseudograph has been me for a long, long time. It's been me here since The Origin of the Specious in July 2008; it's been me on a Sunderland message board since July 2007; it's been me on youtube since November 2006... But it's been me on the web since the mid-nineties when I chose the word to hide behind, on newsgroups such as alt.herve.villechaize.dead.dead.dead or alt.2eggs.sausage.beans.tomatoes.2toast.largetea.cheerslove.

I wasn't working in the Public Sector when I first 'graphed up'. It wasn't ever a name to hide my views behind. I was just a bit shy. They don't much care for anyone's politics on alt.herve.villechaize.dead.dead.dead. Actually, I think I may even have been the only poster on there.

If I'm honest I chose the word because I (thought I had) made it up, assuming (wrongly) that it meant 'false name' in the same way autograph doesn't mean 'self name'. Idiot.

Anyway, I stuck with it. That's not to say people didn't know it was me. Many did by 2006 onwards. But they didn't where and when I didn't want them to, and them as did seemed happy to stick with that arrangement. Which is nice.

But then Baskers changed that.

Because what happened to Sarah made me realise that I had a bloody duty to express my opinions as my opinions and to be responsible for them.

The opinions I express here, or in newsgroups, or wherever, are not those of my employers, my managers, my staff, my family, my friends or the editor of the newspaper I buy. They're mine. And I need to be responsible for them. I need not to embarrass any of those people. But I need too not to be pilloried just for having them.

So, as a public servant, I realised I had a duty to be clear who I was. I had a duty because of Baskers, and a duty to Baskers, and a duty to myself to be honest about my views, because I still have them. I hope that it's still having views - of all sorts - that makes me useful. I cannot hope to operate in any work environment without the degree of personal integrity which means I can be authentic in the workplace, and in the work that I do. Anyone who has done any kind of management studies will have read something that says management and leadership and change and staffing and stuff is all about being who you are. It's all about being authentic. Trained and qualified, professional and skilled? Of course. But bringing all of those things to bear with authenticity. The best managers and leaders in any sector, in any field (including politics) have often been those that others trust because they are true to themselves and to others, and because they are prepared to understand others, exercise some humility and learn.

And I do believe in certain things; like public service for a start.

I do believe that people and organisations learn best when they ask questions of themselves, allow thought, allow criticism, allow for challenge.

I do believe that taxation is the price we pay for a civilised society, and I do believe that local authorities should meet the challenges of transparency and accountability and should be judged by how they support the most vulnerable they are responsible for.

And I do believe in so-called "Political Correctness" (or 'common human decency' as it was taught to me by my parents).

And I am open-minded about global warming. I am an atheist.

And I am in favour of the European Union and of the Euro.

I have been an active political person in the past, and I now can't imagine belonging to a political party because they all have some interesting things to say, and some things I think of as wrong, and some degree of tribalism which I cannot any longer abide. And I have met very few politicians I didn't like; and I've met quite a few politicians.

I adopt a monkey because I believe the keeping of monkeys as pets is wrong and should be stopped. And I believe Peter Reid should have bought better when we were 7th in the Premier League the first time around. And I believe Peroni is fantastic. And bad for me.

Oh, hell, I believe all sorts of stuff, and not always for very long. I change my mind.

But I have views. They're mine; they're probably all wrong, and they're allowed.

I think @Baskers is right to fear for the hundreds of thousands of other public sector workers who are now at risk of the same "treatment" by the UK media that she endured. I think @Baskers is right that none of those hundreds of thousands signed away their rights with respect to freedom of thought, speech and expression of opinion (and that includes political opinions as well)". I think that each of those should not engage in overt party political activity where they're not supposed to; and I think attacking your boss(es) is always daft, irrespective of your job or sector. But I think being concerned about change where you work, and criticising constructively is a duty all employees should try to take on. In Japan they made an economy work thinking like that...

And I think that there may be a risk that public servants, relied on - quite properly - to behave in an apolitical, neutral, professional manner, end up inadvertently spinning for a political majority, simply in the act of reassuring, where the truth is much much harder. Because actually what we should be relied on - quite properly - to do is tell the truth. Precisely because we are impartial, we must be allowed to say when we think that politicians of any and all parties have got it wrong.

So I decided I had to be honest about who I am and what I believe, because @baskers nasty episode demanded my solidarity. And I will behave properly. I will continue (I hope) to challenge. I will remain professional and impartial and human in my job. I will remain devotedly a-tribal in my politics, and resolutely progressive in them too.

And I will now stop this ranting with a slight adaptation, for which I hope, if anyone reads this, that I can be forgiven... I am not Spartacus, but #IamBaskers

I hope she doesn't go.