Going forwards backwards

12 Dec

THE Pork Chop is sitting in the Deputy Editor’s office, about to participate in his annual development review. As a defensive measure he has decided to record this experience in the third person in an attempt to deflect the pain.

Development review is a process that requires papers being removed from a drawer where they have resided for 364 days, studied, amended where necessary, and replaced in the drawer. It’s a ritual with its roots embedded in the bogs of time. The Pork Chop seems to recall Michael Howard and an organisation called Investors in People having something to do with its inception. But he might be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time.

A clock strikes the hour and another clock with delightful jingling bells follows. There are thirteen clocks in the Deputy Editor’s office, seven of which chime, one of which buzzes irritatingly, while the rest are scattered in pieces along the window sill and in various stages of repair. There are also piles and piles of railway magazines dating back to the 1970s, three Russian dolls, an Imperial typewriter with a smart new ribbon, a cobalt-blue Codd bottle reputed to be worth £300, and a complete collection of I-Spy books, all of which have been meticulously filled in but require one or two elusive entries before they can be sent off to Big Chief I Spy for validation and an order of merit.

Deputy Editor: “This won’t take long. Nothing’s changed since last year. I’d say that you continue to work to the highest standards, that you’re an experienced and respected member of the team, that you take your responsibilities seriously and that you look forward to further developing your career with the Nitherley Observer and Bugle and Spylt Inc Newspapers. Fair enough?”

The Pork Chop, as another clock chimes: “Sounds good to me.”

Deputy Editor, hesitantly: “There is just one thing. Because the company has become somewhat understaffed now that it’s made lots of people redundant, we’re going to have to cut corners to hit our targets. Now I know that grates. But, unfortunately, quality is going to have to take a back seat from now on and we’re just going to have to churn out pages as fast as possible. That’s the way it is, I’m afraid. That’s the way the industry’s going. You happy with that?”

The Pork Chop: “Actually, I’ve got a problem with that. I have a contract of employment from Spylt Inc Newspapers and a job description that both state I am expected to uphold the highest standards possible at all times. If the company is asking me to cut corners then it’s asking me to breach the terms of my own contract and go against the very clear and explicit references in my job description – both of which it has itself imposed on me. This would put me, in theory, in a position where I could be sacked and lose all the redundancy money I have accrued. So I’m not so sure about that.”

Another clock chimes.

Deputy Editor: “Hmmm . . . Now you put it like that, I’m not so sure either. Shit – I can’t stand stuff like this. Shall we shove it back in the drawer and review it next year?”


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