Friday, 27 August 2010

Getting to work #3 - on the road

I'm not sure if this feature will extend beyond this, the third installment. How else do people get to work, Unicycle? Hovercraft? Jetpack?

Back to business, or rather how you get to your place of business.

You might be surprised to learn to 40% of commuter journeys in London are made by car (National Travel Survey). This doesn't even include buses, and shows that not all of us are poor sods have to spend 10 hours a week underground hating the f*** out of everyone else just for being there.


Here is some behaviour and characters that you may well recognise if you spend your mornings en route to work behind the wheel, or on the bus:

Lairy bus drivers - I love a good lairy bus driver. Someone who thinks, 'My bus is massive, I am in command of London's traffic'. They might lean out the window to shout abuse at another motorist, high five another bus driver, or sit reading a newspaper and eating a currant bun whilst at traffic lights. Beware, have the correct change when boarding!

Schmohawks - drivers who don't know whether to move into a space in traffic or not. They are too tentative and timid for London driving. They'll hold up everyone by inching into a huge gap and then flashing profusely to say thank you. The adrenaline and nervous energy is likely to make them stall at the next junction.

Chav schoolkids on the bus - However much you are above them in terms of intellect, social standing and respectability, they will find a way to embarrass you with purile comments that have no comeback. Either that or you'll feel like a pussy for not reprimanding them whilst they screech away on their hoot-pieces gassing about Akon, Tynchy Strider or New Look and stuff.

Flip floppers - Drivers who change their mind every 10 seconds. Likely to be lost and indicating just for fun. Getting stuck behind one can put the fear of God into you.

Angry taxi man - already finished reading the Sun cover to cover by 8:30 a.m. and you are in his way of a good morning fry up. If only all of these smarmy commuters would stop getting in and giving him a fayre he could get some good quality loitering done. Angry taxi man has an 11 a.m. appointment to read Viz and a 12 a.m. call up LBC radio to make a borderline racist comment that foreigners are taking British jobs. At 2p.m. he'll talk to Steve (another cabbie) about Chelsea's chances of league success and get to the West End in time to fleece some tourists in the early evening.

Left leaners - no, not people who will vote for Gordon Brown no matter what state the economy is in. These are people who inexplicably drive 2 cm from the left curb whilst the rest of traffic stays a good meter out. Are they scared of oncoming traffic, or do they have one arm longer than the other causing them to steer to the left?

Embarrassed suits - for some, getting the bus to work is cheaper, and quicker than getting the tube. On certain routes, you see quite a few suits on their way to the office. But there is still a terrible stigma attached to 'getting the bus'. It's what people on the dole do. It's what chav schoolkids do, and all the drivers are power crazed bun gobblers. They pretend that they're down with getting the bus, its green and cool yeah? All of these people wish for the tube every day, and that's saying something.

Commercial radio luvvies.- normal car commuters who love the radio a little too much. 'Ooh I can't wake up without Johnny and Lisa on Capital FM'. 'I'm a long time listener and regular caller'. 'Nothing relaxes me more than lovely Neil Fox's fat throat chuffing out burbling bullshit at 7a.m.' If Spencer Tracy were in a movie about Commercial radio luvvies it would be called 'It's a smug smug smug smug world'.
Beepers - It's fairly simple. You don't after need to beep 0.2 seconds after the light. Some people sit there with there hand over the horn willing people in front of them not to go. 'Don't go. Forget to drive, don't pay attention to the lights, I dare you! I'm going to beep hell out of you, your eardrums won't know what hit them. It'll be like getting hit with a frying pan full of hot mustard right between your stupid inattentive eyes.

Baby on board - I'm convinced half of these signs are fakes (like putting a house alarm case on display on your front wall). Do they really make that much difference anyway? Oooohhh that person has got a baby in their car at all times (even when parked?!?), I'm definitely not going to ram them now. In fact I'm going to get out at the next traffic light an kick off the bumper of every car which doesn't have a lovely baby in it.

Well, I've got to get up at 5 a.m. tomorrow to drive to Poole for a wedding. It's not mine Mum, don't worry. I won't be listening to commercial radio, ramming any parents off the road or being a general Schmohawk.

Have a good bank holiday, I'll see you all on the other side.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Media wankers # 1 - new feature

- I'm an old media wanker!

- I'm a silly media wanker with big hands!

- I'm a smug media wanker. Marvel at my M&S media jacket, open neck shirt, and slacks.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Getting to work #2 - going Underground

Sometimes us cyclists have to get off our high horse and ride the Tube into work. whether this is because of weakness, laziness, tiredness, drunkeness or too far-edness it doesn't matter.

I said that I didn't want this feature to descend into 'aren't people rubbish' etc. So fear not, I will merely attempt to amuse with a few London Underground characters:

Daydreamers - Usually still half baked from the previous night, these dilly-dallyers can only be brought out of their trance (often at the wrong stop) by a barrage of pushing elbows and knees. Observing them often throws up funny moments, like when they push the open doors buttons and the tube (they don't work dumbass). Or when they rest their hand on their leg only to find it is someone else's leg, and that someone else isn't happy.

Runners - love the thrill of running on the platform and jumping on with the doors beeping. Sometimes they will run when they don't even have to, and continue to jog on the spot for the whole journey.

Sad Old Businessmen - wizened 50+ balding middle management types complete with mac and briefcase. They look broken through 30 years work in the city, but they have to pay for the kids to go to college. They should have moved out of London years ago, but could give up the generous salary.. It break this executive's heart. At least they have the cricket pages of the Telegraph to console them for the journey.

Pro commuter - Has all the gadgets, experience and patience to endure a 24 hour non-stop tube journey. Often reading a book (a light novel and pop culture opinion book, has an iPod, iPad, Nintendo DS, Travel bag with make up / wash kit, pro audio headphones and technical travel clothes. An elephant who is giving away millions of pounds whilst singing 'Loco in Acopulco' could get onto the train at Lambeth North and the pro-commuter wouldn't raise an eyebrow or make a sound. Nothing can surprise, excite or annoy these beings.

Snide Sneerers - The kind of commuters who look like they're chewing a wasp. Constant furrowed brows at all the 'disgusting' hordes. All of the filthy nasty public that dares to get onto 'my train'. They think they are so much better than everyone and are unwilling to accept that they are one of the 8a.m. gang. They are likely to sneer patronisingly at you if they can hear your music, if you are under 21, if you are not in a suit, if you talk, if you touch them even through over-crowdedness, or if they don't like the look of you . . . which is often.

Side Sneakers - usually under 5'2", these small amoral beasts wait at the side of the doors and instead of allowing the hundreds of commuters who have queued for 20 minutes to get on, they sneak up the side of the train and disappear into the train.
Free press junkies - Thinking about what might be on page 3 of the Metro gets these people out of bed. Wide awake they jog to the station in time to pick up there daily hit. They gladly accept any handout from people around the station including - Shortlist, stylist, Sport, Job papers, Election material, signing petitions and paying buskers however woeful. These people are the only ones to bemoan the loss of London Lite and thelondonpaper, and to think that Metro writers are funny, witty, hard hitting, informative and have full command of the English language.

Talking Weirdos - TFL employ method actors to scare their customers on their daily commute. This distracts attention away from other poor areas of service such as suspended lines and broken escalators. The Characters are sometime religious, sometimes violent and often drunk.

Rollerbaggers - If you are going on holiday, don't go at 8-9 a.m. If your not going on holiday, but your bag is on wheels you don't need it to be. If you do need it to be on wheels you have too much stuff and should not take it all. Carrying a bag is good exercise and ensures you don't take unnecessary items. Rollerbaggers run over your foot, take up the room for 3 people on the train, are the width of four pregnant teenagers who's hang out is a local chip-shop. They look peeved when anyone leans on there precious bag (which is most likely bough from sports direct for £7.99). This diagram explains why all St Peter doesn't allow rollerbaggers to pass through the pearly gates, however good they have been in life.
The blue dots are people, the white route is a sensible walking route so as not to cut people off, the red route is that of a rollerbagger. It is punctuated by a stop to retrieve a pointless item from said bag.

Next time your on the tube, keep one eye open and see how many of these wackos are in your carriage. Just don't speak to anyone!

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Bad ads #13

Marketing grin get the honour of being the unlucky 13th Bad Ad.

I type this with heavy fingers and drooping eyelids and a weary disposition. Please forgive this executive if the analysis of this futile insertion is less witty and sparkling than usual.

I am off on holiday this week, so you will have to wait for the next installments of 'how we get work' and office based life.

To business.

Other than being minutely eye catching due to the dot of colour in the sea of greyness, I can't really see what this is all about.

Is it implying that your 'Digital Vision' is dated, misguided or samey?

Do Marketing grin see themselves as so futuristic and cutting edge, that they can imagine real fruit as opposed to the photo-shopped stuff? Are they saying that in the cup of 'Marketing Grin' they have many crap ideas and one stands out.

Or are they simply giving away cherries on their stand.

Who knows, I'm sure that the lack of visitors to there exhibition stand wiped the grin off their faces.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Bad ads #12

A 2 for 1 today.

Incredibly, these ads were on the same piece of paper, back-to-back, cheek-to-cheek,

I can't think of any two items that sum up data lists less than a fiarly attractive woman and some decorative glass balls.

If you are going to go all out on the marbles pun why not lose the picture of the woman and write things like 'search', 'data' and 'lists on each marble.

The fact that the woman is on the left and is bigger than the marbles (of which the copy is solely based) suggests that it is her that has lost her marbles. Perhaps, she went on some kind of 'Falling down' style rampage when her data requirements were not fulfilled.

Number two.

I guess a tape measure might be relevant to whatever G2S do. It kind of makes them look like a bunch of cowboy builders.

'G2S - we'll be round in a jiffy, no job too small, call Ron, cash only'

Considering how small this add was (about 5x7cm), there is a huge void in the middle! Maybe they had a nice stock image of a table, a bumble bee or some marbles and found their budget had disappeared into the night, like a rogue trader with no conscience.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Getting to work #1 - Cycling

The Mayor of London demonstrating how to steal a bike

Executive Summary moves onto its third blog 'series' - Getting to work. I don't want to talk about how annoying it is that the Tube is packed, or moan about the capital's traffic, so I'm going to let you into the weird and wonderful wold of oddities on the commute.

We have already gone through Media characters, and I continue to upload horrendous press clippings from magazines (Bad Ads). I'm branching out here too, talking about life outside of the office. So, since there is a first time for everything, I'm going to put some videos up too.

Whilst it may seem like an odd place to start, let's talk about cycling. Only 2% of journeys nationally are made on bicycles, but getting on your bike is a pretty attractive alternative to spending 7 hours and £130 per week underground.  What with the London bike scheme launching, I thought I would enlighten you with some of this executives happenings from just off the curb.

Some of the stranger incidents I've seen:

Bike rage - near fist fight between cyclists at Warren St because one undertook the other and called him a wanker. Undertaking is totally wrong, even on a push bike and the situation ended rather confusingly, with one cyclist clearly turning off the road he wanted to go down to avoid said fisticuffs.

Gear Envy - cyclists often look each other up and down at traffic lights, surveying the competition. You can handle the fact someone has paid more to get a nice shiny and light bike, but technical clothing often gives you gear envy. I saw three commuters with cycle computers, I don't know what they compute, but I needed one. I need to update my tired anorak if I see jacket looking more day-glo than mine, and I need to buy me some spokey dokeys! I don't think I will ever be envious of people with fold up bikes, they cost a bomb and make you more smug than Prius drivers.

Awkward silences - after broken conversation at traffic lights - 'lovely day for cycling isn't it?' . . . .  'yup' (please go green, please go green, please stop looking at me).

Shout outs- you can call anyone anything under the sun and ride off quickly. 'you're in the road idiots'. 'Bus wanker!'. 'I smell bacon', 'Orange beast', 'camden crobber', 'Brompton bastard'. I once saw a cyclists hurry through and amber light after shouting 'Shotgun!'. n.b. This can also work the other way around (pedestrian calling you a C.U.Next.Tuesday when you break a red light),

Mobile CallsI saw someone with a Bluetooth headset struggling up a hill whilst on a business call. Utter tool. Headphones should also not be allowed, you need to hear the road dummies.

No sympathy - You often see an unfortunate soul who is mending a puncture by the side of the road. Once, a cyclist in front of me looked across and exclaimed  "Ha Ha!"

Drink riding - hang around the west end and you will see drunk riders wobbling home at 10pm. At least they can only hurt themselves right? That's why the police don't care. A fellow executive once admitted to have cycled home drunk and taken over 4 hours for a 30 minute journey. It literally ended in tears, and a concussion to boot!

Mental games cyclists play - These often help you to stave off tiredness and keep pedalling. Cyclists often play the +1-1 game. Every cyclist you overtake you get a point, and lose a point when you are overtaken. You can get competitive with yourself by attempting to beat your commuting time each day (required a cycle computer). Finally, a fellow cyclist mentioned the concept of 'winning the trophy'. This can be achieved when you see an attractive cyclist of the opposite sex and shout 'Get the trophy!' before overtaking them.

Characters you might encounter -
Bolshy Taxi drivers, the scourge of the cyclist.
Rickshaws riders, the lowest rung of the cycling community.
Headless chicken pedestrians, enjoy throwing themselves into the road
Fixed-wheel Shoreditch twits, don't wear helmets because it won't fit over their stupid angular haircuts.
The full roadie, they have top spec bikes, full Lycra and go incredibly fast. They often don't have bags as they are cycling for fun.
The newbie - often slightly older ladies riding shoppers with double panniers. Usually wear day-glo vests and no helmet.

Tune in again for more commuting capers.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Tally Ho!

Among the things that I do to keep myself sane at work is keep tallies. Not marking down the days weeks and months, oh no. I like to note down office behaviour via a manual count.

It is like imagining you are a rudimentary early computer. The second it takes you to flip to the right page of your notebook and draw your pen down vertically is like a small release. It may not be as long as a wonderful daydream where you can visit the beach and get away from it all, but you feel like you're getting one up on your colleagues. You will be safe in the knowledge that you are the only person marking it down.

For an introduction to office tallying try some of these:

Tally up all mentions of office temperature
Call up everyone in the room and tally the number of rings before people pick up.
Count the number of times you make tea, and the number of times someone makes it for you. Do you come out on top?

Media Specials:

Tally the number of times you hear 'You're a Star!' (my record is 8 in a day, and I'm not even that nice).
Mark down the mentions of Campaign
Wait outside for 10 minutes at lunch and count the number of cigarettes smoked

Advanced Tallying:

Note down colleagues' catchphrases and tally them. Some examples from this executive's office include 'lovely', 'bits and pieces' and 'sooooooo embarrassing'.
Add an element of danger by tallying during important meetings or in appraisals.
Tally time based behaviour such as toilet breaks or spousal phone calls.

Enjoy your new tally games, you can tell me I'm a star later.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Making a list and checking it twice

I like lists. They allow you to work out all the things you need to do throughout the day.

The adrenaline rush of crossing off a job well done.
The panic of adding another task to your list
The dark foreboding sense of woe when you see your list is getting bigger and not smaller.

In case anyone is unfamiliar with the concept of lists, I have made a list of the most famous lists:

To Do List
Santa's List
Shopping List
Guest List
Brahms and List
Bucket List

Below I have compiled a list of popular work avoidance techniques.

  • Visiting the toilet - often when you only have no real urge to go.
  • Decorate your cube / pod - often with stupid emails, funny pictures and meaningless certificates.
  • Play miniature musical instruments on desk - most offices have at least one finger drum kit, or mini ukulele.
  • Online shopping - It's like normal shopping, but can be done at your desk. The best price can easily be found, but what turns up is often a lottery.
  • Complain about the music being played in the office. If you are feeling adventurous, go and change it and then wait for the volley of abuse from colleagues.
  • Compile a list of industry buzzwords, and promise to yourself to never use them.
  • Forward 'those funny emails' to friends.
  • Sudoku / crossword - keep your mind sharp whilst switching off from work for 5 mins.
  • Go to the shop - you might not be hungry, but you'll get some fresh air.
  • Office sports - basketball, cricket, football - often played out of office hours.
  • Building a group of online friends (rather than communicate with real people in the office). Just tweet it.
  • Hone your artistic skills by becoming a doodle master.
  • Play with desk toys - corporate merchandise, thinking putty, Rolodex, magnets, and whatever else you can get your hands on.

Hell, I might even make this into a feature. Writing lists is quicker than writing thought provoking and eloquent prose. I'll add the idea to my To Do List.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Bad ads #11

What a lovely pussy!

We are back in the realms of whacking a stock animal image onto recruitment ads to make you look.

If we are accepting the metaphor of you as the cat, and your prospective job as a goldfish, I have some questions:

Can the cat pounce? No, it can't even get its fat head into the bowl. It probably has 'eaten' too many 'jobs' in the past.

Is a job like a fish? and do you want to consume your next job as you would a roast dinner.

Is the fish growing in number (as is indicated at the bottom)? Not unless another job got it pregnant before it entered the bowl.

What does the bowl represent? The UK, the career sector, the new job's limitations? In any case, you (the lovely cat) are bigger than it.

Does the water represent the fact that you will have to go through an extremely unpleasant experience to get to your job. Or maybe the job is located on a remote island.

I'll never know. The phone interviewer put the phone down at this point, after asking me to never apply again.