Idle Eye 29 : The Step

Health and Safety fans out there will no doubt be amused by the latest HSE initiative to quell ‘ridiculous’ rumours that have abounded for years, such as the magnificent trapeze artists to wear hard hats and office workers banned from putting up Christmas decorations malarkey. It’s enticingly labelled the Myth Busters Challenge Panel, it’s chaired by the enticingly labelled Judith Hackitt and sets out to put a bit of common sense back into the workplace so we can all get on with our lives. Safely. And healthily. Unfortunately, when you log onto the panel there are no satisfying howlers for us all to giggle at round the water cooler, no siree. There’s just a brutal grey block with gaping text fields nagging us for information: What is the issue? Who advised you of this? Have you raised this directly with the person? What was the outcome? Subtext: YOU’RE NOT GOING TO WIN THIS, BEDWETTER! WE WILL GRIND YOU DOWN WITH HIDEOUS MUNICIPAL ADMIN UNTIL YOU SUBMIT NOTHING! BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT YOU ARE: NOTHING!!!

Now, I don’t know about you but if I’m going to dob in a jobsworth I’d like to to it with a little more panache. Some rich text formatting, perhaps? Or a background template image of Hunter S Thompson straddling the American desert in an enormous convertible ripped to the tits and toting a Magnum. It only seems fair: They made the mistake, now meet us on our terms.

In an attempt to illustrate the above point further I made a swift call to Nibs, hot off the plane from Dubai as is his wont. All Idle Hour staff, I’m told, have to fill in a form stating they are aware of the step leading into the garden, and that they are able and willing to climb all three inches of it and also descend should they so wish. That they acknowledge the inherent dangers thereof and are prepared to sign a disclaimer lest any accident pertaining to the above should occur. It does strike me, however, that if said staff are unable to negotiate a step no higher than two Mars bars making out, perhaps they should consider an alternative career path, the Hillary-esque hazards of hospitality potentially being the very thing Ms Hackitt is so keen to dispel. Who’d have thunk it?

My particular favourite is surely one on the MBCP hitlist if indeed it were true: The Bodleian Library Oxford, for centuries the hub of literary excellence, has always relied on its pointy ladders to access and distribute those out-of-reach tomes. Until now. Gone are those exquisitely-crafted relics of yesteryear, replaced by motorised cherry pickers which zip in and out of the ancient shelves, making a mockery of common sense and human initiative. So come on, Ms Hackitt: Give us a form we can use that goes even half-way to express our disgust at your systematic annihilation of our heritage. And we’ll get in staff who get the step…

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