Saturday, July 31, 2010

My Family

Another new series of My Family has started on BBC1 television. I used to be a fan of My Family and I thought the scripts were very witty. Oh! dear, things have changed, big time. This new series of My Family is rubbish and it no longer entertains me. I thought this programme has now passed it's time. I found the humour shallow and very dated. My Family now appears very tired and should be put to sleep. I found watching this new series a chore and like every television viewer, you have to draw a line somewhere. It no longer passes my quality threshold and for me, it has simply passed it's day. So, bye bye My Family - as a television programme you have bored me for 30 minutes and my patience has been exhausted. My Family has bored me so much that I will not be watching another episode of this past-it situation comedy.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Don't go breaking wind on Clifton Downs .

Oh! you would think that this newspaper story was an April Fools' Day joke but sadly it is not. Jon Hacker erected a windbreak and began to enjoy a picnic with his family on Clifton Downs in Bristol. Along came some Bristol City Council workers who ordered him to remove the windbreak because it was a "semi-permanent structure".

Well okay, I can understand the rules behind the ban to erect any post, rail, fence, pole, tent, booth, stand, building or other structure. This is to stop people taking the mickey and living or running a business on Clifton Downs. It is also in place to stop large families or groups from taking over a large area of public space for their own personal use. But putting up a windbreak is no different from erecting a folding chair. It is a shame that these council workers did not put their brain in gear before they drove the 4X4 across the Downs to confront Jon and threaten him with a fine.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Trains don't wait for Allah.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Nigerian Bag Tax.

Today starts the introduction of Excess Luggage Charging by the nationwide company. From today passengers can carry up to 2 medium sized items into the luggage hold of the coaches. Passengers wishing to put more than 2 items into the hold will be charged extra for their excess luggage. The charge for excess luggage is £10 per item on a single journey rising to £15 per item for a return journey. These excess luggage charges will also apply to ALL outsize items. Outsize items are defined as any item weighing greater than 20kgs OR any item with one dimension greater than 85cm.

This is a big change to both passengers and staff. Previously it was simply a case of if there was room, in it goes. This Nigerian Bag Tax will undoubtedly cause problems across the network. The likely routes for arguements over this Nigerian Bag Tax will probably be on coaches going to and from airports. Many suitcases and wheeled holdalls are greater than 85cm in one dimension. Travelling on holidays abroad and queueing at airports I know that an awful lot of suitcases weigh more than 20kgs each. That is why they have special orange stickers put on them. On other coach routes we carry a lot of students and they very often have a number of items to put into the luggage hold. These passengers would then fall foul of the maximum of 2 items into the luggage hold condition of the Nigerian Bag Tax. Passengers will now try to take more and more of their luggage onto the coaches as "hand luggage". This can cause more problems and conflict between passengers and staff. What is hand luggage? The guidance notes to staff declare that hand luggage is no larger than 45x40x25cm, although common sense will tell you it is anything that fits on the luggage rack or below a seat.

Drivers do not have any scales or a measuring tape. We can however count and identify more than 2 items of luggage per passenger. Will drivers have to prove that an item is greater than 20kgs OR greater than 85cms on one dimension? Will keener drivers be investing in measuring tapes? Will drivers be adopting a blind eye to this Nigerian Bag Tax because it is a scam by the nationwide company? I can't stand racism in any form but may a minority of drivers view this Nigerian Bag Tax as a licence to target certain ethnic groups? How long will it be before a passenger complains that they had to pay the Excess Luggage Charge because they appear to be from one particular ethnic origin yet other passengers were not made to pay this Nigerian Bag Tax? Only time will tell, so Race Cards at the ready, guys!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Surge mentality.

I am very saddened by the above report into the 15 dead and about 100 injured at a music festival in Duisburg, Germany. At least 15 people died at the Love Parade music festival in Germany today when they were crushed inside a tunnel during a stampede caused by panic. The disaster happened when revellers took a short cut through a tunnel that was too narrow to cope with the crowds.

Kevin Krausgartner, 21, from Wuppertal, who was in the tunnel when panic broke out, told Welt Online of the "gruesome scenes" he had witnessed. "I've never seen anything like it," he said. "There were 25 people lying in a heap. I screamed – people could no longer get any air. I saw dead people, and one person was sitting there looking extremely pale. I wanted to give him some water, but the ambulance medic told me there was no point as he was already dead." Krausgarnter said he saw police "standing on the bridge and doing nothing".

...This avoidable tragedy really angers me. It highlights the surge mentality of the general public all over the world. People in public places appear to surge towards anything of interest with their "me first" attitude. It does not matter where the location is, it is this mindless surge mentality that offends me.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Women riding bikes.

I loved the article today in the Independent newspaper by Harriet Walker: Hassled just because I ride a bike. Her article really made me smile and being a man I can answer her doubts. Here are some snips to illustrate the tone of her article...

But the amount of scrutiny, obscenity and casual lechery I have encountered on my bike in the past month has far surpassed the catcalls I suffered as a pedestrian... There is, I have since discovered, a near-fetishistic obsession with girls on bikes, with whole blogs and websites dedicated to cataloguing the very finest examples... I'd understand the brouhaha if I was rolling through town on a carnival float in a grass skirt and carefully placed pasties. But more often than not, I'm wearing an old T-shirt covered in sweat...There is, however, something women can do about all this. The blog allows victims to get their own back on men who hassle by snapping them on a smartphone and uploading a description of the has also just launched, which is good news for those of us who cycle in the capital.

...Well, I understand why women riding bikes does attract attention from men and so should Harriet. She wrote the answer herself "But more often than not, I'm wearing an old T-shirt covered in sweat". That's it lass, men like to see women "working it" rather than some sedentary glamour girls posing. Men like to watch women pumping up a sweat rather than sitting on a sofa in front of a television eating chocolate.

Okay guys, a quick search on the internet gives you this blog and this website for you to enjoy!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Damp patch on the ceiling.

On Sunday as we were sat happily chatting away, Gail noticed a damp patch on our living room ceiling. It appeared to run from the dining room wall a short way towards the window and there was also a smaller run parallel to this about 1 metre towards our kitchen. I stood up and felt the dampness with my hand. It was damp but not soaked, so the problem must be very recent. I went upstairs and checked the airing cupboard, no dampness and all the water pipes were dry. I went into our en-suite bathroom and everything looked okay. I went into our guest bedroom and everything looked okay with no sign or any leaks or dampness. I am good at spotting defects on coaches but I am not a builder. I had a chat with Gail and she wondered if it was the shower at fault. I went back upstairs again and checked the shower. Our shower looked like a sealed unit and it looked dry, with no obvious cracks or leaks. I went downstairs and looked at the ceiling again, thinking what has caused these 2 parallel runs of dampness. A nasty thought entered my head. Everything looked sealed upstairs, maybe there are 2 pipes under the floorboards, a forward and a return feed to the front bedroom radiator. Getting access to these pipes and repairing them would be beyond my experience and competence. Then I thought about the possible cost a repair might be and whether we may have some insurance against it.

We looked up our home insurance policy details which we took out with Sheilas' Wheels and as you can see from their website, they give you FREE Home emergency cover for the first year (online customers only). Gail rang the call centre of Sheilas' Wheels at around 12.30 and spoke to a very helpful guy with a Scottish accent. He said that we were covered and that he would arrange for a guy to come to our home that day between 13.00 and 15.00. This guy should ring us about 30 minutes before his visit and when he comes he would be able to assess the situation and start the ball rolling.

Around 13.15 we got a phone call from a guy with a local accent saying he was in Llandaff North and would be with us in around 30 minutes. True to his word he turned up outside our home in his liveried Homeserve service van before 13.45 and came to our door. I showed him the 2 parallel damp patch runs on our living room ceiling. "Ah!" he said, "have you got a shower upstairs? I can guess what this is!" We went upstairs and he looked at our en-suite. He said it was probably our shower trap and set to work. I thought everything was sealed but he found some hidden screws in our skirting board, removed the skirting board below our shower, pulled up the fitted carpet and removed the panel below the shower base. "There is your problem" he declared " these traps generally come loose over time and your trap is well-loose".

"How can a drain come loose as it is not a moving part?" I ask. "These plastic shower trays flex when you stand on them, just a little bit, but over the years the movement slowly loosens the trap and your water sprays out. Look, I will stand on your tray and move about whilst you watch. This is a common problem with these showers, I get it a lot." the service man replied. Sure enough his demonstration convinced me how our damp patch had been caused.

The service man cleaned the area, secured our waste drain to the shower base, refitted the panel, applied a silicon sealant to the edges, refitted the carpet and rescrewed the skirting board. Job done and looking at our en-suite you would not believe that anyone had disturbed anything since the builders finished our home in August 1999.

What a relief, job done and it was covered under our household insurance. I was very pleased at how things worked out, the swiftness of the call centre and getting a bloke out so quickly and on a Sunday. The service man was a nice guy too, he was quiet and professional rather than a big headed bullshitter, like some builders can be!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Undercover Boss on Channel 4 television.

I watched Undercover Boss on Channel 4 television last week . It featured David Clarke, Chief Executive of mid-range hotel chain Best Western , as he goes on an undercover mission to examine the inner workings of his company, with mixed results.

Channel 4 put this programme under it's moniker of Reality Shows but I think it belongs to Comedy . I thoroughly enjoyed this episode of Undercover Boss and I thought it was a hoot! Best laugh was the Best Western White House Hotel in Watford. Here David was faced with the games played by management to win against the Best Western hotel inspections. This showed just how managers penny-pinch behind the public face of companies, they just do not like spending the money needed to maintain their business. I was surprised to see the hard worked chef who put in extra hours for no extra pay.

This programme demonstrated the big differences between the brochure, what the top managers believed and what was being delivered to the customer by staff at the sharp end. These problems are typical throughout business today and are not confined to hotels.

Best Western is not unique, it is simply a brand. They do not own or run the actual hotels but simply take bookings and sell the dream of a quality brand to the customer. Best Western claim high standards and have very polished publicity. Trouble is that this publicity can blind both the top management and the customer. It is no point having good window-dressing if the product is inconsistent.

A lot of the humour of this programme came from the rosey view that David Clarke had of his company. The buzz-words bantered around the boardroom at Best Western were a delight to players of Bullshit Bingo. I found this programme really funny as David found out what was really going on, rather than the dream managers generally believe. This programme did Best Western no harm at all because they are simply a booking agent with a brand that they aim to keep up to standard. Any hotel that consistently came below standard would be kicked off the brand and no damage would be done to the brand image of Best Western. If things go badly wrong at one particular hotel, then they are simply struck off the booking system and customers will never know just how bad things had been running. Best Western are not the only nationwide company to adopt this business model as many readers of this blog appreciate! Well done to Channel 4 for commissioning this great comedy programme.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Absolute Power by David Baldacci .

Luther Whitney burgles a house and sees a woman killed. A famous and powerful man is involved, what should Luther do?

Absolute Power was David Baldacci's 1st novel and was written in 1996. It has 550 pages and was published in paperback in 2003 and I purchased the omnibus edition that was released in 2009. This novel is about the abuse of power by the rich and famous. It shows how people below these leaders are just pawns in their game. This story shows that there are good and bad guys, some are worse than others. The further up the tree these people are, the worse they can be. Hence the quote at the beginning of this book...

"Absolute power corrupts absolutely" - Lord Acton

This book is okay and I will vote it 3 stars on Book Army . It is a crime thriller with a fast plot. David's writing is very polished and the joy is in the detail, there is lots of detail in this story and it is all relevant. This is an entertaining book with clean writing that explains the conspiracy and cover-ups involved. Many characters do not make it to the end of the story, you do not follow one particular character but a diverse collection. This leads to reduced empathy from the reader. You observe the unfolding story as a bystander rather than a participant. I did not enjoy Absolute Power as much simple genius or the collectors .

The ending is fine and the epilogue gives a warm feeling. The Author's note at the end maybe tongue-in-cheek, you decide!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Losing the logo.

Oh! the fun we have had at work this week. The nationwide company has decided that hi-visibility waistcoats must be worn at all coach stations. That is not much of a problem as we already have employer issued hi-visibility waistcoats. But no!, the nationwide company does not like our hi-visibility waistcoats, because on the rear there is stencilled our employer's logo and trading name. The nationwide company has now declared that all drivers must wear a hi-visibility waistcoat in all coach stations and that waistcoat must be plain or feature the nationwide company. If the driver does not wear an approved hi-visibility waistcoat then that operator will be fined by the nationwide company.

So we have now been issued with a plain hi-visibility waistcoat made by Davern Workwear of March, Cambridgeshire. These hi-visibility waistcoats are from their Harbour Lights range and my employer has chosen the OC166 a 2 Band & Brace Waistcoat that conforms to EN471 Class 2.

Okay, I am all for health and safety in the workplace but I still find this rather sad. The nationwide company going against the operator for providing hi-visibility waistcoats with their logo and name on the rear is petty. All passengers can read the true identity of the coach operator from both the legal lettering along the side and the operator's licence displayed in the windscreen.

The nationwide company claims that their uniform provides a security safeguard against unauthorised access by criminals. Wearing a simple plain hi-visibility waistcoat available from all workwear suppliers and markets, means that anyone can pass for an employee. At a glance, do I look like Stephen the Driver or Bob the Builder?

Why do the nationwide company want drivers to wear hi-visibility waistcoats whilst loading and unloading coaches? I appreciate the point of wearing hi-visibility waistcoats when walking across roads, depot yards and at other vulnerable places. But where is the danger working on the platform, reading tickets and loading or unloading luggage? The driver has as much a risk of danger as any passenger on the platform, yet passengers are not required to wear hi-vis whilst boarding or alighting. Are the coach stations such dangerous places to stand in?

There is one good thing about wearing the hi-visibility waistcoat though. The waistcoat hides the driver's name badge that is reluctantly fixed to his shirt! Now all companies want their drivers to look professional but this is getting silly. Driving along wearing a hi-visibility waistcoats makes the public think of refuse collectors. Loading a coach wearing a hi-visibility waistcoats implies that the passengers are standing in a vulnerable and dangerous area. Wearing a hi-visibility waistcoat and a tie just looks plain stupid!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

"If you took me to the vet nurse so that she could express my anal glands, I would not be doing this!"

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Not quite the silly season.

Generally around this time of year the Press has what is called "The Silly Season". A time when breaking news is light and there are lots of silly and amusing stories filling the media. But this week is not part of the silly season and I wonder just what is going on. We are not talking about an isolated incident but a global trend.

In Northumbria at the weekend there was the Raoul Moat execution that has provoked lots of media comment and Facebook members leaving tributes. But did you know that the two police officers who fired at Raoul Moat with stun guns were using weapons that they had received little or no training for and which had not been approved by the Home Office. The XRep shotgun-style Taser has a range of 100ft rather than 21ft, and has an anti-tamper device so that if the victim tries to remove the high-voltage missile it delivers an electric shock to their hands. It also stuns the victim for 20 seconds – far longer than the less powerful hand-held weapon.

A Home Office spokesman confirmed that the guns had not been approved by its scientific development branch but added: "Police forces have discretion to use any equipment they see fit as long as the use of force is lawful, reasonable and proportionate."

...Well, that gives all Police forces considerate scope. Building equipment like electric drills and saws. Kitchen equipment like bacon slicers and knives. Where do we draw the line between instruments of torture and equipment that is proportionate? Raoul Moat was not an isolated story because Kim Sengupta has linked the Raoul Moat story to the killings at Nahr-e-Saraj in Afghanistan – as recent events in northern England have shown – a lone gunman running amok is not an exclusively Afghan phenomenon. Because 76 football fans were killed on Sunday at Kampala in Uganda as they were watching the World Cup. I was enjoying beer and beef burgers whilst these 76 football fans were slaughtered at a rugby club and restaurant in Kampala.

Has the world gone mad, for this is not the silly season but the slaughter season. Nowhere appears to be safe, people are minding there own peaceful business and up pop the lone gunmen. Some of these gunmen have uniforms, others don't. Some of these involved should be on our side but they suddenly turn around and shoot. Sadly these random attacks seem to be growing and I wonder where the next attack will take place.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Spain win the Global Trumpet Competition .

Went over to friends last night to watch the final of the Global Trumpet Competition. I am neither a football or a trumpet fan but I thought I would join in the fun at the final. The trumpet players from the Netherlands and Spain gave it their all. The stadium in South Africa throbbed to the sound of the vuvuzelas as men in short trousers ran around a field kicking a football from one side to the other.

This was not your standard 90 minute football match, it went into another 30 minutes of extra time. A full 120 minutes of world class football. The play was very aggressive and I thought the actions of the Netherlands team were dirty. The Netherlands did not appear to play fair and were charging into the Spanish players. At one point Nigel de Jong could count himself extremely fortunate for not being sent off on 27 minutes for planting his boot into the chest of Xabi Alonso.

I thought the referee Howard Webb did a very good job, he was fair and very alert. Howard had an awful lot of running around to do, this was not a walk in the park for him as he was running backwards and forwards most of the time.

Spain were by far the better team and played better football with 57 per cent of the possession. Spain appeared to be true sportsmen and played a gentlemanly game unlike the Netherlands who stormed about like thugs out for a fight. Spain deserved to win because of their conduct on the pitch and the professionalism of their game. As penalties loomed, Andres Iniesta at last intervened to save Spain from the indignity of penalties. Well done Spain, you won the Global Trumpet Competition by playing well and are a credit to your country. The match finished after 2 periods of extra time, Spain 1 - Netherlands 0.

This final match gave me the opportunity to have a different social night with friends as we watched the match on David's large screen television. Oh! and my personal score... 6 pints and 2 beef burgers!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Some prat with a camera, although this guy probably claims to be a professional photographer!

Friday, July 09, 2010

The Hanging Garden by Ian Rankin .

The Hanging Garden is the 9th novel in the Detective Inspector John Rebus crime thriller series. There are 2 plots running in this novel, a suspected World War Two war criminal plus an organised crime gang warfare story. The war crimes center around Villefranche, in France with a character called Josef Linzstek, who may have changed his name to Joseph Lintz and was helped to a new life by the Rat Line . This novel explores the emotions of war crimes and the roles and responsibilities of the leaders and their followers. It also explores the many lobby groups who track down these criminals to expose the lies of their past. There is also the conspiracy of our governments to cover up these crimes, support those Rat Lines and make the reader wonder whose side our governments are on. You also read about the unseen criminal worlds at large that are ruled through violence and not market forces. These other worlds we are totally ignorant about which deal in drugs, sex and gambling. Added to this you read about a police force that is corrupt and is doing deals among the criminals, just to preserve the status quo.

The Hanging Garden is a full story with good plots and twists. There is a good and well explained ending to this story. There is also a quality Afterword to explain that Villefranche in this story is actually Oradour-sur-Glane in real history, where the original village was destroyed on 10 June 1944, when 642 of its inhabitants, including women and children, were massacred by a German Waffen-SS company.

But it is not all war crimes and violent criminal gang warfare in The Hanging Garden. The title comes from The Cure's song "The Hanging Garden" and there are loads of musical references splattered across this book that add colour to this novel. The thoughts of DI John Rebus are enlightened by the addition of a song title and the artist to demonstrate his emotions at that time. This is not just about police work but also the philosophy of revenge and the mindset of criminals. There is also a lovely subtle humour running throughout this book.

I think The Hanging Garden is a good book and I will vote it 4 stars on Book Army . It has 411 pages and was written in 1998 although I purchased the omnibus (no pun intended!) edition published in 2009. I think it is so much better than Hide & Seek and this novel clearly shows the improvement to Ian Rankin's writing during those 5 years. I now know why The Hanging Garden is the first book in this onmibus publication, rather than Hide & Seek!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Summerberry Steam from Newmans Brewery .

We had a lovely pub lunch today at the Pantmawr Inn here in Cardiff. It is situated along Tyla Teg, Rhiwbina, or to us ex-Cardiff Bus drivers it is hidden behind those houses at the Service 21/23 Pantmawr bus terminal points. You would not expect a pub to be hidden there and it is very old indeed. A quick look on the internet will show that the Pantmawr Inn was up for closure before the naked ladies came to it's rescue.

The Pantmawr Inn is now one of the JW Bassett Pubs . I really enjoyed my rump steak and we will be very happy to return to the Pantmawr Inn for another meal.

I do enjoy my real ale and if I see a beer I have never had before, I will always try it. On offer today at the Pantmawr Inn were Double Dragon from Felinfoel and Summerberry Steam from Newmans Brewery . Double Dragon I have had many times before but I have never had a beer from the Newmans Brewery in Caerphilly. Summerberry Steam is one of their seasonal ales and WOW! it is good. It is different to other beers, full of flavour and a real quality brew. Newmans Brewery certainly have the skills of a master brewer and their Summerberry Steam is an excellent real ale. I will certainly drink their ales again. This beer demonstrates that they have the craft to brew proper beer and Mr Newman certainly knows what he is doing.

Oh, a Mr Newman, that is a coincidence! I knew a Mr Newman who also knew what he was doing. He was the best boss that I ever worked for and our depot has never been the same since he retired.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Rev. on BBC2 television.

Rev. is a new comedy programme being broadcast on BBC2 television. It is a series of 6 episodes running at 30 minutes each. Meet The Rev. Adam Smallbone. He’s a Church of England Vicar, newly promoted from a sleepy rural parish to the busy, inner-city world of St Saviour’s in East London.

I have now watched the first 2 episodes of this series and I think that this programme is a hoot! I found this programme very funny and a joy to watch. The dialogue between the characters is spot-on and rather witty. Rev. has a lovely mix between comedy and the issues facing the church today. The Church of England is a very broad church and this comedy programme reflects how this diversity affects the work of Adam. It has a light hearted look at the many issues raging within Christianity as a whole and the problems encountered by all clergymen in fullfilling their roles. This comedy is not heavy or tired, it is light, fun and up to date. Do not confuse this new sitcom with that dreadful The Vicar of Dibley .

James Wood has written a lovely comedy and I hope that Rev. is re-commissioned for another series. I think this comedy should appeal to a lot of viewers regardless of your own religious views. I find the script realistic and very true to life for an inner-city parish. This week's episode featured the differences between the happy-clappy, young and fashionable evangelists with the more traditional, yet liberal Anglicans. I found this really funny and you do not need a theology degree to understand the issues fully to enjoy the programme. I must get my father to watch this programme as I am sure it will bring a smile to his face. If there is anything wrong with the script, I am sure he will point it out. If Rev. does feature in a later episode the issue of women Priests, then I am sure my father will have a lot to say!

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Facebook, the early warning website.

Everyone is on Facebook now, even Raoul Moat who is the gunman Police are trying to capture. Look at the "> BBC News website story and you will read...

Before the attacks began Moat's Facebook status was changed to read: "Just got out of jail, I've lost everything, my business, my property and to top it all off my lass has gone off with someone else.

"Watch and see what happens."

Northumbria Police said Durham Prison had told them of Moat's comments a day after his release on Thursday. The case has been referred to the IPCC. Professor David Wilson, a former prison governor, told the BBC: "If there was intelligence which suggested that Moat was threatening his ex-partner and other members of the public, that matter should have been taken very seriously by Northumbria Police."

...Well, there you go! Raoul Moat put his warning online and the Police should have taken notice. This warning was ignored and now look what has happened. Of course, the Police have those lovely Speed Camera vans that claim to save lives and make revenue. One gunman does not raise revenue but can kill people very efficiently and the Police have not caught him yet. Drivers are very easy to catch as they creep over a posted speed limit.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Hide & Seek by Ian Rankin .

A junkie is found dead in an Edinburgh squat, murder or suicide? Follow Detective Inspector John Rebus to solve this mystery.

This is the 2nd novel in the John Rebus series, it has 261 pages and was written in 1993 and republished as part of an omnibus in 2009. This is a short story and is like a teaser or a pilot for a TV series. It is a regular police story about police officers in an era before mobile phones, when communications were never instant. The plot was steady and plodding with no real surprises or twists. There is no WOW! factor in this story which is typical of any police television drama. It lacks the class of other crime thrillers from authors like Harlan Coben. I thought the friendship forged between John Rebus and Tracy was unrealistic and unbelieveable. The dialogue between the police officers was good and had lots of subtle humour which I liked. The ending is reasonable but dull. I think Hide & Seek is a forgetable novel and I rate it as 2 stars on Book Army , which stands for "Poor".

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Ticking the boxes.

We have all been given a big envelope at work from the Human Resources Manager. It is about the Right to Work in UK Document Checks & Personal and Contractual Data Review. The company is worried that the personal information on file is correct and that we are compliant with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006. So we have a "Right to work in the UK Policy" declaration to be signed by the employee when they hand in their proof, like a passport - this then has to be verified and signed by your line manager and then monitored and counter-signed by a director. That is not the funny form and neither is the "Personal Detail Update Check Form" which is name, wage number, contact details, next of kin and emergency contact details, those sort of simple and ordinary details. However, there is one box that must be completed on the "Personal Detail Update Check Form" and that is to declare that you have completed the "Equal Opportunity Monitoring" form. This I will now refer to as the "Funny Form".

The Funny Form.

Equal Opportunity Information.

In the interest of us being able to demonstrate our commitment to equal opportunities, may we ask that you complete this form by either ticking the relevant box or writing down your response. This should then be returned to the HR Department. Please be advised that providing your name is optional. Anyone who chooses to supply their name can be assured that this information will be treated with strictest confidence and only used to assist with any employment needs. Thank you.

Full Name: (Optional)
Employee No: (Optional)


Ethnic Origin

UK (excluding Northern Ireland)
Northern Irish
Southern Irish
Other European



South East Asian



Marital Status:

...Well, that is a very funny form indeed. What difference does it make if the employee is a transsexual? They have chosen their new gender and should be regarded by everyone as a member of that gender. What is the big deal about ethnic origin and skin colour? Which box should mixed race employees use? Why should the historic partition of India become so important? Should there not be a box for ginger haired employees? As my depot is in Wales, should there be a Welsh or Celtic ethnic origin box? Should there be a box for Welsh language speakers because that could also cause problems as I believe that there are differences between the Welsh spoken in North Wales to the Welsh spoken in South Wales. Nobody has spoken to me in Welsh at Treforest but some staff have spoken to each other in Lithuanian and Polish.

Ah religion, that was the box that really got me going! Religion should have nothing at all to do with employment but as they have included it on the form, I must make a declaration. I am an Atheist, so I had to insert "Atheist" next to the Other box. Why do Human Resources consider Atheists to belong to a minor religion? That does not add up to me as the Agnostics, those people who can not make up their minds or are not bothered can tick the None box.

Still, if the company really wanted to demonstrate commitment to equal opportunities, then it should simply promote from within rather than employ people from other firms.

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