The film set Cronenberg forgot

A week on from my report of dumb goings on in our spanking new smart workplace, and no improvement. But why would there be?

All the managers in my workplace are aged about 10, and you wouldn’t trust them to cross the road on their own. “Manager” just seems to be a generic term for anyone with the authority to request a box of paper clips. It is a vanity position, invented by some sly HR officer who discovered that people “promoted” to a job with “manager” in the title would not demand a pay rise. Since the tax rules changed, such berks don’t even get a company car to crash on the way home from the office party.

But then, many white collar workers are arrogant and thick as two short planks, and always have been. Three decades ago, before the finance sector took off, most of the current crop would be making beds or humping suitcases around boarding houses, or if bright enough to hold a job all year round serving in Woolworths. Islanders may have picked up a new vocabulary since thousands of office filing jobs appeared in the 1980’s and there was nobody to do it, but mentally…well, best to just not go there.

Also, these days what anyone who hasn’t worked in a large company for over a decade would know as a manager is a company director, and even they have no authority to turn the heating up or down. Twiddling the knob on the thermostat is a job for……well, nobody knows. Perhaps none of the management actually know where the plumber they paid a six figure sum put the damn control box anyway, and are too embarrassed to ask.

Another bone of contention for colleagues old enough to remember when office blocks were more civilised places is the tinted windows. Somebody involved in the “resettlement project” may have had a reason for ordering them. I doubt if they remember what it was (unless it was triple glazing or a conservatory at home for a vastly reduced price).

From outside it may be meant to give the building the mystery and menace of, say, the MI5 HQ. Actually it doesn’t. If anything it looks like the bricks and mortar equivalent of some 19 year old’s knackered hatchback with a spray-painted tint on the windows. If our windows could open (which, of course, they can’t) you’d expect to hear bad techno being pumped out.

Probably the rationale was that passing pedestrians could not see in, or that on sunny days those inside would not be blinded by the sun’s glare. In practice, it just makes it very hard for delivering van-drivers to tell if the place is open. Meanwhile, looking out from inside, the office-fodder are greeted with a monochrome grey view of the world, and no practical hint as to whether it is warm, cold, sunny, overcast….. or five minutes after a nuclear device has gone off.

All in all, then, a relief to be shut of the film-set Cronenberg forgot for a few days thanks to the Bank Holiday. Who knows what will have malfunctioned or what fresh hell the planners will have installed by next Tuesday. It is almost worth going back to work just to find out.

Funnily enough, recently I’ve been reading a lot of J.G. Ballard, author of “Hi-Rise”, and his heir Iain Sinclair, who has chronicled the minutae of suburban UK industrial redevelopments since the 1990’s. And oddly enough, well before the company acquired it, I’d idly wondered about a pyscho-geographical survey of the area around the development.

There is definitely something odd and disturbing there. The scene of some BCE pagan blood-letting to make the crops grow or fish gather, or a Lovecraftian gateway for creatures from before the dawn of time perhaps?

Who knows? But there has to be a more interesting explanation of those Antartic chills running through the ventilating system than simple 21st century incompetence.


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