Tuesday, February 23, 2010

You avin' a larf?

I recently watched 'Almost the truth...', the doco about Monty Python. It did my heart good. It's not so much that you forget how funny the dead parrot sketch or Mr Creosote are... it's just good to revisit them and giggle all over again. First time around in the public service I kept the lyrics to the Galaxy Song next to my desk:

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour,
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned,
A sun that is the source of all our power.
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour,
Of the galaxy we call the 'Milky Way'.
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars.
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side.
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick,
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide.
We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point.
We go 'round every two hundred million years,
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe.

The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, at the speed of light, you know,
Twelve million miles a minute, and that's the fastest speed there is.
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth,
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.

At the end of the documentary, Eric Idle's musical collaborator remarks, after Eric performs the song, 'of course the facts have changed now' - and Eric replies that the facts can't possibly have changed but our interpretation of them has.

Second time around in the public service the facts have changed very little but I hope my interpretation of them has. I think as an idealistic young trainer I believed in the perfectibility of human relations and of organisational life. I delivered sermons on equal employment opportunity with a zeal that sought to transform individuals and the workplace and tirelessly championed the rights of the complainant when accusations of discrimination and harassment were made. I still consider myself someone who values social justice and ethical behaviour very highly but my tolerance for gung ho activism and proselytising has gone.

This time around the narcissists I've encountered pushing their vanity projects and pet causes regardless of the stated priorities of the agency, good governance and economic constraints are completely pissing me off. I just don't think these jokers know or care about the damage they do. Their personal holy grail or hobbyhorse takes precedence over considerations of resources, relevance and rationality. Ego trips & chest beating either triumph or exhaust the reserves of the rest of us trying to out manoeuvre them!

There, that's my rant. I bounced back from my Christmas/New Year break all rarin' to go but one or two people keep putting spokes in my wheels. Eh, why should 2010 be so different? As Mr Idle says just before he breaks into song:

Whenever life gets you down, Mrs. Brown, and things seem hard or tough, and people are stupid, obnoxious, or daft, and you feel that you've had quite enough...

Just remember that you're standing... etc

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