You don’t know what you’ll do ’till you’re put under pressure

Last week began quietly. I have been receiving emails from the German office. My boss speaks very good English but uses German idioms. He insists we should be “marching in step”. Our Emails are in English of course but the Germans prefer to end their sentences with an exclamation mark rather than a full stop. A caricature perhaps but it seems to be true!

I don my earphones and resort to an MP3 player. I select Across 110 Street by Bobby Womack.

I was the third brother of five,
Doing whatever I had to do to survive.
I’m not saying what I did was alright,
Trying to break out of the ghetto was a day to day fight.

As the strings swoop and Bobby sings the chorus I get goose bumps. God knows why! It’s not like I live across 110 Street and I don’t suppose Mr. Womack was thinking of quarterly reporting when he sung “You don’t know what you’ll do until you’re put under pressure”. My mind wanders sideways and I consider my colleagues and I, a group of mainly white forty something males sitting at desks in Surrey pushing buttons while showing not a glimmer of emotion as our souls soar and we dream of being black teenagers in  Harlem.

Due to the Credit Crunch (CC) our work load is reducing and this has given everyone more free time. General Managers use this time to scrutinise cross charging and we are now under pressure to justify everything we do.
With little work and unemployment never far from our minds, we spend more and more time on elaborate spreadsheets detailing exactly what we are doing. The more time we spend on the spreadsheets the more tortured the figures become. So Mr. Womack, we now know what we’ll do if we’re put under pressure: we will develop spreadsheets. It’s just as well we have this distraction as HR have just issued a Communications Policy restricting us to 15 minutes of personal web browsing a day. Without the web we need something to keep our brains ticking over as we stare vacantly at our screens.

I have been investigating loft insulation and making calls to companies to get quotes. Of course I never get to speak to anyone who actually knows anything about insulation. I usually get a temp with 2 days training on a list of questions that they’re supposed to answer. As all companies appear to have outsourced their call centres I am probably speaking to the same person each time. When I try to end a call I am asked “Is there anything else I can help you with?” – No, no there isn’t. No, that’s why I said goodbye. Uh, I’m going to hang up now.

The ducks returned a few weeks ago and last week there were ducklings. For many of us the spring batch of ducklings is the high point of the year. Sadly the crows got them all again within about a week. By now my MP3 player is onto Cortez The Killer by Neil Young. My goose bumps rise again and I ruminate on the feeling of irretrievable loss that this song summons up. All rubbish of course. According to Bernal Diaz del Castillo a soldier serving under Cortez Montezuma’s Aztecs were a blood thirsty bunch.

The Daily Telegraph had a picture of the new Jaguar XJ Saloon. Not a very revealing picture but it neatly demonstrates my argument that car design is being led by the mobile phone industry. I’d wager that the chief designer of the XJ saloon sported a Nokia 6310.

Jaguar XL Saloon

Jaguar XL Saloon

Nokia 6310

Nokia 6310

Driving to work one morning the local radio station tells me of a scheme named Community Payback in which young offenders are forced to remove graffiti or clean street while wearing high-visibility orange bibs embalzoned with the words COMMUNITY PAYBACK. The scheme is run by The Department of Justice and I am invited to nominate some work for the offenders. We British may not have achieved a totalitarian state by 1984 but New Labour still have it fixed firmly in their sites and we stagger onward toward it.

On Thursday evening I attended a chapter meeting of the IT governance organisation ISACA in The City. IT Governance has never had and will never have a glamorous image and ordinarily the attendees are a motley bunch. However, there we all were on Thursday night. The room overflowing with the sharp suited and the eager. I guess the recession is starting to bite. The declining standard of the nibbles at the networking session is further evidence of a tightening of belts.

On the train home a man about one row in front and to my left was assaulted in a very British way. My head in a novel, I overheard a vague expression of mild indignation from someone in front of me. I ignored this but further mutterings followed and I noticed that the man to my left was standing and leaning over the seat in front. The gentlemen in front of him then rose and walked away toward the front of the train. It was then that I notice that the man next to him had a bleeding nose.

In the developing world public confrontations result in intervention by everyone within a hundred yards radius. You can’t just assault someone and walk away. The assault on the train was amazing for it’s British reserve: “Yes, I’ve just had my face punched in but I don’t like to make a fuss and disturb anyone.” Even the assailant had had the good manners to perpetrate his crime quietly and then depart.

After vague and half hearted consolations from his fellow passengers the red nosed man retrieved his cell phone and called the police to arrange for them to wait at East Croydon station to detain his assailant.

I thought that was Americans that said “Don’t get mad, get even.”


There is a good article on Nusak here

“Nuzak is like Muzak. It runs in the background. It’s a New York Times headline on the way out of the house. It’s CNN at the airport. It’s Fox News at home whileJoe is really doing something else. The purpose of Nuzak is to be mildly interesting and possibly entertaining without telling Joe anything that would disturb him personally. Real news has immediacy. It is “actionable intelligence,” the last thing Joe is interested in. The average person basically wants to be left alone and to be told, town-crier fashion, that “All is well.” Elevator news.”

Police consider physical confrontation with protesters inevitable

In a BBC article on the police assault on Ian Tomlinson during a G20 protest in The City of London after which Mr. Tomlinson died from a heart attack Peter Smyth, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, said some physical confrontation was inevitable during a large protest.
According to the BBC article he told Radio 4’s Today programme: “On a day like that, where there are some protesters who are quite clearly hell-bent on causing as much trouble as they can, there is inevitably going to be some physical confrontation.”

“Sometimes it isn’t clear, as a police officer, who is a protester and who is not.”

Peter Smyth, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation

Peter Smyth, the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation

“I know it’s a generalisation but anybody in that part of the town at that time, the assumption would be that they are part of the protest.

“I accept that’s perhaps not a clever assumption but it’s a natural one.”

Mr. Smyth states that some protesters are clearly hell-bent on causing trouble. He states that it is not clear who is a protester and who is not. He states the police assume that anyone in that part of town at that time would be a protester and then goes on to say that this is perhaps not a clever assumption.

It is not only not clever it is entirely irrelevant. Whether Mr. Tonlinson was a protester or not is no justification for him to be attacked by a policeman.

Mr. Smyth is quite obviously TALKING BOLLOCKS and I wonder how a man with such illiberal, anti-democratic and dangerous opinions could become chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation.

The assault on Mr. Tomlinson became newsworthy because the poor man died but I wonder if we would have heard of him had he lived. We must also wonder how many other people the police assulated that day who’s story has not hit the news.

Last Friday I listened to Any Questions and I think it was Hazel Blears (though I’m not sure) who said that there were a small minority of protesters out to cause trouble and sited this as a justification for the police using heavy handed and, to my mind, illegal tactics such as “kettling”. Kettline is at beast the denial of the right to protest and at worst borders on abduction.

If we pan back a bit here we might consider that the Blair/Brown New Labour catastrophe that overtook Britain has pandered to a powerful elite who became rich off the back of Gordon Brown’s imprudent and arrogant management of the economy. Now that the ghastly hyper-capitalist edifice has crashed around their ears New Labour are using police in riot gear to intimidate protesters while blaming the protesters for the violence.

So far we have seen little violence from protesters but blatant aggression from the police.

Considerring that most crimes committed in Britian’s streets are captured on CCTV and that this crime was committed in an area that is, presumably, seething with CCTV, it will be interesting to see the footage. Either that or some lame excuse about how every single CCTV camera just happened to be pointing the wrong way.

The first head to role from this crime should be the chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, Peter Smyth for assuming that all protesters are fair game for the police to assault.

The Guardian newspaper’s timeline of Mr. Tomlinson’s walk home from work

The Guardian also has footage from a different angle.

The Metropolitan Police Federation

Visit the MPF web site and register your protest:

Below is the response by Peter Smyth to a protest registerred at the web site of the MPF.

Thank you for your e-mail.

If you listened to the BBC broadcast from which Press
Association cherry-picked a couple of quotes, you will recall that I had specifically
declined to comment upon the events surrounding Mr Tomlinson.

I was instead invited by the presenter to voice observations
on the sort of occurrences which are encountered policing large protests in

Reports about my comments should be seen in this context.

In numerous interviews yesterday I explained that I
am not allowed to make any comment in relation to an ongoing investigation,
I also repeatedly asked for the officers involved to come forward and to cooperate
with the investigation.

Peter Smyth

Chairman Metropolitan Police Federation



Sent: 08 April 2009 20:51
To: JEC Enquiries
Subject: Metropolitan Police Federation Contact Enquiry

Dear Sir or Maddame,
Regarding the recent death of Ian Tomlinson.
I read an article on the BBC web site today quoting
an interview with Peter Smyth, your chaiman, where he stated that some protesters
are hell-bent on causing trouble, that it is not clear who is a protester
and who is not and that the police assume that anyone in that part of town
at that time would be a protester.

Your chairman has completely missed the point. Whether
Mr. Tonlinson was or wa not a protester is no justification for him to be
assulated by the police.

I wonder how a man with such illiberal, anti-democratic
and dangerous opinions could become chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation.


Here is another video showing police hitting a woman during the same G20 protest. If you watch the video, in the background you can see that just before the woman is hit a yong man is being pushed around by police.

And we should not forget previous police assaults on the general public:


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Kettling is a police tactic wherein protesters are prevented from leaving an
area by cordons of police. Peaceful protesters, potential rioters and bystanders
alike are corralled once they have congregated into one or more larger group(s).
Although large groups are difficult to control this can be done by concentrations
of police. The tactic is to prevent the large group breaking into smaller splinters
which have to be individually chased down and for the policing to break into
multiple small battles.[1] Once the kettle has been formed the cordon is tightened
including with baton charges to restrict the territory occupied by the protesters.
The cordon is then maintained for a number of hours in which those within the
cordon are denied food, water and toilet facilities, the aim is to leave would
be violent protesters too tired to do anything but want to go home.[2]

Used in the UK in the may-day riots and the G20 summit, kettling has been criticized
as irritating otherwise-peaceful protesters to the point where they will riot
to break free of the ‘kettles’ (some of which were held in place for several
hours) and for detaining law-abiding citizens.[

Jan Akkerman is God

Jan Akkerman was the lead guitarist in a Dutch rock band named Focus in the 1970s. He was amazing! Focus created rock music with the improvisation and feel of jazz but it was not jazz rock.

So it seems that one day they took Jan Akkerman and shoved him together with Paco de Lucia, a brilliant Spanish classical guitarist. The result was this and, to my mind it is incredible! These two are both virtuosos. Note the bit where Paco glances over at Jan in consternation. What is he thinking? Is he thinking: “Wow! This guy is better than me!”, Is he thinking: “What the hell is this guy doing!”