White Noise

Just Noise


So I wrote this a couple of weeks ago and initially wasn’t going to publish it, then I was, then I wasn’t, but I now realise my indecision is tied up with my apparent inability to write Anything Else At All… so here is probably my most highly procrastinated-about post ever. It may not be funny or clever, but at least I can now get on with writing something else. And sorry it’s so long. I got a little bit intoxicated with the vim and vigour of my verbosity!

Actual post

As I may have reported [I haven’t yet…], I have just had The Best Day, owing to the freedom to create some geeky Statistical Process Control charts.

SPC charts are all about distinguishing the rubbish noise – which is what most performance tables often seem to consist of (this gross generalisation is not specifically pointing at my organisation, by the way) – from the genuine signals about “abnormal” things which have occurred, and which are worth doing something about. The delight I experienced from doing the work today and writing about performance with genuine evidence is quite out of proportion to its real importance, but probably highlights how empty and meaningless I have felt my role to be recently. At least with SPC charts I might end up telling the organisation something genuinely useful, which may metaphorically bring me back into the building before winter sets in.

Putting that geeky-fess-up aside for one moment and trying to regain some street cred, there’s usually a song which, unbidden, forces its way into my head when I am in any kind of humour extremis. Today’s song is White Noise by Disclosure feat. AlunaGeorge. This is the one with the video with the night shift security guard dancing on his own in a deserted building, and the singer Aluna Francis has a really pronounced glottal stop when she sings “like an automa-ic”. It’s great! (see link below)

The lyrics are more than faintly reminiscent of what I think I discovered in the SPC charts. Lots of numerical noise, and a few really great nuggets of information.

But this post is not about SPC charts!  No no noooo, that would be far too highbrow.

I do appreciate that Disclosure’s/AlunaGeorge’s song was probably not written to express the frustrations of working in the public sector during the Comprehensive Spending Review, but it occurs to me now that it would be amazing if it was. A-MA-ZING.

In my opinion, far too few popular songs talk about life in the adminisphere; we constitute a sadly under-represented minority lifestyle in dance music lyrics.  So here are the lyrics, deconstructed for fellow keyboard-rattling battery hens, reminiscing about What Fun We Had going through that whole CSR-inspired restructure thing.

Happy Corporate Meeting

View song/video here (it’s a song which makes me happy):

Disclosure/ AlunaGeorge: I know you’re smart

You spin me round like a knot

You know the pieces, pieces of my heart

UK Public sector management translation:  Dear Esteemed Colleague, we do value your intellectual contribution to our organisation over the past decade and we feel privileged to have got to know you over that time period.

Disclosure/ AlunaGeorge: Sometimes it’s fun, you pull my strings one by one

Until you get me, get me onto one

UK Public sector: In particular we enjoyed the work which you did in explaining the Fire Bell Test, which we thought a jolly wheeze though we couldn’t really understand why it was relevant to us.

However, the time has come for you to prove your worth and focus on your new job description. Please sign it in triplicate to demonstrate you understand the shackles within which we now have an obligation to place you, due to central government policy.

Disclosure/ AlunaGeorge: Lately I’ve been thinking if you wanna get tough, then let’s play rough (x2)

I don’t need you, giving it straight to me, giving it straight to me

You’re just gonna get knocked back

I don’t need you

Telling me how to be, telling me how to be

Just gonna get knocked back (x5)

UK Public sector: Sadly, the aforementioned central government policy now means that any freedoms or autonomy you thought you had, you don’t. None of us do. It’s not easy being the one to tell you this so that’s why we have thought about this at great length and written ourselves a script to tell you about it. We also have a 34-page policy supporting our every move all our people together, and are midway through re-write of version 8.7.2 to cover the latest mitigating circumstance that we hadn’t previously thought of before we embarked on this rather awkward process. Rest assured, if you would like to raise anything which might benefit you and disbenefit us, we will have included it in version 8.7.3 before you can say “where’s the union rep?”. You may wish to seek union representation during the processing of this process. They are quite busy at the moment. Good luck.

Disclosure/AlunaGeorge: Just noise, white noise. Just noise, white noise

I’m hearing static, you’re like an automatic

You just wanna keep me on repeat and hear me crying

UK Public sector: You say that you don’t understand why these changes are designed the way they are, but we know we have adequately explained the rationale for everything contained within the proposal. We don’t really understand why you might be concerned anyway – and you do keep going on about such trivial details! Blah blah blah, must you raise yet another tiresome samey question? – please remember that anything you say may be used to influence the outcome of the processing of this process, and will be recorded by the impartial and omni-present filing clerks HR representative to ensure future learning for the organisation.

Disclosure/Aluna: Only you, can look at me the way you do,

You always tint me, tint me black and blue.

Such a shame, you frame me with such disdain

You got me washed out, washed out, colour drained

UK Public sector: Don’t try to pull in any favours by being nice to people whom you have been nice to for the last decade, in the misguided belief it might advance your status, responsibilities or rank. Emotions such as gratitude are no longer be permitted, and good work will only be believed and linked to any individual if it ticks a box within the PDR.

We may only meet if official HR representatives are also present, to ensure that your and our rights are protected. At this difficult time, we would appreciate your compliance in taking this process seriously, because it is really making us feel quite battle-weary and we are now wondering if a Fire Bell Test might have been a better idea in the first place.


One thought on “White Noise

  1. What I find odd, and yet not odd at the same time, is that while I have had up to 3 restructures in a 12 month period, all involving potential redundancies, they STILL keep on with the sham that each one is the last and forever and no-further-change-no-sirree. Bizarrely each one is presented as if it is being done for some OTHER reason than cuts and its only the coincidence of the budget cuts happening at the same time that confuses the issue.
    I think it is an attempt at preserving the thin veneer of “rationality”, if it made sense then why would you do it again? I’d respect it more if they admitted “We don’t know what we’re doing, but we CAN count, or our accountants can anyway, and we know we have to make the numbers somehow, so some of you will have to go”. Honesty!

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