13 MARCH 1993, Page 52


Hockey sticks


In Competition No. 1769 you were in- vited to compose an off-key letter, sup- posed to be morale-boosting, addressed to a depressed staff by a female or male executive.

Apart from inviting staff to 'please treat my office like Waterloo Station' (I hope she had to wade through paper cups and stumble over meths drinkers the following morning), Liz Forgan, the new head of BBC Radio whom I quoted, also fashioned this superlatively ghastly sentence: 'But the trick is going to be to keep our eyes on the prize all the way through the process, however many pages of management bab- ble I churn out, however many sacred cows seem to be heading for the abattoir.' Roll that one round your tongue three times, then swallow and enjoy, in Auberon Waugh's phrase, the 'almost anal' bou- quet.

Watson Weeks went nicely nautical: 'I am, of course, always available to give individual help on the ergonometer. Just remember: if we're not together and our blade-work is scrappy, we'll ship a lot of water when the going gets rough. So, as the great Steve Fairbairn used to say, "Don't slobber on the feather!"' The prizewinners, printed below, get £20 each, and the bonus bottle of Aberlour Single Malt whisky is John C. H. Moun- sey's.

Temporary Toilet Arrangements

I appreciate the problems, but some of you seem to be making awfully heavy weather of what is really quite a minor inconvenience (to coin a

phrase!). I would like to stress that the public toilet we are using until the plumbers have finished is only just across the road (not ten minutes by bus as I heard someone say!) and is one of the most modern in the country. For those of you who may have missed my earlier memo, the arrangement is that you speak to Joyce and she'll either say 'yes' right away or book you in for a particular time if there's a rush on. You collect your token from Reception and away you go — keeping an eye out for traffic filtering in from the left.

It really couldn't be easier. Let's pull together on this one!

(John C. H. Mounsey) May I share a childhood memory with you all? My mother once read me a splendid yarn called 'The Adventures of a Nasturtium Seed'. This seed got dug up with some groundsel, but, refusing to give in, just kept rolling this way and that till it finally tumbled through the fork and Plopped back into the soil. Perhaps there's a lesson there for all of us in wholesale garden supplies.

A tiny gripe, though, about the way some of you have reacted to recession blues. I'm all for hearty corporate japes to keep up morale, but sending the MD a picture of Captain Oates and a bottle of paraquat was just a wee bit gra- tuitous. It's so easy to blame others. Why don't we all, instead, remember that little seed and look for a way through together? If a nasturtium can grow against the odds, then so can we! (Chris Tingley)

From: Finance Director To: Laboratory Staff

As you will no doubt have learned from the `bush telegraph', I have been asked under the new scheme of organisation to 'keep an eye' on Research, Dr Moss having been released to seek 'pastures new'.

Some of you will think that replacing an FRS with a 'bean-counter' is a 'bit off', but I assure you that I am 'batting on your side' (I even got a VG in 0-level Physics!). And, after all, it is the 'beans' that matter in the end, so I will be looking to you all to produce some jolly good 'runners'.

In the meantime I will be bringing various directors round my new 'patch' from time to time, and if you could see your way to giving the old shoes a bit of a shine and popping in to your barber's occasionally, it would not go amiss.

Keep up the good work! (Noel Petty) Dear Colleagues, It's been a rum old year, hasn't it just? Well, we up here on the 19th haven't exactly been twiddling our thumbs (to say nothing of cocktail swizzle-sticks!) either. Losing the Big One to Swindon Office Sup- plies (SOS indeed!) was rotten luck but our Sales chaps really did beaver away like anything. One of them said, 'Upwardly mobile in the stationery business seems a contradiction in terms somehow.' There's always a funny side.

Those of you contemplating new fields and fresh pastures, to quote the Bard, have borne up splendidly. Ignore all that tittle-tattle about the Chairman's 'handshake'. Yachting just isn't his 'thing'.

Keep your suggestions rolling in. I truly wish the redundancy terms were negotiable but (for- give the Americanism) they just ain't. SOS say they don't currently have any vacancies. Perso- nally I've found them not undiscouraging. It's a rough old world out there and you win some, lose some. (Charles Chadwick)

No. 1772: Hendecasyllabics

Tennyson's well-known poem in this metre, which he adapted loosely from the Latin 11-syllable line, begins, '0 you chor- us of indolent reviewers . . .' You are invited to write a poem in hendecasyllabics beginning '0 you . . .', addressed to some group of people. Maximum 16 lines. En- tries to 'Competition No. 1772' by 26 March.