Wednesday, 30 May 2012

The Odanglesex Chronicles: The Away Day (2)

Before I take you to Odanglesex County Council, let me apologise to visitors to the site who will have found nothing new for two weeks. I was on holiday, walking the Pembrokeshire Coastal Path, and coming back with a tan (if you didn't know I'm basically white, you do now), memories of beautiful cliff scenery and a lot of quite spectacular bosses and ridges of hard skin on my toes.

Because it's over two weeks since I posted Part 1 of The Away Day, here's a recap. The Director of Transformational Excellence and Strategic Vision in Odanglesex County Council, Kenneth Spotlessnob, has decided his extensive empire should have an away-day to think out of the box, engage in blue-sky thinking, reconnect with strategic priorities, network and chase one another through a muddy assault course. He is himself too busy with important things to arrive at the start of the event, but for everyone else, it's a whole day thing. Most of the organisation is being handled by a senior underling, Dale Brashcon, and Kenneth's PA, Kelly Pattrick, and the publicity is with Dale.

Usually I record great events at OCC by reproducing a series of e-mails, but this will not work for the Away Day itself, so I'm fictionalising it as a story.


As Transformational Excellence Officer Reema Narlikar parked her ageing Saab and decanted colleague and friend Scott Fitzwilliam (whose souped-up Mini had fallen ill again) into the car park of the William Wayneflete Outdoor Activity Centre, she was a little concerned to see how full the car-park was. OK she'd taken one wrong turning (well, two, but the second had been a farm track soon reversed out of), but they did still have thirteen minutes before the start, didn't they? It was "arrive by 9:00", wasn't it? A wave from her immediate boss Hamish Carpenter, his unruly head and beard hair briefly ruly, reassured her. He seemed to be getting a lift from his daughter, unless there was something the rumour machine hadn't registered.

The three colleagues walked together to the obvious entrance under the big sign (ODANGLESEX COUNTY COUNCIL
and a green smiley sea-monster). With old-fashioned courtesy, Hamish waved Reema ahead. She strode to the door and tried the handle. The door was locked.

"Yeah, it really is locked. The bell doesn't seem to work and I've hammered on it!" said a familiar voice from a distance. The figure sitting on a low wall was lean, lithe and bespectacled. "I'm just waiting for Kelly to arrive, or someone with the key. We've definitely got the day right," Mike Finnegan added.

"I'll see if I can spot anything through a window," Hamish said. He did indeed spot something - a group of old ladies who either weren't OCC employees or internal communication was even worse than he thought - and as he stared at them, one of them saw him and screamed - but then he came on a side entrance. The door was open.

"First test passed," said Kelly Pattrick, making an entry on a form. "Thinking out of the box - spatial awareness - initiative - working with multiple options. Fail on leadership because you haven't brought anyone with you. Come in. Tea and coffee through there, coats and bags there, toilets there, interfaith or philosophy quiet room there. Hello, Reema."

Familiar faces were looking serious over coffee. The Directorate was beginning to gather, but clearly most had not yet arrived, or at least found the entrance, and not all the parked cars were theirs. Dale Brashcon, in charge, buzzed around those present like an inflated, untied balloon just let free.

Scott, alerted by the strange affair of the locked door, looked around for anything they should be doing and spotted some sides of flipchart paper pinned to the wall with a roughly-drawn grid on each and a series of odd words. Three sets of initials had been entered on the grids, but there was no indication of what the words meant. Reema joined him. He raised his eyebrows. She wrinkled her nose. Language was unnecessary.


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