Sunday, October 17, 2010

Disconnected - Part IV - Wherein I Wake up

(The continuing saga of our holiday in Gloucester)

Sun. 12 Sept

In my dream I was taking Part III of the Prince2 exam.

For those of you who didn’t live through the previous Prince2 campaign with me, Prince2 is the Project Management methodology (we PMs enjoy using terms like “methodology” – another one we like is “rebranding”) currently favored by the Office of Government Commerce, whose job it is to favor these sorts of things.  And being, as it is, a government organization, you can bet the favored methodology is anything but simple and straightforward.  The clue is in their logo:

Or, maybe this expresses it better.

Prince2 Certification is not actually mandatory, but finding out your PM is uncertified is a bit like visiting your dentist and seeing on his office wall—in place of a diploma—an affidavit, signed by himself, stating that he’s always been interested in fiddling with peoples’ teeth and fancies himself pretty good at it so he thought he’d have a go.

A few months ago my Prince2 certification expired and I had to re-enlist.  Long story short, I somehow, miraculously, passed the exam (and quite well, thank you very much) and thereby avoided becoming the laughing stock of the office (I was sure they would start calling me “The Project Manager formerly known as Prince2”).  My stress levels dropped and I congratulated myself on the fact that I will never, ever have to take that exam again.

But here I was, betrayed by my subconscious, sitting a fictional Part III of the exam and feeling my anxiety writhing and climbing inside me like a spider skittering up a rain spout.  The series of 50 questions that I had 20 minutes to complete began:

Question 1:
A question mark, but don’t make a point of it.
Chose one:
a. A
b. B
c. C
d. D

Question 2:
Fog, ten years from now:

And so on.

There were other plot nuances I could divulge to give you a sense of the complete story arc but you probably hate it when people start describing their dreams to you.  So I’ll tell you about my other dream, instead.

In this dream, a young girl was being held captive and, although she had a mobile phone with her and could call for help, due to government cutbacks, every agency she called –police, child welfare, MI5 – simply put her on hold or told her they would make a note of her issue and get back to her at a later date.

This was the dream that woke me up, and I took it to mean that I shouldn’t watch the evening news before going to bed.  With sleep now beyond me, I got up, stumbled through the unfamiliar darkness to the far side of the kitchen and turned on the light so I could make some coffee.  Then I spent fifteen minutes looking for a spoon.

If I were in charge of hotels and guest cottages, I would force the owners to live in them for one week each year.  This would eliminate many of the little annoyances that remain even after they have lovingly outfitted the place to perceived perfection, as our hosts had done.  The cottage was charming, well-decorated, kitted out with quality furnishings and utensils (at least I saw nothing I recognized from the Pound Shop) and even had two-ply paper in the loo.  They had, in their minds I am sure, thought of everything.  Well, a week or so of living here would have set them straight:

As noted earlier, I had to walk all the way through the kitchen to turn on the light.  Whose idea was that?  And everyone knows that cutlery belongs in the drawer just to the left of the sink.  So what is it doing in a cabinet on the other side of the kitchen?

Another thing they did was put wooden counters throughout the kitchen.  They look lovely but wood, as anyone should be able to tell you, warps when it is wet (there’s the sink, there’s the draining board; pay attention, these are clues) and if it stays wet, it rots.  My father was a cabinet maker.  I grew up to the smell of sawdust and the grinding of a belt sander and was, at an early age, imbued with a near religious reverence for wood, which means I cannot leave the cottage until the dishes are washed and dried and all the counters wiped down.  This is not something I relish doing while on holiday.

But as petty annoyances go, nothing beats the bathroom waste bin.  You know the ones I mean, the white plastic cylinders about the size of a flour canister with a little pedal on the bottom you are supposed to step on to open the top, allowing you to drop whatever it is (I don’t want to know) that needs dropping into a little plastic cylinder.  They are in every bathroom in every hotel, guest cottage and B&B in the world.  No matter how posh the establishment, you’ll find one in the loo, but you’ll never see one in anyone’s house.  Do you know why that is?  Because they are shite, that’s why.

They are so light and flimsy that attempting to step on the peddle results in you inching forward as the bin inches backward until it ends up out of reach behind the loo.  And if you do manage to gain enough purchase on the tiny pedal, the lid will fly open with just enough force to careen the bin off the nearest wall and send it rolling under the sink, disgorging its contents along the way.  So I am not a fan of these bins and my heart sinks each time I see one in a hotel or guest house bathroom.

This place has one in the kitchen.

Now, not only do I get to constantly experience the joys of these useless apparatuses, but as a bonus, I get to take the garbage out every 20 minutes.

But enough of the carping.  As I said, the place is lovely, our hosts most gracious and the inconveniences petty.

Except for that one about the waste bin.

(Next: the first morning)


  1. We've got one of those tiny pedal bins in the upstairs bathroom - and by bathroom, I mean the room with the bath and shower in it, not the other room with the WC in it! - we have no problem with it as it is wedged in a corner and has nowhere to go when the pedal is depressed, but it's so tiny just disposing of wn empty shaving foam cannister would will it; so it's still pretty useless anyway...

    Love the significance of the sideways logo Mike :-0 hehehe

  2. Very interesting, I have written some PRINCE2 Training tips on PRINCE2 Tolerances I think you’ll find very useful.

  3. Steve: So you're the guy who bought it? Good thinking, corralling it in the corner.

    Nathan: My condolences ;) I did have a look at the site - very interesting. If I ever find the time, I might have a closer review of it. Thanks.