Mostly Bollogs, I'm afraid

But occasionally, a glimmer of truth.
If you find one, please let me know.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


[I wrote this a while back, which is why the VAT rate seems to be 17.5%. It was]

Paperwork. There’s a place for it. It is not, however, in a builder’s merchants.

My youngster, being a youngster, jumps on the bed. They all do; if you think they don’t, then yours do it when you’re not looking. Anyway, owing to the slats being made of inferior Eastern European pine, and having knots in them thicker than the slat itself, they break.

Replacement is simple, you go to the builder’s merchants, and ask for a couple of nine hundred mil lengths of seventy by twenty softwood, my good chap. For those who are as old as I, that's a yard of ¾" by 2¾".

The merchant then taps away at a computer for about five minutes, asks if that’s all you need today, you reply in the affirmative.

Out come three sheets of paper which he pulls from the printer. He asks you for £2.12 which you hand over, then out comes a receipt which he staples to the other three pieces of paper, handing them to you with the instruction to go to the yard and give this paperwork to the sawman.

You do this, then the sawman takes the paperwork, goes into the office where he stows one sheet, taking the rest to the sawbench. He gives you your replacement slats, followed by the pieces of paper that you gave to him only a minute ago.

You leave the builder’s merchants and, whilst drinking the pint in the pub next door, you get to thinking what the point of all this really is.

It is because it is necessary. Without the paperwork nobody would know that the two replacement slats had been sold. The six people working in the back office would have nothing to do, and be assured that for every piece of paper that you get there will be another one produced in the back office, which can then be stamped, passed to someone else, filed, copied, filed again and eventually sent to the accountants. From there, the paper will go to the auditors, and then all will know that the treasury pocketed 31.8 pence for the coffers, in VAT alone.

All that tapping, printing, filing and there is 31.8p. Eventually, if enough kids break enough beds, that 31.8p will multiply. If you multiply it by 100, it will be £31.80. That’s 100 kids breaking two slats each, or 200 kids breaking one slat each.

If you multiply it by 1,000, that’s 200,000 slats broken, then you make £31,800. And 1,000 again, that’s 200 million slats and you have £31,800,000. Thirty one million pounds. Wow! And by 1,000 again, 200 billion slats and you have just enough to throw at a failing bank

And my point is?

This: all of that effort, everyone doing everything right, by the book, following the rules, blindly following the prescribed procedure. Years and years of it, like ants in a nest or bees in a hive, blindly doing what they do because that’s what they do. And at the end of it all, it goes down a big hole. Swallowed up, the nest bulldozed and the hive ransacked.

And I am guessing that the amount thrown at the bank, the bank who didn’t do the paperwork properly and didn’t follow the rules, was not calculated as £31,801,962,421.24 but was just plain old-fashioned thirty billion pounds.

In builder’s merchant terms, that’s 2 million years of tapping, printing and filing.

Please write and explain why this is OK. Please?

“It’s what makes the world go round” is the wrong answer. Ask an ant, or a bee.

1 comment:

John Pickworth said...

Tis a crazy world we live in alright :-(

Of course, given the enormous paperwork produced, you're soon going to run out of trees... and slats, naturally. Not sure if to suggest you smack the kids, the timber merchant or some politicians? Mmmmm, let me think, don't rush me... ;-)