Monday, December 05, 2005

MUSCULAR LIBERALISM IN THE SMOKING ROOM

Saturday's Grauniad had a Q & A with Peep Show's Robert Webb. How refreshing to read:
Which living person do you most admire and why?

Christopher Hitchens.

What makes you depressed?

Suicide bombers and their apologists.

Which living person do you most despise?


George Galloway.
Nice one fella. Those are brave words that will surely piss off the majority of students (and Grauniad hacks) who religiously watch Peep Show. Unfortunately I've missed the last two episodes but the new series seems to be ticking along nicely from what I've heard. For those that didn't catch him, his partner in crime David Mitchell was absolutely superb on Have I Got News For You on Friday, suggesting a novel solution to the impending pensions and energy crises. The answer? New nuclear power stations run by people over the age of 65, clearly.

Robert Webb is already something of a legend, having starred in two of the best British comedies in recent years. Let's not forget his brilliant role as Robin in The Smoking Room - a somewhat subversive take on a place of mystery for a good two-thirds of the workforce. I'm hoping for the first series on DVD for Christmas - it'll certainly be easier to watch with the family than the recent episodes of Peep Show...

As someone who chose to spend his time in The Smoking Room rather than watching paint dry around the water-cooler with the rest of his co-workers, I found I learned a hell of a lot more about the workings of my company than I would have found out by listening to a balding, middle-aged middle manager bang on about how much he enjoyed perving whilst playing Lara Croft, or the arguments as to whose turn it was to buy milk.

The Smoking Room was an oasis for me: somewhere I was guaranteed to avoid technical talk, could catch up on gossip from other departments whilst having a good bitch (if required) about my own and avoid be grabbed half-way through a nice-cup-of-tea-and-a-sit-down by an over-zealous boss who had changed his mind about something or the other which was now far more important than my caffeine fix.

Here's an article from the Observer by Ian Florance who seems to agree with me - Health advisory: smoking can improve your career prospects.
All over the world subversive groups gather in dirty, darkened rooms or by office dustbins. They look guilty because they're chipping away at corporate power structures.

Are they anti-globalisation protesters? Anarchists ? No, they're smokers. As social and political hostility to the habit grows, 'users' are discovering that furtive indulgence could improve the health of their careers.
Meanwhile, Harry's Place have highlighted the plight of one poor German smoker (via the Telegraph):
A German company has sacked one of its employees for smoking at home after hiring a detective to catch him in the act.

Sandro Beier was dismissed from his £19,000-a-year job with a Berlin printing company after being photographed smoking in his back garden.
Bloody hell. But then the guy was raking in £68 as part of a bonus for being a non-smoker, so the company can argue he was acting fraudulently. But what sort of world are we living in when companies pay their workers for good behaviour outside the workplace?

The company involved, Laserline, claim that smokers cost them 12 days work a year in fag breaks. Shouldn't they also be rewarding people who eat their lunch at their desks? Or eat less? I imagine a thirty-stone man with a huge appetite takes a little longer over his lunch than a pencil-thin chap who eats half as much. A saving of twenty minutes a day on a lunch-break adds up to around the same time they claim that smokers spend on fag breaks. (240 days * 1/3 hour = 80 hours).

I also wonder whether the private detective they hired has cost more than employing a printer for 12 days work a year, but there we are.

Anyhow, returning to Robert Webb's Q & A, it's reassuring to see I'm not alone:
What is your most unappealing habit?

Agreeing with everyone for a quiet life and then becoming rude when drunk. For the 50 minutes in between, I'm almost a gentleman.
Ha. Aren't we all?

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