Bums on Seats


I’m sorry – it has been a long time since I last posted. In truth I’ve been away for a couple of weeks getting some winter sun and have only just returned to the office since before Christmas. I don’t get paid enough and am not adventurous enough for skiing so it was a cheap package holiday for me.

So what has occurred since my last post?

Well the annual Christmas party for one thing.

Alec Smart, our Chief Executive, was keen that Utilico wasn’t seen to be being too opulent at a time when we are being investigated for fraud on government contracts. So the decision was made to have the Head Office party at our HQ. To be honest, our offices are more luxurious than most London hotels but that’s by the by.

The party started well enough. Alec gave a cringeworthy speech to us all in the refectory area over a glass of rather fine champagne. We’d all done really well, a challenging year, blah, blah, blah.

Sumptious food and lavish wines and beers were then on offer as per usual at any company event. No cheap plonk for us. Oh no – fine French wines and champagne. Lyle Clean our lothario Head of PR just loves sidling up to our female members of staff with a bottle in his hand oozing “Chateau Pussygoer” at them. No cans of Carlsberg for us either. Instead special Christmas brews from around the world. And no sausage rolls and Scotch eggs. Posh canapés with labels such as: ‘Quails Egg & Parma Ham Tartlet’, ‘Beef Carpaccio & Wasabi Mayo on a Sourdough Croute’, ‘Pea, Mint & Ham Crostini’, ‘Dill Scone topped with Smoked Trout & Horseradish Cream’ and ‘Filo Baskets with Spicy Coriander Prawns’.

So with all the free booze on offer, it wasn’t long after Alec’s pep talk that the party’s trajectory was downwards – and fast.

Those that bothered to turn up for work the next day were turned away. The odour of booze, fags and worse was palpable when you walked through the front door. It took a team of cleaners all day to clear it up.

But the ramifications went deeper than that. We are still finding some intriguing pictures behind the photocopiers. Not being too well versed in pornography or too world wise in my ways, I had no idea that body parts came in such a wide array of shapes and sizes. And the staff in our London HQ can’t exactly be considered diverse.

A couple of staff members were put on final warning for having too intimate relations in Alec’s office. Sheila Gree, our Head of HR, dealt with them. Oh how ironic for her. It is not too long ago that she was caught in flagrante in there herself – with none other than Alec – during the police raid.

And another was sacked – having been caught on CTV staggering around the offices coming to rest at the desks of various females. Apparently he was seen nose pressed to chairs! And worse, allegedly. There were rumours he had left a very personal deposit in the coffee mug and packet of digestive biscuits owned by one particularly fragrant lady.

But other than the Christmas party and its aftermath, not much seems to have happened other than that Brian Careful has been trying to get hold of me almost non-stop since before Christmas. It sounds like he didn’t believe that I was away. Anyway, he is coming to see me next Monday. I suppose I will have to tell Will Full and Lyle Clean so that they can ‘mind’ me and make sure I don’t speak out of turn about the fraud investigation and what I may or may not know about any wrongdoing or disposal of evidence.

Sex Wax

Sex Wax

Red Shoes hasn’t been in since last Friday so perhaps Lord Ambrosia had a successful kitchen supper with Duncan Dishmore the Editor of the Moon.

In fact it all seems to have gone a bit quiet. Will Full and Lyle Clean have largely kept off my back this last week too.

Today however both call in to see me as it is it Audit Committee again. We missed the summer one – or at least I did – with all the shenanigans and my absence. Because of the fraud investigation, our annual accounts haven’t been signed off and there doesn’t appear to be a paper trail (or IT equivalent) of any Audit Committee or Board discussions on the draft accounts. Will and Lyle have been keen that there is very little paperwork for today and they are adamant that no one is to say much at Committee to Brian Careful, the Committee Chair, or to the co-opted independent non-executive. Both of them will attend to ensure this doesn’t happen.

Of course they don’t need to worry about the independent non-executive! Remember that thoroughly nice chap Thaw DeRide? The Aussie who supposedly works in Financial Services in the West Country. He rarely asks anything that can be deemed a question. He’s too busy waxing his surfboard (metaphorically of course).

I’m absolutely amazed when he turns up that he seems largely oblivious to the happenings of the last few months. Perhaps I shouldn’t be.

He is of course a glorious deep bronze colour. Apparently he has had some ‘work’ in California for the last few weeks. He seems rather excited to learn the extent of our news: “Wow – sick! So you’ve really been eating it these last few weeks. What a mullering you’ve had. Hope them narks haven’t got any traction. Not been using Sex Wax eh! Must have been awesome when they pulled their bronzes and bundled you into their blue collar taxis!”

It certainly doesn’t seem to have occurred to Thaw that he could in some way be culpable not having asked searching questions as a member of the Audit Committee. I wonder why the police haven’t interviewed him yet. Or why Lyle and Will haven’t been onto him. Then again, with that last point, why would they? He clearly knows nothing. He has always been “stoked” after Committee meetings.

Lyle forgets his serious demeanour for a while and gets all excited about the mention of Sex Wax. He wants to know what it is for and what it looks like and can Thaw bring him some next time he is up. I feel rather queasy.

Lord Ambrosia sends his apologies, as does Alec Smart our Chief Executive. Tony Wall our Finance Director attends again and hasn’t brought our Chief Accountant, Ihab Bin Countin, who normally attends in his place. As Ihab is hot on numbers and accounts and Tony isn’t, I guess that sets the tone for the Committee. No numbers, no detail.

Brain Careful looks very twitchy. He has of course fully co-operated with the police. But he knows that his tenure as a non-executive and Chair of Audit Committee is looking rocky. He may have asked the right questions but he has been fobbed off and there is little record of those questions, so he looks incompetent at best or involved at worst.

He starts the meeting by asking why we have only an oral update on the investigation, and no accounts to look at. Tony Wall eyeballs him like a shark approaching its prey. “Lawyers say no” he states. Brain wants to know why Russell Blow our internal auditor isn’t here – he wasn’t mentioned as an apology. “He is an apology” says Tony. He doesn’t say it like he means Russell has sent apologies. That’s probably because he doesn’t mean that. He’s not overly keen on Russell, or indeed anybody who asks questions.

The batting backwards and forwards continues unabated for several minutes – with Tony stonewalling all of Brian’s questions. I don’t know why Lyle and Will are there. Tony needs no minders. Certainly not for this situation. But actually I can’t imagine him needing one in any situation. I get a vivid image of him in a long leather coat with a pit bull straining at the leash in his hand.

Thaw finally says something in the actual meeting: “Aw guys, seems like we’ve got a bit of ankle slop today. Shall we bail?”

In one way I’m rather impressed with Thaw. He gets that we aren’t going to achieve anything today so may as well give up. Not quite as much sand for brains as I thought. Probably just keen to get back in the surf though.
With that, Brian gives up. He looks utterly defeated. I wonder what his next move will be.

Red shoes on our back

red shoes2

Well I decided not to top myself but instead to keep my head down.

Because of all the fuss surrounding Tesco’s unusual accounting methods, we do seem to be getting some more press at last. Clearly as our police raid didn’t get into the press we are closer to the press than the police are – unlike the BBC judging from the raid on Cliff Richard’s gaff!

So it is still largely the financial press that is on our back. Or rather in our pocket…

Of course the Custodian (or Trotskyan according to Lyle Clean) is keenest to get to the bottom of what has gone on but even it seems to be a bit lacklustre. It obviously has bigger fish to fry with its continued interest in Snowden. That’s Edward Snowden with an ‘e’ not Mount Snowdon. Or Lord Snowdon.

Perhaps surprisingly, Red Shoes is the most dogged. Remember the lady? The reporter from the Moon newspaper with the very high, very shiny, very sharp, very red, heels? Lyle Clean has had more than a spot of bother with her. She is clearly a classy lady and has decided to get her revenge on Lyle not through complaining but through digging as much dirt as she can.

She seemingly alone doesn’t take our anodyne communications as read and publish them verbatim. She has taken to door stepping us and asking difficult questions.

Lyle’s ardour for her seems to have cooled somewhat as she is becoming rather hostile to us and his advances so far have all been spurned. She is clearly not one to be bought off.

Instead Lyle decides he will have to appeal to her superiors at the Moon. Or possibly higher up in the hierarchy of the mass media conglomerate Lowdown Global. He starts by asking Lord Ambrosia to have a word with Duncan Dishmore the Editor of the Moon. Lord Ambrosia is of course a regular at Mr Dishmore’s kitchen suppers in rural Oxfordshire. He assures Lyle that he will be able to get Red Shoes off his back. Lyle of course would like Red Shoes on his back, or on her back, but that clearly isn’t going to happen.

We’ll have to wait and see what success he has. In the meantime, she is in reception again…

Bonfire of the Vanities


Well Bonfire Night it is!

Operation SABET (Slash And Burn Embarrassing Things) is back on. Al Mann seems to have got involved in this and has enabled Will Full’s men access to an incinerator run by the Borough Council’s waste operator, Wasta. Al is an elected councillor on the Borough Council and seems to have close ties to Wasta.

Anyway, we have been sending boxfuls of files as well as computers and IT equipment over to the incinerator from a domestic garage near to our offices. I’m sure there is a European WEEE Directive or something that sets out how electronic devices are meant to be disposed of and I’m pretty sure burning them isn’t listed as one of the ways.

The continuation of this operation increases my nervousness. The embarrassing stuff must have been moved to the garage months ago and well before the police raid. I didn’t even know we had a garage. Presumably neither do the Police.

It turns out, allegedly, that Al has ‘loaned’ us the garage which belongs to the Council and is meant to be allocated to Council housing tenants.

Rather stupidly, given this new information and my wobbles of last week, during a lunch break I go to see Eve Asian from our lawyers Fastbuck Made to talk about my concerns that I haven’t told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth to the police. And that I now know even more. She as ever brushes off my concerns and gets me out of there so fast I feel like I’ve been through a revolving door.

No sooner had I got back to the office when the fireworks started. Lyle Clean and Will Full were waiting for me. Will Full was popping like a multishot barrage and Lyle was spinning like a Catherine Wheel.

Apparently I had more than over-stepped the line. Being under house arrest by the police was nothing compared to my fate from now on. They were going to watch my every move. I wasn’t to be allowed out for a lunch break, my house and phones were going to be bugged, and so on. Anybody would have thought I’d gone to the press or God forbid the police!

I feel like a modern day Guy Fawkes – being tortured for high treason. My fate will now clearly be being hanged, drawn and quartered. Maybe like Guy I should jump from the scaffold and break my neck? Or maybe I should make sure my evidence is truly beyond their self interested immoral reach before I start to use it?

The Witching Hour

Minolta DSC

I really don’t know how we seem to be getting away with things so lightly in the press! Or why no one has fallen on their sword yet. Or flown off on their broomstick.

Take a look at what is happening with Tesco. Constantly in the press, senior staff suspended, boardroom exits including the Chairman. But I guess they deal directly with the public rather than business to business – or rather business to the faceless bureaucracy of government. And they have a new Chief Executive. A new broom to sweep clean. Cleaners again!

Talking of Lyle Clean, he is being especially creepy.

He takes me aside every day to check out what I have said. He has made it quite clear that I am a potential target for repercussions should I talk out of turn. Eve Asian from our lawyers Fastbuck Made has reported back that I am a potential liability so I am singled out for special measures.

Today Lyle thinks he is particularly funny with his threats. Apparently the minimum consequence for me is apple bobbing but I will be the walking dead if he tells Will Full or Tony Wall what Eve told him.

Will also seeks me out regularly. But of course with his military past he talks about stepping out of line. I imagine the consequences of such a thing would be a firing squad.

I’m dreading tomorrow night and the prospect of them all turning up to trick or treat me.

I’m beginning to think that prison would be better than this! Perhaps I could do a deal..???

Damage Limitation


It’s Board (bored) day again! Miraculously some form of Board Pack has been sent out but there is very little by way of papers supporting the agenda.

The usual behaviour is, on the face of it, present. Gloria Ewes was jetted in from the States yesterday and again has a mass of shopping bags with her. Clearly she is either oblivious to the fact Utilico is staring into the abyss or else has shut her eyes to it. Louis Vuitton, Prada, Jimmy Choo, Tiffany, to name a few. I suppose it was naive of me to expect her to have gone down market a bit. She would probably rather be dead than shop at Shoefayre for example but perhaps Russell & Bromley is more the zeitgeist for a Utilico NED at this point?

All the other NEDs and most of the executive directors arrive late as usual. We may as well change the start to 10.30 as we never start much before then despite the 10 am billing. Will Full with his military past is a stickler for punctuality and this tardiness really winds him up. He mutters about time being money and that the collective cost of that wasted half an hour each meeting is over £1 million a year. I haven’t checked his sums but I daresay he is right. Still, given the money we waste generally that is a drop in the ocean.

Talking of oceans, my mind starts to drift. I can see a gorgeous turquoise Caribbean beach. I can see a beautiful blue sky. I can see fine white sand. And palm trees. And an ice cold beer. And a hammock……

Different..Different..are you listening to me?”. I jump with a start. It is the cringe worthy Lyle Clean. Of course he would attend wouldn’t he? The Cleaner! Well I’m not sure how successful he can be with our latest little mess. “What time are Fastbuck Made arriving?” he demands to know. Our lawyers of course. We can’t fart now without them and Lyle having cleared it first. “11 o’clock” I tell him.

The table is laid out with a vast array of sumptuous looking pastries as well as the sausage and bacon butties for Al (white van) Mann. I think idly to myself that if he could just hit his mouth more often with his food he wouldn’t need to eat three times as much as anyone else. Our cleaning bill is always exorbitant after he has been in a room. More crumbs than a bread factory. Cleaning again! Why can’t I stop thinking about cleaning and get back to that heavenly ocean? Maybe it’s because Lyle Clean who normally finds me almost invisible is ominously watching my every move.

Sir John Fuller-Pomp, our Non-Executive Chairman starts proceedings, “Okay guys it’s business as usual at Utilico”. Gloria pipes up with an objection: “I am manifestly NOT a guy Sir John.”

Oh stop splitting your immaculately groomed ends dear – it’s just a turn of phrase” he retorts, rather unchivalrously for him I think. He must be a bit rattled.

Gloria just glowers at him.

Today we need to focus on damage limitation! We need to protect our existing revenues and our share price, and ensure we are still able to bid for new government contracts. Outwardly it is business as usual and we put our best face on. All clear?” says Sir John.

Everyone should know their scripts by heart by now and Tony and Will have been tasked with enforcing our position. Lyle is in charge of clean-up and needs to know immediately what is being said or asked. All clear?”

This type of monologue goes on ad nauseum. Occasionally someone else butts in but it just seems to be with reinforcements. When Fastbuck Made arrive it is worse. At least I can understand Sir John and his sentences aren’t couched in legalese.

I’m so pleased when we get to end of the meeting. At least I won’t have any minutes to write I think. But then Alec our Chief Executive says his usual: “Minutes by close of play please and don’t forget what they need to say”. I start to open my mouth to say something but a chap from Fastbuck Made who’s name I didn’t catch tells me that the minutes will be with me by 6pm. Great I think. I’m now completely redundant but, unfortunately, too knowledgeable to be dumped. Suddenly a wave of paranoia sweeps over me as I think of Lyle Clean’s new found fascination with me.

Tonight I think it is going to be more gin than gym for me.

Teflon Man


So what has been happening back here at Utilico?

Well on my return to work, I found several characters still ex-communicado under police imposed restrictions.

Alec Smart our Chief Executive was of course back at work. Why of course I hear you ask. Well Alec is Teflon coated. Nothing ever sticks to him. Quite how he can have got off more lightly than me so far given his position is beyond my understanding. No doubt he got better service from Utilico’s lawyers Fastbuck Made. I understand he was back at work after a couple of days. Perhaps that is a bit strong – work! He is a lazy so and so. Mind you – I have to hand it to him – he is a maestro at self-preservation. The extent of his self-delusion is tangible – he seems to think it is hilarious that he was caught in flagrante with Sheila Gree our Head of HR. Makes him the big man. Well on that note we agree. He is a big man, but not in the way he thinks.

Sheila is of course back at work too. Alec will protect her over and above most others unless his own being is threatened when I have no doubt he would drop her like a stone.

Lyle Clean our unctuous Head of PR was of course back at work. Friends in high places no doubt.

Eddie Smooth our Marketing & Sales Director was back too. He probably genuinely knows very little. He is usually asleep during Board meetings.

Will Full our Operations Director was also back. No doubt that Sandhurst, ex-army officer background helped.

No the missing characters were Tony Wall our Finance Director and my underling Sunil View.

Tony Wall’s continuing absence was not a surprise to me. He is a very dodgy character and, even if he were not up to his neck in the alleged shenanigans anyone could be excused for assuming he was. A working class, Scouser background probably doesn’t help.

But Sunil? Why on earth are they still holding him? He can’t know anything much. He might get the Board packs out and such like but I doubt he has ever read them. And he rarely stays in meetings very long once he has helped ensure our non-executives are fed and watered (he is an expert at using our super-duper espresso machine) and has received all their expense claims.

So it is all a bit of a mystery to me.

I was told by Will Full that, under no circumstances, was I to ever drift off my pre-prepared statement. Not with anyone! I was left with the very clear impression that I would be summarily executed if I ever did that. And allegedly Will can kill a man with his bare hands. Though I would like to see him try. No I would be far more frightened had that threat been delivered by the very menacing Tony Wall.

Allegedly, all our non-executives have been called in for interview – though none were placed under virtual house arrest like me and some other executives.

But basically everyone is being very tight lipped about events. On the surface it is business as usual. But in reality there is a palpable sense of tension in the air. I imagine it must feel like it was in the courtroom awaiting the Pistorius verdict.