Laughing in the office

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LUFTHANSA — I see in the papers this morning that research by Comedy Central says that we are laughing 50% less in the office than we used to.

Why is it always 50%, I wonder? But the issue is still a good one and clear enough: We have lost the ability to make life easier on this ridiculous planet but finding the silliness amusing. I have often thought that if only Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir had a better sense of the ridiculous, the thought of a coffee with them at a smoky Left Bank cafe would seem more immediately appealing.

So let’s spend a day looking at the silly side of life. I’m on a plane full of English city boys, heading to Munich, so there should be enough in the day to qualify.

1. I don’t read the Telegraph much. But today’s “THE EXPENSES FILES – DAY 8” captures my attention. On page 10 there is an aerial photograph of the moat that the young Tory MP charged the taxpayers for cleaning. Fair enough, although page 10 seems pretty deep in the paper.

But the best is yet to come. On page 27 there is a full page feature article on… how to clean your moat!

Maybe that’s why I don’t read the Telegraph so much. I’m clearly not the target audience.

2. When I was a child we always blamed “the Russians” for everything, from bad weather to the fact that no one could win a medal at the Olympics. Who are we blaming now?

One guess: I have just read that one of the hurdles to getting more Tamiflu to fight swine flu is the fact that it requires a species of the star aniseed herb which is only available in some parts of China.

Maybe the row between Mexico and China had more underlying issues?

Whatever the case, the answer is clear: we must blame the Chinese.

3. I moved my taxi up tonight to get to the airport. When I go out to get in there’s a bloke in the back. Seems we share taxis here. So much for the black stretch Mercedes that brought me out here. Now I’m in tiny, canary yellow A-class with a guy I’ve never seen before.

It feels like showing up in your hotel room to find someone in the shower.

What the heck.

4. Can we talk about the autobahn? My colleague Chris told me last night he’d never been to Germany. We’ll have to fix that. But how do you adapt to the autobahn? I have spent two 45 minute journeys today staring at my feet. Really focused on my feet.

I grew up on the roads of East Africa, where you can get a drivers licence through the post. And so that can be a bit unnerving. They use the roads there as a form of population control. Every morning the Nation or the Standard would show you a picture of a spectacular Matatu (private taxi) crash. And you’d marvel at how they got 32 people into a Peugeot station wagon.

In the Middle East driving is an art. A deadly one too. Often drivers that you are assigned would have such and amazing religious faith, and belief in the afterlife, that you knew it was really up to Allah whether or not you survived.

Allah, I can tell you now, is great.

But in Germany it’s still different. The centrifugal force. The sheer g-force that is applied as you take off through the tarmac ribbons. My stomach is well behind the vehicle and my hair is now parted differently.

5. I was talking today about how to name programmes and projects in companies. I expressed my misgivings about acronyms and my client tells me that she once worked on the Programme for Operational Oversight. And that there was a Manager, POO.

I explained that no one would like that story as much as my 6 year-old son. And my client told me the following joke:

Q; Why did the lobster blush?

A: Because the seaweed.


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One Response

  1. Kevin Keohane

    Love it all.
    Maybe we’re all getting too serious.
    A former colleagueof mine is now a communication manager for a private bank.
    He used to be fun to have a pint with.
    Now he thinks he’s a fund manager, and has started to act like one, too.
    Mike Klein said it best: “It’s easy to delude yourself that you’re a member of the club when you’re working in the cloakroom…”
    Keep smiling and laughing. Life is too short.

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