The company architect's presence in the building creates an air of expectancy and pushes the BOFH into a bit of bastardly trickery...

Year 1998 - Episode 12


There's a feeling of excitement in the air that I haven't felt in a long time. The same sort of excitement that precedes the Xmas get-together when the yearly bonuses are handed out. (Recent years excepted, of course.)

The font of all joy becomes apparent almost immediately. The company architect, usually only called in for "department refits" is on the premises. That in itself is a surprise, as I don't remember hearing of a wave of redundancies.

This time, however, my perusing indicates that there's been no departmental Axejob. (Sigh.) It must be something else. The Head of IT is sure to know.

The PFY, trained to respond to just this kind of situation, fires up the building 'topology monitor' and we home in on the 'Big Guy's' belt buckle - a chunky slab of metal that could stop a scud, complete with 'tasteful' picture of a rampant mermaid engraved into it - a gift from loyal staff.

And they say that quality never goes out of style. As luck would have it, the PFY and I gained access to it prior to presentation and loaded it with the sort of hardware that keeps civil liberties groups busy.

Some people just don't understand.

"Do you think the belt will work?" the PFY asks, just before activation.

"Of course it will," I remind him. "The bug is so sensitive it could pick up an ant farting at 10 paces. Which reminds me, make a mental note to deactivate it an hour after lunch - no point in overloading its circuits."

Meanwhile, the sub-miniature microphone in the mermaid's eye hears all...

"Gentlemen," our Head begins, in hushed tones to the assembled board. "As chairperson of the committee to investigate expansion solutions, I've the following to report: first, this building is expensive to rent; second, it's becoming too small for our purposes; and third, it doesn't have the networking infrastructure to allow us to expand into the 21st century. For these reasons, I have taken advice from certain quarters..." he pauses, indicating, no doubt, a couple of board members known for their property speculation, "and signed the company up for the occupation of a larger facility at a waterfront location at a far more reasonable rent which we could move into almost immediately."

"BULOOODY HELL!" the PFY cries, echoing my own thoughts to the letter. "He can't be serious!"

"Apparently so," I respond. "And using his lack of technical expertise as a selling point too."

"Lack?" the PFY blurts "He's not completely stupid; after all, he was on that TV programme - what was it, Beyond 2000?"

"Ah no, the TV programme he was on was Beyond Help, a completely different documentary altogether. Had a whole show on trainspotting apparently."

Within the hour, the Boss is upon us, breaking the news, A-Z in hand.

"We're moving," he cries annoyed, indicating a spot on the river.

"I only just bloody found out!"

"Best start packing," I shout.

"You mean... you're not going to oppose the move?" he asks.

"Why?" I ask incredulously. "I can't wait! The chance to design a new and futureproof network."

"But what about access to the city?" he sniffles.

"Highly overrated - smog, congestion. Give me river views anytime."

"Me too," the PFY concurs.

"But what about... all the work you've done here?"

"In the past. I'm looking forward to the challenge of the future."

"But..."

"All right. Fifty quid and I'll put the kybosh on it. What about you?"

"Twenty pints," the PFY cries.

"You can't be serious!"

"All right then, we're not serious. Let's get packing."

"Uh... OK. But what are you going to do?"

"Well, I'd tell you, but then I'd have to strap a bulk eraser to your head and stick you to one of the metal floor tiles."

"You mean it's that secret?"

"Not really, I'm just curious to see what would happen."

Taking the hint, the boss takes his leave. I get on the phone to the company's head shark, a lawyer so dodgy his business card's got someone else's name on it. I invite him down for a little chat about that tenancy contract loophole we discovered ... in about 10 minutes.

Sure enough, the end of the day finds the Boss in a giving mood.

"I don't know how you did it," he cries cheerfully, "but it's money well spent. How'd you get the head lawyer to go for it - I thought he was one of the landlords?"

"Oh, he's quite reasonable when you get him down to ground level," I respond.

"Oh," The PFY blurts, "Speaking of which, should I turn off the eraser?"

"Hmmm. Maybe not just yet. Let's leave it a couple more hours."

It's true what they say, you've just got to know how to communicate with these people...