Today, civil servants in the UK are worried as George Osborne and his cronies start hacking away at our public spending budgets. That’s good, these people definitely had it coming.
If you have you ever tried to reason with somebody responsible for implementing the law at Whitehall, administrating at a local authority or merely the point of contact for service provision then the words ‘civil’ and ‘servant’ won’t be the first two that enter your head when looking back on your dealings with these quite infuriating people.
The fact is, a civil servant is part of a huge clunking organisation that – let’s be clear – is absolutely not there to help you. It may be the Highways Department, the Welfare Department, the Inland Revenue, the Department for Health or the Home Office that you are dealing with but the result is always the same: unending, pride-swallowing misery.
All civil servants, whatever the department, hate everyone and everything. They are classically trained in obduracy, soul-theft and mental torture. They will eat your children. If you are prone to depression and suicidal tendencies, never attempt any discourse with a civil servant because a trip to the hardware store and a subsequent hosepipe purchase will be the inevitable result.
Phoning any government or local authority department hurts. If you do (stupidly) attempt this, you’ll first have to negotiate your way through a labyrinthine telephone menu selection. If you do get through to a human there’s a good chance that the person you are talking to will need to transfer you to another. Then you’ll be put on hold for a period of about five minutes, listening to Greensleeves or some other reworked classic. Within minutes the phone will go dead and you’ll have to go through the whole process again.
If you persist and get through to the correct person you can be sure that there’ll be a series of bureaucratic hoops to jump through to resolve the situation.
Six months later you’ll undoubtedly get a bill for not complying with the procedure or failing to give some innocuous piece of information to the civil servant whose name you simply can’t remember.
These people are trained to confuse the hell out of you. Have you seen their job specs? They take up about five full pages of A4 and after a quick examination of the questions you will notice that sadists are the target audience. To secure any one of these posts you’ll be asked to reinvent the wheel in a 14-page application unless of course you are going for a job to work with children, in which case they’ll simply ask you your name.