Like most senior civil servants, I try to draw a very distinct line between my personal and professional lives. Consequently, the area of work has featured rarely on these pages and, given the highly sensitive nature of my employment, that will no doubt continue to be the case in the main. However, the development of an exceptionally intriguing and bizarre set of highly comic and work-related circumstances has combined with my not having the foggiest what else to post, given that the third test doesn't start until the week's virtually over, and given me no option but to shed a little light into that otherwise dingy corner of my 9-5 existence.
Obviously, I'll have to relate much of this in very broad brushstrokes as I'm legally obliged to treat all but the most trivial of the day's business with the utmost discretion. This is one reason I've never been able to reveal the names of those involved in the infamous Roussos-o-gram incident, nor shed more than the most innuendoous light upon what happened to the pitchfork and the tent frame after the unfortunate dawn raid by the West Sussex constabulary on the junior minister's weekend retreat. Those details will, like so much else, have to wait until my retirement - although I can probably post up a link of him in the Doris Day outfit should there be a widely felt desire that to do so would be in the national interest.
Suffice to say, the department in which I am but a small cog in the relative scheme of machinations is primarily concerned with, in the very broadest and decent sense of the word, procurement. For reasons of personal and national security, I can't be specific about the exact nature of the services/goods it is within our remit to acquire but the precise nature of the day to day business of our office is not itself the kernel of the comedic scenario beginning to unfold this fateful week. Let us say, for the sake of hypothesis and in order to flesh out the narrative sufficiently so as to retain the reader's interest a little further, that the items in question are, oh I dunno, off the top of my head....oh yes, ....books. Yes, that should do the trick. 'Books' it is.
So, in the feint hope that anyone has persisited this far with the tale, as in so many quarters over the last 12 months, the various financial and credit restrictions which have been ravaging the economy have been keenly felt in our sector. Indeed, had it not been for some judicious recycling of envelopes and a determined effort to ensure that all lights and PCs were turned off by the last person leaving the office, I sincerely doubt that our department would have been able stagger on into the last financial quarter. But stagger on we did and, despite the evident ignominy of working within a team whose sole raison d'etre was, not to put to fine a point on it, spending money, and discovering that there was little appetite among our colleagues higher up the monetary pecking order for expenditure of more than the most frugal and cheeseparing sums, it's been a rewarding time for our battle-hardened troops.
But yesterday, shortly before close of play, came the bombshell. My supervisor (who may or may not be flamehaired and sultry of lip, according to the overactivity or otherwise of the esteemed reader's imagination) appeared to dissolve into what can only be described as liquid form as she perused the latest email from on high. We have, it seems, £80,000 to spend. On 'books'. By Friday.
Oh well, on with the motley...