Diary - I feel a tune coming on

5th June 2009 at 01:00

These are troubled times. Budget butchery. Routine redundancies. Curriculum confusion. The council leader, Lars, is keen to merge services. I am reminded of a Two Ronnies sketch when the pair were lampooning the then NHS changes. One introduced the other as an ear, nose, throat, dandruff and bellybutton specialist. We are moving closer to such mergers.

We need to cut back on the number of directors. We need to focus on service delivery, according to Lars. There are two kinds of services, but he wasn't sure what they were. He had examined structures in the UK and abroad in an effort to find his latest answer to re-reconstruction. Children's Services? People Services? Learning Services?

Lars was in a quandary. He wanted to be a pioneer in local government, at the cutting edge of community politics, a national figure, a potential MSP, MP or MEP. He wanted to be loved, respected and admired. He went off for a week-end with a small circle of advisers, sycophants and cronies to find the answers. They returned with a look of self-confidence bordering on smugly arrogant and promised all would be revealed at the management team meeting.

We have six directors and all were looking edgy and anxious. Who would be unlucky enough not to be made redundant and take the King's kroner? There was plenty of gallows humour as they assembled to hear their fate. Lars arrived late with his favourite female councillor, both looking dishevelled.

Lars launched into a presentation that developed his main theme. I wanted to burst out laughing. "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world." Has he hired Barbara Streisand? The council was to refocus on People Services. Everything was to be people-centred. Lars was a People Person. He didn't get where he is today without being a People Person. He wanted to focus on People and Communities. No more departmentalism. No more empire-building. No more silo mentality. Lars wanted to focus on Homes and Families. "A house is not a home if there's no one there", continued the political poseur. Luther Van Dross anyone?

Had the councillors been away at a karaoke weekend party? Streisand, Van Dross - who's next? There were to be only two directors. Unfortunately, I was to survive. Lars was asking me to set up Children, Homes and Occupational Services - a revolutionary approach to family development and support. The winning directors winced as they realised that their only escape was over the wire to Switzerland or the Corporal Klinger cross- dressing approach from M.A.S.H. Where was that motor-bike?

I had to race to the safety of the loo. Just as I was composing myself, the internal piped music played Fun Boy Three's "The Lunatics Have Taken Over The Asylum". Quite.

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