As another weekend draws to an untimely end, 35 hours of soul destroying tedium circles through your conscious like a corporate feathered vulture. Sunday's television schedule does little to distract you from the thoughts of a job that you once donned your finest suit to secure, and here, in a moment of depressing clarity is the realisation that, "this is your life." Instead of a red book filled with your greatest feats and wittiest one-liners, the best that you can achieve is two pages of Arial 11 point detailing your employment history and one or two hobbies that you added in a desperate attempt to make it sound as though you were a true team player and not the mis-anthropic, work-hating malcontent that you actually are.

If this sounds familiar then fear not, you are not alone. The Daily Grindstone is here to help you through the perils of employment and give weight to your long held belief that, despite the hype, work just isn't that great. So... make another cup of tea (remember that a full kettle takes longer to boil and can add minutes to your break), get comfortable, and prepare to adjust the scales of the work-life balance a little more in your favour.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Solving the Dictator Emploment Crisis

Events currently taking place across Europe and North Africa have been met with unparalleled levels of condemnation. Whilst the people of Libya sacrifice their lives to oust Gaddafi, British citizens have taken to their Twitter accounts in outrage at Simon Cowell's recent announcement. When the news hit that X-Factor 2011 would feature a revised panel of judges, half-witted fame-hungry bedlamites spoke out in disgust. Who would be capable of filling Cheryl's size five stilettos? Who could replace louis' unfaltering confidence that every boy band would be the new Westlife? Do we have enough parts to build a new Danni Minogue? In this fear and panic, the solution to both these problems has been unfairly overlooked.

The world will soon face an employment crisis as growing numbers of deposed dictators are required to "jazzy up" their CVs and meet with careers advisors. There is no demand for reckless disregard for human life (unless you wish to join the Metropolitan police) so why not let these individuals judge talentless morons on the X-Factor?

Not only would TV audiences struggle to discern the differences between a washed up pop star and a Libyan dictator, but should X-Factor critics speak poorly of the show, a violent militia could be rapidly assembled. In appearance both Danni Minogue and Muammar Gaddafi, feature the "full to bursting" look of Botox riddled pores, and in speaking Mubarak's propaganda filled rhetoric is barely discernable from Louis Walsh's softly spoken drivel. But how do we replace Cheryl? Using state of the art technology, show producers could reanimate the corpse of Iraq's iron fisted patriarch, Saddam Hussein. Whilst the smell of putrefying flesh may discourage some younger fans, there is no denying that their shared taste for beating up ethnic minorities in nightclub toilets is uncanny.

Simon Cowell's proposed replacement is currently enjoying full employment from the North Korean "government" but, given his healthy relationship with the western media, an attractive deal from ITV should be sufficient to lure him away. Both Kim Jong Il and Simon Cowell have made unimaginable riches from inflicting suffering on their fellow countrymen and so it is only fair that the Korean big gun fills the top position.

The roles of Dermot O'Leary and Konnie Huq are currently up for grabs, so please feel free to suggest your favourite dictator.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Snooze Button Surfing

To snooze or not to snooze, for that is the real question facing the unwilling participants of “alarm clock Britain.” Across Albion’s green and fertile lands are tired office workers dragging themselves out from beneath warm and faithful bed sheets. Whilst it is hard to derive any pleasure from this hateful obligation, for the thrill seeking employee, gambling against the alarm clock is just the motivation needed to begin the working day.

Once the alarm clock has sounded, there are only two options available to the Rip van Winkle wannabee - to sleep or not to sleep. Whilst the lesser slacker diligently marches themselves to the nearest bathroom, the half-conscious daredevil shuns the ‘call to work’ and fires a well aimed shot at the alarm clock snooze button.

Gambling on the number of times that one can press snooze before being irreversibly late for work, provides hours of entertainment/sleep. Whilst most athletes attribute their accomplishments to hard work and dedication, the “Snooze Button Surfer” can achieve unrivalled success without ever needing to open an eyelid. One “Surfer” be-known to the Daily Grindstone, once claimed to have left himself just six minutes before stepping out of the door. How did he achieve this? Idleness and the occasional late night.

After a few weeks of snooze surfing, one will appreciate the simple pleasure that comes from mastering your alarm clock. No longer shall that mechanical Hitler decide when you rise from your slumber!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Office Tennis

The inexperienced skiver can be identified by a morose expression and penchant for studying clocks. Gazing at the hour hand of a Seiko wrist watch is a thankless task and many would-be timewasters will eventually succumb to the lures of diligence. For shirkers wishing to avoid the pitfalls of hard work, there are a number of activities that can help to stave off the boredom of watching your life expire. In the run up to the Office Olympics, the Daily Grindstone will be presenting some of the greatest office sports.

Office Tennis

Office tennis is a simple but rewarding game that involves two active participants and one irritating but gullible colleague. The game begins when the first player “serves” the ball. To serve, player one beckons the irritating colleague (the ball) and provides a reason for them to approach the other player. Eg. “Have you started work on the XYZ report yet? I think that maybe Dave could help as he did it last year.”

Having received the ball, player two should “return play” by answering the query and creating a reason to ‘return’ the ball to player one. Eg. “Yes I did work on that report but I think Tim presented it. Why don’t you ask him to send you the slides?” Should the ball lose interest or, for any other reason, fail to return, the last player to execute a successful play will gain one point.

The first player to reach eleven points is deemed the winner and can progress to the next round of the tournament.

Scoring points can be made easier by presenting your opponent with a difficult question to answer or deflect.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Acceptable Internet Usage

Arch nemesis to all internet procrastinators is the IT Man. The office's Big Brother, Dave from IT, scans personal emails and internet search history for visible signs of defection. Despite looking like Gareth Keenan's (Google the name) older slightly chubbier brother, Dave's friendly facade hides a ruthless hunter who will stop at nothing to protect his network from Trojan Horses, Worms, Spyware, Malware, Freeware, Shareware, Care-bears, apple an' pears, and awkward stares.

An email from the IT department can only ever mean one of two things, either the server is down for routine maintenance (don't forget to save your work) or they have uncovered your penchant for browsing Ebay and Googling "pictures of cats smoking cigars." Opening the email with a click of the perspiration soaked mouse, the skiver is unable to hide their relief as they read about a software malfunction that has deleted everything from the last five hours. Whilst their co-workers wail like maudlin banshees, the skiver cannot help but smile as their browsing history vanishes like Jackie's unsaved report. Despite the IT Man’s best efforts, lady luck has granted them pardon from a workplace disciplinary and this calls for a celebratory trip to Facebook.

The seasoned skiver lives in constant fear of being rumbled by IT and yet lacks the discipline to resist another bite from the forbidden fruit. Refreshing Gmail in the hope of uncovering an interesting message, the internet procrastinator thrives on the adrenalin rush that comes from pushing the boundaries of ‘acceptable internet usage.’ Like a high stakes game of cat and mouse, the skiver confuses his nerdy nemesis by throwing the occasional work website into a sea of incriminating personal sites. Meticulously deleting all traces of their internet usage, each visit to “I AM” is a potential crime scene just waiting to sound the death bell of their career.

Although Dave from IT actually has very little interest in monitoring 500 individual email inboxes (he prefers to spend his time on the Nottingham Forest Supporters forum), he does enjoy the power it affords him. Tread carefully when dealing with the IT Man or you could become the next Simon from Personnel, publicly shamed at the Christmas party for being  a "roleplaying, World of Warcraft loving nonce." 

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Shit Break

There is no greater pleasure than being paid to empty your bowels. Sitting there resplendent on your throne, you can stimulate your intestines safe in the knowledge that your employer is paying you for the privilege. The toilet cubicle, whilst sporting the faint aroma of your fellow employees’ excrement, is your sanctuary - make the necessary deposits and you can return whenever you require respite from your day to day labors.

Unlike the tea break or the trip to the stationary cupboard, the toilet break has no time limit. Your fellow workers have no desire to hear about the length of your movements or the tricky bits of sweetcorn that just won't budge, so take your time and enjoy your trip to the ceramic bowl of freedom. In the event that a co-worker does raise an eyebrow to your latest thirty minute stint, simply utter the following words, "I think I ate something funny last night." Whilst they cringe in disgust at the thought of loose stools hitting crisp white porcelain, smile comfortably, safe in the knowledge that you have just earned a day ticket to unlimited skiving.

With the advent of mobile internet browsing, the toilet break can become more than you ever dreamt possible. As you "fill the pond with brown trout," you are free to catch up on Facebook or simply beat your highest score on Angry Birds. The toilet break is your opportunity to claw back time from your employer and spend it on life's little pleasures (unloading your digestive system being one). Choose life, choose red meat and choose stodgy lunches.

Monday, 28 March 2011

A Grumpy Guide to the "Grumpy Guide to Work"

There is nothing more grating than listening to a famous and privileged media personality telling you about the horrors of work. As they recount stories of the ghastly summer job they endured in the time between leaving stage school and receiving a multi-million pound television deal, it is hard to avoid the feeling that this is just a little like a paintball instructor telling a Vietnam war veteran about the "things they have seen."

BBC2's The Grumpy Guide to Work promised a "look at the world of work, from ingenious skiving techniques to the dangers of email." In reality it provided a tired commentary on an imaginary workplace last seen in a 1970s sitcom.

To ensure that no viewer went away without just a hint of nausea, the show employed Britain's least funny comic, Shappi Khorsandi, to muddle her way through a collection of pointless and inane anecdotes about a job in a sandwich shop. Had I pursued a career as an abattoir executioner, I would have taken this opportunity to turn the bolt gun on myself and end the torment once and for all.

To see the show and witness Shappi's torture first hand, please visit:

Monday, 21 March 2011

The Out of Office Message

The more astute amongst you may have noticed that the Daily Grindstone has been a little quieter than usual today. Before you enter a state of gut wrenching fear that after only 105 working hours, the Daily Grindstone has exhausted all of the work gripes that face the modern day employee, please rest assured that the break is only temporary and we will be back next week to provide your usual supply of cathartic commentary on the absurdity of the workplace.

Taking a well earned break from his career as a Dickensian headmaster and workplace cynic, Thomas Gradgrind will be spending the next seven days on holiday. With no access to a laptop, typewriter, or quill, his contemptuous commentary will return on Monday the 28th March.

Whilst you wait with baited breath for his return, please browse the article archive and feel free to submit your own sardonic musings. For those of you who have been deterred from entering comments for fear of being uncovered by your employer, you will be pleased to find out that the settings have been adjusted and readers can now post anonymously without any need for signing in or setting up an account.