Not just a county to the east of London (even for an Igor or one with a related thpeech eccthentrithity). Though, it is worth noting that Essex currently seems rather popular with television programme makers – though I suspect this may have more to do with its proximity to London, and the media hotbed of Hoxton, than anything intrinsically fascinating about the county itself.
But no, I must tear myself away from East Anglia and instead turn the searching gaze of GofaDM to the subject of morality. I like to imagine that I lead a somewhat ethical life -though, as this blog has established, I could represent my country at self-delusion. However, this week my ethics were put to the official test.
My employers started out as quite a small company, but having been taken over three times are now part of a huge corporate behemoth (though, so far as I know, it is neither attracted to bright lights nor have I caught it nibbling on my clothing). With each take-over and resultant increase in size, the degree of bureaucracy has grown exponentially – as is inevitable. We humans aren’t good in groups of much more than 150 or so, though that doesn’t seem to stop us trying to form much larger groups and then wondering why it’s all gone wrong.
The latest wizard wheeze from Head Office was an on-line ethics test. I’d been avoiding this for months as I felt I had better things to do – well there was still grass capable of growth and paint with the potential for drying – but the email-based bullying had become daily and started including the word “Final” and an increasing number of asterisks in the subject line, so I felt I better succumb. Prior to taking the test itself, I had to endure the “training” component of the exercise. This had clearly been prepared by our friends across the Herring Pond, and seemed to be aimed at the under 5s. By luck, I turned off the narrator – so only had to read the blindingly obvious statements prepared for my elucidation (rather than having them read out to me). To maintain our fleeting attention, the training included “amusing” little scenarios where two characters played out a variety of ethical “dilemmas”. In each of these, a sociopath chats to a colleague and lays bare the moral vacuum that forms their soul. We are then instructed as to what we, as good little drones, should have done instead – though, in at least once case, this did involve violating causality, which years of reading and watching science-fiction has taught me seldom ends well.
After making my way through this instruction (as rapidly as possible) came the “test”. It wasn’t quite Only Connect. It comprised only four multiple choice questions (and budgets must have been tight, as rather than the five traditional answers this test only ran to four). Without the benefit of the “training”, I would hope that almost everyone aged 5 or over should have found the test entirely trivial – though I suppose this might be my woolly liberalism showing through. I presume anyone who fails is marked out for a career in politics or time at her majesty’s pleasure (or, based on recent events, quite possibly both!).
Still, I shouldn’t complain too much. I am paid handsomely for carrying out such foolish, but trivial, little exercises – and I do now know that, in a very limited sphere at least, my moral compass is pointing north. I guess I should also be grateful that our major corporations are embracing ethics (and I’ve worked for one that certainly wasn’t doing so at the top) – though one feels the world of business (and indeed, the one beyond) still has quite a long way to go (given the continuing nature of the news).
So, perhaps I should finish with a suitable peroration: The only way is ethics!