Secretarial: The Temp - You're OK, I'm bored silly

HOLIDAYS: YOU can always tell who's been on one. I'm not talking here about the standard ways of telling: the suntan, the week-long burst of good temper, the frequent allusions to foodstuffs that don't figure highly on the shelves of the Croydon Asda. No, I'm referring to how a good 50 per cent of people who have been on holiday will come back determined to practise the tenets of the self-help book they took with them.

For this is one of the awful truths of the foreign holiday: that it almost inevitably involves a trip through an airport and, most of us being unable to go to an airport without keeping several hours in hand for mishaps and traffic jams, a trip through an airport always means a trip to the airport bookshop. And what do you find in airport bookshops? Self-help books.

I love airport bookshops because they always have the world's best selection of biographies of mass murderers. I can spend hours in them, and come out with a whole new item of hand baggage. So I understand how people go a bit barmy in these places. Plus there's the anonymity factor; the fact that they are only passing through liberates people to waltz off with books they would never buy in places where someone might know them. That's why there are always so many copies of the Illustrated Kama Sutra, The Joy of Sex, and Venus and Mars in the Bedroom on prominent display in Heathrow Terminal 3.

But it's not the I'm OK, You're OK variety of self-help that worries me. Books like this, though they give people a lot of information about you if you leave them lying on your bedside table, don't do much harm in the workplace. People who have spent two weeks immersed in the Celestine Prophecy, Hey, I like You Too!, Stand Tall, Feel Big or whatever, generally live, albeit briefly, in a mindframe where they are so intent on not being paranoid/ getting on with people/ understanding the underlying psychology of what's going on/ trying to see auras, that they forget to cause much trouble. Plus, they're plugged in, half the time, to home-made cassette tapes of inspirational songs like "The Only Way is Up", "Things Can Only Get Better", "Theme from Flashdance", "Kids From Fame", "Search for the Hero" and so forth, that their endorphin levels are at an all-time high, making them rather nicer.

No, it's the other sort of self-help book that I'm beginning to think should be banned altogether. You only ever see these books at two places - airports and railway stations - and they are aimed directly at the semi- literate middle manager with the high aspirations and the mediocre talents. Books called things like The Champion Within, Excellence as Standard, I! Winner!, Success Can be Yours!, The Instant Millionaire, Grab the Prizes!, Power through Confrontation!, Release the Leader Inside! or Big Man!. Books that purport to hold the secret of how the author/ authors fought their way (and that's another thing: have you ever noticed how much business imagery is aggressive, if not martial? Campaign, drive, assault on the marketplace, attack...) from middle management to riches.

You can always tell them, the ones who have successfully avoided contact with their families by self-importantly wielding these books as they turned lobster-red around the pool. They're the ones who march around punching out phrases like "Where's the opportunity within the problem?", "Who's the Team Leader around here?", "The buck stops here", "If you're not the solution, you're part of the problem", "I'm not afraid of success", "Well, life isn't fair! and "Don't tell me what I already know". They're the ones who start arguments, insist on having their say in meetings, spend their lives feverishly scribbling in conferences so they can make their mark by asking the most smart-arsed questions.

They're also the people who get the least done. This is why I'm pushing for the blanket-ban on business publications. Because while their devotees are putting their rules into practice, they are usually paying no attention to what needs to be done around the place. And getting up the noses of the hapless secretaries who have to deal with them. I swear, if I have to take my headphones off one more time to hear someone say "There's no such word as enough/ perfect/ wrong/ other people/ no", I'll clock them with my copy of Ten Things They Never Told You at Harvard Business School.

Arts and Entertainment
Cold case: Aaron McCusker and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tv Review: Sky Atlantic's ambitious new series began tonight with a feature-length special
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Arts and Entertainment
Ready to open the Baftas, rockers Kasabian are also ‘great film fans’
musicExclusive: Rockers promise an explosive opening to the evening
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Arts and Entertainment
tv
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift is heading to Norwich for Radio 1's Big Weekend

music
Arts and Entertainment
Beer as folk: Vincent Franklin and Cyril Nri (centre) in ‘Cucumber’
tvReview: This slice of gay life in Manchester has universal appeal
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
‘A Day at the Races’ still stands up well today
film
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tvAnd its producers have already announced a second season...
Arts and Entertainment
Kraftwerk performing at the Neue Nationalgalerie (New National Gallery) museum in Berlin earlier this month
musicWhy a bunch of academics consider German electropoppers Kraftwerk worthy of their own symposium
Arts and Entertainment
Icelandic singer Bjork has been forced to release her album early after an online leak

music
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth as Harry Hart in Kingsman: The Secret Service

film
Arts and Entertainment
Brian Blessed as King Lear in the Guildford Shakespeare Company's performance of the play

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
In the picture: Anthony LaPaglia and Martin Freeman in 'The Eichmann Show'

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Kirkbride and Bill Roache as Deirdre and Ken Barlow in Coronation Street

tvThe actress has died aged 60
Arts and Entertainment
Marianne Jean-Baptiste defends Joe Miller in Broadchurch series two

tv
Arts and Entertainment
The frill of it all: Hattie Morahan in 'The Changeling'

theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny may reunite for The X Files

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Clarkson, left, and Richard Hammond upset the locals in South America
TV
News
A young woman punched a police officer after attending a gig by US rapper Snoop Dogg
people
Arts and Entertainment
Reese Witherspoon starring in 'Wild'

It's hard not to warm to Reese Witherspoon's heroismfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Word up: Robbie Coltrane as dictionary guru Doctor Johnson in the classic sitcom Blackadder the Third
books

Arts and Entertainment
The Oscar nominations are due to be announced today

Oscars 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Hacked off: Maisie Williams in ‘Cyberbully’

Maisie Williams single-handedly rises to the challenge

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne in The Theory of Everything and Benedict Cumberbatch in The Imitation Game are both nominated at the Bafta Film Awards
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

    Isis hostage crisis

    The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
    Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

    The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

    Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

    Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
    Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

    Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

    This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
    Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

    Cabbage is king again

    Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
    11 best winter skin treats

    Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

    Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
    Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

    Paul Scholes column

    The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
    Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

    Frank Warren's Ringside

    No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
    Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

    The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

    Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

    Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
    Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
    Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

    Comedians share stories of depression

    The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
    Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

    Has The Archers lost the plot?

    A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
    English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

    14 office buildings added to protected lists

    Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

    Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee