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

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

    Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

    After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
    The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

    Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

    The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
    Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

    Tate Sensorium

    New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
    10 best sun creams for kids

    10 best sun creams for kids

    Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
    Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

    He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
    Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

    Remember Ashton Agar?

    The No 11 that nearly toppled England
    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks