In workplaces across Britain, bloggers are describing life at the coalface. Tim Worstall selects the key sites
Monday 19 December 2005
Tom Reynolds writes of his life as an emergency medical technician in Newham, east London. Most of the writing is descriptions of his calls, the disasters and accidents that he gets called to. He can be most amusing and also has a gift for telling the most heartbreaking stories without ever, quite, breaking yours. Tales of those he couldn't save, or could only for an hour or two, perhaps allowing the family to gather to say goodbye at the hospital bedside. Likely to be the next blogger to end up between hard covers.
David Copperfield, another nom de plume, writes of life as a serving police officer. Most emphatically not PC: his views on the low lifes that make up much of his work are, shall we say, robust. His complaints about the bureaucracy and form filling have to be read: few will believe what modern policing has come to without understanding this point. A wonderfully deadpan style and a useful précis of his views would be that chavs, scrotes, police management and chief constables are all an equal danger to our quiet and peaceful land.
Bill Sticker gives us his mordant view of life from the kerbside. No, not that of a streetwalker but of what used to be called a traffic warden. Idiot drivers, irate myopics (perhaps undereducated) who don't know what double yellow lines mean or can't see them. Like most of those who blog about their jobs he is not overly impressed with the current style of British management. Some aspiring business book author could easily write a bestseller culled from this list - A Study of Management: How Not to Do It perhaps.
More tales from the legal system, this time from the solicitor. His repeated run-ins with snooty barristers, drunken prisoners and the many delights of the criminal classes help to remind us just what a class-ridden country we still are. The comments section sometimes contains notes from people who are angry that the clients he defends get off when, in their view, perhaps they should not have. Quite rightly his defence is that the system requires that everyone be allowed the best defence possible.
Not, you might think, the most enthralling of subjects, the things that happen on the No 12 bus from Newton Abbot to Brixham. Yet these little vignettes from the driver make fascinating reading as insights into someone else's daily life. He carries a camera as well and posts the occasional photos of what he passes on the daily rounds. It might be because I was born there but it's the via Torquay part of the route that makes it. He has a thing for photos of illegally parked coaches too. Who knew of the undeclared war between the two tribes?
Desk Monkey writes of the tribulations of working for a local council in Scotland. A consistent refrain is that what is done seems to be less important to many than the way it is done. Neither the management nor politicians are highly thought of. While it is infrequently updated and there are more personal posts interspersed throughout, the tales of exactly what it is like to work for such an organisation are worth checking in for. "Your council tax money at work" as it were.
Would you like to know what it's really like to manage a London Underground station? Then this is the blog for you. Most of the posts here are simply stories of the day, what happened and to whom. There are the occasional other topics but most of it is about the Tube, or, more accurately, the Londoners on the Tube. He's also the focal point for the growing number of Tube employees blogging; look at his sidebar for a full list of them.
The delights of teaching the young of our country by Bloom, who considers them to be few and far between. He recently announced that he thought he had achieved a major goal: in inspiring all of his pupils not to become teachers when they grow up. This decent and well-written guide to what it is like to work in an inner-city comprehensive is interspersed with more personal stories (and at times some very funny ones too). He's also a useful introduction to the other "edubloggers" around the country; take a look at his blogroll.
From a doctor working within the NHS. While it's wonderfully written it's also extremely depressing. The stories of how the system works and what the recent changes mean show exactly where the tens of billions being pumped into the system actually go. It might not surprise some of us to find that the money doesn't go on front-line treatment. Dr Crippen is following in the tradition of Arthur Conan Doyle and showing that qualifying as a doctor is excellent training for becoming a writer.
Stories of the tailoring trade from the heart of Savile Row. A combination of photos and stories of the people who work there, links to other media and so on. There is also a wonderful series of posts on the tricks of the trade, precisely how to use a thimble, the easiest way to sew on a button, etc. Interesting not just for the stories but free advice from one of the top professionals. Difficult to beat.
Covers some of the same ground as Random Reality but from a different point of view: that of being stuck at the end of a phone line and having to help to diagnose and even instruct on treatment to those who call. Can be extremely amusing about the idiocies of those who call, just as you might become angry at the abuse these people receive. He also has great posts on how to call 999 and what people are doing when you do.
Bystander is a magistrate working in west London. Writing under a pseudonym he provides details of how the courts work, talks of swearing in police constables, the troubles with the persistent offenders and even those who actually desire a jail term. One long-running feature is to take a recent (details suitably changed to ensure anonymity) case and provide the evidence and range of possible punishments, inviting readers to work out what was actually imposed. It is fair to say that he is not enamoured of the way the courts are managed.
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