Wednesday, 13 June 2012
Monday, in the pissing rain and freezing cold, to a training session. Its subject is something about which I am sworn to secrecy. Tweets will only be allowed via an authorised account, as will Facebook updates. As a result, I missed the first 15 minutes of the England match, which was not ideal. On that, as I also missed much of the second half – catching only the last 10 minutes or so through a pub window whilst sheltering under an umbrella – I don’t really know what to say. The press seemed quite upbeat on the following day, even though others have since said that we spent much of the latter part of the match on the back foot. Without Rooney (though it pains me to say it) I can’t see that much special about the team, and we look no more than adequate. Still, Greece perhaps excepted, it’s all wide open so you never know. I have a horrible feeling however that everything will depend on the final group game, and will maybe even be out of England’s hands by then. Neither Greece nor Ukraine are going to be easy to beat.
But, back to some general observations for you on my top secret mission in West Kensington. There were two presenters – one male and one female – from Learning & Development standing on the stage when we trooped in. The man looked like Alastair McGowan and sounded like Rob Brydon, or could have been McGowan doing a Brydon impression. Who knows? They spoke for getting on for two hours, and then guest presenters came on from the Security teams, from Occupational Health and from the senior management sponsor. After that it was on to 30 minute breakout sessions – six in all – covering the different areas in which we might end up working. At the end of each of these 30 minute sessions, a ship’s bell sounded, meaning we had to move from the one we were in to the next one along. Much of the information was repeated in each of the breakouts, making the day fairly hard going, although there was some light relief when we got to play with the iPads and iPhones with which we will be equipped for our duties. I was told that over 2500 iPads and over 800 iPhones have been purchased for the project, and this certainly does make me think about money. And priorities. And redundancies. And much else.
Along with the nearly 3000 of us taking part in the forthcoming event, I discovered that there will also be 8000 other volunteers from another part of our organisation, and this is even more mind-boggling because I’m guessing that this means almost the entire workforce will not be doing their day jobs for a few weeks. Other key staff are also being stood down from their normal activities for the duration, though I cannot go into this either due to the confidentiality issues I mention above. Suffice to say that the absence of that particular group will be a boon to those who prefer to travel without the benefit of a ticket. Nudge nudge.
More is to come. I will soon be meeting my team leader, will be collecting my technology at the beginning of July, and my uniform in the middle of July. My shifts have been allocated, and I will be familiarising myself with the locales before I turn up for my shift. I am expecting some anger and confusion (recently, in the street near my office, an American lady asked me where the nearest toilets were, and though I was not wearing any kind of tabard or badge, she looked away in disgust when I told her truthfully where they were. I sarcastically said: ‘You’re welcome!’ before going on my way. It wasn't my fucking fault that she was 15 minutes walk away from McDonald's, was it?) from dim witted members of the public, and am trying to remember the many pearls of wisdom which were scattered before me on Monday.