Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A ‘Hoo!’ and a ‘Hah!’ and the land is ours

I was at the first day of another all staff event today – this time in Bristol. I suspect that I have now notched up more of these events than any other member of staff in the organisation. As I ducked out of the afternoon workshops (to do some real work) and headed over a footbridge towards my hotel, I was accosted.

‘You are the Chocolate Sandwich guy aren’t you?’

This question came from a regional director to whom I have never really spoken. We were in the middle of a footbridge in a strange town. It felt like espionage. I paused and strongly fought the urge to reply furtively in ‘spy’ code – something like ‘The Eagle Flies on Friday’.

I had been getting funny looks all morning from colleagues who had obviously wasted time reading something I’d written about the last all-staff event - or ‘family gathering’ as it is now known. It seemed a little futile to launch any kind of denial.

‘Yes I am. How are you?’

He didn’t really tell me how he was, but said some kind words about my writing. He then raised his eyebrows, looked around conspiratorially, and intimated:

‘You really did cause quite a hoo-hah you know.’

He darted away over the bridge and disappeared into the crowd. I was left wondering quite what an English middle class person means when they use the term ‘Hoo-hah’. Does a ‘hoo-hah’ in our ‘family’ include any of the following components:

  • The National Director shouting. I witnessed this once when our former ‘manager’ riled him in our office. He is hard to ruffle, but she was sat very close to him and talked loudly straight into his ear. His shout could actually have been a cry of aural pain.
  • A close perusal of the section covering ‘Gross Misconduct’ in the Human Resources handbook.
  • An agreement that my meteoric rise through the ranks of the organisation had to stop.
  • A member of the Senior Management Team saying ‘Do you want me to whack him boss?’

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