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BOFH: Champion of culture

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Episode 22

"I don't know what to say," the PFY sniffles as the Boss breaks the sad news to him. "Will it be...quick?"

"It'll over in no time," the Boss reassures him.

"And how is everyone taking it?"

"Apart from you, pretty well actually," the Boss replies.

"But why?" the PFY bleats.

"Its time had come - we all knew that. It's just too expensive to keep."

"Wasn't there some other way? It was a piece of history."

"No, I'm afraid that once the bills started mounting up it was the best thing to do for everyone concerned."

"But it was a classic!"

"It was just a rusty old van!"

"It may have been a rusty old van to you, but to me it was a driving experience!"

"A bad experience," the Boss snaps, losing his hitherto supportive demeanour.

"No, it was great. You could hit a judder bar at 35mph with no problems - except that time we lost the muffler, of course. Not to mention it could get into any parking space - no matter how small - without any damage."

"Without any further damage, you mean," I correct.

"Granted, it had some...love bites."

"It was a wreck!" the Boss blurts.

"Only cosmetically. Structurally it was built like a battleship!"

"I hardly think it was all that..."

"He's right," I interrupt. "It was built like a battleship - we got it second-hand from the prison service when they privatised their transportation. It was unusually rare."

"And unusually expensive to keep running. Why, the diesel costs alone..."

"Are you sure we can't keep it?" the PFY pleads.

"No, it's going, we had a budget cut last week and we realised it was too costly to run," the Boss snaps.

"That's what they said about the espresso machine!"

"Yes, That's going tomorrow," the Boss mumbles.

"Beg pardon?" I croak.

"The espresso machine - it's going tomorrow."

"You can't do that - it's been part of the company for years!"

"So had the van."

"It means a great deal to people."

"So apparently did the van!"

"It's a landmark!"

"Only in that people knew the fax machine was beside it and that you need a swipe card to get to it!!!"

"It has cultural significance!"

"What culture?" the Boss asks.

"The coffee culture!"

"The 'coffee culture' can drink instant like everyone else!"

"Wash your mouth out with soap," the PFY fizzes. "Do you know how many harmful chemicals are in instant?"

"Next to none?"

"That's right, none! When you're three hours into a system install at midnight and need a caffeine pick-me-up to keep you going an instant's just not going to do it!"

"This is ridiculous!" the Boss snaps. "It's costly, only used by a few privileged people and hard to get to!"

"So's St Paul's Cathedral - are you proposing that should be got rid of to save costs too?"

"Now you're just being silly. It's going, tomorrow, so you'll have to make other plans to get your coffee. Perhaps you can get it delivered - at your expense - if you need it that badly."

"I'm telling you, you can't get rid of it," I say. "Or the van either for that matter. They're part of the company now!"

"They're already sold!" the Boss snaps, exiting.

..

"So what do we do?" the PFY asks. "Break them enough that the sale falls through but not so much that we can't repair them later?"

"That wouldn't work - once we'd repaired them the Boss would sneak in and take them. No, what we need is something truly original...Hmmmm...I think I have it."

...The next day...

"WHAT THE F*** IS THIS?!" the Boss shouts angrily, crashing into Mission Control full tilt.

"What's what?" I ask.

"This!" he cries, thrusting a couple of sheaves of paper at me.

"Uh...it's what it says," I reply.

"YOU APPLIED FOR HERITAGE PROTECTION FOR A VAN AND A COFFEE MACHINE!!!" he shouts.

"Oh that! Yes, I did," I say.

"You don't stand a chance of getting this approved!" he seethes.

"Why not, we agreed the landmark status and cultural significance?"

"You can't be serious."

"Of course we can. Both items are iconic and have a rich and significant history."

"It'll never get approved!" the Boss repeats.

"No, but then it doesn't have to be," I say.

"What do you mean?"

"Until their eligibility for heritage status is decided they're protected by law - you can't touch them."

"So you've really only protected them for... >shuffle< 15 days till the next hearing."

"Fifteen more days of coffee and driving," I counter.

"...if it even gets to the hearing," the PFY adds.

"What do you mean," the boss asks suspiciously.

"What if the submission got mislaid on the way to the hearing? We might need an extension till the next hearing date. Then the next...then there's the convoluted and escalating appeals process, which is bound to cost the company a lot more than the running costs of an old van and an espresso machine..."

"I...You...A...oh.." the Boss says, wandering out of Mission Control with defeat stencilled all over him.

"Should we tell him about the application to make the pub across the road an official place of worship?"

"Nah, let's leave that till we can muddy up the definition of 'religious observance' in our contracts..."

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