Wednesday, September 06, 2006

The Legend of Dynamo Peter

The following submission was received by Pro-Veritas from a verified email account used by BBC Monitoring staff.

Something earth shattering has happened at BBC Monitoring.

Just as the cynics were gloating at the new depths of indecision, half decisions and futile gestures to which BBC Monitoring had sunk under the captainship of Christopher Westcott, his hapless consultants and his hangers on, the unthinkable happened. Amid the tedious taunts of “I told you so” following yet another failure by senior management to match some 60 potentially redundant staff with about 60 unfilled posts, Peter Robertson walked in, fresh from a long holiday and ready for action.

Known affectionately as “Dynamo Peter” because of his limitless energy, his reputation for burning the midnight oil and his obsessive attention to detail, Mr Robertson had ended the “summer term” at a low ebb, having failed to make himself known to almost any of his staff - baggage he had inherited when he became head of the Geographic Group.

However, rejuvenated and refuelled after several weeks of holiday, Dynamo Peter was clearly determined to recoup his fearsome reputation and to make up for having missed at least two important milestones in Mr Westcott’s campaign to eradicate the culture of BBC Monitoring.

Like a military genius, Dynamo Peter chose his time and location carefully and, the truth has to be said, struck where his detractors least expected him to strike.

The day was Wednesday 30 August 2006, a day that will be inscripted on the listed walls of BBC Monitoring’s headquarters at Caversham, a day that will be celebrated as the beginning of the end of indecision and prevarication at this remote outpost of the BBC’s Global News Division. The location was the West Wing gallery area. The occasion was the last old-style 10:00 a.m. “Operational Meeting”.

We have no eyewitness account of the momentous event, such was the skill with which it was delivered - a cruise missile fired from a Stealth bomber, to use a military example. However, below is what we have been able to gather from the bits and pieces of evidence left behind (as with all momentous, historic events, facts inevitably get mixed up with fiction, so we must allow for the possibility of a degree of myth as the Legend of Dynamo Peter unfolds).

Here is what appears to have happened: As the august meeting got under way, the jaded editors started trembling as someone whispered, “A figure resembling Dynamo Peter appears to be heading this way.” A sudden, eerie fall in temperature confirmed that that figure was indeed Dynamo Peter. The fearsome Head of the Geographic Group entered the meeting area, sat on the periphery and then suddenly began to deliver words of wisdom. Almost simultaneously, the cleaning staff in an adjacent area began using their vacuum cleaning machines. Not a word of wisdom could be heard. Dynamo Peter left the meeting, and the jaded editors started to take their coats off as the temperature began to rise again.

At that point, no one knew that the deed had been done, that Dynamo Peter had struck and left, almost invisibly. Moments later, all was revealed. A simple note in the log said: “Peter Robertson to ask House Services to try to reschedule hoovering in atrium from its normal 1000 slot.”

It was as simple as that. As one editor said, it was like saying: “I have just launched a nuclear missile with a multiple independently-targeted re-entry vehicle at Tilehurst. It’s all quiet now.”

Years of pleas from staff to change the time of the noisy vacuum cleaning had come to nothing, yet one word from Dynamo Peter had made it happen in an instant. On the following day, Thursday 31 August, it was all quiet. The hoovers had fallen silent.

As staff ponder the implications of Dynamo Peter’s strike, the speculation is that the silencing of the hoovers may be the start of a bid by Mr Robertson to replace Christopher Westcott as BBC Monitoring’s top man. In the meantime, his legend is growing by the minute. It is said that posters of Dynamo Peter are selling like hot cakes at a fantastic premium. His silencing of the hoovers has been likened to Donald Rumsfeld’s “shock and awe”, while many female staff can be heard muttering a version of Shaggy’s song, “Not fair”, but substituting “Mr Hoover Man” for “Mr Lover Man”. For most staff, he is quite simply a hybrid of Rumsfeld and Shaggy.

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