Friday 20 April 2012

Progress on “that” Regulation

The recent news that the Article 29 Working Party is concerned at the costs of enforcing the proposed General Data Protection Regulation prompted me to wonder how the (fictional) Headmaster of St Berlaymont’s College (pictured) might respond to a similar situation.

Perhaps he might write a memo like this:

To: Senior Prefect(Justice)
From: Headmaster Rumpoy

Subject: Next College Production

Dear Viviane

Your house mistress has spoken to me because she is very worried about the state of the preparations for the next college production of “Hector, the Perfect Data Protector”. I am grateful to you for volunteering the members of your house to mount the production, but after hearing what she has had to say, and after having kept my ear to the ground over the past few days to pick up other rumours, I am also getting increasingly concerned at the evident lack of progress.

I would have hoped that, by now, you would have finalised at least the first proper draft of a script, so that the other members of staff can decide whether it’s an initiative they really want the college to support. But I hear you have run into difficulties. I have been told that while you circulated a rough draft in January, everyone who has seen it has found different ways to criticise it. It still hasn’t got a proper beginning, middle and end. The jokes are poor, the songs are awful, and it really doesn’t properly reflect the cultural diversity that our college takes pride in demonstrating to the other schools.

You can’t just take something that young Angela M wrote a few years ago, and expect the rest of the college – or the schools in the surrounding neighbourhood - to appreciate it. You have to cast your net much wider. I want bigger parts for many more students. It’s not just meant to be a soliloquy, you know. If you can’t write a big enough role for each of the 27 students under your care, then I’m going to have to ask another prefect to submit a script.

You also have to be mindful that a number of the students in the production will be entering other talent contests over the coming months, and I don’t want you saying or doing anything that will harm their chances in those competitions. Obviously, these pupils care about the good name of the school, but they all have their own self interests at heart, too. They’ve got to win their own local contests, as well as make sure that the college has a critically acclaimed hit. Otherwise you’re going to have new students arriving just before the production is to be staged, and that will require you to do some re-writing to reflect the personalities of these new students.

I am also very concerned about the budget for the project, as it appears to be extremely expensive, even though you haven’t submitted a detailed breakdown, yet. Where do you think the money is going to come from? You know that the school hasn’t got much money. We are still we paying the bills from last year’s production of “Grease”, and I have no idea when those creditors will stop writing to me. Your proposal to fine parents 2% of their annual salary if they arrive late to take their seats simply won’t work as a way of raising funds. It is highly irresponsible to budget on the basis that some people will not turn up on time, and it’s not fair that they should pay for the entertainment that will be provided to everyone else. We cannot know, in advance, just how many parents will turn up late, but we have to know, in advance, financially just what we are letting ourselves in for.

And, you’ve been so rude to our corporate sponsors recently that I don’t think they’re going to be willing to stump up funds for a Facebook page to promote it this time.

I want to see you, in my office, after prep tomorrow night so you can tell me why your proposals are so good, and why the rest of the college staff – and all the parents - are going to like it. I still haven’t shaken off the blame for the chaos that was caused when the Catering Department tried out that new cookie recipe recently. No-one liked them, and cook still can’t work out whether he followed the instructions properly, or not.

I’m not going out on a limb to support this show, you know. I want my impending retirement party to be known as a sad event when a well loved headmaster left the college. I don’t want people to feel glad to see the back of me because I made them sit through a turgid production, that no-one understood, or liked, and which almost bankrupted the other college departments that had to pay for the costumes and the sets.

If I’m not happy, it’s not going ahead. We’ll arrange to show a good film, like “Titanic”, instead.



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