Ho bloody ho…

Summer’s over – the leather jacket had its first outing this afternoon – and we are now careering towards Christmas at an alarming rate. I think I have probably got another two, possibly three weekends, before Oxford Street on a Saturday afternoon becomes just too problematic. [Never mind the hordes of dawdling tourists, it’s the hordes of dawdling Christmas shoppers who are the spawn of Satan]

This Christmas, however, threatens to be even worse than usual, since it’s quite likely that I’m going to have to WORK for most of the festive season, since the company have banned anyone in the department from taking any holidays in December. The reason for this was described, in their usual understated way, in the Sun newspaper earlier in the week: CHAOS IN STORE screamed the headlines. Apparently, there’s this thing called EMU, which is going to happen on January 1st and will really screw up all the shops and things.

The Sun, in their limited, low-brow, non-intellectual way, have only just realised something that has been painfully freakin’ obvious to me and the rest of my colleagues in the IT department (motto: “have you tried switching it off and on?”), as we struggle to come to terms with most of the major currencies in Europe vanishing, and being replaced by ECUs. With the standard of decision making we’ve come to expect from our bosses, the task of converting all our systems to appreciate this little fact is taking somewhat longer than expected. That’s “somewhat”, as in certain managers are now looking forward to Christmas with all the enthusiasm of particularly overweight turkeys.

Now, my area of responsibility is particularly the Millennium testing – yep, I’m not looking forward to Christmas 1999 either – but this has not exempted me from being sucked into the general milieu of…well, panic is perhaps too strong a word (yet…give ’em time…). This weekend saw my beautiful, pristine, calm and peaceful Millennium environment invaded by a load of unwashed EMU databases and programs, filling up all the error logs, using up disk space and generally making a nuisance of themselves.

Admittedly, the reason my system was beautiful, pristine, calm and peaceful was that hardly anyone was using it — tumbleweeds roll majestically across the disk drives, etc, etc. Millennium testing is SUPPOSED to be completed by the end of ths year. It won’t be, since we’re all too busy attending meetings about EMU. The only positive thing is that I have no evidence which suggests that any other financial institution will be any better off. One set of panic-stricken programming is enough for anyone to cope with, though the two were initially largely lumped together under one umbrella; fortunately, someone realised, in the back of their lizard brains, that you need to do DIFFERENT THINGS to cope with the end of the millennium, and a change in currencies for 300 million people. I guess this stroke of genius explains why I’m not a manager…

However, I doubt very much that the banking world will collapse as we know it. At least, being painfully aware how it usually teeters on the brink of chaos anyway (again, not just in my company, this is fairly general). If you saw the things that went on, you would pull your money out of the bank, switch it to gold bullion, and leave it in a sock under your mattress.