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BOFH: The Board members are looking very ill these days

Be nice if someone would keep a closer eye on them ...

BOFH logo telephone with devil's hornsEpisode 6 THE CHAIRMAN IS DEAD!


It should be said that in any modern company the word CHAIRPERSON would be used, however in a Company like ours with a board full of crusty old farts who refer to the 1970s as "the good years", I'm not holding my breath.

"It's real tragedy," the Boss sighs, striding into Mission Control to get me to change the Company website banner to add a flag flying at half-mast.

Which is gilding the lily somewhat. To hear the senior managers you'd think the Chairman had fallen in Dunkirk – rifle in hand – rather than in front of the boardroom drinks cabinet with a half-glass of sherry in his grasping fingers.

"True," I reply. "But if you don't mind, I'd like to observe a minute's silence alone in my office – out of respect."

"Oh. Of course," the Boss says, slipping out the door of Mission Control.

...1.5 minutes later...

"So, I was wondering if..." he asks, pulling up when I look at him sternly. "Did you...?"

"I was only part way through the minute," I say. "Now I'll have to start again."

"It's hard for all of us," the Boss says, slipping out again.

…10 minutes later…

"Anyway," the Boss says, back in Mission Control as I lift my head and look at him in an annoyed manner.

"I keep getting interrupted by the phone," I say.

"Oh! I'll um…" he says, gesturing at the door and leaving quietly.

…Two hours later …

"I just thought you might have a moment now to…" the Boss says, stopping when he sees the PFY raise his head in an annoyed manner while I look on disapprovingly.

"The black armband's milking it a little, isn't it?" I ask when the Boss is gone. The PFY had heard about my minute's silence gambit and is obviously lining himself up for a couple of days of bereavement leave as well.

Sure enough, half an hour later the PFY has excused himself 'to cope with the loss,' and the Boss is back in Mission Control.

"I know you're still upset and everything," the Boss says kindly, "but there's a Health and Safety issue that needs addressing."

"Is it about necking ¾ of a bottle of sherry every time you're near the boardroom?"

"Uh, no. It's just that the, uh, late chairman was, uh, discovered by one of the cleaning staff."


"After 11pm."

"And?" I ask

"Well, it turns out he'd passed away several hours before then and had only been discovered then."

"Okay," I say, somewhat relieved that this wasn't a story about how he'd been found naked with an oven-ready chicken, a gallon of olive oil and an industrial vacuum cleaner.

"The discovery was quite a shock," the Boss continues. "The poor woman was traumatized."

Though not as traumatized as someone whose imagination immediately leaps straight to the oven-ready chicken scenario…

"Right," I say, pushing those thoughts from my mind.

"And the, uh, Wellness Committee suggested that maybe there was a way technology could assist in these circumstances."

"The Wellness Committee?" I ask.

"Yes, it's a new Health and Safety initiative."

"Sorry, are we talking Health and Safety or 'Wellness'?"

"Aren't they the same thing?"

"No, Health and Safety is concerned with danger in the workplace, wellness is more about mental illness in the workplace."

"I... don't think that's right."

"Really?  So what else came up at the wellness meeting?"

"I… don't think that's really the poin…"

"Was there something about our diet and how the company should encourage veganism?" I say.


"They called it plant-based nutrition, didn't they?"

"They have a point!" the Boss finally snaps.

"So a big tick for veganism."

"The point is," the Boss says, "the Committee was wondering if there were a way to, uh, monitor the health… of our… more at risk staff."

"You mean like a smartwatch which tracked ECG patterns and reported loss of activity?"

"YES!" the Boss gasps. "That would be great! If one of the Board Members had a heart attack someone could go to the person's aid."

"Right – so we'd best build in a 10-minute reporting lag."


"You're right, 20 minutes. If they're only brain dead they still have voting rights."

"We're trying to save people! Maybe if the watch thingy could widen scope of warnings it would be better. Say an orange alert if they're in imminent danger and red alert if the heart stops."

I resist the urge to point out that if we implement the orange alert option we'll be getting them on the Wellness Committee once the PFY hears about the vegan food.

"And we could put a GPS on them, so we know where to find them."

"Unless someone were in a lead lined space – you know, like an X-ray suite, a CT scanner – or the boot of the PFY's car."

"Why would…"

"How about an alternative option," I say. "Tell the board there's a free gin tasting on the sixth floor then turn the lifts off. Anyone who makes it up the stairs gets a GPS watch and anyone who doesn't gets a free trip in a hearse. It's win-win."

"I don’t think that'll work."

"Well the PFY is looking into several openings in Forestry..."

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