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Read between the Guidelines

October 6, 2009

Authors can get paid for every time their book is borrowed from a public library in the UK. It’s around 5p a go, but as 5p may one day be the difference between walking in the rain and taking the bus, Mr P suggested I sign up for it. Full of charity, that one, no offer of a chauffeured car – just a way to ensure I could afford the bus… but moving on…

A Government funded outfit administer the service and, guess what? They run it using “Guidelines.” Along with the late, great Keith Waterhouse, I believe “Guidelines” are one of the worst, most pointless and nation-destroying inventions of the past few political years. Invented by those who need to be employed but can’t do ‘proper’ jobs, anyone born before 1990 wonders how we survived this far without them. Yet we did, and lived in a far less stressful environment.

Rant over, point coming up. To register for your 5p, you complete a form and are then asked (due to “guidelines”) to submit some valuable documents to prove your identity. Being one who knows a bit about data protection, I’m fussy who gets to see my passport, bank and card statements etc, all for just 5p. Deciding that walking would be an idea, I was going to abandon the whole thing before reading the last line of the application form which stated, “or any suitable other document.” NOW we are getting somewhere.

The office helpline assured me that anything “recent, with a letterhead and your full name and address” would be fine. Two meaningless receipts for mail order CDs worth £3 each, and I was in. No vital personal data handed over, “guidelines” satisfied.

This pointless charade is all to satisfy the fevered imagination of some bureauprat who thought a drug-dealing money-launderer would go to all the trouble of writing a book, registering for the service, and then get all her friends from the ‘hood to borrow every copy ever printed in order to launder the proceeds at 5p a time…

It’s pretty funny of course, but you have to wonder if the current Government cost-cutting exercise might best begin in the “Guideline” offices.

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