HR Hartley: Trimming the fat ignores excessive waist

It’s fourth-quarter budget time and, like a delinquent parent leaving the toddlers at home, the business has returned from its summer holiday to find that the sales figures haven’t looked after themselves.

So the chief executive is demanding cuts all round. Nothing front line or customer facing, you understand, “but if we can trim some fat off the soft underbelly of the company, that would really help us meet our year-end earnings forecasts”, and ensure the chief executive’s enormous, flabby underbelly of a bonus doesn’t get its zeros trimmed.

So travel and expenses are to be slashed, ‘discretionary’ costs are to be reined in, and custard creams are to be banned. The only area where new money is being invested is into the redundancy pot.

“Brace yourself, HR,” said the chief executive, “for a nasty fall.”

I panicked momentarily, convinced that he thought I was expendable. But then I remembered that he’s recently read a shelf-full of US business and self-help books and talking like an American. For ‘nasty fall’, read ‘nasty autumn’. I can handle a short season of redundancies, as long as mine isn’t among them.

“The City analysts gave me a tough broiling [grilling] at our last meeting,” continued the chief executive in his faux Yank, “and said we’re heading for a big fender-bender [crash] if we don’t pull our undershorts [pants] up and turn off the faucet [tap].”

I was spared more of the Gordon Gecko routine when his cellphone [mobile] rang, and he requested a “raincheck”, leaned back and opened another packet of cookies [custard creams], oblivious to the irony of his own huge, wobbling underbelly.

If I can save my occupational health department from the looming cutbacks, we’ll launch my ‘Fit for Work’ campaign, fronted by that merciless US marine from TV show Celebrity Fat Club. Let’s see how long the chief executive retains his love of all things American while he’s chased round the car park by Sergeant Harvey yelling: “Move it, you donut-ass!”

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