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‘You won’t need to microchip your staff if you sign up to Remote Workforce Monitoring’

Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: Honor pitches her pandemic business idea at the annual borbecue

The old man is smoking a Cohiba that would give a stud horse a complex – and yeah, no, I do mean that in a sexual way. We’re sitting in his gorden, by the way, at the annual summer borbecue for him and – as he keeps reminding us – “up to 200” of his nearest and dearest friends.

“Here’s to our wonderful Tánaiste!” he goes. “And to think, a week ago, the gordaí could have morched in here with batons and riot shields and broken up this little soirée – pordon the French!”

Kennet – as in, like, the old man's driver and Ronan's father-in-law? – is turning a deer on a spit, a literal deer that he apparently ran over in the Phoenix Park while fumbling in the dashboard for his vape juice.

“I hope you got all the bits of venison out of the grille!” the old man tells him.

"There's n… n… n… n… norra meerk on the k… k… k… keer," Kennet goes. "Which is mower than can be s… s… s… said for the dee-or. These are the oatenly steaks in the wurdled with the word P… P… P… P… P… Pirelli written on them."

All of my old man’s mates hoot with laughter.

“Pirelli,” Hennessy goes. “I was wondering what the word was going to be. That’s very good.”

I notice Ronan and Honor looking at each other, then Ro gives her the signal.

“Ladies and gentlemen,” Ronan goes, even though it’s just a turn of phrase. Aport from Honor, there are no actual women here. My old man’s mates would be very much of the old school. “Can I hab your attention please?”

Except the noise continues.

Honor stands up on a chair and goes, “Will you all SHUT THE FOCK UP? We’ve got something to say!”

There’s, like, suddenly silence. Everyone just, like, stares at her, like she’s a giraffe reading them the lunchtime specials.

"Chorles," the unsuccessful New Republic candidate for Dublin Bay South goes, "is that a girl I'm looking at?"

The old man’s there, “Well, of course it’s a bloody well girl! What else would it be?”

The dude's like, "Could be anything. I have had a lot to drink."

“My brother and I want to talk to you about a business idea that I had,” Honor goes.

There’s, like, a moment of silence, then everyone bursts out laughing. Like I said, very much of the old school.

"A business idea!" some old dude goes. "It's definitely a girl, is it, Chorles? It's not just a delicate-looking boy with a ponytail?"

The old man’s there, “It’s my granddaughter, Honor, for heaven’s sakes!”

"So what is this business idea?" Hennessy goes. "Jesus, it's not like that time we were invited around to the Rumsley-Taffes and they asked us to – what is it again?"

“Crowdfund their daughter’s hip-hop album,” someone goes.

“Oh, yes!” the old man remembers. “Good Lord, I couldn’t have been more embarrassed if they’d suggested I throw the keys of the Bentley into the punchbowl.”

Ronan steps up onto the seat next to Honor and goes, “Will yous all just shut your bleaten mouths for 10 seconds and listen to the geerdle? She’s got something to say that could make yous muddy.”

Oh, that quietens them down. Talk about knowing your audience.

“So,” Honor goes, “a lot of you have, like, businesses, right? Well, they’re saying that when this, like, pandemic is, like, over, most people are never going to go back to working full-time in the office again.”

"I had our human resources people check whether it would be legal to have my staff microchipped," Larry Lucey goes, "so that I could monitor their movements via GPS. It turns out it would be a GDPR minefield. And a human rights one."

"It's a bloody disgrace," Larry Lucey, one of my old man's oldest mates, goes. "When this whole thing storted, I'd just signed a lease for 10,000 square metres of office space. What am I going to do with it?"

The old man’s like, “You could sublet it.”

"To whom?" someone else – I think his name is, like, Fachtna – goes. "No one wants to go back to the office. Half of my staff have moved down the country. I'd do the air-quotes except I'm holding two drinks here. They want to live where rents are cheaper – but, conveniently for them, there's no broadband."

"That's my point," Honor goes. "How do you know they're even doing anything? How do you know they're not like my so-called mom, who's supposedly working from home, even though, this summer alone, she's taken an online watercolour class, cleaned out the attic and reread all the Brontës."

Jesus, I hope there’s no one from LinkedIn here.

“I had our human resources people check whether it would be legal to have my staff microchipped,” Larry Lucey goes, “so that I could monitor their movements via GPS. It turns out it would be a GDPR minefield. And a human rights one.”

“Human rights are all very well,” the old man goes, “but I do feel it’s swung too far the other way!”

"Er, you won't need to microchip your staff?" Honor goes. "Not if you sign up to Back To Your Desk – Remote Workforce Monitoring."

Everyone is suddenly all ears.

"We'll watch yisser staff for you," Ronan goes. "Our highly expeerdienced conthractors will be knocking on doe-ers, posing as salesmen, odd-jobbers and Jehovah's Witnesses, just to make shewer that people are howum when thee say thee are."

Yeah, no, I’ve a feeling that Nudger, Gull and Buckets of Blood are going to have a lot of work coming their way.

“We’ll also be operating a confidential whistleblower line,” Honor goes, “where members of the public – in return for a substantial cash incentive – can report people who, for instance, have incorporated sea-swimming, a couch-to-five-K run, or even meeting a friend for coffee, into their regular working day. Again, our contractors will follow up on this information and get you the proof you need.”

“How much will it cost,” Hennessy goes, “this service?”

Ronan’s like, “The initial sign-up fee will be foyuv-”

Except Honor gets in there before him. She’s like, “€50,000 per year.”

And it’s straight away obvious that she’s a better reader of the room than Ro, because Larry Lucey goes, “Count me in,” and then the dude who might be called Fachtna is like, “Me too,” and then some randomer whose name I don’t know goes, “€50,000 – cheap at twice the price!”

The old man puts his orm around my shoulder and goes, “Remote Workforce Monitoring. You must be so proud of them, Kicker. They do say that entrepreneurial genius skips a generation.”