Wednesday, 23 February 2011

You Only Think You're Hot

In the paper a couple of days ago there was a story about a school library, built at great expense by the government, that is unusable on very hot days. The obvious thing to do, you would think, would be to put a cooling system into the building, but rules are rules and so that can't be done - even though it gets up to 40 degrees inside the library, making it impossible for the children at the school to work in it. That doesn't matter, because, according to a piece of paper belonging to the Department of Education, the school shouldn't get that hot, even if it actually does.

It is as if the clerks, on the one hand, and the teachers and parents, on the other, are talking two different languages. It is as if the clerks have forgotten that the people they are dealing with are their fellow citizens - and also, ultimately, their masters. It is the kind of thing that I liked to kid myself didn't happen in this country. It is that good old phenomenon, 'bureaucracy gone mad':

I imagine the school principal poring over the map, (sent, I would lay large bets, by someone working in an office that is beautifully air-conditioned). Sweat drips from his forehead, but, according to the map, he isn't actually hot.


  1. Back after the first oil shock, the Colorado legislature passed a law stating that all new state buildings must be built to require no air conditioning; but the law allowed space to be reserved for ducting in case a/c should be run. Effectively this gave builders a free pass to build as they wished.

    An early product of this was the library shared by some commuter colleges just west of downtown Denver. Shortly after it opened, people were fainting in the stacks and rare books had to be removed. They retrofitted it with air conditioning, which I remember as sounding awful on startup, as if a car had locked its brakes on the viaduct outside--in fact, the first time I heard it, I waited to hear a crash.

    The sad thing is that people have know for many centuries how to build for hot dry weather such as Denver gets.

  2. I think the Department of Education would respond to that, and any other argument about almost anything they didn't want to do anything about, by sending you a map and telling you you were mistaken, George.