A couple of years ago, I was working in Amsterdam (near Holland) chasing world records for loading lots of data into a Siebel database.

It wasn’t working very well. The client was unhappy so long hours were called for.

The Unix team said the expensive SAN was performing optimally.

The DBA team said Oracle was performing optimally.

The Siebel team said Siebel was performing optimally.

Alex Ferguson unexpectedly joined a conference call and said the Manchester United team were performing optimally.

The truth was that nothing was performing optimally. We could have loaded data quicker by typing it in.

So, we were all scratching our heads, dying to get into Amsterdam, and yawning at 23.47 one night when a gentleman appeared with a bottle of red wine.

‘Has anyone got a corkscrew ?’

Well it made a pleasant change from ‘Is it finished yet ?’


‘Oh. It’s my birthday today and I’d like to share this bottle of wine with the team.’

Purely, in the interests of team morale, I took a decisive step forward.

‘Just get a biro and sink the cork into the bottle. Then we can all have a quick drink and watch glance and OEM for another 3 hours.’

‘Sorry. I do not understand what you are meaning.’

‘OK. Just give me the bottle.’

I grabbed a biro, plunged it into the cork and pushed. Nothing happened. I pushed harder. People (including managers) were now looking at me, exchanging knowing glances (Mad Englishman). Nothing happened.

So, I pushed even harder. Nothing happened. I put the bottle between my knees and pushed even harder. Finally, the biro plunged into the cork and the cork consequently plunged into the bottle.

However the impact was slightly more forceful than I intended and I was sprayed with a fountain of red wine. My pristine white shirt only accentuated the visual impact.

I paused and gathered myself. Red wine was splattered all over my shirt. I looked a complete mess. People were sniggering which quickly developed into hysterical laughter.

I proffered the 3/4 full bottle of red wine, to the birthday boy, expecting some gratitude.

‘Thanks. Have you got any cups ?’

So, instead of being known as ’that Siebel guy who helped us load 84 million records in 23 hours with error checking and reconciliation’, I was forever labelled as ’the axe murderer'.