A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

Recent entries:
“I am rarely more focused on 5 seconds than when I’m waiting to skip an ad on the internet” (6/22)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (6/22)
“Coffee completes me” (6/22)
Entry forthcoming—B.P. (6/22)
“Sometimes all you need is a billion dollars” (6/22)
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Entry from June 13, 2015
“Civil servant missile—it doesn’t work and it can’t be fired”

A joke has been told in several countries (United Kingdom, Canada, India and the United States) about the new “civil servant” missile—“It doesn’t work and it can’t be fired.” The joke was cited in the Ottawa (Ontario) Citizen in 1980:

“The Atlas rocket that sits in front of the Museum of Science and Technology seems to be sometimes worked into the spiel given by tour bus drivers...One recent rider reports hearing a driver explain ‘It is symbolic of a civil service town. It has neither motor nor fuel. Like a public servant it doesn’t work and it can’t be fired.’”

A General William Walker is often credited for saying the line about Britain’s “new missile” at some time in the 1980s, but this citation has not been verified in print.


Google News Archive
24 July 1980, The Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario), “Brown’s Beat” by Dave Brown, Tempo, pg. 35, col. 4:
Lip shot
The Atlas rocket that sits in front of the Museum of Science and Technology seems to be sometimes worked into the spiel given by tour bus drivers...One recent rider reports hearing a driver explain “It is symbolic of a civil service town. It has neither motor nor fuel. Like a public servant it doesn’t work and it can’t be fired.”

Google Books
Contemporary Social Work:
An Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare

By Donald Brieland, Lela B. Costin and Charles R. Atherton
New York, NY: McGraw-Hill
1985
Pg. 67:
A civil servant has been compared to a defective rocket that doesn’t work and can’t be fired.

Google Books
Matters That Matter...:
4,000 Notable Quotables and 900 Relevant Subject Topics Guaranteed to Fertilize Your Mind and Cultivate Your Life

By Daniel Taddeo
Airleaf Publishing
2006
Pg. 33:
Britain has invented a new missile. It’s called the civil. servant- it doesn’t work and it can’t be fired. -General Sir Walter Walker

Twitter
james buffington
‏@dailyobamajokes
We’ve invented a new missile called the Civil Servant. It doesn’t work and can’t be fired.
10:36 AM - 11 Aug 2009

Twitter
sharon
‏@babyboomerqueen
Britain has invented a new missile. It’s called the civil servant - it doesn’t work and it can’t be fired. ~Walter Walker~(Newspapers, 1981)
2:51 PM - 2 Oct 2009

Twitter
John Welford
‏@welfordwrites
#quote Britain has invented a new missile. It’s called the Civil Servant - it doesn’t work and can’t be fired. Anon
2:46 PM - 2 Dec 2010

Twitter
R Jain
‏@des2videsh
India has invented a new missile. It’s called the Civil Servant - it doesn’t work and can’t be fired. Anon”
4:50 PM - 22 Aug 2012

Twitter
Philip Shaw
‏@Agridome
Winchester is marketing a new gun called the Canadian Senator...It doesn’t work and can’t be fired......overheard last week in PEI
6:04 AM - 28 Feb 2013

Twitter
Dirt Road Devil
‏@TruckerS63
Ruger has developed a new Pistol dedicated to Obama, it’s called The Union Worker, it doesn’t work and can’t be fired!
12:16 PM - 27 Jun 2014

Twitter
Consigleri
‏@Coox_22
“Ruger is coming out with a new pistol in honor of Sen. & Reps. It’ll be called ‘The Congressman’. It doesn’t work and can’t be fired.”
3:30 PM - 15 Sep 2014

reddit
Britain has invented a new missile (self.Jokes)
submitted May 22, 2015 by johnathan77
It’s called the civil servant - it doesn’t work and it can’t be fired.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityGovernment/Law/Politics/Military • Saturday, June 13, 2015 • Permalink