Richard Branson pops up on my personal radar again, extolling the entirely hypothetical virtues of his new as space tourism company, Virgin Galactic. Expect delays due to the wrong type of aliens on the launch pad. Almost instantly my knuckles start to itch, so I seek solace elsewhere, by googling the phrase “years of loyal service”.
Soon we are consoled and inspired by the moving story of a young boy who, at the age of fifteen, decided school had no more to teach him, and instead went to work as a humble apprentice mechanic in a motor company. Forty eight years later, that same young man retired as a fully qualified mechanic!
What a refreshing change. No disrespect to the distinguished gentleman concerned, but it’s a bloody relief not to have to hear how he worked his way up to become the billionaire chairman of a colossal multinational corporation, with the private jets and the homes in Mustique and the endless succession of curvaceous, orally-fixated young trophy wives. In my opinion there’s far too much of that kind of feckless social mobility going on nowadays, and quite frankly it’s bad for morale. How are we supposed to sell our kids on the long hard slog of academic study and the humiliating rat-like existence of the cubicle farms with those jammy rags-to-riches bastards like Trump, Branson and Sugar waving their bling in front of everyone? They make us look like chumps.
It wouldn’t be so bad if they had any redeeming personal features, but no – they run the full gamut of human personality from A to B, trundling along the narrow arc between smarm and arrogance and acting like they’re creatures of dazzling genius, when in fact they’re just the far end of the probabilistic bell-curve of those who just happened to have guessed right every time so far. For each one of them there’s a couple of thousand identical asswipes who didn’t quite manage to bluster their way into that sweet job, or rip off that patent, or land that ridiculous government subsidy to run Britain’s worst train service. But we never hear of them precisely because they never made it.
Instead it’s to the blameless Mr Hawker and his ilk that we must look for counter-examples and comfort, and we salute them for it.
Happy retirement, Mr Hawker. And kids – do your damned homework.
Richard Branson, yesterday. A terrible role model for young people.