Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Score one for the working stiff

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.


Gorilla Bananas said...

It's a rare post that expresses envy and dislike for the alpha males in human society without referring to their sexual peccadillos. For that you deserve full marks.

I'm waiting patiently for your first post that assualts the Saracens for their sins. You hinted at this in your piece about the Anglicans and I can feel it bubbling away under the surface like a geyser.

Here's a jungle tip, Ivan: when you've got an itch, scratch it, because you'll probably dislodge a few nits in the process.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Well, there was the bit about orally-fixated trophy wives, but arguably that's the wife's peccadillo, not the male's.

Wise advice re itches, and I already spend far too much of the average day scratching. But I'll give the Islamists a miss for a while. They're so unarguably wrong-headed that attacking them is an embarrassing neo-con cliche. Never wrestle in the mud with pigs - you both get dirty, but the pig *likes* it.

R. Sherman said...

Discovered you via "Chase Me Ladies ..." Fabulous stuff.


Anonymous said...

I wonder if they have curb-side check in at Virgin Galactic. Never been too fond of waiting in line with the Great Unwashed, myself.

And what's a genius if not a guy who kills someone every time he shoots in the dark? No great mystery there, for people who dabble in foundations of statistical inference. Ergo, you'll have to grant Messrs Bronson and Trump their rightful claim to genius, Kniaz Ivan. Your reluctance to do so is quite understandable, however.

Judging by the ease of phrase, I'm led to suspect you may be teaching English Lit to Ann Coulter emulators in Chapel Hill? Or is it Susan Sontag that looms large in their wet dreams? Anyway, if I've just blown your cover, don't worry: your secret will go with me to the grave. I know full well what's it like to be a foreigner among the citizens of the Third Rome.


Shades of Grey said...

You said you'd be crap today. S'not fair.

Ivan the Terrible said...

Hi Mr Sherman - many thanks - and may I congratulate you on your beautiful scenery.

Hello again, Des - that's Tsar Ivan, please. I was the first one, you know. Kniaz was for my Mongol-owned loser predecessors. Don't make me send the Oprichnina after you... Thankfully I don't work in academe, or I would have sunk long since under the weight of my own tortuous phraseology. I have a real job with a major Evil Corporation, which helps keep my communications simple and brief. Not that you'd guess from this drivel.

Sorry, Shadey - maybe today's entry is more on the money? I'll keep trying - I have a relentless focus on customer wants and needs, me.

Anonymous said...

A thousand apologies, Tsar. Musta gotten my royal nomenclature wrong. However, wow! Who'd have thunk that such an articulate person mans the bastions of global capitalism! Next time my fellow academics on the left blather about sub-articulate middle management drones and the agony of suburban life, I'll bring you as a counterexample. And when I next call American Express, I'll be more aware to the fact that I'm talking to a potential James Joyce scholar.

Apologies about the tortuous phrases, though (was that a barb on your part?). As I'm a foreigner, I still navigate the treacherous waters of English with some unease. But I'm trying to think clearly, at least. Pretty damn hard, though.


Aunty Marianne said...

"And what's a genius if not a guy who kills someone every time he shoots in the dark? "

Every time? Virgin Coke. I rest my case.

P.S. I am saving up for a Galactic flight for my 60th birthday.