Please forgive me for presenting you with a slightly disturbing image. A bunch of middle class old men, sitting around a table, touching themselves.
“Oh Yes! I’m good. Good boy. There she is. Go sweety. Oh Yes. Yes. That’s it. Right there. Baby. Oh baby. Yes. Me. Love me. Come on. There there. I got it. OOOHHH!”
Awkward, but a typical extract from the minutes of the gentleman’s club that is the ubiquitous think tank, or as I prefer to call them the Think Wank. Every corner of life has one. A charitable bunch of old duffers, who were once in charge of shit that no longer matters, getting together to explain to the world how incredibly clever they still are. What’s that you say? Is the corner of the world where the old duffers ply their trade, a world of sweetness and light? “No!” Did the old duffers actually succeed with their ideas when they were in positions of power? Pardon! “No?”
Oh dear! What on earth makes the kindly old fucks think that what they know about their world, has any bearing on the world the rest of us now inhabit. That is apart from the shit we inherited from them when they left their leadershippy jobs. Sorry again, I’m being really sweary and unkind but there’s a good reason.
I was recently invited to a meeting of executives from a venerable national institution. £100000000 worth of people sat about doing jack shit for a whole day. I know this, because I also gave away a day of my own life to this dysfunctional swathe of hopelessness. It seems that the Think Wank had highjacked the meeting to tell people about the progress the nation had made on their latest wheeze. To be clear, what that means is, asking the executives to send in information about what they had done, in order to present it back to the executives, to prove that the Think Wank had in fact, a purpose. “What?”
The room was like the first conciliation meeting of the person who shat on the sandwich and the person who had to eat, said sandwich. Awkward. But apparently, the executive team meeting is always the same, no matter what’s on the agenda. Nobody saying what they really think, sitting passively while a corporate line-toeing twonk, bangs on about some subject they don’t really understand or care about. On this particular occasion we had a lanky smiler, talking about innovation. Before the first grin of over-white teeth had faded away, it was clear to everyone that he knew nothing about innovation. Awkward. The other subject was about how splendidly leadershippy the answer to all their problems was. On this occasion ‘fuck me’, seems like a better exclamation than ‘awkward’. There didn’t appear to be any conscious awareness that the two subjects are completely incompatible. Beyond of course, that the former is the only known antidote, to the latter.
A smooth exmilitary type from further west – the sort who’d seen it all before through a haze of exotic tobacco – quietly explained to me that the dopey old farts had created a set of new rules. I can’t be explicit because you’ll easily work out the name of the company and that’s not going to be helpful. I was there to observe proceedings and to give the big boss some “impartial strategic advice”. The Think Wank, consisting of past and present leadershippers, had arranged for some of the executives to present on how the world was now doing just what they said it should. I spoke to one of the fairly pointless army of fluffers (facilitators that had been employed to stand around the edges of the room, looking suitably scared stiff of everyone in it), who explained that most of the room had taken the new rules and sprayed them like a deodorant over the same old shit they’d always done. Don’t believe for one minute that the Think Wank, did not know this.
At one point, one of the upper echelon leadershippers (a rather fearsome lady who I quite liked) asked everyone to stand up. Aargh … tehn … shun. And then – posing questions that didn’t really have any answers about what everyone knew about the new rules – instructed the room to sit back down again in order of most stupid through to most socially inept. Awkward. Don’t be the last one standing that’s not the point of the game. The game was to quietly allow everybody to agree that the Think Wank are useless, without actually saying so.
There was a fabulous interlude when the aspiring future Think Wankers, the B-listers in the room, were empowered to stand up amidst their peers and announce their commitment to the cause with a succession of increasingly sickly pseudo-religious platitudes. They got their name on the minutes. The sick in my mouth, albeit equally meaningful, wasn’t afforded a mention.
One of the fluffers said that most of the problems could be solved if we blew up the room, right there and then. He was willing to sacrifice himself for the greater good of humanity. That same sentiment proved popular amongst almost everyone I spoke to, for the rest of the day. I had some rotten coffee and nice cake and we started again and again. At some un-noteworthy point and just before the last semblance of humanity was about to drain from my soul, I exited. Leaning against the wall outside, I sighed deeply and the security man asked if I was alright. I nodded and then he read my mind. Apparently, a group of normal people gather in a room and piss themselves laughing, watching it all on the security cameras, “better than gogglebox that is” he said.
On the way home amidst some British Rail wine, I concluded that someone should pay and typed up an invoice equivalent to giving away a day of my life. I wrote my feedback on the back of a fag packet and threw it away. The big boss, having seen the utter astonishment on my face and now fiercely gripping a fag packet of profundity, called me the following day and apologised. Awkward!