It’s getting to something is it not when Moonpig cards send you a reminder of your own birthday. Last week my pension trustees wrote to tell me that I now have £0.00 in my sub-annuated super non-modular account, and they wished to confirm they have full knowledge of my new address, which hasn’t changed since 2012. On the same day, they wrote another letter asking if I might advise them of my new address. The day after, a bank I just fired sent me a new piece of plastic for an account I have never had. A very old chum of mine was facing a less than fun-filled retirement – until he hit 65, and a letter came through last year confirming a pension pool twice as big as his. He simply kept quiet, and applied to take an annuity. He’s living very happily on it thank you very much.
Most of this crap was churned out by Artificial Intelligence. The sole function of AI is to replace a human being who needs a job, and do it less efficiently. But the real problem at the rear of so much contemporary incompetence is BIG.
Big kills nimble footwork, and nurtures complexity. It adores process but misses every genuine opportunity. It spews out corporate bullshit about utterly false “for the good of all” aims. But above all, it adopts jargon and mystifies everyone, including itself. This is all about survival.
Allow me to expand on my theory.
During the UK’s Blairite era, one or two key New Labour players became terrifyingly senior purely on the basis of talking and writing in such a manner as to baffle people. A mediaeval theologian by the name of Giordano Bruno concluded in the fourteenth century that the stars were distant suns surrounded by their own planets, and he raised the possibility that these planets might foster life of their own. Being an honest sort of chap, he published his findings in accessible Italian even the drongos who pushed out the Romans could understand. This came to the attention of the Papacy, and they – in their eternal search for enlightenment – promptly burnt him to death.
Had he adopted the standard New-Labour-out-of-Silicon-Valley mode, Giordano would merely have noted the existence of cosmic pluralism, loosely organised groups of mnemonic techniques, spatial concepts of geometry in language – and then remarked in conclusion that Almighty God moved in mysterious ways. This would’ve been fine, and perhaps in time he would’ve been elected Pope.
Keeping things in the area of insoluble complexity is a great strategy for survival, because each century’s élites like nothing better than their subjects fumbling about in the dark. The bitter-sweet irony of this tale is that Giordano Bruno in English means Gordon Brown.
Brown made everything at the Treasury so complex in his long tenure as Chancellor of the Exchequer, at one time in 2004 there were three people employed there whose entire raison d’etre was the translation of Gordonian written thoughts into some form of comprehensible English. This is not some silly invention of mine, but rather the testimony of one who knew – a former female client of mine at the DoH who is, sadly, no longer with us.
Gordon Brown was an utterly incompetent Chancellor, but he used the smokescreen of applied bollocks to ease his way into Number Ten. At which point, he was caught on microphone calling a Labour supporter a bigot, and was thus roundly rejected by the voters in 2010. This further cements my point: remain forever mysterious in your utterances, and the world shall be your lobster. Speak plainly, and yea – verily unto all that is miraculously Holy – thou shalt die.
One man bucking this aphorism at the moment is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer*, the interim coach at Manchester United. Ole is a Norwegian gentleman who has an exceptional talent for engaging with people and striving at all times to avoid both bollocks and complexity in his form of address. He was brought in to replace José Mourhino, an enigmatic Portuguese manager steeped in the art of arcane observations that generally evoked the response, “Uh?”.
Since taking over, Ole has won 17 games and lost one. He has taken United from 15th to 4th position in the English Premiership. He has not bought or sold a single player. His only contribution has been to say to his team, “Look, you are all great players, otherwise we wouldn’t have paid all this dosh to bring you here. I want you to express your greatness in every pass, tackle, corner kick, penalty and shooting chance you go for.”
Last night, Solskjaer took his team to Chelsea in the FA Cup, and it gave a masterclass in organised defence and elegantly simple attacking. Three weeks ago I watched Olé running a training session, in which he said to one player, “Bloody ‘ell man, you have the ball, there’s the goal, for f**ks sake shoot”. Let the pundits dismiss that as simplistic if they must; they are wrong, wrong, wrong: football is a simple game wherein success is based on doing the simple things well. Watch Lionel Messi: nobody does that better.
Instead of being in awe of Big, we should take the raw simplicity of life’s game and apply it to the reality of what’s important. We will make far greater progress – and more easily discover a creative solution to every impasse.
Inside every Big problem, there is a small Truth screaming to be released. In the case of Brexit, it is this: when those negotiating to “leave” are all confirmed europhiles set on not leaving, there is no chance of Sovereign Brexit succeeding.
The only way to achieve that clean Brexit is to vote in a Leaver Government. And that means abandoning our various tribal stockades and voting both positively and tactically to make that happen.
You can’t have lazy voting and genuinely new horizons. The time has come to stop making excuses and start making a difference.
*The one thing that convinces me of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s genius is that we share a birthday