If I go to hospital, I want a surgeon who knows at least as much as I do about where my liver is to be found, and ideally, much, much more. I do not wish to encounter an enthusiastic amateur who has practised on the “Operation “board game and has always had a dream of being a surgeon and is doing it to commemorate their dead grandmother.
Likewise when I go to the other sort of theatre, I want to see and hear someone who is good at acting. I don’t care how much they want it, or whether or not they have given it 110%. In many walks of life, expertise and superior ability is what is required, not effort and a “personal Journey”. Results count. Intentions matter little.
Now, there are a couple of things I am very good at. Unfortunately they are not currently things that anyone wishes to pay me for, and at least one is illegal. However, I can accept that equably, as I do the innumerable things at which I am rubbish. In this I am out of step with both the times and the Job centre. The latter are convinced that anyone can turn their hands to anything. When I was a “jobseeker”, I had to go through a farcical episode with an advisor. She would stab at her computer and produce a vacancy for which I was asked to apply, presenting it to me with a hopeful expression. I would then dash her hopes cruelly by explaining that although, yes, I did have the word “lecturer” on my CV, this was unlikely to be sufficient for the School of Veterinary Medicine, as the other words they required;” In Horse Medicine” were not present and likely it be non-negotiable. This has led me to distrust the motives of Job centre “Plus”, but has also caused many employers to instantly disqualify anyone referred to them from a Job centre be it plus or minus,
The Devil, as we know, finds work for idle hands to do (he would make an excellent recruitment consultant), and so it is important that we poor or poorer people be kept occupied. After all, there were some very middle class rioters about this summer. And so, some social engineering must needs be done.
Bread and Circuses kept the Roman mobs off the streets; we have “X-Factor”, “Strictly” and “Crafting with Kirstie”. Why anyone would want to spend hours of their precious life making things, I have no idea. It started with Nigella bottling everything in sight and making jam like a fiend. She is luscious and well-preserved, but so are plums. Then this Kirstie woman pops up and starts hectoring us about making clay oven gift tags and Christmas decorations out of felt. Honestly! Look at the website if you don’t believe me. There is a bit that is entitled “How to Stamp on Leather”. I’ve been doing that for years, it’s called “wearing shoes”. I want to know where all these women (and I just bet it IS women) find the time and the patience to fiddle about making their own candles, when you can get a perfectly serviceable bagful in the pound shop. I am delighted to have been born in a period when the old crafts were dying out and women didn’t have to make, appliqué, crochet, or embroider ANYTHING. Catch men fussing over a decoupage lantern when they could be in the pub. At least their DIY is usually functional.
And the big companies have not been slow to pick up on the fact that it is much cheaper for them if we all do the things ourselves that actual people used to do in the name of “Providing a Service”. If you call Royal Mail to find out "Where in hell is that parcel?" you are told that you shouldn’t be calling them anyway, you ought to be doing it all on-line. Try and buy a railway ticket and the same approach is used, even though you need a degree in comparative logic and economics to work out their pricing policy. Christmas makes all this worse. Magazines are bulging with instructions on how to make your own hideous gifts, nasty decorations, and depressing jumpers. They try and make you guilty if you aren’t up until 3am turning out hand-crafted mince pies and robin-shaped biscuits. .And then you have to wrap your misshapen lumpy presents in hand-printed wrapping paper with artistic-looking gift tags. Finally, they produce those irritating guides to “Keeping Cool over Christmas”, with hourly countdowns to The Big Day. No wonder the divorce lawyers always have a busy January. Well, here’s my guide to a stress-free Christmas. Buy everything in the Pound Shop, upload a picture of your most attractive small child/furry animal wearing a Santa hat, and send it to everyone computerate as an e-mailed Christmas card , send the same Boots/M&S card to everyone else. Don’t buy anything that can’t be microwaved or boiled in the bag. If you have tiny excitable children, buy earplugs. For you, not them. Start drinking Bailey’s at 11am, and don’t read any women’s magazines. And if anyone who is good at anything offers to do it, let them. Burning Martyr is an un-festive aroma.
If we all take a stand against doing all of everything ourselves, we might stay saner and have more people who know what they are doing, doing it. And we need all the jobs we can possibly save, just now. Have a Happy Christmas.