We advance an interesting theory, but you’re not going to like it!!!
Greetings once again from Plymouth, from where I produce many of these blogs. This time though, it fairly quickly follows our “Cairnland” solution to the consequences of the “Brexit” referendum, which at the time of writing (September 2016) have yet to hit everyone else. I do try in these blogs to put things into some sort of historical perspective, but with an issue that’s clearly going to run and run, it’s going to be more than usually difficult for this one. However, perhaps I have found it by going back in time even further than usual, way before Cairn was even a figment of my admittedly all-too-warped imagination. Before I knew it, I had thought myself into being a nine-year-old boy again, creeping, like snail, unwillingly to school.
How on earth did that happen? Well, it’s because our currently new Prime Minister reminds me so frighteningly much of the schoolteacher who had the dubious privilege of “educating” myself and others at that tender age. The resemblance in their demeanour is almost uncannily close! Prior to the incident that I am about to relate, this teacher always seemed to be in total command of the situation, controlling us all with a no-nonsense matriarchal firmness that reduced everything to black-and-white certainties. Just like “Brexit means Brexit”, in fact! Except, of course life isn’t that straightforward, which brings us straight away to the “Riddle” in the title to this piece, which – or should I say who – is perhaps not quite what you were expecting? It refers instead to another boy in our class, Master Paul Riddle. Or at least, he used to answer to that name until he acquired a slightly different one, following his unfortunate proof that this teacher’s powers were less than absolute after all.
Yes, it was he who timorously raised his hand during class one morning and asked “Please Miss, can I go to the toilet?” But he was dealing with the indomitable Miss Aston, otherwise known (but only behind her back of course) as Miss Assbum, who wasn’t going to relax her iron control over us all for anyone, let alone this young upstart. “No, you should have gone at playtime. You must wait until lunchtime now!” was the emphatic response, which was clearly expected to deal with the matter once and for all. Unlike King Canute , whose demonstration against a rising tide was intended to show that he wasn’t powerful enough to hold back the waters, Miss Assbum clearly thought she was. But of course, her powers turned out to be similarly limited, so a few minutes later young Master Riddle also proceeded to get his feet wet. Although her command to “Mop it up!” was given with her usual authority, somehow things were never quite the same after that. In the real world, her approach to that issue simply wasn’t workable!
So, my take on the current situation is that our presentday Miss Assbum (the resemblance is quite spooky) is presiding with similar firmness over a whole cabinetfull of Paul Riddles, who have, in their instructions to go and “make Brexit work” been asked to do something that also just isn’t going to be possible in the real world. My heartfelt advice to them is to resign your positions now! Otherwise you will have to deal with a similar type of embarrassment to which young Master Riddle was everafter subjected, which in his case was of course henceforth to be known as “Piddle”! I don’t know whatever became of him after we all changed schools, but in the vanishingly remote possibility of him ever reading this, what can I say but “Hi Paul, great to be in touch again, and have your shorts dried out yet?” It’s a cruel world, so don’t let this happen to you!
But back to Plymouth! I was intending to describe some potentially exciting things that we’re intending to try out here this time, but for reasons that will become clear when I do write about them, they will best be included in a future blog dedicated to another subject, which I don’t want to diminish in any way by even mentioning it in a blog that is dedicated to anything as idiotic as Brexit. The point is that we’re not all fools, which means that the topics just wouldn’t mix.
However, the Creative Destruction section of this blog, which also involves Plymouth, can go ahead as planned. The fact is that there are some things that are well worth getting rid of, although surely our membership of the EU shouldn’t be one. A much more sure-fire candidate is – or should I say was – Plymouth’s in our view increasingly misnamed “Quality Hotel”. Should Mister Spock ever had had the misfortune to have found himself there, his urgent transponder message before requesting an immediate beamup could only have been “It’s Quality, Jim, but not as we know it!”
It was one of those reinforced concrete buildings, the construction of which became progressively more visible as the concrete started to fall away to expose the rusting rods beneath. In its last years it was sheathed in scaffolding, with a collar of wooden planks surrounding it at first floor level in order to shelter passersby from the resulting hailstorm of aggregate. In the end though, some artificial assistance was given to this process a few weeks ago, in order to put the building out of its misery a little more quickly. Many thanks to Colin Brownlee for sending us this photo!
I have in a previous blog related some of our own experiences there, so can feel proud of the fact that Cairn’s visits may also have contributed in some small way to this institution’s demise, although the rubbish concrete was definitely down to someone else. In its earlier and better days as the Mayflower Post House, we just wandered around naked and reprogrammed the channel displays on their TVs to show four-letter words [Plymouth MBA], although admittedly not at the same time. Once standards had declined to the point that the place had to be renamed the “Quality” in an attempt to deceive a less discerning clientele, we were allowed back to stay once again, until it closed its doors for the last time a couple of years ago. The Plymouth skyline is indeed all the better for its removal, thereby verifying Cairn’s claim that it was in at least some respects the best place to stay even during those last years, as when you were inside it was the only place in town from where you couldn’t see it. But, I worry. So much of what passes for postwar “architecture” in this town tends to look so awful that one wonders what new monstrosity will be built to replace it. Let’s just hope the words “apartments” and “luxury” won’t be involved here!
But of course, not all destruction has sufficient good points to make it worthwhile, even though some may claim that it has. This, we fear, is likely to prove all too true for Brexit, whatever it does actually mean. The consequences for science and its technological applications have the potential to be quite extraordinarily damaging, which makes me particularly angry that the country has got itself into this mess. For what I hope is a level-headed explanation of the situation to our local MP Helen Whately, which explicitly outlines the dangers, please see our letter to her, which is appended to this blog. She is one of the new 2015 intake, and unlike her predecessor, who as far as we could tell didn’t even know where our nice little town of Faversham was, is clearly taking an active interest in local affairs, including our own activities – thank you!
Now though, my anger is such that I need to let off a little steam, by advancing an alternative theory of how this dreadful fiasco came about. How could a government that was comprised of such apparently intelligent people have made such an awful mess of things? Even though some of its senior members had gone to only the second best university in the country, although they do seem to be better than us at rowing nowadays (just what are you trying to imply here, Martin? – ed), surely they couldn’t have been stupid enough to hold an unnecessary and badly organised referendum with no contingency plans if the result went the wrong way? It just doesn’t seem to stack up. At least, not until we recall that some of them were also members of Oxford’s notorious Bullingdon Club, whose destructive excesses have been long established. Here therefore, is a dramatisation of what I fear might have happened at a restaurant there one evening a quarter century or so ago….
“Ok lads, before we begin, whose Daddy’s turn is it to pay for the damage this time?”
“Mine, I think, so let’s get started! Waiter, which is your most expensive wine?”
“That will be the SoixanteNeuf du Pape 1937, Sir.”
“That will do excellently. Bring us six bottles immediately!”
“Here you are Sir! Allow me to open them to let them breathe.”
“No need for that, my good man!”
SMASH! SMASH!! SMASH!!! SMASH!!!! SMASH!!!!! SMASH!!!!!!
“Haw haw haw!!! Out they all go! Straight through the plate glass windows!”
“That’s the spirit, boys! Just like the old days!”
“Well no, I don’t think it is, actually! I mean, this is nothing compared with what our predecessors did to the Peckwater Quad a couple of times. Our standards are slipping, so it’s high time we raised our game here. Has anyone got any ideas?”
“Yes, by Jove! I think I have. There’s no need to stop at wrecking just restaurants and colleges! Why don’t we trash the ENTIRE COUNTRY?”
“Fantastic wheeze, old bean, but HOW?”
“Hmm, well I guess we’d need to run it for a while. Should be easy enough to get into Parliament with our connections, then we just work our way up until we’re in charge.”
“Gosh, that’s an absolute corker of a notion! But what would we do then, and wouldn’t people realise what we were up to and stop us?”
“Not if we’re tricking other people to do the damage for us! Suppose we hold a referendum on something that would turn the country into a basket case if the result goes the wrong way, and make such a bad fist of organising it that that’s exactly what happens!”
“I like it! How about one on getting out of Europe? Nobody understands how important it is to us, and our mates in the press can help things along by forever banging on about bloody foreigners stealing people’s jobs!”
“Perfect! And if one of us is Chancellor we could make sure that the plebs are sufficiently impoverished to ensure their resentment. They’d be voting to come out in droves!”
“Oh the poor fools, they’d fall for it hook, line and sinker! What a jolly jape this will be!”
“Top-hole! But the Club tradition is that our Daddies must pay for the damage, and this one could be quite expensive.”
“No, that’s the beauty of it!!! We could ensure that they all keep their money offshore, so when Sterling crashes we’ll ALL be making a killing. We’ll end up owning EVERYTHING when they pay!”
“Yes…., but maybe then it wouldn’t be worth owning?”
“WHO SAID THAT??? We don’t want YOUR sort in this club, you miserable little creep. Out you go!!!”
“Haw haw, another window gone! Right, now for the crockery!”
Just a theory, you understand….. But the point is, it might just as well be true, for all the damage that I fear it is going to do. Fortunately, we’re in good shape here at Cairn. Our new building is now in a pretty advanced stage of being fitted out, and although progress has been a bit slower than we’d hoped, it’s all being paid for out of retained profits (no outsiders to pay off at Cairn!). We can still afford to take our time, as we won’t need all the extra space straight away, and the Brexit uncertainties are obviously going to make us proceed more cautiously than we would like to. The main thing for us is to keep all the R&D going, so that we’ll have more good things to sell to our surviving customers. They may still be able to buy from us in future even if they do get deported (or more likely, just emigrate), so we think Cairnland should be able to muddle through.
And now for that letter to our MP, who has been pleased to accept our invitation to officially open it We expect that to take place next spring, if the country hasn’t collapsed into anarchy by then. Bullingdon Club members will not be invited to this event!!! In fact, it now occurs to me that the Quality Hotel could have been demolished much more quickly and cheaply if that shower had just been invited to stay for the weekend – what a lost opportunity!