Let me tell you a story set in Paisley. There was a young girl in her last year of Primary School (and, hence, about 10 years old). She was given some pocket money by her mother. It was a small amount, some of which could be spent on sweets and the rest could be saved in an old-fashioned piggy bank. That little girl skipped down the street, determined to award herself after after a hard week of school homework, smelly boys and sharp-voiced teachers. With a high degree of excitement, she opened the big door of the local newsagent and, in the process, dropped her pocket money onto the cold floor of the shop due to her trembling hands. Before she could reach for the cash, another pair of hands reached and grasped onto the scattered money. The young girl gazed upwards at another pair of youthful eyes; they were the eyes of a boy in her year at Primary School. Happily recognising familiarity, she asked, "Could I have my money back?". After a barely perceptible pause, the wiry boy whined back, "This is my money" and walked off. The girl ran home, crying and upset. She told her parents about the boy from her class. The parents were upset too; not just by the bullying she'd received, but by the causal assumption of ownership that the little swine had showed. "The youth of today," the parents might have exclaimed. As you read this blog, you're probably thinking the same thing. Only, this story of "today" was 40 years ago, in 1969. It's a true story and the little boy was the son of the Goodwins. His name was Freddie. This story was fairly widespread in the school then and, I suspect, is going to become even more widespread at a national level. It's safe to assume he wasn't a popular boy at school, just like he's not popular now. Other tidbits that have reached me was that he was frequently harassed at High School. Rather pleasingly, the reason for the harassment was because the skinny runt was arrogant; it wasn't for being wimpy or part of a minority group. Not that I condone bullying. I despise it. As will soon be made abundantly clear.
I had no real opinion of Sir Fred, positive or negative. How could I? I didn't know him. I knew only what the press had printed about him. For a journalist, it made great copy. Everyone hates bankers at the moment. We need a real identifiable target for the general populous to vent their anger at (and, by 'target', that now seems a very real possibility). But, honestly, I didn't particularly mind him. From what I could gather, he was someone who did a job reasonably well and had signed the dotted line that promised him a pension. It was a rather large pension admittedly, considering he'd only worked at the bank since 1998. But he'd still negotiated it and, if both parties are agreed, then a contract is a contract and he deserves the money. Except I then did a little digging and discovered many reasons why this man is deeply unpopular, with the school story being the smattering of icing on the rather congealed fatty cake.
The man has a ruthless lineage stretching from his school days all the way to the present. This would perhaps be acceptable if he was any good at his job. But he doesn't even have that string to his rather mangy bow. Charmingly, Sir Fred was infamous at moving Royal Bank Of Scotland, or RBOS, into the lovely minefield of sub-prime mortgages, while simultaneously telling the board that there was no exposure to the sub-prime mortgage market. "Spinning" would be one way to describe what he was doing, with "lying" perhaps being more appropriate. Fern Britton mentioned "men" on Question Time as being a cause of the problem in the financial sector. "If there was the old-fashioned housekeeping where women are traditionally pretty good at making sure the money goes in the pot for electricity and the phone and the whatever – we didn't pillage and rob it and stick it all on a horse to see if the money would come in next week which it clearly hasn't – when we put all that money into the banks and we see nothing coming back." I'd go further and say it was "men" of a certain age, mainly in their 50s and 60s; the "baby boomers". There is always talk of the "youth of today" in the print media being seen as scroungers, yet all I see (and, yes, I'm talking about the generation next down from me) are people trying to work hard with the very little that has been afforded them, while the "baby boomer" generation above them continues the inward breast-stroke by grabbing more and more; be it property, final salary pensions, free education, foolish investments and oil-guzzling cars. The few visible "youthful scroungers" are merely taking their cues from the generation above them anway.
I've worked for a number of organisations, all in different domains of expertise. Three of the places I've done work for have been finance companies. The first thing that struck me, as a major difference between the finance sector and every other office I've worked for, is the awful sense of entitlement to bonuses; it came from every employee there, including ones who hadn't even done anything that spectacular. And, let's face it, there were many of those; you had a lot of the grey "dead men walking" who'd been beaten into submission; you had a very
small group of managers and professionals who had a genuine creative spark; and lastly, you had a group of managers that were extremely "testosterone fuelled" and, despite being so driven, were often to be seen staring jealously at the creative group. Mostly, the aim was simple from this last group; to expand ruthlessly, like some maladaptive Social Darwinism plan. Who seems more dangerous now? The so-called "benefit scroungers" or the "finance sector" scroungers? It seems only fitting that an exhibition of Stanley Donwood's art
has opened, with the theme being the financial crisis. Donwood has produced many paintings for this, but he's tellingly commented on a triptych panel called the "Goodwin goat". "They go after benefit cheats but these bankers are far worse and are being rewarded... people walk away with legally protected, huge bonuses".
Interestingly, a certain anonymous manager I worked for (that I thankfully didn't have many encounters with) fits a personality profile. Like shite rising in a sewer, it looks like he's rising to the top. If you look at the personality profile of Sir Fred Goodwin on Wikipedia, you'll notice his hobbies are "golf", "shooting" and a keen interest in gas-guzzling cars. Pointedly, he also had no technical expertise, but is seen as nakedly ambitious. The personality profile fits this anonymous manager too. It's almost like there exists a "Financial Sector Social Darwinist Sociopath" template. This man could easily have had a five part blog series in his own right and, by rights, he should've had. Luckily, I stopped myself from indulging in such a folly while I worked in the office, as the oleaginous creep would've probably sued me for defamation of character. Except, he wouldn't have been able to, because libel presupposes that the initial defamation had to be untrue. As anyone who knows this blog well, I tend to use nicknames to protect the identity of people I write about to a world-wide community. Those readers that want me to name-and-shame this passive-aggressive, backstabbing, reptilian creep will have to stay disappointed, as I'm not making him the exception. So, instead, I have to think of some witty non de plume with which to christen him for the purposes of this article. I'll call him Cunt.
There now follows a completely subjective and utterly cathartic rant. Anyone looking for reasonably coherent invective should probably look away now. Please also note that all of this is based on fairly widespread knowledge and not through insider knowledge from my previous trade union.
Cunt was one almighty fucking backstabbing prick. He was a cockroach that could survive anything, but that was his only skill. At most other things, he was as useless as a stapled condom. His one great idea appeared to be surveillance, and plenty of it. It was initially targetted at a few people he had a grudge against, and normally with an extremely shaky business reason for doing so. However, he has since made it more widespread. The man must be near-wanking himself to death every night in a feverish frenzy of excitement over the email records, telephone surveillance records, web histories and (probably) CCTV footage. Fuckwit. Shouldn't he be thinking of managing proper projects, since he's being paid an inordinate sum of money to do? Rather than behave like an orifice of Oceania? I looked into the face of Cunt. I realised he was dead behind the eyes, had a big black hole where his soul should have been and, when I looked really closely, saw a small protuberance jutting out of his forehead that on closer inspection was a runted gnarled sexual organ. The "youth of today" in the office, that showed a spark of creativity, were all regularly trampled on by Cunt. One particularly skilled young graduate (spoken of highly by other managers) was barked at by Cunt for having his hair too long. While people like the slightly long-haired programmer generated the ideas, people like Cunt and Goodwin carry on their pointless accumulation and endless pursuit of control and grander titles.
All over the finance industry, people like those rancorously grey men haven't had a creative thought apart from how to shift money around. But I also have a lot of thanks for those grey men (and Cunt). It gave me an impetus to actually quit my job with nothing else to go to. That's is an interesting thing to do when there's a recession around the corner and a roof over my head needing to be paid for. But that fabulous rush to the head, when I finally announced I was completely throwing the towel in, was utterly tremendous (the first people to know were my mother, naturally, and a former Big Brother contestant*, rather bizarrely) . Better than any drugs, trust me. It was a fight not to become creatively bankrupt either (hence the now weekly update to this blog). Meanwhile, I can look to the next generation, such as a number of young people starting up environmentally-friendly cottage industries, who can actually save the world. I admit to looking rather jealously at them. Look at that spark? Can I get it back? Rather than look to the older generation, I've decided to celebrate the younger cousins and listen to them. I'm not going to jealously stare at them, thinking that they're all out to scrounge off me.
Meanwhile, I just hope that the Goodwin gamble does have a happy ending, of sorts. You see, I never quite told you the end of that story about little schoolboy Freddie Goodwin. It apparently ended weeks of procrastination, after the Goodwin parents were instructed by the little girl's parents about the daylight robbery. Little Freddie turned up at the girl's doorstep and gave the money back. This happened at the very point where retribution and punishment were being seriously discussed, if not acted upon. We have to hope that Sir Fred Goodwin will remember that little girl from his past. In the meantime, if anyone wants to look at possible suspects attacking Sir FG's house, look no further than his former employees at RBOS that he treated so abominably. Oh hang on, look a bit further back than 1998, when he worked for other companies and he showed similar form. Oh, then there's High School, where he behaved like an arrogant tosser. Oh, and Primary School where he took the money from the little girl. And...
The police would have a problem questioning 3 million suspects.
* No, I'm not telling you which former Big Brother contestant it was.
Chris Nicholson has now calmed down after writing this blog article and promises something light-hearted for the blog entry that will be published after April Fools Day.