However satisfying it might be to call to account the inefficient, the inept or the downright dishonest, it’s unsettling to cope with the rudderless aftermath of being adrift in a world in which there’s hardly anyone left in whom you can unreservedly place your trust.
Politicians, bankers, the police, the press and even doctors aren’t the only ones whose credibility has been clobbered of late. Much closer to home, some food producers and retailers may have been playing fast and loose with the terminology of what makes us fat.
Contrary to the sanctimonious harrumphing of a certain sector of outraged citizenry that things were different in their day, human nature hasn’t irrevocably taken a lamentable turn for the worse; just that making a mistake is now apparently less socially acceptable than lying or conniving.
The downside of technological advancement is that while we no longer need to be as intuitively bright as we once were, it’s encouraged us to believe that we’re more so; consequently we find nothing funny in being seen as an unintentional laughing-stock. With the default mode automatically on defensive, little wonder that fear of failure stalks almost every decision and is such an inevitable and recurrent outcome.
On holiday recently we mused how relaxing it was not to be wound up each morning by the scornful tones of John Humphrys setting the world to rights. So, on our return we re-tuned the radio alarm to R4Xtra. That lasted a week. Why start the day listening to the Goons of yore trotting out well-worn catchphrases when the current crop are every bit as entertaining.
You can’t help but snigger when one politico or PR bod pronounces that ‘lessons have been learnt’. What really raises the bar on Today is ‘transparency’.
Invoking the T word is the shorthand precursor employed by someone readying themselves to abnegate personal responsibility in the wake of some monumental cock-up. Invariably one in which as ‘stakeholders’ we’ve all apparently been complicit; therefore our, not their, fault: QED. Far from portraying an open window, transparency is the frosted glass intended to distract attention away from all kinds of idiocy and chicanery.
Being its own antonym also makes it the ideal get out of jail free card to play when the chips are down; irrespective of circumstance and usually sporting the caption ‘we’re all in it together’ on one side with a jester’s cap and bells on the reverse.
Most comedy is tragedy plus time. It needn’t take the genius of a Spike Milligan to accelerate the alchemy, just a healthy dash of self-belief to realise that it’s better to admit a mistake than try to weasel your way out of it.
Des King is a freelance journalist specialising in packaging.