Saturday, 27 November 2010

A thought on the death of Bernard Matthews...

You know the guy - the fat bloke who sold all those crappy processed turkeys and such. Who Jamie Oliver didn't like because kids preferred his twizzlers to the fine, healthy vegetables that Jamie & the Food Fascists (now that's a band name if ever there was one) felt we should be eating so as to avoid terrible deaths at a young age.

I have to admit that we don't eat turkey much. Not for any noble reason but because most of it - including Bernard's - is dry, tasteless and uninspiring. But despite this I can still admire Bernard Matthews and will urge others to be more like him and less like the righteous fussbuckets. And, of course, Jamie Oliver is much like Bernard too - made shed loads of dosh from building up a personal brand that has something to do with food.

But mostly with Bernard its the business success that I like. The fact that you can turn 20 turkey eggs and a paraffin heater into a multi-million pound business reminds us that achievement isn't really about exams and degrees and chartered status. It's about hard work, initiative, creativity and probably more hard work on top of that (which perhaps explains my relative lack of success). Plus flexibility:

Refusing to give in, he tried again – on a much grander scale. In 1955, backed by a £2,500 loan, he bought Great Witchingham Hall, a dilapidated 80-roomed Elizabethan manor outside Norwich which had once been the home of John Norris, man of letters. Matthews reckoned that, at 5p a square foot, it was considerably cheaper than the 30p a square foot he would have to invest to build his own turkey sheds.

Apart from the bedroom in which he and his wife Joyce lived, he turned the house over to turkeys, hatching them in the living room, rearing them in the bedrooms and slaughtering them in the kitchens.

So when we're thinking about student loans (£2,500 was a load of money in 1950 and Bernard paid it back without a quibble and without protection or discount) and the end of jobs for life in the public sector let's spare a thought for the Bernard Matthews of this world. For without their ideas, creativity and hard work we'd still be a poor country. It is enterprising people like Bernard Matthews that lie behind all the good things we have (as well as turkey twizzlers).
We should celebrate them more.


1 comment:

Mike Power said...

It was quite a sum but even so it made Witchingham Hall a bargain at just £65,000 in today's terms.