Thursday, 8 October 2015
On hearing from a guru...
Went to a seminar today. Well rather a sort of round table with this incredibly famous and important man who was going to impart his wisdom, show us the way forward, direct us to the sunlit uplands of Elysium.
I was tardy so when I arrived most folk were sat and were, one after another, introducing themselves. I'd missed most of this so most of the attendees fell into the category of "familiar faces but have to dredge the deeper recesses of the mind to remember how I know them". I introduced myself.
The event took the form of the incredibly famous and important man telling us how he came to be incredibly important and famous. He gushed with positivity, with witty self-deprecation and with little asides demonstrating how he was so much more insightful than the usual run-of-the-mill sort of person you'd encounter. He spoke the fluid language of the guru all mish-mashed with the jargon of the professional in his line of business. It was a tour de force delivered at breakneck speed that demonstrated that us mere mortals were in the presence of genius.
Amongst all this our guru dropped names, spewed contacts and indicated that he had the ear of ministers, engagement with policy-makers and, for all we knew, a direct telephone line to god. He managed to condemn government policies with one rhetorical flick of his hand implying that if only they'd asked him first it would all be so much better. He dismissed one urbane and worldly-wise politician as a "right wing bastard" and then slightly sniggered at what he called "Tory words".
In all this we got no facts. No evidence. No substantiation to his claims of unique insight into the solutions in this area of policy-making. Oh it was good and there were some things - most tactical things - that cried out to be stolen for the benefit of our town. But the impression wasn't of shared experience but rather the implication that we were some clumping centre-back to be dazzled and bemused by his Lionel Messi. It was, in short, a master class in oh-so-modest self-celebration rather than something to be learned from.
Sadly this sort of event is legion. We troop to the feet of the guru, suck up their pronouncements and seldom - if ever - ask whether the guru could use a dressing gown. Today I learnt nothing about how we might actually meet the challenges we face in the famous man's area of 'expertise' but I also know that some of those colleagues present will hark back to the seminar, eye-sparkling with excitement as they recount the sage words of our guru.
It is a reminder why we have politicians. Not because we're immune to being self-appointed experts or to showing off - we're some of the worst offenders here. But rather because you lot have the ability to deflate the balloon of our ego by kicking us out at the ballot box.