Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Wednesday Whimsy: Bring back the Age of the Amateur

I’m sure my readers will be familiar with C. B. Fry but in case not here’s an extract from his wikipedia entry:

Charles Burgess Fry, known as C. B. Fry (25 April 1872 – 7 September 1956) was an English polymath, an outstanding sportsman, politician, diplomat, academic, teacher, writer, editor and publisher, who is best remembered for his career as a cricketer. John Arlott summed him up thus: "Charles Fry could be autocratic, angry and self-willed: he was also magnanimous, extravagant, generous, elegant, brilliant - and fun [...] he was probably the most variously gifted Englishman of any age.” Neville Cardus wrote that he was "a national gallery and a theatre and a forum.”

Fry's achievements on the sporting field included representing England at both cricket and football, an FA Cup Final appearance for Southampton F.C. and equalling the then world record for long jump. He also reputedly turned down the throne of Albania. In later life, he suffered mental health problems, but in his 70s was still able to perform his party piece: jumping backwards onto a mantlepiece from a standing position.

The other thing you need to know about C. B. Fry is that he was an amateur. Now I know that this example is an extreme one but the central point remains – there’s nothing inherently wrong with not being “professional”. With not choosing to turn everything in life into a career. I mean look where the two approaches got us.

While Britain was run by amateurs like C. B. Fry we created the richest manufacturing country in the world, extended the Empire to the farthest flung corners of the globe, produced magnificent literature, gave the world its greatest team sports, explored the boundaries of science, opened up the world to free trade and enterprise, built fantastic buildings and generally contributed more to the betterment of the world than any previous group of men and women in history.

Now we’re run by professionals – professional police chiefs, professional hospital managers, professional university leaders, professional marketers, professional educationalists, professional managers of every shape and size – all frothing at the prospect of some letters to adorn the name. Every job seems to require a degree and a chartered institute (or better still a “Royal College”). Look at us. Look at the mess we’re in. Look at the pettifogging, sub-optimal, misguided and down-right stupid decisions being made by so-called “professionals”.

And perched at the top of all this chaos we have professional politicians.

Bring back the “cult of the amateur” before it’s too bloody late.


1 comment:

Uncle Marvo said...

It's too bloody late.

Look at the Premier Division.