Watching an edifice crumble can provide a salutary lesson. I do not mean the sorts of lessons government ministers are fond of announcing have been or will be learned following the latest debacle. Such announcements are merely the craven bleatings of incompetents. Andy Burnham springs to mind. How I wish he didn’t! No, the lessons we can learn from seeing with our own eyes the crumbling of an edifice are of a wholly different kidney.
I speak from experience, having witnessed the crumbling of many, many edifices, the mighty and the modest, in my career as CEO of Crumbling Edifice Solutions. Before we go any further, let me acknowledge that “Crumbling Edifice Solutions” is something of a misnomer. Our role is not to “solve” the crumbling of an edifice, by which I suppose one might mean nipping the crumblement in the bud, or at least trying to slow its relentless progress towards utter devastation and ruin. We make no such claims. What we do, with consummate swish, is to watch edifices crumble. We act as witnesses.
Let us say you know of an edifice that has begun to crumble. A hasty metal tapping machine message to one of our satellite bureaux dotted around the globe will have one of our agents on site within minutes, setting up a deckchair or camping stool slap bang next to the edifice, equipped with a pair of opera glasses or prismatic viewfinder. Our agent will fix a dispassionate gaze upon the crumbling edifice until it is nought but dust, scattered in the wind. In most cases, an edifice will crumble over many years, even generations, and thus we have in place a flawless system whereby agents work in relays, one replacing another as and when necessary, for example in the event of toilet breaks, lapses of attention, or death.
At the point of complete crumblement, or CC as we call it in our organisational jargon, the agent on duty will stash their opera glasses or prismatic viewfinder in a pippy bag, fold up the deckchair or camping stool, and return to the satellite bureau via funicular railway. All our offices are high above sea level, for up in the empyrean the air is purer and thinner and conducive to la-la. Back at their desk, the agent ponders the lesson learned from watching the crumbling of the edifice, and writes a report. This is where their swish really comes into play, for our agents are recruited not just for their crumblement observation skills, but for their ability to write prose that has undeniable swish. When complete, the report is bound in greaseproof wrapping and lodged in our archive, a purpose-built edifice higher above sea level than even the highest of our bureaux, a granite fortress, remote and inaccessible, with a tower, at the top of which is my own office, from where I oversee the inevitable becrumblement of all that ever was and is and will be.