I was pondering, so you wouldn’t have to, the Great Helmsman’s weird parallel universe speech at the Labour Party conference last week. In particular, I found myself chewing over what on earth he was talking about when he referred to “new modern technicians”. Who are these people? Are they replacements for old, has-been technicians? Can an old has-been strive to become new and modern?
Because I have read widely in that seam of gibberish mined so profitably by De Bono and Buzan, I was able to enjoy a flash of insight. Recently, I mentioned overhearing a reference to a “visionary cobbler”. It seems to me that the visionary cobbler and the new modern technician are one and the same. No ordinary cobbler, bound by old has-been cobbling ways, the visionary cobbler is – by dint of that very visionariness – new and modern and cobbling away in that bright sunlit upland our leader described for us so majestically.
In this paradise, which is probably a fool’s paradise, but none the worse for all that, new modern visionaries ply their trades while, behind the scenes, feral teenage tearaway mothers are corralled into hostels and council officials obliterate every last scrap of antisocial behaviour Latin.
It is not just cobblers whose lives have been transformed by the new vision. Lamplighters, bootblacks, night soil men, wrights of all kinds, tally-stick tappers, shovelmen, kiters, branglers and fleemsters, all these have swept away their old has-been cobwebs and emerged as new, and very modern, and indeed, technical.
I have seen the evidence with my own eyes. Down the lane from me there is a kiosk occupied for as long as I can recall by a boot-mender. Those whose boots were broken would take their boots to him, and, for a few shillings, he would mend them, if not as good as new then at least with one or two fewer gaping holes or patches of distressed stitching. This was quite clearly an old has-been way of doing things. Now, the kiosk has been covered in new modern plastic logos and the boot-mender himself has a new slick hairstyle and trendy spectacles, and his old crumpled beige overalls have been replaced by a stylish outfit, in mauve and teal, with clean lines, and a laminated namebadge. He is now, one might say, a visionary cobbler. And I for one am blissfully happy that, instead of simply getting my boots repaired, I am given a personalised and computer-readable boot health-check, together with a coupon for a complimentary plastic beaker of fruit ‘n’ fibre ‘n’ seeds ‘n’ plumstones ‘n’ curly kale juice from the brand new kiosk next door.
Onwards and upwards with the new modern technicians and the visionary cobblers!