Thursday, July 06, 2006

Column, July 4, 2006

WE need to discriminate against women. I know that we do already, but during an afternoon spent in the company of a bunch of teenagers it became apparent that it's a good job that we do.
I was their 'business adviser' for the afternoon and yes, you might be thinking who in their right mind would engage me to give them the lowdown on commerce unless they were intent on a life of crippling penury, but hold your horses until you've read the results, alright?
Well, the Doubting Thomases among you will be relieved to learn that I was not let anywhere near real money, or for that matter a real business. No, it as all an exercise in which the Year 10 pupils (Fourth Year in old money) were competing in a day-long business project.
To assist them in the task assorted people from the real world were drafted in to assist and that's were yours truly comes in. I'm not entirely sure how I got involved, but safe to say that if someone calls you at short notice and asks if your diary is free the best answer is always no.
Anyhow, I pitched up on Friday morning to find a lot of men in suits were also there, most of the high street banks had sent in their business advisers, even the Army was there. And me.
So things were not looking promising for Team 5 when they drew the shortest of straws and got me to guide them through the day's task.
The task was to come up with a new, healthy, bread-based snack and then work out how to advertise, market and distribute it across Europe.
It was at that point that my young team might have been forgiven for casting envious glances at their competitors who had been teamed up with men in sharp suits who looked like they knew vaguely which way up to hold a spreadsheet.
While they had drawn the short straw, I had not. My team was made up of five girls and two boys and it was soon after being introduced that I began to conclude that women are to be suppressed at every opportunity.
Unless you have one in residence you soon lose touch with teenagers, and quite right too, there is nothing sadder that a middle-aged man trying to convince you that he is 'down with the kids.' my teenage years are lost in the mists so I will not pretend for an instant that I understand their musical tastes, their fashion, their slang or their love affair with, like, the word like.
It soon became apparent though that teenage boys are little more than barely-house-trained monkeys, whose one function in life, it would seem, is to impress other monkeys. They also believe that this will impress teenage girls too. They are mistaken.
“I hate him,” one of my young proteg├ęs informed me as a monkey capered past, not breaking once from her concentration on her task.
“I really hate him,” she added moments later as he gibbered past again. “Now do you see why I hate him?” she inquired as the young ape gambolled by for a third time. I have to say she had a point and he has to count himself fortunate we don't live in and age where we still carry swords, for if my team member had had access to bladed weapons I think he would have been flapping about headless on the floor, never to interrupt a girl's concentration again.
But back to my thesis as to why we need to discriminate against women. Well, given minimal intervention from me, my team set about their task with a will and it soon became apparent that the two boys on the team were surplus to requirements, confining themselves to fetching and carrying materials for the girls to carry out their job.
I nipped out for a coffee break – by the time I got back they'd named their company, named their product, devised a concept for it, identified its unique selling points and were busy building a 3-D mock-up of their packaging.
“Do you think this is a good idea,” one of them asked. Summoning up all my commercial gravitas I said, “Looks good to me, erm, carry on.”
While the boys seemed intent on outdoing each other, mostly in the field of larking about, the women were quite happy to work as a team, playing to each other's strengths, offering and accepting constructive criticism of each other, all for the common good.
I went for lunch and by the time I got back the hive-mind of the girls had devised an advertising campaign that would work on TV and billboards...and they'd translated it into French, German and Spanish. The boys had nicked two felt-tip pens from opposing teams.
And I thought, if they're like this when they're just 15, they should own the world by the time they're 30, so how come they don't?
And this is where the monkeys pull of their master-stroke. You see, because the girls are happy working in their little collective, none of them wanted to assume the mantle of managing director of their company. So while they all politely demurred, one of the boys took the top spot. Leaving the team to wonder for the rest of the day just what it was their managing director did.
What he did do, when they won, was take centre stage when they were presented with their winners' cheque. Yes they won, oh ye of little faith, read it and weep, hacks 1, high-street bank business advisers, a big fat nil.
But women need to be discriminated against as a form of positive action for the buffoons that are boys, and men. If they ever work out a way of reproducing without us we are doomed.
And if you want a bit of business advice, for free, from an award-winning business adviser – staff your firm with women and nothing but, it doesn't matter how much maternity leave they need, give it them and more. Let them get on with it and they'll make you millions.

THERE'S no joy to be had from England's departure from the World Cup, particularly to a team like Portugal who threw themselves to the ground at every opportunity in their quest for the free kick.
And their goading of Wayne Rooney into what was never a red card offence hardly befitted a team that wants to be crowned best in the world.
One or two letter writers mistook my failure to support England as an antipathy to the team and the country. Nothing could be further form the truth, I merely objected to the assumption we should all support England because they're next to us.
But those who sat and cheered 'Anyone But England' continue to allow themselves to be defined not by who they are, but by who they dislike. You would think that we are grown-up enough to make positive statements about what it is to be Welsh, rather than displaying negative attitudes to England.
But who to support next? Well, it's got to be France, because commentators insist on calling them old men, when their average age is a positively ancient 30.
30 – old? That makes me decrepit, so go on the greybeards of France, win it for middle-aged men everywhere.

1 comment:

mancmate said...

...and I pocket a cool £60 if the French win...but only £40 if they lose - Hurrah for office sweepstakes !!!!