Don’t you love farce?

Don’t you love a farce? My fault, I fear
I thought that you’d want what I want, sorry my dear
But where are the clowns? Send in the clowns
Don’t bother they’re here…

Stephen Sondheim


If one reflects on the comings and goings at Westminster over the last 12 months it has been somewhat farcical. This is especially the case because some people have taken it so very seriously, they are so very important.

“There never were any parties. We obeyed all the rules. Honest guv. Pinkie swear.”

“I had a bit of slap and tickle with my aide/mistress and then went on I am a celeb, so people would like me. P.S. thanks for the £400k.”

“Let us give the rich and those {Jodrell} bankers a tax break while the nation starves waiting for the crumbs of caviar to trickle down from the high table…”

“Our brave air force will save us from ET and his UFOs.”

“Clap for carers but don’t give those greedy skiving bastards a pay rise. How dare they put us at risk after we managed the Covid fiasco so very well! All our chums got nice fat cat contracts for PPE.”

“Let us send all our jets to Ukraine…That is a good idea it will halt Russian aggression. {Sending combat aircraft is not a declaration of war in Boris’ mind.}”


On a number of occasions I was asked to do team development courses because the “plebs” were complaining and not doing as they were told. It was obvious to me that in at least one case the root cause was the ridiculous, ill-planned and  demanding behaviour of senior staff. They were expecting sudden animal trials at a drop of a hat, when the specially bred line of rats needed weeks of preparation and breeding. Unrealistic demands cannot be met. When I suggested in this case that the Cambridge academics needed training much more than those in the animal house, my wise words were pooh-poohed. Egos are fragile and self-diagnosed omniscience is pandemic.

“Not us we are perfect. It is they; they are not sufficiently flexible to anticipate our whims, telepathically. If only they were better life would be fine. They are the problem!!”

The problem is that when people are caught up in the script of a dramatic farce, they are wholly unaware that they are in fact enacting a farce. This is what makes a farce, so farcical and so funny, the seriousness and commitment to the {pre-written} scripts of the protagonists in the farce. They cannot see beyond the opening and closing doors, along the farcical corridors. They cannot hear the “Benny Hill” music which is an accompaniment.

With perfect comedic timing, they say their lines, deadpan and fully bought into said reality {farce}.

The madness of the dream…

Cross-Cultural Competence – Working With Aliens

These graphs are taken from “Building Cross-cultural Competence” by Hampden-Turner and Trompenaars.

There is a major difference in thinking around the group and the individual in France and the UK. France is more us or we, UK is I or me. France is more like Japan than the UK!

UK is about getting the job done, France has more of a social orientation…there needs to be some social element too…

Notions of responsibility and blame are closer but France still tends towards blaming “the system” more.

Russia likes firing squads and hanging.

Failure of individuals in living up to their potential is more of an issue in the UK than in France. “If they had fulfilled their potential everything would be dandy”.

France likes to control things a little more than the UK. Hence, perhaps, the number of regulations and the administrative burden.

Kismet is much more popular in the East!!

People need explanations and justifications…they do not, however, like simple explanations.


Team Deficits – The Realistic Killjoy

Of late the wife and I have been watching various cooking programmes including Gordon Ramsay’s Future Food Stars and Master Chef Australia. They both have team elements. There are a lot of egos… Sat here I probably would not invest in any of the candidates in Ramsay’s programme. It is meant to be entertainment. FFS.

While people may be inventive, keen to get started and full of hype, there is an obvious deficit in most of these teams. That is, they all lack an effective Monitor Evaluator {ME}. They do not ask if this will work and can we get it done on time?


Sat the other side of the screen I find the chaotic scenes uncomfortable. One can sense the oncoming car crash caused by lack of timings and quality control. There is no detachment. There are headless chickens in a hurry.

Whenever I was tutoring small groups, I used to take on this role, ME, for the tutor group for the first few tasks. Then I would explicitly ask someone to take on this “unpopular” role, that of realistic killjoy.

These can seem boring and lacking in fun, but they get the job done on time and to standard.

They are the antithesis of Johnny

Nobody likes it if you piss on their fire even if it is getting cataclysmic. Stupid ideas however need nipped in the bud.

Egos can be easily bruised, bless.

Planning and Preparation Prevent Piss Poor Performance. {Note planning is present participle.}

When directing a large course, part of the job of the director is to ensure that the Monitoring and Evaluation of course as it unfolds is tantamount.


Do you resent it when someone finds realistic flaws with your rushed and exciting cunning plans?

Do you struggle to remain grounded?

Neuroatypical T-shirts and Ritual Sniffing

Ritual sniffing is the name given in team development circles for the set of social behaviours which often occur when a group of human beings meet for the first time. This might be at a party, in a conference or workplace. It is very much like when two cats or dogs arrive on the same patch of land, they tend to sniff each other’s arses to learn and find out a little about genetic and apparatus based natural gender with a view to ascertaining hierarchical position. Humans do not get down on all fours to sniff each other’s genitals or anuses on first contact yet they do engage in social ritual sniffing.

For example, when one turns up at university.

Hi name is Fred, what is yours?”

“I am Jemima, people call me J.”

“Where are you from J?”

“I am from Farnham in Surrey, it is a bit boring there.”

“I used to live near there too, but my parents moved to Dubai. It is bloody hot but I still go to Charterhouse.”

“I went to Farnborough sixth form college.”

“What “A” levels did you do J?”

“I did Physics, Chemistry, Biology and Media Studies, how about you?”

“I did Philosophy, Economics and Maths. I wanted to do Art but my dad vetoed that. I am signed up for PPE. Who knows I could be a politician one day.”

“I am a failed medic so I am doing Biomedical Sciences with a view to transfer post-degree…”

People check out the apparent social standing of others by use of words. It breaks the ice and is a form of socio-political chit chat. None of it really matters but people like to play this chit chat game.

I have mentioned previously that one of my least favourite things is “Death by Canapé”. This is where at some social or business gathering there is a line to self-serve at a finger buffet. One is nearly obliged to engage in fatuous conversation. For some reason these “Death by Canapé” buffets are popular.

If you say to some people that they are engaged in ritual sniffing, they get offended. Some can be quite pompous.

I do not need or like this ritual sniffing stage, I am happy just to dive in and be me, albeit reigned back to start with…

I am convinced that my dislike of this ritual sniffing has hampered my social integration into the madness of the common dream.

This morning I have been looking at “Neuroatypical” T-shirts with a view to purchase one. I have direct electroencephalograph {EEG} evidence that I am neuroatypical. I can lower the alpha and beta brainwave activity below the detectivity threshold of frontal lobe fast Fourier transform EEG.

I am considering an experiment. “If I wear such a t-shirt who would inquire?”

When I wear “I am a Doctor trust me”, many smile, few inquire. When I wear my “GCHQ always listening to our customers” t-shirt, it elicits comments from Brits here. “ You can’t be from Cheltenham.”

I’ll wager the only person who would inquire about a neuroatypical t-shirt would be the extroverted physio. He would be unable to resist.

I could be wrong…