Now that George Osborne has taken over at the helm of the Uneven Standards, I feel confident about the prospect of death, and meeting the surreal comedian who is probably my maker. I’d guess that the Chair up There is going to be a barrel of laughs throughout eternity; but chiefly, I am happy to slip off the mortal coil, because I can now pronounce – with genuine conviction – that I have seen everything.
In the original TV series of the Beverly Hillbillies, Jed Clampett had a dopey son who kept on saying, “Whin ah grow erp, I’m gon’ be a brayen surgeein”. Oh how we laughed. But then Saatchi & Saatchi tried to buy Midland Bank, George W Bush became US President, a former German Spy-chief became the most powerful finance minister in Europe, Diane Abbott became shadow Home Secretary, and Jeremy Corbyn became Labour leader.
All of the above have talents that range from golf and shagging to great ad campaigns, acting and genuine ethics. But what they have in common is a perfect, dare I say vacuumesque, absence of talents required to do the job they want to do.
The exception who stands out, however, remains George Osborne, for his talents serve no practical purpose yet discovered. I’m sure he has graces somewhere in his make-up, but they do not add up to any kind of salvation: George entered the world, and has devoted his entire life thus far to abusing the planet’s oxygen supply, a public school education, his social position, the disabled, pensioners, Britain’s financial situation and recreational drugs.
Forty-five years ago, Peter Cook and Dudley Moore introduced us to the idea of a unipedal midget auditioning for the role of Tarzan – “a role traditionally reserved in the acting profession for those amongst us in possession of two legs”. But let’s face it, Dud would’ve made an infinitely better Tarzan than the complete hash Mr Osborne made of being Chancellor of the Exchequer. And yes, there is a gag in there about hash, but I can’t be bothered.
It is I think a tribute to the utter failure by Liblefts to improve genuine access to equality that, in the sixty or so years since the Clampetts moved to California, one of the more visible trends has been the promotion of the practically challenged far beyond their capabilities. And as I see no sign of anyone in the pc-to-globalism conglomerate learning where they went wrong, the only thing left to do is have some fun speculating about where total inadequacy goes from here.
There is a rich seam of humour concerning how the content of the Evening Standard might change under Osborne’s tutelage, but on the whole I think it best to leave that to reality in the coming months. As many of my friends remark these days, “Everyday life is infinitely more satirical than anything you could make up”.
For me, trying to leapfrog the next stage in madness stands a better chance of being amusing. But it is no easy task.
One example might be the concept of Woody Allen training to be a Kamikaze pilot. Here we have a bloke who can’t fly a plane, is not at war with the US Pacific fleet, is over eighty years old – and a pacifist with a morbid fear of death. Allen himself would probably boast in a set of having flown thirty successful missions, but then that’s what made him the funniest standup of the early 1960s.
But such is no longer enough. Today, Woody would be appointed Commander in Chief of the Jewish Rising Sun Flying Legion, and tasked with the objective of training fellow-members of his religion to become obediently suicidal Sons of Nippon. Oh to be a fly-boy on the wall of that one.
Woody: So like, I want you to embrace the total gestalt of Zen through the medium of burning to death on the forecastle of a US aircraft carrier.
Trainee: On the whole, I’d rather give out Passover recipes during the Hajj at Mecca.
Woody: OK, I get that…but try to see your death as, you know, a pathway.
Trainee: Listen, you’re a Jew, I’m a Jew. We have no afterlife, schlemiel. What kind of pathway is that?
Viewed using this method of zero to minus fifty-six suitability, there is no end to the future possibilities when it comes to determinedly hammering large square pegs into tiny round pinpricks. Get warmed up to this approach, and very quickly Jeremy Hunt and the NHS starts to look like a marriage made in Heaven.
However, the problem keeps coming back to one of imagination-stretching more painful than any Spanish Inquisition rack, given the seals of approval awarded to job responsibilities in recent years. Thus, Jean-Claude Juncker as an EU-wide Prohibition Tsar might seem Monty Pythonic at first sight, but a multiply-failed Remainer Home Secretary as Brexit-leading Prime Minister is LOL fall-over-funny by comparison; a former Chancellor with Asperger’s becoming Prime Minister is equally hysterical; and a middle-class cowboy being given a bigger and bigger market share of Citizen NHS primary care is funnier still.
It would be tempting to blame those last four examples on succession to power without election, were it not for the thumping majorities variously given to Tony Blair, Richard Nixon, Jacob Zuma, Francois Hollande, Margaret Thatcher and Angela Merkel over the last half century.
What do I conclude from all this? It’s probably a human resources issue, and it’s this simple:
Study the cv, and follow up on the references
To hell with demographic quotas: look instead at the potential and the track record, then ask lots of awkward questions at the interview.
Using these as the only worthwhile bases on which to judge fitness for purpose would have ruled out the daftest square pegs featured in this piece. It would have produced a Britain in far better shape than the one we endure today. And it would have relegated George Osborne to the obscurity he so richly deserves.