The Backstabbers Guild Of Australia – A Guide To Salvation Through Publicity

We mentioned the Catholic confessional yesterday but forgot to say that it is considered to be a sacrosanct thing. The admissions that people make in there are generally supposed not to be blabbed about by the priests. This has lead to a number of melodramatic Hollywood movies and even more melodramatic government enquiries and media reports all over the world. And that has given the BGA an idea.

We are going to introduce a variation upon the institution of the confessional but with a few operational differences:

a. The BGA version will be available in more places – not confined to the premises of a church or cathedral. BGA booths will be set up in railway stations, shopping malls, and sports arenas. In country towns they will be attached to the pub or the petrol station. The Guild has a long-term aim to make sure that no Australian is more than 500 metres from a BGA booth wherever they live in the country.

b. BGA booths will be manned by a trained counsellor, though in some cases the training that they have received may be in naval gunnery, bartending, or double-entry book keeping. In any case they will be people who are prepared to sit there and listen. They will be paid, of course.

c. The booths will be properly curtained, with a darkened interior and a grillwork between the impenitent and the professor – we’ve learned that much psychology from the church. People will only start talking when they feel safe. Or when they are full of sodium pentothal. Curtains are cheaper than hypodermics.

d. The booths will have an internal sound tube and megaphone attached so that the sounds created inside are amplified and sent out over the surrounding area. We were contemplating a modern microphone/amplifier/speaker system but the technical experts pointed out that the power requirements and maintenance would make this impractical – certainly if we are to have a large network.  And the costs involved would push the project well over budget.

e. There will be no time limits set upon the BGA booths – neither frequency of attendance nor time inside speaking into the tube. There will be a hook provided in the counsellor’s tool kit to allow them to remove people who are just in there sleeping or making a nuisance of themselves. In really troublesome areas no seating will be provided apart from a central spike.

f. Most of the BGA booths will have a charity box attached to them. It will swing in on a steel hinge once the curtain is pulled across and will not swing back out of the way until a gold coin is dropped into the slot. There are fishooks set in the slot of the box to make sure that voluntary contributions go in and not out.

But enough of the mechanics of the booths. Read tomorrow to see how the BGA professional will help the people.

 

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” This Is A Courtesy Call…”

I was standing in a store when my pocket phone rang.

” Hello, this is Bankwest. Am I talking to Richard? ”

My name is Richard and I agreed that the young woman was indeed talking to me. She asked me whether I would be prepared to identify myself in the store. That’s a rather unusual thing to say…and she was just a voice on a pocket phone…

She said it was just a courtesy call. I asked whether there was something amiss with my bank accounts. She declined to say, but asked me to call at a Bankwest branch, where she would send details of the call.

You want to panic? Try panicking about your bank accounts. I’ve been hacked through Mastercard before and I realise that it is well to jump on these things as soon as they are flagged. I said I would go to my normal local branch immediately…and took off in the car.

The official at the bank took my security passwords and we agreed that I was me and he was him; then we looked at the accounts. All was well…there was no need to  panic…whatever courtesy was intended in the original telephone call was probably some form of marketing idea that they compel junior staff to do…

Note for the future: I would readily identify myself to a recognisable police officer, local or AFP. I would do so to a recognisable magistrate or judge. I would identify myself to a recognisable Australian Defence Forces officer or warrant officer, if we were on Commonwealth property at the time. Other than that, my identity and any proof thereof, will be my own business.

Careful, BW. Your girl was indeed courteous, if a little mysterious, and your branch staff member was helpful, but there is a limit to what you should do in the marketing snoop line.

I Want A Job As A Test Pilot

A test pilot in a toy factory. Or a book store. Or a pin-up studio. Something with dignity, intellect, and a big tray of cakes for morning tea.

I did health care until I didn’t care anymore – I’ve done retail sales until they took sharp things away from me and started making soothing noises. I’ve done studying until I couldn’t see straight. I’d like something different.

” Oh “, I hear you say, ” You’re retired now. It is time to take a trip around Australia towing a caravan or go to the Greek isles and look at tourists. Or potter in a garden. ” Do these two fingers mean anything to you?

I like to think of it as retyrement. A fresh set of treads and an opportunity to do burnouts at the lights. Old enough to know better but not inclined to pay attention to the voice of reason. It is partly the reason that I write these weblog columns and entirely the reason I write them the way I do. I detest a day without doing, and I am getting to the point where I am not that fussy what or who it is I do…

It is just as well that I realise the need to be canny with money – if I were flush with cash all Hell would break loose. And the funny thing is, I would not have as good a time with unlimited spending as I do under the current regime. There is comfort in frugal endeavour and delight when it actually succeeds.

Note: I would accept employment in a suburban bank, as long as I was allowed to serve at the window and actually be there when people started to queue up. I detest the modern bank that has no serving officers in the teller’s cages. I’d love to bring back the old days of face-to-face cheque and passbook work.

The Backstabbers Guild Guide To Marketing

There are two parties involved in marketing – the seller and the buyer. Only one of them needs to be polite, kind, and honest at any one time. It is always nice when they both are, but sometimes you have to settle for less. Technically it is also possible to have both sides act in a mean, dishonest, and greedy fashion, but only if you are conducting negotiations between large nations.

If you are going to be selling something – goods, services, or indentured labourers – you need to be cheerful, open-faced, and welcoming. You need not have decent merchandise, adequate service, or valuable laborers but the smile and the glad hand are essential. A snappy uniform or suit of clothes also helps.

Research your customers – not only do you want to know the things that they desire, you also want to know what they wish to avoid. If you can find out uncomfortable facts about them, all the better…the garment of merchandising has many strands interwoven and some of them can be made into nooses.

Make sure your offer is plausible as well as attractive. No good offering unicorns if you cannot deliver them. If they are mail-order unicorns, however, you may be able to get two weeks to clear the cheque and flee the country. As with all comedy acts, fraud requires an acute sense of timing.

Consider whether you are going to have to offer a warranty. This is required by state and federal laws for any sorts of goods you sell, and can run up to a year from the date of purchase. Illegal goods and services, however, are generally free of any of this nonsense and once you have the money you can toodle off. Consider whether you fancy being all that moral all that much…

And finally, remember that the most successful salespeople never take ” no  ” for an answer. You can recognise them in the emergency ward at the hospital as the interns and nurses try to remove the other answers that they have taken from their bodies. Turn away if you are squeamish.

 

Repressed Desire…

I have repressed desires. They are kept  hidden for a number of reasons:

a. They are appalling and horrible. This isn’t true, actually, but I thought I’d capture your interest right at the start.

b. They are expensive. Well, this isn’t true either. I don’t have overly-expensive desires. In fact I hold those who do have them slightly in contempt – as people who can be manipulated by commerce. My most expensive desires mostly top out under $ 200 and I can generally steal enough from the poor-box at church to gratify them.

c. They are shameful. Well, some are. I would tell you what they were but I blush too easily. Suffice it to say that if they were to see the light of day  a number of suburban streets would be cordoned off and Gordon Ramsay would ring up to try to soothe me with kind words.

d. They are possible. Now this might seem to be at odds with the idea of repression, but if you actually do get your repressed desires then they are not repressed any more. And that means that they lose a lot of their desirability as well. And then where are you? Sitting in front of a sink full of dirty dishes in your underwear with the stove out and nothing to drink.

e. Repressed desires are sexy – as opposed to sexy desires which can be inconvenient, embarrassing, and messy. There is no romance about plain old desire bellowing in rut through the local K-Mart parking lot. More often than not, it gets laughed at.

f. Repression is the new Freedom. It goes over very well in Arabia, South America, and Russia.

g. I once gratified a repressed desire and now it turns up at the doorstep every six months and demands money. That’ll teach me.

 

How Much Is Your Name Worth?

If it is Elon Musk or Richard Branson, apparently quite a lot.

If it is Harvey Weinstein, somewhat less…

And for those of us in the middle? Well, it’s worth just what other people think it is. And therein lies the danger. If you have been a good person forever and are a good person now, your name and reputation will still be available for people to throw darts at as long as you are within range. You are not in control of the darts nor of their throwing arms – you can only control the range.

This is a sad thought if you are a people person. If your life needs human contact and constant approval, you are always going to be within range of the very human trait of animosity. You need not provoke it – it is there all the time ready for use. Sort of the frozen pizza of emotions. Just stand still for long enough, close enough, and there you go.

How to protect yourself from it? Either stay far enough away from others so that you never fall under their notice, or please everyone in every way all the time, or put safeguards in place. Never see anyone alone. Never say anything remotely objectionable to anyone. Never borrow anything , nor lend it. Never win a contest. Never write a book, blog, or laundry ticket. Never ask and never tell. Never know.

For those of you out there contemplating sex, forget it. Cold showers and prayer are your only recourse. Shun dating, marriage, adultery, celibacy, and strip joints. Avoid the movies, particularly if you are producing them. Do not send pictures of any portion of your body to anyone at all, ever. Avoid stimulating foods like lukewarm gruel and dry toast.

As far as finances go, remember about not being a borrower or lender. Also do not spend any money and take particular care that you are not seen to be saving it – you would be a miser.

Of course politics are a minefield of offence. Minefields are also a minefield. In fact just plain fields will get the more committed ecologist quite livid with anger. You may be wise to curl up under your desk and make no sound whatsoever.

But cheer up – do all this and you will have a good name. King Tutankhamen has been quiet for centuries and no-one has a bad word for him.

What Grade Are You In?

One of the primary questions of our childhood. It determined how we were going to be treated by the other kid – if we were a rank up, we had to be deferred to – if a year down we could be dominated. Thank goodness that sort of thing stopped when we entered tertiary education, the military, or a corporate structure and were all mature and kindly adults…

Okay, okay, that was heavy-handed. Not everything can be rapier wit around here. Sometimes the bludgeon is closer to hand.

There were all sorts of rules about school status – and this in North American public education where equality was meant to rule. God knows how it must have been for the post-war British coping with their societal changes. As it is, their adults didn’t manage so well, let alone the kids.

Now, in Australia, there is really only one effective gradation system – money. No matter who or what you are, if you have it, you advance up the ladder. In most cases there is no sense of noblesse oblige so you needn’t be concerned with being seen as good or moral at the same time. All you need is the perceived ability to pay – you’ll generally not be required to do so. That’s how money works – it sticks to the fingers that have it.

But there is one out for this – the power of money and the status it confers can only extend to those who have it and those who want it.  Outside of these two groups, everyone else can see it with a wider vision – they can live life in spite of, and despite it. And none more able than the retiree.

Retirees – as distinct from railway hoboes – are people with enough money for their own purposes, but who may have no actual purpose. They are people freed from the clock. Of course the cosmic one still ticks, and they are a damn sight closer to the alarm going off than their younger counterparts. But until then, they can look at their nominal superiors and inferiors with a mild eye. A mild tongue too, if they are not provoked.

They can converse with the multi-billionaire easily – given that there is no prospect of any of the billions drifting their way. They need pay no lip service. In most cases they have seen it all before, and in many cases it was better done. They can be prevailed upon for advice and give it freely – not having to be responsible for it after it leaves their lips. It is not that they do not care – but they may be opting for a bit of destructive experimentation. Do not ask a retiree which wire to cut…

They can be kind without fear of reprisal. No-one expects them to be competent. No-one suspects them of it either…

It is a delightful time of life, if only people would realise it.