Dear Chief Secretary to the Treasury,
I'm afraid to tell you there's no money left.
Signed, Liam Byrne

(Outgoing Labour Chief Secretary to the Treasury. May 2010)

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Dress Codes.

It would seem that Mrs R might be more than a little old fashioned, because all the other comments she's read regarding this matter have referred to the words that might or might not have been said - it's the words that have been the focus of the media too.

The thing is, Mrs R doesn't actually think it matters too much if a person has been called a "C**onservative", this is because so many bad names and bad words are used by some politicians these days that one more - it doesn't matter who says it - can just be shrugged off, and if I'm honest, there's been so much in the media about bad tempers and poor behaviour that yet another 'thing' about Mr Brown doesn't even raise the eyebrows. The media doesn't ever seem to censure him either, possibly because of the job he does.

And that's the point. After the Queen, it's the Prime Minister who is meant to, and who is seen to, represent Britain and all British people, which is something he seems to forget. He also seems to forget that there have been Prime Ministers before him and there will be Prime Ministers after him, unless he manages to change the rules without anybody noticing.

He is the one the rest of the world sees in the media, it's his picture that's flashed around the world, and stories about him and his actions that are representative of things 'typically British'.

But he isn't you know, he really isn't, because 'typically British people' don't go around using swear words, especially not in a business situation. They don't try to bully opponents into silence by calling them rude names - and if they did they would be taken quietly to one side and told their behaviour isn't appropriate, but who would dare tell the Prime Minister that their actions are inappropriate?

Picture, if you can, a typical British street on an ordinary day. What will you see, and what will you hear?

You'll see, in the most part, ordinary people going about their everyday business, they'll be doing it quietly and without a fuss. Any nonsense is likely to be coming from the teenagers, who'll be doing their best to get attention - they'll wear unusual clothes, use unsuitable language and do it loudly. With no reaction they might do it again, and again, until somebody takes notice - even a turn of the head is enough, because they're watching closely, and then they'll be off sniggering with their mates.

It's the same almost anywhere - the vast majority of British people are decent, and tolerant too. We get hurt when our Prime Minister and other politicians and policy makers are rude about what we think - because we've been brought up to listen to other people's opinions quietly and respectfully, we've been brought up not to have big arguments and call people names - at least not in public, not when anybody else is listening. No matter how many times we British are told we're racist or misogynists we know at heart we aren't, and are comfortable with that, because we're certain that when others take the time to get to know us properly they'll discover the truth.

This 'rule' applies right through the social levels - in general people do respect others, and are in turn are respected - even school kids, because there are far more decent kids than rotten ones, but they never hit the news unless they get beaten up by thugs.

Continually using bad language, wearing odd clothes or behaving inappropriately is almost attention-seeking of the worst sort, like a pubescent teenager seeing what they can get away with whilst their parents are watching, and who is disappointed when they don't react - so they try again, and again, to get a reaction which they can then react to ... and so it goes on, until one day the hormones calm down and they realise they're a grown up, and start behaving sensibly and responsibly - and tidy their bedroom, help with the washing up, clean the car and mow the lawn.

In the world of work there might be a time when a discussion gets a bit heated and the wrong words are used, but generally we're a fairly laid back lot and open to other, sometimes new, points of view because it's the way we are - we listen, think, negotiate and then either accommodate or ignore what we don't like. It's solved loads of problems in the past, and might have been a neat way of avoiding conflicts too - to walk away rather than react to bad words and irritations, and it's the boss's job to set the standard. If the boss can't behave decently then they're setting an example for the rest of the workforce, from the assistant boss right down to the chap who cleans the toilets.

One thing you 'don't do' in the normal world is go to Tesco wearing your pyjamas, the other thing you 'don't do' is pretend you're in a working environment and forget to put on half your clothes - even children in role play will get dressed up when going to work in their imaginary office, they do it because it's what they see the grown-ups do, whether at home or on the television.

This is why Mrs R finds it more than a little disconcerting that the current "boss" of UK plc - the Prime Minister - a man who expects others to treat him with deference, who expects others to treat him with respect - can be so utterly disrespectful of his own job, of his own role, and also of who and what he is supposed to represent. He has allowed himself to become so full of his own importance that he can't even be bothered to get dressed before having a work-related meeting, perhaps because he thinks it doesn't matter, that 'anything goes'.

Maybe it's novel, and as yet unwritten, policy that "All Day Pyjama Syndrome" is set to become the official office and parliamentary dress code of the future - with 'deniers' being called rude names for not going along with the new fashion, so much so that we'll soon see half-dressed politicians greeting foreign dignitaries both on the doorsteps of Downing Street and outside Parliament.

It's almost worth wondering if embroidered teddy bears or appliqué penguins be the design chosen for the next meeting with Obama ...


418 said...

"Those were the days my friend, we thought they'd never end ..." And yet, the days when my uncle was told by the senior partner in his firm not to exit the building without wearing a hat and the days when I was advised by my boss that I had to wear a jacket in the office at all times if I wished to be properly attired for business are over.

Mrs R said...

Yep, things sure have changed.