Sunday, April 22, 2007

We're Not Having Kids Part 394


Now 41, she has added to her psychology degree a husband, a highly successful business, a £500,000 two-bedroom flat in central London plus an £800,000 detached house in Hertfordshire - but still no children. She has no regrets.

"I have found my career really rewarding and absolutely stand by my decision," says Mrs Ambrose, who runs Seventy Thirty, a matchmaking company for the wealthy.

"I decided not to have children because I knew I would not be able to devote time and energy to my career. I knew my work would suffer."

Hmmm. Good looking girlie. Neither brain nor beauty will be passed on though. Adolescence lasts a long time for the childless. She is 41. Not quite in the league of an Alison Broom though.

"Susie is a big fan of alternative rock, indie rock, and grunge and funky-jazz music."

The article refers to recent demographic research by Heather Joshi for liberal (read 'Liberal') thinktank Centreforum, which thinktank holds a Pollyanna-ish view (pdf) of our demographic future.


Veritas said...

The 70/30 bunch look the absolute pits. Tough ain't in it.

OK, I'll come clean:I work at a British University (Well, it's really a polyversity and it's not up to much, being mostly noted, I think, for the huge number of African/West Indian/Asian students(many of whom seem more-or-less monoglot) that it possesses, its high rate of student dropout, its debt situationprobably stemming from its ludicrous habit of wasting money on paying for the design of new logos and snappy slogans, the latest crop of which was so inane that they were officially suppressed - "Boggleywug University is like a plate of cakes; they are all different but they all stand on the same plate."(Damn, I might have given it away...!).

But wait!

Every now and then they have things called "Awaydays" (or "Training" or "Team building" days) for which they buy in the services of teams of people who could almost be carbon copies of the folks in the pics, and whose qualifications and "profiles" are practically identical.

Part of the day is spent in inane and childish games but there are also "inspirational" addresses from a bunch of "psychologists" -psychometrists, providers of relaxation techniques, motivation and "solutions", and calibrators of "work/life balance", andfrom meditation leaders,consciousness raisers,neuro-linguistic programmers,spine aligners (look at the confident aggressive pose of Susie and her colleagues in the 70-30 pics!), aura readers,gender diversifiers, detectors of unspoken homophobia and racism, infallible interpreters of body language, and of course, "life coaches" - in fact a chunk of the guru-heirarchy of the New Age (aptly described by someone as "squeaky-clean voodoo for yuppies.")

Questionnaires are circulated, reminding me of the one I once obtained from the "Church" of Scientology - Do you worry? Have trouble sleeping? Feel hungry at odd intervals? Sometimes feel angry/sad/happy/short of breath? Not always feel the greatest commitment to your job? Think you might have lost something? (If YES to all those, you are obviously in trouble: if NO, you are missing something and are obviously in trouble): and professional athletes, (in one case Kriss Akabusi) obviously standing in for 70-30's Jamie and Rasheed, encourage us to jump up and punch the air, shouting "I CAN WIN!I WILL WIN! WE ARE ARE A GREAT TEAM! TOGETHER WE CAN ALL WIN!" I was spoken to sharply on not completing a questionnaire in time: "What's the matter with you, then? Something wrong?" "No, but as I suffer from ALL the disadvantages on this sheet, with the exception of hot flushes, I was asking my neighbour if it wouldn't be less trouble to tick just that box rather than to put crosses in all the other 49..."

Of course, as with 70-30, there's a charity angle, and X % of the take, it's claimed, goes to "good causes". Humph.

Even more disturbingly, seminar leaders aren't averse to doing a little publicity and canvassing on behalf of their other private concerns,handing out fetching little flowery leaflets offering extra "training" in self-assertiveness, overcoming worry, attracting money, or growing your own "spirituality". (Not much different, really, from the odd little cards that come through the door sometimes, offering Madame Zanzibar's services in removing curses, bad magic and bad luck, and in attracting lots of serious love and cash.)

Not much to do with an introduction agency, perhaps, if you're thinking of the old-fashioned type of concern: but to me it seems that the 70-30 agency and the groups of good folks that come to analyse and prescribe for us poor workers, are all related.

They all bring the same quasi-mystical religious atmosphere with them: partly I'm reminded of what G.K Chesterton called "the vulgar worship of success" but I think there's more to it than that: it seems that there's an attempt being made to monitor and control your habits and behaviour, to claim subtly that your work is more important than your own life, because you are REALLY defined by your function, rather than by your interests and beliefs: your religious faith MAY be respected insofar as it might inspire you to greater secular efforts ("I'm sure you'd like to know that we're now buying another wheelchair to send to Baluchistan" "Ah, bless!")

Soon I find myself thinking of people being reduced to weeping guilt-wrung wrecks at EST seminars, people who couldn't stop screaming after "re-birthing" sessions, and later, I think of the dreadful piles of swollen bodies found at Jim Jones's "Peoples' Temple" in Guyana, and the sad groups of apparently self-slaughtered corpses found more recently, devotees of the "Order of the Solar Temple".

Someone coined the phrase "the Eupsychian Network" to cover all concerns of this type, and it seems that under the guise of teaching you self-empowerment and fulfilment, there's more than a little coercion going on.

Do these concerns report back on you to some other group or agency if they think they've identified an aberration? Or ar they interested in experimenting establishing some sort of spiritual domination? (What exactly IS "neuro-linguistic programming"? Is it something Pavlovian? )

Certainly I wouldn't want to board a bus if I knew the person next to me was interested in "Alternative rock...and grunge": I'd be afraid that another interests might be throwing death-stars, blood sacrifices and slave-owning.

On a lighter note, regarding the business of introductions, my daughter supposed that the "gsoh" frequently cited in the local paper, meant "getting short of hair".

Must go now, it's time to pick teams for non-competitive rounders...or else!

Laban said...

We had a similar lady who advised us to 'work smarter not harder' - which caused a laugh as it had been in a Dilbert cartoon earlier that month. She looked nonplussed - obviously not a reader.

One of the pleasures of self employment is missing staff development or motivation days. I remember someone walking out when a band of hippies from Brighton arrived to give us a drum workshop.

Voyager said...

Well the Website looks like several overweight women paired off with some very gay looking men.

Apart from that it is typical of this country that people running PR agencies, Training companyies (dependent on govt funding), or anything to do with events or parties is classed as "entrepreneurial"....whereas in my context it is a term I apply to James Dyson rather than a bunch of fluffheads selling smoke

The largest advertising sector in Western Europe is in London....and it shows

Anonymous said...

I look ar my local Polyversity in all its vibrant diversity. The black youth with their street clothes and booming sound systems etc and Im not fooled into thinking they are the future elite of anything worthwhile. It aint like Cambridge round here. Secretly I suspect the locals are not fooled either. The local paper has even used the phrase 'town & gown' with an apparently straight face!

Anonymous said...

Oh I don't know. Penelope is kind of hot though. She can coach me any day.

john rackell said...

Crikey! Susie has 4 dogs - Two Rhodesian Ridgebacks and two Border Terriers.

So a woman with a large poodle takes her dog to a vet. She sits next to a lady with a Great Dane who asks "What's wrong with your dog then?".

The woman with the poodle says, "well, it's rather embarrassing, but whenever I bend over my dog climbs on my back and starts to, you know, hump me? So I'm getting him castrated."

"That's funny! My dog does the same thing when I bend over."

"Ooh, I see, so you're getting him castrated too."

"Not in the least. I'm getting his nails cut."

Ba-boom. A Super Dave joke.

Well, the joke seemed relevant at the time. Now I'm not sure. Well, I don't know how her relationships turn out but she's sticking to dogs. You don't need a consultant for that.

alex zeka said...

Neuro-linguistic programming is what used to be called 'learning how to win friends and influence people', with a bit of a psycho analytical twist. The idea is you stand in front of a mirror and repeat to yourself something along the lines of 'must look people in the eyes' or 'stop assuming you know what people are about to say' until it reaches the subconscious level. Alternatively, if that's too much hassle, just remember to act human.