Friday, January 11, 2008

A fine man falls

So farewell then Sir John.

The passing of Sir John Harvey-Jones allows me a moment's nostalgic wallowing. My school has as one of its annual features a set piece lecture to the assembled throng. At various times Enoch Powell gave one (to which half of Fleet Street turned up hoping for controversy - he regaled them and us with a dignified lecture on the links between Elizabethan England and Augustan Rome. I understand the village pub was later filled with hacks crying into their expense accounts).

Anyhow back to the tale. Sir John arrived to address us from the raised top table, he sat their his girth straining against the buttons of his shirt with a slightly wild look in his eye. We all filed into the dining hall, fearful of an hours tedium as some self-important businessman told us about some widget or other. The previous year Lord Wilson had spent well over an hour telling us how terribly important he was and what famous people he had met in his life in politics. The omens were not good.

The head,master looked more nervously weaselly than normal as he stood behind the lectern giving the introductory overview, CBI, ICI etc and so on. Then it was the great man's turn.

Within two steps it became obvious that he had dined well. This was going to be interesting. He swayed across the few yards to the lectern which he grasped firmly for support.

"My Lords, Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls", he began, so far so predictable. He scrabbled in an inside jacket pocket.


For the next ten minutes he generally rambled and fizzed while the head looked increasingly disturbed. Finally the head got up wandered over, took him by the arm and led him away.

His final words were,

"You know business can be an awful lot of fun".

The school was agog, nothing could have sold the idea of a career in business better than seeing somebody who obviously enjoyed it and the opportunities it gave him. If only to get pissed and get paid simultaneously.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I didn't realise you were an alumnus of Market Snodsbury grammar school, but this seems to prove it beyond all doubt.