Manic Irrelevance Syndrome (also known as Barmy Virus)

The Politician’s Curse – MIS also known as Barmy Virus

If are a politician already thinking about retirement, you have probably made a mistake in your career choice. A good career politician passes away quietly while in office, as by the time they reach the traditional retirement age they are probably doing very little of any use. Retirement also means an end to the gravy train that is politics; sure, you get a decent pension and probably a comfortable lifestyle, but unless you find your way into a cushy little job that involves doing very little but turning up to dinners and functions, you will end up feeling lost, lonely, and ignored. This is the classic breeding ground for Manic Irrelevance Syndrome – an illness than can affect retired politicians.

MIS, also known as Barmy Virus, is a serious disorder than has been shown to be prevalent among retired and defeated politicians. It is thought to be more prevalent among those who have reached high office and then suffered a fall from grace or decided that the time was right to quit. If you take a look at the crusty old codgers that inhabit the backbenches of Parliament, you are bound to see ex-ministers who are suffering from MIS. The main effect of this syndrome is a form of delusion, the symptoms of which include:

• the belief that you always did things better and made better decisions than your successors;
• the belief that you need to write a book about your time in politics and dish out all the dirt on your colleagues that you have so far kept to yourself;
• an inability to begin any sentence without the phrase, ‘When I was Minister for…’; before embarking on a long and rambling collection of drivel that nobody is interested in; and
• an unbreakable belief that the media and public still wants to hear what you have to say.

You are unlikely to know that you are suffering from this ailment because when your colleagues and/or family try to tell you, you will see then as well-meaning but ill-informed people who do not understand the situation. Thankfully, there are other options for the politician leaving the job, whether it is voluntarily or not. The private sector often snaps up ex-politicians in the belief that they will be useful people to lobby for industry interests. If you can wangle one of these jobs you are likely to set yourself up for a long and distinguished career, however you should realise that even this job will not give you the spotlight you probably crave, and the onset of MIS is still a distinct possibility.

The tired and tested method of avoiding MIS is to keep on being re-elected and to have a long and relatively anonymous career on the back-benches. If you decide to seek responsibilities on the front bench you need maintain this elevated position (and get back as quickly as possible if for some reason you lose your portfolio) to avoid this condition taking hold. If you reach the dizzying heights of being Prime Minister or President, then it is scientifically proven that you have a 99% chance of suffering from MIS. The likely bloody coup that will have been responsible for your demise will have left indelible scars on you and will have made you permanently bitter and twisted. It is, unfortunately, a cross that you will have to bear once you no longer occupy that esteemed position. You will go to your grave muttering such sentences as:

‘If only they’d listened to me.’

‘History will judge me, not you bastards.’

‘In my day we wouldn’t have farted about, we’d have made a decision. We had real statesmen then – like me.’

‘When I was Prime Minister the country was in a far better state than it is now. Pass me another glass of wine.’

‘Has anybody seen my false teeth? In fact has any seen my sanity?’

The Withering

The Withering

Nobody noticed the Withering,
that all-pervading shadow
perambulating the globe
in perfect anonymity.

All the people became stretched, thinner,
hollow shells full of envy
following those that ate life,
that peddled insecurity,

the crowds that led to the familiar,
no fears, no innovation,
good ideas turned to dust
blown away to obscurity.

This was the Withering in action,
a flooding banality,
a wandering pall of grey
killing originality.

Get your stuff out there!

I’ve recently been thinking about what I do as a hobby – hobbies, actually. I write and also play music. I get great joy out of these past-times and have finished numerous projects, but recently I have realised a crucial point. There needs to be an end point in what I do, and that end point is not completing the manuscript or song – no, it goes further than that, at least for me. I have to get them published in some form or another.

I have been fortunate that a publisher did put out two of my books, although unfortunately that publisher has ceased to trade (not because of my books I hasten to add). Since then I have self-published a couple of books, and will soon be self-publishing the first two to keep them available.

Now, you may ask, why would I go and do this? Good question. Other than a likely need to be seen, it is the only way that I feel a writing project is complete. Finishing the manuscript does not cut the mustard for me – it has to see the light of day somewhere.

So, you may ask, shouldn’t you try a publisher first? The answer is, of course, if that is what you want to do. After all, a publisher can give you publicity that most self-published authors can only dream about. And I can tell you that I have two manuscripts that are now doing the rounds of the publishers. I will probably give that process a year or so. However, if it appears that this will not be successful, I will self-publish them, because then they are finished, out there to be found not mouldering away in my study or taking up space on my computer for no reason.

I am also writing songs, and hopefully this year is when I will put one or two out there into the ether on the net for general consumption.

And the reason for this? Well, I am an eternal optimist, and you never know what the future will bring. If you put your work out there, then at least people can see / hear it. Sure, you may get some criticism or unwanted opinions, but so what! If you hide your work away for fear of ridicule, then you surely will not succeed.

So put it out there if you have it. Really, what is there to lose.
Go for it.

Little thought for the day

I had very little thought today, but what came of it was this:

When all is said and done, it’s the groove that matters – don’t lose it and don’t abuse it!



Burocrates – Great Government Philosopher No. 2

Burocrates – The Greek perspective

The pre-eminent Greek philosopher was Burocrates.

Born in 450 BC, Burocrates studied early democracy and looked at government in a holistic manner. He regarded it as a form of art. He viewed public servants as artists whose job was to provide aesthetically pleasing processes and outcomes in a manner that was not rushed by the mere inconvenience of time. He was a contemporary of Socrates, and it is rumoured that these two philosophers spent many hours discussing the relative merits of democracy and royal rule, over large amounts of wine.

He met his death in 385 BC when he found himself in an argument with another contemporary, Aristophanes, who accused him of having all the characteristics of the popular politicians he studied: a horrible voice, bad breeding, and a vulgar manner. They both died when their brains dribbled out of their ears due to the banality of their arguments.

Unfortunately, Burocrates is not widely known and few, if any, academics have seriously studied his work. However, he leaves us with some notable quotes including:

– The pure art of government should be unsullied by the ticking of the clock.
– Where the path appears straight and without danger, extra care should be taken and your pace slowed.
– A quick decision is like a premature ejaculation. It deprives the bureaucrat of respect and leaves him feeling unsatisfied.
– The vote is a precious thing, its value priceless; never have so many people been kept happy by such a futile act.
– Let a politician announce decisions and keep him happy for a day. Let a politician think he made the decisions, and keep him happy for a whole term of government.

Dealing with a bad reference…

This is a different sort of post.

I’ve been thinking about things. You tend to do that when you’ve been put in the position of applying for your job and your boss seems reluctant to be a referee. Something stinks just a little bit.

I tried drinking a bottle of wine – and it was great wine – a West Cape Howe Cabernet Merlot (just spectacular). This helped, but did require at least 4 Panadols the next day to get me through. Nobody seemed to notice. Was that a good thing?

Anyhow, my boss asked me if I still wanted to be my referee -and I said, ‘Yes I do.’ I mean, at least her views will have to be in writing and then I can address them. So far, it seems to be that there is just verbal undermining. Well, once it’s all in writing, then I can take her to task on what she’s said, and also get everything out in the open. This seemed to make her uncomfortable; I hope it did. I think that if your boss is going to shaft you, then they should be uncomfortable, or at least take responsibility for potentially taking your income away. They should not be able to hide behind backroom chats and whispers. Be assured that I will be requesting a copy of my references and will see what is written.

In a perverse sort of way I think it will be cathartic – and a way to deal with the stress.

So, soon I hope I will hear about whether I have made the cut, and then I will be able to move on and either carry on with my job or get another one.

There it is. Putting it down in words is very calming.


Waiting in Olgii

Waiting in Olgii

They let us check our luggage in at the airport
then told us the flight was delayed;
something to do with the Turkish Ambassador.

We waited for our plane back at the ger hotel
on the outskirts of Olgii.
It was next to a swift brown river.

I spent hours watching a yak
graze on a sliver of an island
barely a few centimetres above the silty torrent.

There was a certain empathy between us,
both stranded, unable to leave;
the shared bond of the incarcerated.

At dusk, the yak strolled easily from its prison,
coming ashore close by where I sat.
It professed to be unconcerned about my plight.