man, you’ll be a woman

Posted: April 14, 2012 in This is the Voice of Lefty Reason

Man, you’ll be a woman

“found what you’re looking for?” asked the bloke in B&Q as I desperately searched among the power tools and pots of paint for sandpaper.  He was in his mid-fifties, clad in the orange apron with his name badge; Ron, it proclaimed.  Ron led me to the land of sandpaper.  He had huge, thick, calloused fingers and carried an air of despondency that his corporate-speak didn’t really hide.  How is it that men such as Ron work in retail?  What happened to the working man whose skills were based on strength and manual dexterity?  How has Ron ended up here, 21st century Britain, dressed up in some manager’s vision of servitude?  We used to make stuff in this country; real stuff like ships, cars, toys and steel.  Those industries have largely gone now; outsourced to countries where the lack of Trade Unions and health and safety law, coupled with an abundance of people keep costs to a minimum.  So Ron must look for other work.  Work that is largely Tertiary in nature, serving each other coffees, cinema tickets, insurance, banking; retail writ large.  “Soft” skills are the new goal.  Technology, communication, social and team skills; skills that are better suited to women if we are honest.  Ron ponders the past.  It feels to him like an economy based on sand with no underlying foundations.  Ron wants to drag the carcass of the sabre toothed tiger back to the cave while his missus prepares the dinner.  I check my watch.  It is, of course, made in China.

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