Friday, February 01, 2008

Thought grenades

Those readers who turn to the opinion pages before they read anything else in the Bath Chronicle – and we know there are many of you – may have missed a heinous accusation aimed at this column and others like it in today’s letters pages.

All of us, with the exception of The Boss and Mister Oswick nestling down below, stand accused of falling some way short of the mark in our column-writing duties.

A scabrous allegation about electric kettles has hit particularly hard.

Let it be known that this column hasn’t had a new electric kettle for years, and wouldn’t write about such mundane matters even if it had.

However, never let it be said that we don’t listen to criticism.

Indeed, we have already hired a top team of consultants to sort out our deficiencies in language, style and grammar, and they have come up with a master plan based on the latest thrusting office-speak, as defined by the nice people at recruitment consultants Office Angels in their annual survey of workplace jargon.

The first thing we did was set up an Information Touchpoint – that’s a meeting for those of you who aren’t In The Loop – at which we committed ourselves to regular Blue Sky Thinking sessions.

Any Thought Grenades (aka good ideas) that come out of those sessions will be Sent On A Cruise To See If They Come Back With A Suntan.

This is similar in many ways to the familiar process of Running An Idea Up The Flagpole And Seeing Who Salutes It, although the consultants are at pains to point out that it’s quite different from Shaking The Parcel And Checking What Falls Out. That only happens at Christmas and on birthdays.

Thinking Outside The Box will be positively encouraged, although we’ll be Sunsetting anything that doesn’t meet our new and rigorous quality control standards.

From now on, Chronicle columns will be produced by dedicated teams rather than individuals. And as we all know, There’s No I In Team – although there is a me tangled up inside it somewhere.

Once we’re all Singing From The Same Hymn Sheet then we’ll all be Opening Up Our Kimonos and Taking It Offline.

If you’d like to come and watch, you’ll be most welcome.

But for now, let’s Park That Thought. Because this radical internal restructuring is only our first step in making certain that we offer readers an Opinion page that is Fit For Purpose in the 21st century.

McDonalds restaurants, Network Rail and airline Flybe, it has been announced, will soon be able to offer their staff full academic qualifications, equivalent to GCSEs and A-Levels, at the end of their training courses.

Similarly, the Opinion pages of this newspaper are working on plans for Getting Down With The Kids.

We intend to offer positions as interns to a select group of promising youngsters, who after an apprenticeship of just seven short years will qualify for an NVQ Diploma and Bar in Contemporary Column Management.

The development programme will offer modules in Noun Manipulation, Synonym Methodology and Practical Padding.

More advanced students will be encouraged to broaden their skills base by taking options in Random Ideas, Top-Of-The-Head Thinking and Flogging Dead Horses.

End-of-year exams will focus on assessing the students’ skills in areas as diverse as Circular Argument and Wild Imaginings, while at the same time offering our trainees the opportunity to demonstrate their abilities in the fields of Lexical Redundancy, Reader Irritation and Creative Use of Cliché.

There’s a brave new world just around the corner, and this column isn’t going to Raise The Anchor And Let It Drift.

Little ‘r’ us if you’d like to be a part of this intriguing new experiment in contemporary journalism.

This column was first published in The Bath Chronicle on January 31 2008. Copyright Bath News & Media 2008.

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