The Making Of A Moron

“Uncertified morons are at large and recognisable only when they cause trouble,” according to a remarkable book discovered by Nige in his local Oxfam…

Unlike many charity shops these days, my local Oxfam has a few shelves of older books as well as the usual massed ranks of recent paperbacks. Browsing there one day I discovered, sitting on the bottom shelf, one with a title I could not possibly resist: The Making Of A Moron. This, surely, was the book for me.

I snapped it up, and on examination it proved to be a treatise on the nature of work in modern (1953) society by one Niall Brennan, a man who had clearly tried his hand at many occupations and seen a thing or two. His jumping-off point is the fact that various recent experiments had found that ‘morons’ ( a term then still acceptable) had been successfully employed doing manual work in factories. From this he goes on to argue that modern work in virtually all its forms makes morons of us all. The first two chapters are summarised thus:

I. The Use of Morons.
Certified morons can be fitted into a working community without seeming different from their normal companions; this could be good for them, but if it is only because they are merged into something itself moronic, then it is no good for anyone. Uncertified morons are at large and recognisable only when they cause trouble. It would seem then that the environment has moronic elements. If it has, then instead of improving the certified morons, it will only be pulling everyone else down to their level.

II. Muscle and Mind.
The place where one expects to find morons, both made and in the making, is unskilled physical labour. But this is not so. Not only is unskilled physical labour an intellectual stimulant, but the ultimate object of any business as a whole influences the attitude of men to their work.

And so it goes on – but, as I say, this was a man who had seen thing or two, and his account of the workers in a paper mill is quite hair-raising:

The workers themselves… were a rabble… loud-mouthed, dogmatic and evil-minded men who had apparently committed every sin in the calendar, and were proud to admit it over lunch without the omission of a detail.

I would never have believed it possible that the sexual life of a man could be revealed with such vigour in such dispassionate activities as rabbiting, the races, football or the comic papers… Not one thing was allowed to pass without its sexual significance being demonstrated to the innocent… There was a certain amount of flippant homosexuality. The organs were occasionally produced or displayed. It may comfort the fashionable ladies who insist upon having their parcels wrapped to know that the paper was freely impregnated with urine. Had Freud lived to see it, he would have been a happy man. Not even Havelock Ellis could have demanded fewer inhibitions.

Crikey. Still, I shall keep this book, for the title.

Share This Post

About Author Profile: Nige

Cravat-Wearer of the Year Nige, who, like Mr Kenneth Horne, prefers to remain anonymous, is a founder blogger of The Dabbler and has been a co-blogger on the Bryan Appleyard Thought Experiments blog. He is the sole blogger on Nigeness, and (for now) a wholly owned subsidiary of NigeCorp. His principal aim is to share various of life's pleasures.

9 thoughts on “The Making Of A Moron

    October 10, 2011 at 13:34

    ‘impregnated with urine’
    This sort of carry-on amongst the lower orders in pre-Health & Safety days was obviously quite normal in the swinging fifties. I well remember working in a kitchen on week-end evenings while still at school and if any diners were unwise enough to complain about their food to the point of returning it….well, this is a family newspaper, and I will leave the rest to the imaginations of dabbling urophiliacs, as I’m sure there are a few out there….
    I predict this subject will produce a record number of comments from the ether, as I’m sure most dabblers have a dark side. I know I do.

    October 10, 2011 at 13:45

    ‘It would seem then that the environment has moronic elements.’

    So it’s all the environment’s fault after all…for God’s sake don’t tell the Daily Mail.

    October 10, 2011 at 15:02

    I’ve known many who have worked on moronic production lines, myself included – one of my friends told me that in the factory where he worked shovelling fruit into a big cauldron to make one of the UK’s favourite children’s drinks, they deliberately included as many rodents as they could into the brew.

  4. Gaw
    October 10, 2011 at 18:39

    That sounds rather like the JCR at Magdalen College, Cambridge before they admitted women.

    October 10, 2011 at 22:13

    Nissan pulled off a neat little con trick when it took the grant and built the plant, bear in mind that the longest operation on an automotive line is less than 10 minutes therefore the required skill level is 10 mins worth, controlling boredom is the skill, they applied hype, supertanker sized, “your job is vital, skilled, important, your input is vital, give us your ideas, we care about you” oh no it ain’t and oh no they don’t, they can go out and get another bag full of fit, healthy, early twenties people with the requisite X factor, an effing big mortgage. Nissan baulks at using the correct job title..”robots plug-in”
    The only time the atmosphere reeks of piddle is when Carlos Ghosn threatens to have the next model made in Outer Mongolia.

    The books description Nige, fits certain plastic moulding plants in the USA, employing Hispanics, end products reaching you via Toys R Us, walking through the doors is a glimpse into hell, the factory that is, not the store.

    October 10, 2011 at 23:11

    Urine, sex, moronic behaviour: sounds like yesterday’s Mail on Sunday article about groups of young girls on drunken nights out in Cardiff city centre – plus they all said they had regular jobs (so were obviously certified?)

    John Halliwell
    October 12, 2011 at 13:13

    A decade or so after this gem was published, I began a job in a factory. Mind-numbingly boring work. During the first morning break when the crew congregated on the loading bay with flasks and butties, the foreman who was sat next to me asked: “Have you got a girlfriend?” I replied “Yes”. He asked “Steady?” I said “Yes”. He advised “You don’t want a steady girlfriend; God, when I was your age I shagged ’em as fast as they put ’em under me!” It set the tone for the following 15 minutes of banter on all the subjects identified in Brennan’s book, and more. And throughout practically every break that followed. But never at any time did any of the crew strike me as moronic, and I hope they felt the same about me. They were all at least twice my age; almost all had grown up in the blighted thirties, been in the Services during World War ll, and developed and retained a wicked sense of humour. All have passed away, but I remember them with great affection.

    October 12, 2011 at 18:30

    Goodness JH and Susan – how times have changed.
    This from a post war sex education book for girls…
    ‘When it comes to the possibility of intimate relations with your husband, it is important to remember your marriage vows, and in particular your commitment to obey him. If he feels the need to sleep immediately, so be it. In all things be led by your husband’s wishes; do not pressure him in any way to stimulate intimacy. Should your husband suggest congress then agree humbly, all the while being mindful that a man’s satisfaction is more important than a woman’s. When he reaches his moment of fulfillment, a small moan from yourself is encouraging to him, and quite sufficient to indicate any enjoyment that you may have had.
    Should your husband suggest any of the more unusual practices, be obedient and uncomplaining, but register any reluctance by remaining silent. It is likely that your husband will then fall promptly asleep, so adjust your clothing, freshen up, and apply your night-time face and hair-care products’.

    I remember going through this little book with my wife just after we married, suggesting that she might like to take on board the main thrust (so to speak) of the piece. From memory, I think I spent at least the next three nights sleeping on the sofa.

      John Halliwell
      October 12, 2011 at 19:07

      Wonderful stuff, Mahlerman. It reads like something straight out of Jane Austen. Three nights on the sofa is a miserable experience, especially after suffering through the silences of the early mornings and evenings; then you lie there listening to the bed springs go ‘boing’ as dearly beloved shifts position to where you would normally lie. And you wish you were there. I think I’m quite a romantic at heart.

Comments are closed.