I don’t know if you’re the same, but whenever I watch coverage of the Glastonbury Festival on the BBC and see the sheer scale of Michael Eavis’ achievement – the array of great music and performers, the creativity, the tradition, the vibe, the extraordinary range and diversity of people all there to celebrate in a spirit of communal good will – I think to myself: well thank God I’m not at that.
I could probably hack a day of it. But the idea of spending all day at Glastonbury, going to sleep in a tent and then waking up in the morning and still being at Glastonbury is too terrible to contemplate.
That said, we do go to festivals as a family – little boutiquey day ones where you don’t have to camp (it’s hard to avoid them such is their proliferation). These are generally in Bristol but we did attend the Gold Coast Oceanfest in Croyde, North Devon last week, partly because we had nearby warm beds and free babysitting, and partly because the excellent Gaz Coombes was playing. It was ok I suppose, a bit surfy-skatey as North Devon tends to be, but what was really noticeable was the demographic of the festival-goers. There were lots of teenagers too young to buy drinks at the bar, and there were plenty of people in their late-thirties or above (parents of young children, crusty old hippies and loons etc), but virtually nobody in their twenties.
Why that would be the case? Is it a phenomenon particular to that festival or a general trend? Can people in their twenties just not afford to go to festivals? Are they all at Glastonbury? I don’t know. Or even much care, really, now I come to think of it.
Glastonbury as done by people in pubs, on Facebook etc (including me): “I’ve never been to Glastonbury and have no intention of ever going, but nonetheless as someone who idly watches it on telly while slightly tipsy, I demand that the headline acts precisely conform to my particular musical taste, damn it!”
My new business is starting to consume huge amounts of my time (a good thing in most ways), thus making writing this Diary difficult to squeeze in. Luckily I’ve hit on a cunning plan: I can go back into my deepest blogging archives and simply rehash old stuff I wrote years ago! It’s brilliant – saves so much time and pads a column out nicely. I’m fairly certain that no other writer has ever thought of doing this.
One thing I’ve found about my business is that it’s surprisingly easy to manage without any kind of IT support. True my enterprise is uncomplicated, but the key is the way that technology has moved from software held on hard drives to cloud apps, which just seem to work, are largely free, and when problems arise they can be solved by searching user forums and Google. I now do virtually everything on a Google Chromebook, and that doesn’t even need antivirus. True, you’re totally dependant on access to wifi, but then that’s better than being dependant on an IT department.
I wonder what effect this may eventually have on said IT departments? When I worked in a medium-sized business, it seemed to me that there was a structural flaw whereby the IT tail too often wagged the business dog. The techie team was, inevitably, all male and dwelt in the darkest recess of the building – the IT dungeon – from whence it exerted a dark and terrible influence over the rest of the business. The directors were frightened of it.
As I saw it, an ideal IT department would:
1) introduce systems to serve the needs of the business, which are sufficiently effective to have a net benefit on profitability when the cost of the system (including the IT staff) is taken into account; and
2) train staff and maintain, secure and troubleshoot on those systems
Whereas in reality what happened was:
1) the business decided it wanted to do something, consulted the IT department and then, having heard their lengthy and baffling objections, compromised on what it wanted to do for the convenience of the IT department
2) the IT department regularly ‘upgraded’ systems for esoteric IT reasons, as opposed to obvious business reasons, requiring users to retrain and creating endless new troubleshooting opportunities for itself.
The frequency of (2) not only justifies the existence of the current IT department, it requires it to regularly expand. Each of its members is, I imagine, on a pretty hefty salary – significantly heftier for example than a ‘low-skilled’ admin worker of the kind that used to populate businesses that relied on less ‘efficient’ manual or paper-based systems.
I appreciate there’s another element here, which is that as suppliers, customers etc upgrade their systems, so the pressure is on everyone else in the chain. But what drives this? Is it business efficiency, or marketing by IT suppliers, or IT departments themselves? And has the inexorable rise of IT actually benefited the average business, or would we have been better off, from a cost/benefit point of view, had we stopped when we invented the fax machine and the photocopier?
It will be interesting to see if the rise of user-friendly cloud software means that IT staffing (for ordinary businesses) has peaked. (Incidentally, one chap I know who made a very lucrative career doing freelance techie support once told me: “Do you know how I’ve really done so well in IT? I just put the error codes into Google.”)
On the subject of job justification, I came across an interesting argument for why you get such daft legislative proposals coming through the Welsh Assembly.
Because the Welsh Assembly looks and feels like a proper Parliament, but doesn’t have control over important matters, such as income tax and welfare levels, it suffers from a job justification problem. Its members feel they have to do something, so inevitably they listen to and even debate trivial pressure group issues, including really obviously dumb, pointless, unworkable stuff like banning vaping or making any kind of smacking your children a criminal offence.
This raises the possibility that devolution, which is all the rage on both the left and right of current political thought, may have a serious and perhaps counter-intuitive problem. Rather than empowering local populations to implement common sense measures that matter to them and freeing them from the impositions of the notorious ‘metro-liberal elites’, it will in fact leave them at the mercy of ever more absurd and intrusive law-making, served up by single-issue pressure groups and enforced by local busybodies who feel that because they have powers they ought to use them.
As I said above, I reckon I could stick Glastonbury for a day, which would put it surprisingly low on my Abnormality Tolerance Index. This is the measure of the time it takes until a disruption to everyday routine ceases to be fun and a desire for things to return to normal commences. I came up with the ATI about five years ago when it snowed heavily for a while and found that after a day and a half I was fed up with the old ‘deep & crisp & even’ and had lost any desire to throw snowballs, build sinister snowmen in the back garden or comment on how different everything looked.
Selected other entries rank as follows:
Lazy beach holiday – 13 days
Olympic Games – 5.5 days
Blistering heatwave – 5.0 days
Skiing holiday – 4.5 days
City break – 4.3 days
Walking holiday – 4.2 days
Being a guest – 3.8 days
General Election Campaign Coverage – 3.6 days
Being a host – 3.2 days
Christmas – 2.5 days
Snow – 1.5 days
Coach tour – 1.2 days
Festivals – 1 day
Stag do – 0.8 days
Camping – 0.6 days
Spectacular thunderstorms – 0.5 days
Fireworks – 0.2 days
How does that tally with your Index?