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  • Philip Bryer

Out Spreadsheets Out!

This bit first appeared on radio and then in the book, Why The Long Face? The Paper Trail..., which was volume 1 of the best of the radio broadcasts.

In view of recent business disasters, like that of BHS, and the quite frankly rum goings on at Taunton's Orchard Shopping Centre - where 9 long-standing lease-holders are being turfed out of their shops so they can be replaced by 3 restaurants, it seemed about time it was dusted off and given another outing.

I made a list, an A-Z of the world’s worst inventions. Went something like this:

Archers Peach Schnapps

Bee Gees


Draught bitter in cans

East 17

French mustard

Goats cheese

Heaven 17

Now, I’m going to stop myself there, as some things occur to me. Do I have a firm dislike of the number 17? Or is it only when it’s appended to useless pop groups?

As all of my choices are directly related to food, popular music, or alcoholic drinks, I think I’ve perhaps shown too much of myself, but seriously, draught beer in a can? As Miss Dynamite says, ‘Are you joking me?’ Draught beer in a can bore no resemblance at all to draught beer from the pub, so what they had to do was invent a nasty, creamy beer to sell in the pubs thereby justifying their claim that the thick, spunky soup in the tin was just like the stuff in your local. If they’d been talking about the contents of the slop tray mixed with liquidised pork scratchings and what they’d found in the toilets after the eighties disco night they might be right. But the weren’t. What they did try to sell us was worthy of a gold medal in the Releasing-the-difficult-second-album-first section in the Arse-about-face class of the Putting-the-cart-before-the-bleeding-horse awards. It should be obvious how strongly I feel about this, as it’s taken the D slot ahead of both Duran Duran and The Doors.

However, I feel I must put on a serious head and look elsewhere for the overall winner. I saw an interview some time ago with Sully Sullenberger. He was the heroic airline pilot who saved the lives of so many when he ditched a failing passenger aircraft in the Hudson River, bang in the middle of New York City, which is just about the last place you want to hear the words aircraft and bang in close harmony. Sully explained that as they lurched across Midtown his co-pilot reached for the emergency manual and found that someone had oh-so-helpfully removed the index tabs which were originally designed to save the crew precious seconds, and therefore quite probably precious lives. This, he reported, turned out to be a cost-saving measure.

Plane in River Hudson

I can reveal who was responsible for such bone-headed-cubicle-squatting-stupidity. This decision was taken by someone who has never strayed from the bottom line, ventured no further than the box low down on the far right. The one with the big, black border around it. He never looked elsewhere, or paid heed to the middle section or the outer reaches, you know, the bit where the real people live their inconsequential lives.

This, dear reader, is the worst thing that man has come up with during his short tenure on this ball of confusion. The spreadsheet. Oh, and let’s not forget the twats who spend their lives (and perhaps the lives of others) in putting them together.


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