Skullduggery, Thuggery, and Hanky-Panky

20 Mar

skull

It was all so much simpler in the bad old days. The days of rotters, thieves, and horrible bullies. When tattooed, eye patched, earring wearing pirates such as Long John Silver and Jack Sparrow got up to all sorts of nasty skullduggery, the brazen blaggards. Stealing treasure chests, burying them on deserted islands, whipping the bejeepers out of a straying minion pirate with  the dreaded cat o’ nine tails, while threatening permanent redundancy from pirateness at the end of a very wobbly plank.

All thankfully under the ominous banner of the skull and crossbones, the Jolly Roger – thankfully because this emblem was a not-so-subtle warning sign to anyone possessing a modicum of sense to keep well clear of the whole sorry scene. An environment that today would no doubt raise some considerable concern with the good folk at The Human Rights Commission, not to mention Health and Safety.

In the bad old days, a cat burglar, conveniently dressed in a mask and vividly striped 19th century onesie, would be chased by a truncheon wielding London bobby, blowing his whistle to summon fellow bobbies  (in the days well before CCTV and cell phones.) This dutiful fellow, one of the truly original whistle-blowers, would also be issuing a shrill warning to any passing honest and delicate ‘ladies and gentlemen’ that a dangerous criminal was in their midst, and their best option would be to “Clear orff, sharpish!”

And then there were thugs. A great word thug -almost onomatopoeic. A thick, slug like, monosyllabic moron, with a low centre of gravity, uttering stuff like: “Any fing you say, boss” and “shall we do ‘im in now, boss.” A man (always a man) easily identified, and at all times best given a wide berth.

Of course, there were lighter moments in the old days. Beneath skullduggery and thuggery in the pecking order of dastardliness lay the altogether lighter, even humourous, hanky-panky. Hanky-panky is what the cast of Carry On Cabbie got up to. Tricks, practical jokes and of course all that fumbling hanky-panky  in the back seat. Nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more.

Ahh simpler days. All this crossed my mind this week as we faced an hour of unmitigated, full frontal modern day skullduggery and thuggery in a flash corporate boardroom. Too harsh? Not according to my body which has been conditioned over many generations to react to threatening behaviour in the time honoured way. A racing heart, a gurgly bowel, and a powerful instinct instilled over 500 million years, to either fight or, more sensibly, flee.

The modern day pirate captain wears a clean shirt and a smile. No wooden leg, no eye patch and no parrot (unless you count one of his executives).The plank-walking is now  handled discretely by the smartly dressed young lady from PR . The deceit and the stealing is no longer in your face, with the tip of a cutlass digging into your neck; it lies ominously hidden behind the fake smiles and between the fake words. Words crafted by marketing experts, and carefully refined by corporate lawyers.

Yes, on this day one of the board members did display the frightening signs of verbal thuggery. His actions had all the power of repeated broadside blasts from a very old cannon. We could smell the gunpowder, but the cannon balls missed their target. You see, we were like all good Girl Guides and Boy Scouts, fully prepared.

As we’d entered the corporate head office a few minutes earlier, we’d recognised the bright green advertising sign above the door. It said, and I paraphrase as blogs have ears, that ‘the customer always receives from us the most important possession of their lives to their full satisfaction and choice.’ Only it really contained just four mono-syllabic words.

For us, this banner is more pernicious by far than any skull and cross bones.

Meanwhile, we would strongly advise anyone to be wary of entering any establishment under this modern day Jolly Roger. And for those who care about our well-being ( we were told by one of the crew with a particular low centre of gravity that “no one gives a sh-t about you, y’know”) – then rest assured we are well protected.

Our coats are cannonball proof.  And we are still partial to a bit of hanky-panky.

 

 

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