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Underarm heir


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Friday, 21 October 2011

Underarm heir

Rumour has it that when Stalin opened the first soviet tractor factory, one of the workers enthusiastically declared it to be a “glorious social enterprise”.

Stalin disliked the term so much he had the man drowned in sump oil and his underarm hair made into moustache extensions, which he used on ceremonial occasions.

Perhaps the Russian dictator could see what was coming. Stalin was fond of state provision and would have been instinctively against the idea of needle exchanges or support schemes for workers whose vodka consumption had got out of hand. The idea that a group of well-meaning comrades with piercings and loose-fitting knitwear would fill in the welfare gaps left by the state would have horrified him. The state didn’t do welfare and it certainly didn’t leave gaps. If it did, you filled them with the bodies of those who dared to complain.

The world is very different now. Social enterprise is a good thing, the earnestness, altruism and not-for-profitness of which are beyond reproach. But social enterprise is also very dull. It’s difficult to make community transport or teenage sexual health into fun subjects, unless you happen to be a joy-rider, a teenager or both.

The tide may be about to turn. Tomorrow an organisation known as Co-operatives UK launches a guide to making cheap booze at work.

They don’t put it quite like that. The promotional literature for Apple Day 2011 points out that 179,000 tonnes of apples are wasted every year in the UK alone and advocates the setting up of cider co-operatives to fix the problem.

This is an idea that could transform the image of social enterprise, moving it out of Dullsville into bright new upmarket premises in the swankiest part of town – at least until everyone sobers up and realises that they broke in the night before after a drunken, cider-fuelled brawl in the local nightclub.

The main concern of the population during periods of economic hardship is how to keep drinking. As we approach a new Great Depression and the health police arm for further prohibition, the cider co-operatives are making preparations of their own.

A press release quotes chef and visionary Arthur Potts-Dawson as saying that the apple is “one of the UK’s most unsung fruits”.

This is rubbish and Arthur knows it, but he is merely biding his time, aware that cider production will be the turning point for social enterprise, if not for the future of humanity.

rweinstein says:
Oct 21, 2011 12:18 PM
Spoken like a true Stalinist!
jpatterson says:
Oct 21, 2011 12:30 PM
Thanks, Comrade Ray.
I should have made it clear that Arthur Potts-Dawson not only really does exist but is a self-styled chef and visionary. Inverted commas should have been erected for the safety of the reader.