I’m so old, that when I first studied business (which I now teach) as a teenager, it was called ‘commerce’. It was a fancy, new-fangled subject area which was inexplicably shrouded in mystery.

Some, nay, most of the content was dull, drab and monotonous (profit and loss accounts on a Friday morning a particular lowlight), but it was brought alive by the teacher. I am unsure how he would cope in the current environment as it seemed as if senior management must have found him in the local pub prior to employing him to mould our young minds.

He was outside the box, leftfield, an outlier and a curiosity whose recommended reading had, in his own words, ‘nothing to do with business, but everything to do with life’. Thinking he was pretty cool for a teacher; it was the only time I had ever bought and read a book cover to cover.

It was called Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. In the book he takes a fictional trip across America with his son. It is, in effect, a book about philosophy, where people are classified as romanticists or classicists.

Romanticists are those who, through the medium of motorbikes, see an engine as an engine. Classicists, on the other hand, see a complex series of individual parts that go together to form the engine. He uses these approaches to explain aspects of the trip and relationships, and arguably we can each be classified as sitting predominantly in either of the two camps.

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

So, then we fast forward to these Covid times after Pirsig’s death in 2017 and we see how his musings have morphed into two other camps: the logical and the emotional. Our Government have, for months, firmly painted themselves as logical with the oven ready mantra of we are ‘following the science’, which is now wearing thinner than my barnet.

The science is touted as their logic, and they are asked what science, precisely, their edicts are based on to which the answer is ‘the science’, and so it goes for months, in a war of attrition where eventually we realise there is no arguing with idiocy. It seems everyone in the country can now see through the pony and trap the Government keep spouting regarding the constructs of ‘the’ science as we are expected to suckle bile from their nipple before awaiting a spoonful of tripe for pudding.

St Albans & Harpenden Review:

The Government, as long as they treat the public as backwards and refuse to give us the specific detailed scientific information requested, are open many to the numerous conspiracy theories.

Why won’t they share the science? Is it because it doesn't exist? Is it based on little or nothing at all, opening them up to ridicule? Or, most likely, their governance is not logical, but purely emotional.

Emotional leadership has its place, but not during a pandemic where your people requires clarity and reasoning as to the actions we are being forced to abide by. Where is the logic and science behind say, being able to have a pint in a tier 2 hostelry only if you eat a scotch egg? There is little logic in keeping schools open for the week before Christmas but shutting down restaurants and pubs, which have been crucified in the extreme already.

I believe if Pirsig was still here he would class our leaders as pure romanticists, which is the ground that has always been taken up by the left. Voters voted the Tories in as they believed there would be a clinical, maybe cold, approach to dealing with the issues with a classicist mindset.

To use the engine analogy once more: Bojo is the oil, now thick, matted and desperately in need of a service. The rider has jumped off the bike and driven a Chelsea tractor back to Durham as Hancock, the carburettor, is causing the engine to stutter to an inevitable halt as the other parts of the Tory engine fawn over them telling them what a great job they are doing despite secretly not believing a word of it. There may soon come a time that they wished the engine hadn’t been left to rust in the pouring rain as they attempt to kick start it to no avail.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher