So, you’ve finally managed to make it to the top job you’ve been working so hard to make your own. It’s taken you a long time – 10 years no less – but you think the wait, although longer than you imagined, will have set you up perfectly as the new captain to ‘run the ship’.
You appoint all your trusted lieutenants and set course (continuing to use the maritime analogy) and for a while things look ship-shape and Bristol fashion.
Having waited so long to be the boss, you waste no time in implementing some of the ideas you’ve been cooking up on the sidelines as the number 2. You’ve no need to consult anyone now – you just do it and sod the flak you might get – you know it’s the right thing to do.
After a few more months of turbulent but manageable waters (more shippy stuff) you’re keeping your head above water – just. And then, there’s a crisis and you come into your own. This is what you’ve been waiting for, a chance to show the rest what you’re made of, a chance to resurrect all those socialist ideologies which you’ve just been waiting for an opportunity to implement. It’s a heaven sent opportunity which you are going to grasp with both hands.
So what’s this crisis then? Well, your cruise liner (the one you’ve become master of) is losing all of its on-board boutiques. One by one they are going bust and the passengers are complaining. I mean, there’s only so many meals one can have each day – one just has to shop as well otherwise what’s the point?
So you start to bail the boutiques out, handing over lavish amounts of cash to keep them afloat, in more ways than one! You can’t really afford all this cash but your view, taken in splendid isolation, is that you can’t do without them. The fare-paying passengers need some R&R and everybody knows that shopping is just the best R&R about.
Your purser tries to tell you that you’re spending too much. Indeed, all the financially savvy ship’s passengers tell you also – it’s just not sustainable. Eventually, there'll be no money left to run the ship. Keep this up and the whole thing will go down, not just the boutiques. But you’ve no long-term strategy to solve the underlying problem other than your socialist belief that if you throw money at a problem, the problem will be solved. Your crew and the passengers are increasingly questioning your direction. But you pay them no heed. You're doing the right thing.
The frequent polls done amongst the passengers tell their own story. You’re not a very popular captain and people don’t like the direction you’re taking. But you don’t listen – 40 knots, straight ahead please! You've waited 10 years to get this job, you're not going to give it up now.
More polls and more dissenting voices. Then one of your crew does an interview for the on-board magazine which is not terribly complimentary and then another appears on the on-board TV programme. Again, the underlying message is that the Captain is steering in the wrong direction. The body of negative opinion is growing but none of the crew will stand up to the Captain – that would be the start of a mutiny.
Eventually things get so bad that one of the engineers jumps ship at the next port. No problem, we’ll just promote one of the Fillipino waiters. He’s no idea about engines but he’ll learn. Then one of the passenger liaison officers goes – no warning – she’s off. Again, no problem. There’s a cleaner down on deck -15 who could do that job.
The senior members of the crew start to get twitchy. The passengers are starting to revolt – the tips are getting few and far between. At the next port, the navigator does a runner. Then the chief engineer, then the purser. And all the while, the passenger polls, which the ship does on a weekly basis, tell him that he’s the most unpopular captain ever to sail the seven seas. It’s just a blip, he thinks. We’ll sail through these stormy waters – no problem.
Then one morning your coffee doesn’t arrive in your cabin. You look outside – nobody around. You go up to the bridge and the auto-pilot is on – there’s not a person in sight. No passengers, no crew, no cleaners, no chefs – nothing!
Then you see that the ship is heading for a notorious reef but there’s nothing you can do. It’s too close. You’ll never stop in time. You should have listened to your crew, some of whom were friends. It’s too late now – we’re doomed, we’re all doomed!