|Nigel's graduation day speech|
I thought Will Ferrell's effort was about as amusing as the instruction manual for a laser printer. However, I did start thinking about how much I'd enjoy the chance to rant at a bunch of
graduates if I was a self-satisfied old git with no particular need to give a crap about anything.
"Members of the faculty, ladies, gentlemen, students, distinguished guests, divorced parents who have been forced to attend this event together and are sitting bolt upright and glaring at each other sideways, people who had one to many at lunch, undistinguished guests, gentlemen graduates sentimentally indulging in one final sexual fantasy about the girl sitting two rows ahead and a place to the left who they'll never see again:
In inviting me to address you today, this fine institution is continuing its tradition of sucking up to alumni who have reached an position of so-called importance despite forgetting every damn thing they were taught here. Graduates from this establishment have an excellent record of clawing their way to the top via double-dealing, log-rolling, palm greasing, tax evasion and fraud. Every year, the faculty invites one who hasn't been caught yet to give this speech - that's how they ended up with me.
I'm expected to tell you all about "The Real World." (Can't you just hear those capitals?) It's at about this stage in the proceedings that the speaker has to choose between false humility nauseating enough to send lunch straight into reverse, or sounding like a pompous baboon's rear end. If it's alright with you, I'm going to go with the first, and then veer off towards the second.
What in the name of boiling hell do I know about the real world? As soon as I could afford to, I hired a secretary to deal with that stuff. If I'm ever forced to deal with the real world, I swallow alcohol until it goes away. How on earth am I expected to tell a bunch of highly educated young people anything worth a damn? I have no idea how you plug in the internet. I don't know Warren Buffet's secret. I can't even get the Lexus dealership to fix that rattle in my boot.
Experience! That's the traditional last refuge of old fools trying to prove their superiority over everyone else. Let's talk about "Them." Everybody has a "Them." If you're a right-on sandal wearing vegetarian type (or a bloke who has a thing about hippie chicks and is just pretending) then "They" are a shadowy cabal of politicians and captains of industry who enjoy smearing crude oil on little furry animals and cutting the minimum wage. If you are a heartless sharp suited over-achiever who's actually been getting up for morning lectures then "They" are those pinko fruitcakes in the mainstream media and millionaire lawyers who patronise poor people by way of a hobby. "They" want to steal 90% of your money and ban you from spending the rest on anything fun. No matter, it's the same basic "Them."
Graduates, I'm here to tell you that "They" exist. "They" are less organised than you think. "They" are a lot more powerful than you think. The Real World is an assault course with today at one end and a colostomy bag at the other. "They" built it, and "They" get to watch you fall in the mud. Repeatedly. Don't worry! You'll get through. Like a pig gets through a sausage machine.
Those smug individuals amongst you who got a First will be used to getting examination questions right. Enjoy your moment in the sun. In The Real World, getting things right is a silly strategy for success. Surfaces are important. Pinning blame is vital. Results are irrelevant.
This is not intended to belittle your academic achievements: I would like to extend my particular congratulations to those of you who have just received a degree in Sociology, Media Studies or a similar field. Congratulations! The reward for your three years of study marathons and exam panic will be a lower starting salary than the average high-school leaver. You dumb bastards. No, seriously, I'm sure you'll find yourselves a useful and dignified position in society - I noticed the McDonalds down the road is hiring.
And what about those of you who did Economics? Three years being taught about money by a guy who earns 15K a year and dresses like a flood victim... The hiring partner at PWC is sure to be impressed with that. Computer Scientists? Remember the stuff you covered in year 1? It's obsolete! You will be amongst the most sought after individuals on the job market - for about 18 months. The media students will all have made Shift Supervisor by the time you're ready to make a sideways move into catering.
But that's enough about the filthy lucre. I sense I'm loosing my audience here. Many of you are still too young and foolish to focus on the bottom line. You're worrying yourselves silly about the state of the world. Ha ha ha ha ha haaaargh Cough Cough, Wheeze, Splutter. Sorry, but thinking about the burned-out shell of a planet we're leaving for you just cracks me up. It's true what they say: we borrow the world from our children. The great thing is, there's no collateral!
And look at the society we've created. Our leaders have built a dictatorship of boredom and despair. Nobody can be bothered to watch what they're up to, and nobody can be bothered to vote against them if they screw up. Government policy bounces around like a ping pong ball in a tumble-dryer while huge tax-exempt lobby groups set the agenda. Meanwhile, investors follow the latest craze like panicked sheep, then frantically look around for someone to sue when they finally figure out that companies with no assets and no profit don't double in value twice a month.
We've invented more health care than anyone can afford and everyone believes they've got a right to it. There are thousands of irritating old people like myself who intend to live as useless whining vegetables for 50 years after we stop contributing anything to society. There are lots of us and we can still vote, so we're gonna make you pay our nursing home bills.
In a nutshell, my generation has made a buttock-clenchingly piss-poor job of running the world. You guys get to pick up the pieces. Good luck. I'll be watching from the sidelines, laughing my ass off."
If you want to book Nigel for a speech, you'd better see blinman.com first.