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Soup of This Day #288: The Ground Will Drop Out From Beneath Your Feet

January 29, 2013

Nuclear power plant
A nuclear power plant in Cattenom, France. It could generate enough electricity to supply a stack of power boards and miles of colour-coded extension leads but it probably isn’t amped enough to re-energise my wiring career – Photo: Gralo, 2007. Gralo is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

The other day I read this. If you haven’t and want to take the time then it’s worth it now – So much so that I’ll hold up here and wait for you. I’ll even lay on some music to read by – A bit of Foo Fighters for effect.

Up to speed? Good.

I linked to that blog post for 2 reasons. The 1st is that it is a fantastic piece of writing. It is simple, but raw and heartfelt, imbued with the kind of shock and despair of being unemployed that you routinely get attached to severance pay. There’s a bonus in this piece too – A lack of hubris – The writer believes he is not talented.

He’s wrong – Maybe it took the loss of his job to prime his pen, or maybe he was always this good and his management just missed out. Either way Jeff Bradley clearly is talented.

My 2nd reason for referencing the work is that it triggered a memory for me – Specifically the 1st and so far only time I’ve been sacked for not being good enough.

Yep, I too got to feel the sting of being not wanted, of not measuring up. Never mind that, unlike for Jeff, I really wasn’t talented – The act of being booted out still rankles to this day.

I was only on the job for 2 or so months. I’d got a look-in through a friend and had maybe exaggerated my skills to cinch the deal. It was a job I thought I could do well at, essentially working as an electrical trade assistant, helping to build prototype machines. Mostly the job involved wiring up these prototypes using pre-cut jigs – More of an assembly job with instructions than anything requiring in-depth thought.

Except that I got ‘no in-depth thought’ confused with ‘no thought at all’, plus there was other stuff to do as well – General handyman-like things.

I’m not real good with that. I’m ok, in a sort of can-Maguyver-up-a-fix sort of way, but not so you’d rely on me to hold your business together.

Or to re-wire your warehouse.

Because as cocky as I was, when it comes to wiring up a warehouse that’s a task that needs some serious in-depth thinking. It’s also the kind of thing that any kind of depth is too much for me.

So there I was, floundering in the shallows of my own limitations when I had a stroke of survivalism. Instead of admitting that I had no idea how to wire up a warehouse, for which I’d surely get kicked out the door, I found a way to effectively provide power to everywhere it was needed.

Provided nobody used too much kit at 1 time.

Because I used your standard household extension leads and some power boards. Quite a lot of them actually. I did go to the trouble of colour-coding them and they were suitable for outdoor use so I figured they’d be fine running up and down girders and through roof spaces.

It was, when I was done, a work of staggering complexity and, I thought, a thing of rare beauty. I was a little bit proud that my make-shift, scrambling defence had held the ball up short of the line.

Sadly it was also a work of staggering inefficiency and, my employers thought, a thing of rare stupidity.

So for that and some other stuff they fired me. Quietly, almost gently even, but with a clear air of finality – Leave please and don’t come back.

And it hurt. I remember biting back tears as I was told to pack up and go, desperately disappointed that someone had deemed me not good enough.

It makes me wonder how sporting cast-offs manage. Sport after all is a mental game too – Confidence in yourself is a desirable quality, but it is also often a brittle 1. Being dumped from a team for injury is a big deal and a great disappointment – It’s something you can easily rationalise though and in turn come to live with. Being dropped shipped down or just plain out though is a harder pill to swallow. You don’t just bounce back from that – Surgeons can fix a lot of injuries, even grafting parts of a pig into key joints and tendons to make a player viable again, but you can’t transplant in confidence or the will to get out of bed in the morning.

I’m not even sure that a pig that’s giving up bits of itself is all that confident anyway.

As good as the sporting industry is at fixing the chosen few, it’s pretty brutal with those deemed not good enough.

And this brings us to Glenn Hoddle, English football player and manager.

Glenn Hoddle was not untalented at football. He had been a more than effective player across 20 years, the 1st 12 of them from 1975 with Tottenham Hotspur. His sublime skill was obvious, so much so that 1 of his former team-mates at Spurs, and an Argentinean international to boot, Ossie Ardiles said of him that:

‘He was like Maradona without pace. No, no. Glenn was God.’

Gods would surely make good managers and Glen Hoddle made a successful transition to that role towards the end of his playing days. After a guvnor’s stint at Swindon Town he joined Chelsea FC as a player-manager, achieving some success across a 3 year tenure. Following that London gig, in 1996, he was able to parley the credit gained into the plum role of managing the England national side.

At least it was a plum role until he espoused the view in an interview that disabled people were paying for their sins in past lives.


Just in case you think I’m making that sound worse than it was, here’s exactly what he said:

‘My beliefs have evolved in the last eight or nine years, that the spirit has to come back again, that is nothing new, that has been around for thousands of years. You have to come back to learn and face some of the things you have done, good and bad. There are too many injustices around.

You and I have been physically given two hands and two legs and half-decent brains. Some people have not been born like that for a reason. The karma is working from another lifetime. I have nothing to hide about that. It is not only people with disabilities. What you sow, you have to reap.

You have to look at things that happened in your life and ask why. It comes around.’

After that, the gig became more of a poisoned chalice, partly because there is a dimension to being the England manager which is about more than football – The views of that person will surely receive greater coverage and analysis than of the average person on the street. It was mostly though because his views were monumentally dumb and/or bat@#$ crazy.

Whatever the reason, the English Football Association took a dim view of what their employee had said and asked him to leave – Glenn Hoddle somewhat ironically ended up paying for the sin of uttering discriminatory bollocks in his current life.

Karma turned out to be more immediately on the ball than Glenn had thought.

To be clear – I don’t think that necessarily makes him a bad person or a bad manager. Maybe he was just misguided. Or maybe he was taken so far out of context that he landed half a world away in a land called lunacy. Or perhaps he was just taken by the drink and was as inebriated as you can be while still remaining able to form words into sentences.

Whatever the cause he ended up temporarily unemployed and in a sort of football purgatory. Fortunately for him it didn’t last – His talent was obvious and he was soon back managing at the top level, principally with Spurs, his old Alma mater.

His 2nd coming as a boss lasted for around 6 years. And then he tried something a little different…

In 2008 the former England boss set up the Glenn Hoddle Academy, based in Spain. It’s mission is simple – It takes in young footballers who have been deemed not good enough by professional clubs in England and purports to give them a 2nd chance. Primarily it did so via the Spanish 4th-tier side Jerez Industrial, which drew it’s playing ranks from the academy. That deal fell through in 2011 and since then the Glen Hoddle Academy is aligned with English 6th-tier outfit Hyde FC.

It’s an interesting concept and 1, fittingly for Hoddle, that isn’t without controversy. Is this a genuine chance for players to shine, proving shallow doubters wrong? Or is it just a costly prolonging of unrealistic dreams?

I’m going with the former – Mostly because I remember that stinging feeling from that day I found out I wasn’t good enough at something I didn’t really want to do anyway. Imagine if it had been my dream job.

Meanwhile can someone just hire that Bradley guy?

The Ground Will Drop Out From Beneath Your Feet

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