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Sing It Back...



Have you noticed that almost everywhere wants your feedback nowadays? Restaurants want your reviews on Trip Advisor, Channel 4 News wants your comments, films want your votes, all sorts of organisations want to hear whether you found their customer service a) excellent, b) satisfactory c) poor or d) other. Authors want your book reviews. Hey, I get that – I'm one of them. However, I am not one for asking someone directly what he or she thought of my book, because the last time I did this, I received an almost apologetic (but quite definite) 'No'. So I don't ask anymore; I wait and see. I figure if someone did like it they'd say so, which is generally true. One reason for my reticence could be that I like to be in control, but that's why putting a book out there was such a learning experience for me. You just gotta let go! People will read it from their own viewpoint and see it with their own unique vision of life. They will have myriad reasons that they like or dislike it. The key is to discard the piffle and listen to the constructive stuff.

I once attended a works do with my husband and took advantage of the free bar to the point that I misquoted Winston Churchill to his Managing Director. He was talking to me about how some people had expressed their displeasure at the chosen date and venue for the Christmas Party, and I said jollily: “Well, Aled, as Winston Churchill said, you can't please all the people all of the time!” and then I laughed slightly maniacally (I think it was the vodka). He smiled kindly and then decided to go and talk to someone more sane and less pissed.

What makes me chuckle is that feedback has another meaning – the unwanted noise you get when the mike is too close to the amp or your mouth is too close to the mike, and it's horrible and whoa, you just want to cover those ears up until it goes away. So it's a bit of a contradiction, isn't it?

FYI it was Abraham Lincoln who said it, and what he actually said was: "You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time." I wonder what he would make of today's political climate. Everyone wants to be heard, these days. We are sick of being ignored. Young girls and old men are finding their voices, loud and true and they're not afraid to use them. Women are standing up to men and unassuming folk are standing up to big powerhouses. It's all about to blow! We all want to give our feedback! And how frustrating that the bigwigs (and I use this particular noun with a snigger) don't wish to hear it anymore.

The analogy that came to me the other day was that BJ and his cronies may as well be floating around in the Beatles' yellow submarine. They might think they are above us but in actual fact they are way down below in the murk. They can't hear what we're shouting because our voices are muffled by their own self-importance and the many deep fathoms they have put between us and them. They could resurface; that's an option, but that requires too much energy and a complete change in route. In short, they can't be arsed. They have set their course and that's where they're going. Like wind up toys sailing away from our island in the depths of La Manche.

Hang on though – we're the ones on the surface, feeling the impact of the changing of the tides at every turn! We are living amidst the wild weather. Lives and futures are being damaged but when we try and tell them, well, they just won't switch their radio on. Captain Boris sends up divisive, one-way communications and they live a life of ease and quaff their whisky while we bob around like corks, still afloat but only just, rolling and tumbling every which way in every area of our lives: our jobs, our health, our children's futures, even our friendships on the rocks. It's a twisting, turning state. When will they switch their damn radio on and tune in? Why won't they change their course?

Between you and me, I don't think they want us all to live in their yellow submarine. I don't think they're as welcoming as the Beatles. I don't think they really give a toss about us here on the surface. If they did, they would have the guts to ask us for our feedback. Again.

After all, if our feedback was so important in 2016, why isn't it as important three years later. Why are they so scared of what we might say? I fear the reason is that it just doesn't suit them. It's an ear-splitting screech they don't want to listen to. We're all just having a moan and they know best.

All we can do is keep shouting and hope that something gets through: It's all happening up here guys – and it's okay to admit you made a mistake. You can't please all the people, but it would be nice if you listened to what we're saying anyway. You can't fool all the people either, because we're cleverer than you and stronger than you when we're together. So come up to the surface before it's too late, because at the moment you've got a no-star review which can't be ignored any longer. Just a quick feedback form is all you need, a few Q and As. And if the answer is the same as before then carry on, but if it's not then just stop, check your horizon and set your course for the stars. There are 12 of them.

And for goodness sake, get a new captain.

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