In Praise of Apathy in a Competitive Industrial Society

reggieperrinReggie Perrin’s speech at a seminar at Bilberry Hall, the home of the British Fruit Association, supposedly on the topic of “the role of luxury desserts in a competitive industrial society” (but not). Reggie’s been feeling a major disconnect between his daily life and anything that matters for a while now, and he’s planned this as his farewell speech … but actually getting his thoughts and words out is complicated by the fact that he is very drunk:

“We are told that we need more growth: 6% per year. More chemicals to cure more pollution, caused by more chemicals. More car parks for more tourists who want to get away from more car parks. More food, to make us more fat, to make us use more slimming aids, to make us take more pills, to make us ill, to make us take more pills, to make more profit. More boring speakers, making more boring speeches, at more boring conferences.  …

“But what has all this growth done for me? Well, I’ll tell you. One day I’ll die, and on my grave it will say: ‘Here lies Reginald Iolanthe Perrin. He didn’t know the names of the trees and the flowers, but he knew the rhubarb crumble sales figures for Schleswig Holstein.’ Look outside at those trees — beautiful. But soon they will all be cut down to make more underground par carks (sic). But I have got good news for you, because half the parking meters in London have got Dutch Parking Meter disease. …

“But what do YOU believe in?” I hear you ask. Do I hear you ask? Well I’ll tell you anyway: I know that I don’t know. I believe in not believing. You see, for every man who believes something, there’s somebody who believes the opposite. What’s the point? How many wars would have been fought, how many people would have been tortured if nobody ever believed in anything? Have you ever heard of ‘The Wars of the Apathetic’? Or ‘the persecution of the apathetic by the bone idle’?”

More on the series here (scroll down a bit for overview).

Here’s Doc Morrissey’s diagnosis of “what’s wrong” with Reggie (.wav file), just before Reggie ends it all (and begins again).


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