Business nous and social activism – like brown bread and white bread?

Business nous and social activisms - like brown bread and white bread?
Of loan managers and social entrepreneurs

Weeping in to my Chai Latte after the recent European elections, I remembered this prescient observation from the Cicero of Croydon, Superhans:

Jez: “People like lager and nuts”.
Super Hans: “People like Coldplay and voting for the Nazis. You can’t trust people, Jeremy”.

Searching for answers, I retired for a marathon session watching ‘Peep Show’. After all, there is wisdom to be found in a multitude of counsellors.

For the uninitiated, Peep Show is a sitcom which follows the lives of Mark and Jeremy, the modern odd couple. Mark is the straight man – career focused and working as a loan manager for much of the series. He is financially secure but awkward and socially inept, with a pessimistic and cynical attitude. Jeremy on the other hand never has regular employment, trying instead to make it as a musician. He has a more optimistic and energetic outlook on the world. Some might even say, idealistic (though I’ve never heard him quoting Gandhi).

This got me thinking – ‘Suits’ and ‘Cleanshirts’ coming together with dreamers and idealists (sometimes even musicians), trying to make stuff happen – where have I seen this before?
If social enterprise was a comedy series, perhaps it would be Peep Show? Think about it, mixing business nous with social activism – it’s like white bread and brown bread:

Mark: “Brown for first course, white for pudding. Brown’s savoury, white’s the treat. Of course I’m the one who’s laughing, because I actually love brown toast.”

Despite their differences, the two seemingly need each other. Apparently people like Jeremy need a Cleanshirt like Mark to keep them in line and help them make sense of the world. Idealism won’t always pay the bills (or scale up social impact):

Jez: “Stealing things just makes everything very cheap. Plus, you know how I feel about capitalism”.
Mark: “Yes, confused…There are systems for a reason in this world. Economic stability, interest rates, growth. It’s not all a conspiracy to keep you in little boxes, alright? It’s only the miracle of consumer capitalism that means you’re not lying in your own shit, dying at 43 with rotten teeth”.

But then the Marks of this world apparently also need dreamers like Jeremy, to remind them of the potential of the human spirit and what life could be like:

Jez: “I just came here to tell you we’ve been invited to a very wicked party”.
Mark: “Do I look like the kind of man who goes to wicked parties?”

So there you have it, what makes us different can be what makes us the same – Mark and Jez, social and enterprise, white and brown bread.

Now, where’s that copy of Vida La Vida? The Newark By Election is coming up.


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