Legal Widow

Subjudice spent the holidays trawling the web – “for my English project, duh!” – and has given me the results to read over. I won’t enthral you with ‘How individuals and groups differ in their use of language’, but I was reassured that all the cult websites she visited really were for research, and that she wouldn’t suddenly come out of her bedroom wearing a kaftan. She couldn’t let anything that dull take all her money and her personality as well, because a passion for McFly has done it already.

As a useful footnote, she defines what she means by a cult. “Look at this, darling,” I said to the Lawyer as he waded through the managing partner’s epic holiday email: written at 2am on New Year’s Day and sent to all the partners, it contained his thoughts for the year ahead and ran to eight pages. “It says here that cults and religions centre on the leader, who embodies the power of the organisation. And that ideology is irrelevant, because all cults teach the same thing, which is subjection to the rules and ideas of the leader.”

“Really, how interesting. Where does she get it all from?” mumbled the Lawyer. “There’s some jolly good stuff in here, you know. How we must all share the vision and speak the same language, otherwise the firm will fall to pieces when the trumpet sounds – you know, like in the Tower of Babel.”

“Or the walls of Jericho,” I added, helpfully.

“No, not mentioned here, sorry. You must be wrong,” he said.
I carried on reading out Subbie’s paper. “People in cults are deprived of their ability to think independently, darling. Their thoughts are ‘reformed’ through a gradual process, which forces them to challenge and then sweep away their original principles. Finally, they cannot think unless it is a thought given to them by the leader, or the people appointed by the leader.”

“There’s one thing I’m a bit worried about,” he continued. “He’s got these six key vision words he wants us to use in every communication with the world – the client, or their advisers, or our suppliers or… Well, they’re things like ‘leading’ and ‘commanding’ and ‘number one’. I mean, how are you going to use ‘dynamic’ every time you want some more A4 paper, or ‘visionary’ if you want to invite someone to the football? But there must be a reason for it… After all, if this is what makes us stand out from the crowd then I’m all for it. I’m sure Gordon and Jerry will be using them. And it is a good idea, you know: just imagine if every letter you got from the girls’ school used the words ‘innovative’ and ‘commanding’? Make you think, wouldn’t it?”

“And finally, cults are destructive,” I said.

“They hurt their followers. Emotionally, usually; sometimes physically.”

“And the last thing is, he says he wants us to up the hours,” said the Lawyer. “Because we’ve got to be ‘number one’ and ‘lead’ by example. See how he did that? Wow! He really cares about performance, doesn’t he? What a guy! So I’ll be pretty busy this year, darling…”

You know, they can deprogramme cult members. It takes a locked room and lots of wet towels and sweet tea or something, and after a few weeks they look back on their years of service to the cult master and think: “What the hell was I doing?” And then they go and work for the public sector, and it all begins again with a memo entitled ‘Repressed minorities awareness lunchtime sessions will be held…’.