Date: 1st December 2020
The latest blog from SFSA writer Donald Stewart:
Mr. Kettlewell and Mr. McPake have a difficult date with destiny…
It’s a dark evening one October in the midst of a pandemic. The sign outside the local community centre shows Scottish Slim and Trim meet here. Tonight though it is no normal meeting but area meeting of area managers who have been called in because they have not been meeting their targets.
Picture the scene…
A certain Mr. Kettlewell and Mr. McPake have arrived for their dressing down. They have a bigger share of the market than most and run no fewer than 22 meetings between them – 11 each. Their teams have been under-performing in the recent past; both are nervous.
The national manager, Mr, Roly Poly Doncaster has arrived first. His sort is easy to spot. He is full of his own self importance and the twang of an English accent always gives him a degree of superiority that makes it hard to escape him and his fulsome impertinence.
He is in bullish mood. He likes sounding as if he is in charge…
Mr. Kettlewell and Mr. McPake walk through the door and into the room with twenty chairs laid out in a social distancing format. They expect the place to have more than just them there. They are the only ones who are in attendance, and that makes them very nervous. Apart from Mr. Doncaster who has sat behind a massive desk made out of no less than three Go Pack tables, there is an eerie silence to accompany their walk towards the front of that desk. Doncaster does not look up but indicates, using a biro that both Mr. Kettlewell and Mr. McPake should sit directly opposite him, some ten feet away.
They do so.
He begins to speak without raising his head. ”I have called you both here because of your recent results. Here at Scottish Slim and Trim we do not have failures, only learning experiences so you are both here to learn valuable and massive lessons.”
Mr. Kettlewell and Mr. McPake look at each other but say nothing… yet…
Mr. Doncaster continues, “I have reviewed where we are, and it is not good.” He looks directly at Mr. Kettlewell first and nods, indicating that he should be the first to respond.
Mr. Kettlewell begins, “I cannot continue to back some of my hosts if the cannot deliver any reliability.”
Mr. Doncaster holds up his hand. They know that this means they have to stop and wait for a word or ten of wisdom from Mr. Doncaster.
“I am not here to listen to how you are not here to hear from me about your deficiencies but the deficiencies of your squad who are part of the Scottish Slim and Trim family. I want to know what you intend to do.”
“I believe we live in a blame culture,” Kettlewell meekly says.
Mr Doncaster smiles and replies, “So the sooner you take responsibility yourself, the better you become, there is no other formula to it as far as I can see.
Mr. Kettlewell tries again, “I can’t keep backing people if I don’t feel I’m going to get any reliability from them or I can’t trust what they are going to put out.”
Mr. Doncaster looks down to his pad and scribbles. “I would describe what happened at Kilmarnock, a low point of your tenure.” He responds.
He then holds up his hand. Mr. Kettlewell waits.
Mr. Doncaster, then lifts his head after a flourish with his pen on his pad. He looks directly at Mr McPake. “Mr. McPake. I have from a Mr Adams a complaint that you mis-sold him the product. I also have a complaint from the man you described as the captain of your team that you have filled the shirts as it were with passengers. There is not enough on your team to make it more than a lightweight bunch sitting round a genuine player of experience, he says. I have to say that, that Mr. Adam fella looks like he has promise and yet he is tethered to the rest of your squad as if they are a tombstone.”
Mr. McPake responds, “If you go through my squad, every single one has had an opportunity. If you have had your opportunity and not taken it then you have to look yourself in the mirror, you can’t go pointing fingers – this is the whole blame culture that we live in.”
Mr. Doncaster looks down into his notebook and again writes with a flourish.
“Well due to a vacancy elsewhere we seem to have a lack of experienced people in place which shall, unfortunately save your bacon. I have here,” he lifts up a piece of paper. “A resignation from the West Lothian in the shape of Mr. Holt, one of our best sellers of recent times. I often thought he over performed but as of today I think he is going to be a huge loss. I also have a man in the East End of Glasgow whose job is on a shoogly peg. It is not the time for me to make wholesale changes.”
Just at that the nemesis of Doncaster, Ms Dempster opens the door. As head of the rival chain in the east of Scotland, Scottish Trim and Slim, she is one of the rising stars in the industry. With a reputation of being one of the best administrators, most people thought she would move into a national role at some point but her abrasiveness could be her down fall. Or the best thing about her…
She smiles under her mask and then speaks. “Oh sorry, Mr D, didn’t realise you were in here. Just popped down for a meeting.”
Mr. Doncaster is somewhat caught off guard. She is an east coaster. She should not be here. He picks his jaw up off the floor and comments, in response, “Are you lost? You are a little out of your way this far west or are you hankering to get back to the Motherwell group you made your reputation on?”
She smiles, even under the mask; you can feel it. “Oh, I left that job in the east, this morning. Pastures new, Mr. D. pastures new.”
Mr. Doncaster looks at the two figures in front of him, both of whom are grinning from ear to ear. “You two can go,” says Mr. Doncaster.
Mr. Kettlewell and Mr. McPake both stand up. Before they leave, they hear Mr. Doncaster on the phone to Head Office to check if his name was still on the door of his office.
Whilst the author asserts his right to this as an original tale, there is no evidence that Neil Doncaster has ever run a Scottish Slimmer’s group, and this is therefore not true, though many of the words came from Stuart Kettlewell’s interview with the BBC.
During the week Gary Holt left Livingston, Leeann Dempster left Hibs, James McPake had a go at his team after his captain did so and Charlie Adam claimed the current run of form was not what he signed up for, Stuart Kettlewell called Ross County’s display a low point of his tenure and Neil Lennon’s tenure at Celtic is being increasingly questioned. All normal in the fitba world…
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