It was, I think, the great Dorset-born Italian opera composer Giuseppe Verdi-Gris who famously quipped in a letter to his friend Francesco Florimo-Umbria-Per-Sempre on January 5, 1871: “Tornate all'antico e sarà un progresso” ["Let us turn to the past: that will be progress"].*
* The remainder of the letter is less interesting containing as it does a complaint against the local council’s decision to discontinue weekly green bin collections [substituting instead a wholly unsatisfactory fortnightly cycle] together with a request for 12lbs of carrots and a new nib for his Swan Mabie Todd Hard Rubber Fountain Pen [London]. Whether it was the rescheduling of refuse collections, the unreliability of the rubberised fountain pen ink bladder or a general disconnect with the contemporary scene which prompted the remark will forever remain a mystery.
Whatever the source of the great man's existential angst, it is clear that his mindset and proferred solution are very much in the minds of officials at the Greater Dorset Transport Authority as they seek to boost both trade and income following a thus-far disappointing post Contrik-69 "bounce back". Readers of the Authority's gripping 2020-2021 Annual Report will need no reminding of its decidededly downbeat tone, nor of the "scary numbers" provided by Chief Accountant Inna Wright-Messe whose concluding statement - "If we don't do something drastic and soon we are all completely screwed" - spooked investors to the extent that share-prices fell off a cliff and an immediate bail-out plan was implemented just to keep drivers and conductors [aka "clippies"] "in beer and fags".
In what may turn out to be a strange irony, the consistent refusal of Public Transport Unions [especially the DOTWG [Dorset Omnibus and Tram Workers General Union]] to address issues of modernisation [eg one-man** operated buses, non-physical ticketing and punch-it-yourself travel passes] may hold the key to the failing service's revival. As forward-looking GDTA Chief Executive Benny-Fitov Hyndsite explained: "Nostalgia is big business these days and the fact that we have an antiquated fleet, original 1930s and 1940s booking technology, uniforms and operational systems means that we are, in many senses, at the forefront of progress. What was modern pre-pandemic is now old hat and since the only way forwards is backwards [often the case when the syncromesh on our 1950s omnibuses plays-up] we seem to be catching up with ourselves without actually doing anything".
** Seriously? [Ed]
Taking advantage of their now state-of-the-art fleet - as well as the free availability of the Dorset landscape - the company is investing heavily in a promotional campaign to tempt the public back on board via a series of inexpensive conducted tours to places of interest. "It certainly worked just after the war", Mr Hyndesite adds, "when fuel shortages, rising food pricesprices, rampant general inflation, union discontent, chaotic government and failing international supplies meant that the average consumer could not afford to do very much and turned to the odd bus tour to lighten the gloom. We feel that by standing still we have, in fact, arrived in exactly the same place as we were and feel confident the same tried and tested solutions will work again. It's almost as though sticking to our modus operandi of doing absolutley nothing was an inspired choice rather than a catastrophic failure of vision, management and enterprise".
Mr Hyndesite's new book: "Magisterial Inaction: A Bluprint for Government and A Plan for Everybody Else" will be published by The Threadbone Press in its Dorset Business Studies Series. The Series is edited by the University of Afpuddle's Sinclair-DeLorian Professor of Business and Enterprise Studies, Professor Masif Downe-Turn.