OPINION - That London theatre job advert had a point — every office should have some convicted criminals knocking about


Camden People’s Theatre has come under fire for a job advert for a new artistic director and joint CEO, in which it says it is encouraging applications from a long tick box of under-represented groups, along with people who identify as “working-class, benefit class, criminal class and/or underclass”.

Hmm. Who exactly would identify as being “benefit class”? It smacks of middle-class people putting their foot in it at pick-up time when talking to the unpopular parents from the council estate. Anything else you want to add? “Dole-y types”? “Lazy bastard class”?

As for writing “criminal class and/or underclass”, I mean, forgive me if I’m wrong but if you belong to the underclass it does not follow that you are also a criminal. Nor are those categories the same as being working class. This is not an “and/or” thing.

Then again, perhaps part of me can warm to this idea that “criminal class and/or underclass” are in fact one and the same. It’s pleasingly old school.

It encourages applications from under-represented groups like the ‘criminal and/or underclass’

I feel they’ve watched Oliver! the musical and are thinking they’ll get a young ragamuffin applying, desperate to get away from a devious gang leader, and who they can set on the right path.

“‘Cor blimey, squire,” he’ll say after receiving his first payslip, “Oi’ve never seen such riches in all me bleedin’ loife!”

In fact, the more I think about it, the more this seems like the kind of recruitment policy that will be good for any office. Bring in more convicted criminals, that’s what I say. People who can shake up the post-Covid office malaise with some good old-fashioned threat around the place. I think it’s less likely that Gordon from accounts will dick around with payments if there’s the risk of a shivving in the kitchen. Someone hassling me about a deadline? Speak to my deskmate, Big Mick. When he’s finished using a Bic and a needle to give a facial tattoo to Gordon, I’m sure he’d be happy to help.

The truth is many offices in London have so few working class — never mind “underclass” — employees that despite performative inclusion policies, half the staff would run screaming at the sight of one, with his cloth cap and dirty hands. This must change.

It would help to change office dynamics for the better. Many offices in London are, just below the shiny surface, a dark world of intrigue, suspicion, rivalry, greed, hate, envy, rage, lies, and conspiracy. All qualities shared with the criminal class, it’s just that they have the guts to act on them.

Well, let’s bring a bit of that can-do attitude into offices. Your hedge fund lost its edge? Bring in some new faces and stick some horse heads in the opposition’s beds. Your not-for-profit having trouble raising money from jaded investors? Simply start kneecapping them. Want to increase profits in your stalling media agency? Just rob a few post offices (they’ll blame it on the sub-postmasters anyway).

I think this is the future. Not AI, but kidnapping. I don’t want free coffee as a perk, I want a shotgun. The apocalypse is coming — haven’t you been on X? Only the criminal class and/or underclass are going to survive this one…

Prepping for the election apocalypse

The apocalypse is coming! So says cheery, and likely outgoing, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden, who is now advising people to stockpile three days’ worth of food and water to help build “personal resilience”, and guard against future pandemics, floods, and power cuts. Is he just laying the groundwork for election day? “What if, right, we just pull the plug on the national power grid and plunge the streets into darkness? Even if people can find the polling stations, will they be able to see which box they’re ticking?”

Apparently this is inspired by the Finns who do it as a matter of course. But I’m pretty sure it’s really, dangerously cold in Finland, with remote outposts and bears and wolverines. Besides, if you really want us to stockpile food, Mr Dowden, how about you show some resilience and get your government to make it affordable? After all, your doomsday is closer than ours.

Martin Robinson is an Evening Standard columnist