A spoonful of Sugar…and a rubbish job for the boys

3 Mar

Alan Sugar: Lord of the Apprentice

I CAN’T say I like Alan Sugar – indeed, I can’t imagine a more ­unlikely marriage of sweet name and bitter sourpuss.

But you have to respect the Lord of the Apprentice, if only for his entrepreneurial nous.

I read old Grate and Lyle’s autobiography recently with mixed feelings. Admiration for the way a pimply working-class lad built himself a multi-million pound empire, to disgust at his innuendo in one chapter that gazumping is a noble trait. Gloat if you must, Lord S, but in my world, renaging on an agreed deal just to make more profit is both immoral and dishonest.

Maybe that’s why I’m a journalist rather than a businesswoman, but if business success means jumping into bed with the devil, then I’ll settle for bankruptcy any day.

Having said that, nothing would be more welcome right now than an injection of a few thousand Sugars into the Spanish economy.

Coming from the UK, a country where most of the unemployed youth are either workshy or short of a marble or two, it’s weird to encounter university graduates struggling to find work even in bars, let alone at the challenging level their skills deserve.

With 50 per cent of under-25s having no work – and little sign of the situation improving – more and more young Spaniards are joining the exodus to countries where their talents are in demand.

I know a number of well-educated Spanish lads in their mid 20s who speak four languages, yet when it comes to work, have only the odd summer shift earning buttons at a beach bar to look forward to.

Their obvious route to self-respect is to head for a country like France or the UK, where they can utilise their knowledge of French and English. Or to South America, where the cultural ties with Spain would make them feel more at home.

Meanwhile, I’ve been trying to puzzle out how young entrepreneurs among the unemployed could make themselves a few euros. The most original idea I’ve come up with would work best in the UK, but that should be no obstacle to Spanish youngsters prepared to travel.

So what is this great idea? Well, it’s linked to the fact that the refuse collection service in Britain has deteriorated in recent years to the point that in many areas it is, in a word, rubbish.

Example – in Bury, Greater Manchester, where my family live, the cash-strapped council only remove general household waste once a fortnight.

And for the vast majority of families, that is simply not enough. Enter the budding impresarios.

The gap week presents an open invitation for enterprising youngsters to whip superfluous rubbish down to the local tip for their neighbours at a couple of quid a trip.

The neighbours would welcome it. But the council would naturally try to put a stop to it, while the official binmen would go on strike in protest. Indefinitely, with a bit of luck.

And that would leave an army of youngsters with an open door to start their own refuse collection service.

It couldn’t happen, of course, because official  jobsworths would block non council employees dumping large amounts of waste at the local tip.

But wouldn’t it make a welcome change for British homeowners if they had a super-efficient daily collection service whizzing around the streets at night. You know, like in Spain.

But then, we Brits have had a lot more practice when it comes to bureaucratic  incompetence.


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