Once upon a time I had a particular boss. This person of unspecified name and gender – but let’s call them Mr McGee after that song by Prince – was a great manager: supportive and encouraging. But they had one fatal flaw. Mr McGee always had to be right. If you told them that the winner of the 1977 Wimbledon women’s singles was Virginia Wade, when they thought it was Billie Jean King, they’d have to find a way to to show that they were right and you were wrong. In this example, they might say (having checked) that by 1977, King had won more titles overall than Wade so ‘clearly’ won. There’s no doubt that they thought that if they convinced himself they were right, we’d be convinced too.
Of course, their plan to be known as always right backfired, because they became more famous for these ridiculous attempts to justify themself. New examples of McGee’s inability to say they were wrong were ten-a-penny every Friday lunchtime. It’s a shame, because while McGee otherwise had our respect, this tendency of theirs made us assume that they couldn’t have much respect for us, peddling as they did such nonsense. They’d have got a lot further if they’d simply said they were wrong.
I was reminded of Mr McGee this week when listening to the Amside meltdown on The Archers. A summary (spoiler alert!) is that Brenda finally told Lilian to stuff her job after Lilian kicked off once too many. Lilian’s behaviour towards Brenda has been consistently appalling, and a parting of the ways can have been long predicted. But it’s Lilian’s voicemails to Brenda since the split – demanding, not asking, that she return to work – that have been most revealing. Lilian regards herself as being ‘above’ having to make an apology, and the best that she can come up with is that Brenda should just ‘let bygones be bygones’. I’m sure that would work under some circumstances but Lilian is clearly deluded if she thinks that Brenda would realise that Lilian is right and Brenda is wrong if only Lilian were to speak loudly enough. Lilian points out that she is doing the work of three people (being without Matt also) without even pretending to acknowledge that Brenda has been doing the work of three people not only during Lilian and Matt’s disastrous holiday but during the period while Lilian was bunking off to see Paul, and Matt was bunking off to spy on the two of them. Pursuing this line makes it even clearer that Lilian thinks she’s better than Brenda and that Brenda can have no case at all. On that basis, even though the Ambridge Extra plotline will obviously end badly for Matt and Brenda, both currently in St Petersburg, I can’t imagine detente between Lilian and Brenda any time soon.
Of course, there’s a massive difference between the cases of Mr McGee and Lilian. One was usually professional and courteous and the other is known in internet circles as ‘Fagash’. Lilian’s incredible antics have affected others, while McGee’s obsessions hurt only themself. But what they have in common is that they have been more concerned at being seen (in their view) to be right than in actually getting what they want. Their aim is to gain others’ respect, but they have less as a result.