Doubting the experts

Jul 5th, 2010 | By | Category: Ireland

A long time ago in a parish far away, there was a lesson in not trusting an ‘expert’.

Music at the Sunday worship was good, but not exciting and after church one Sunday a young man came with a proposal.

“I think you need a group of musicians, at least one Sunday a month.  I am a graduate and a group of friends and I could play.  I can write all the settings and you’ll have music unlike anything you have heard before”.

“Well . . . if you are sure”.

The organist, a good, professional and always present performer who turned up every Sunday, week in  week out, was quite pleased at the prospect of a Sunday morning off.

A few days before the debut of the musicians, a telephone call came.  “One of our group cannot make it on Sunday, but it’s no problem, there are plenty of us”.

“Are you sure?”

“Oh yes, we are professionals.  We will be there”.

Friday came and the moment came for printing the Sunday liturgy.  The sheet included a note welcoming the musicians and the songs proposed by the young man.  His assurances were so categorical that to contact him again would be tantamount to calling him a liar.

Saturday evening came and the phone rang; it was the young man.  “Hello, we have a problem for the morning, one of the group can’t make it”.

“Well, what’s the problem?”

“We can’t play unless we are all there”.

“Can’t you adjust? Do things differently?”

“Sorry, not a chance.  We have standards to maintain.  If we didn’t do things well, people would talk about me”.

The organist had to be phoned and we had to get through as best as we could; there was a palpable sense of being let down amongst the congregation.

Listening to the evening news on RTE radio, reports that the billions of Euro, taken from working people and put into the National Asset Management Agency was not going to produce the expected returns, brought memories of the young man and his promises.

There were doubts all along, but short of saying those who told us NAMA would save the economy, and get credit into the system and keep businesses alive and people in jobs, were downright liars, we had to proceed in hope.

Now, maybe billions of our money has disappeared, like the young man, never to be seen again.  Let down by the experts, it is a matter of struggling through, except, unlike that Sunday morning, there is no stand by, no fallback position.

Of course, if the young man was such a professional, he would not have been available to play, he would have had some high powered position in some major establishment, and if the men behind NAMA such experts, they would be away making millions for themselves, instead of attempting sleight of hand with the account sheets of zombie banks.

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  1. THis story didn’t quite go where I thought it was going to go. Sometimes efforts to improve church music end up making the music an activity for one special little group (often of people who are musicians rather than church goers): this is fine if your congregation are expecting it, and feel their spirits uplifted by listening to good music, but on the other hand it can be excluding. So I was expecting your story to end with the resignation of the organist.

    Not very professional at all, not turning up. Professionals make sure they’re available. Unfortunately, the NAMA experts did make millions by performing sleight of hand with the account sheets of zombie banks…

  2. Sometimes, I wish my stories had different endings! I would love a version of Irish political and economic life as described by Gabriel Garcia Marquez!

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