Tyrants with too many statues and demolition firms with too many awards – Same thing.
It’s going to take a paragraph or two to get to the crux of this but bear with me – I do have a genuine, demolition-related point to make and I shall try to make the journey as swift and as entertaining as possible!
I have long believed that the national and international security services would do well to monitor the activities of the sculpting community. For there is no clearer indication of a despot in the making than the erection of countless statues in their own likeness. Stalin did it; Mao Tse Tung did it; Kim Jong Il did it; and Saddam Hussein liked nothing more than posing for a sculptor after a hard day’s chemical weapons testing and citizen poisoning.
Such people are clearly endowed with an ego and a vanity every bit as large as the gaping void in their humanity. To my mind, therefore, anyone ordering six or more statues of themselves is quite possibly a nascent tyrant that could benefit from some political, military or sniper intervention.
What in the Blue Hell does all this have to do with demolition, I hear you ask?
Well, if an excess of statues is a pointer to tyranny, then an over-concentration on industry awards is possibly a sign that a demolition company executive’s focus is geared more towards his own insatiable ego than it is on the company’s general wellbeing.
How else would you explain the large and growing portfolio of demolition companies that win an industry award one month and a trip to the bankruptcy courts the next?
There are exceptions. When she’s not posing for a new stamp or five pound note, our own dear Queen is not averse to the odd sculpture or 12 and yet she manages to go about her working day without torturing her subjects. Similarly, the likes of Erith and Cantillon have managed to rack up multiple awards without losing the plot. And, even though it has recently been forced to build an extension on its trophy cabinet, the folks at AR Demolition have remained both sane and solvent too.
But the evidence is there for all to see. In 2013, EDS was named the Construction News Demolition Contractor of the Year. Less than 12 months later, the company had vanished. Masterton -shortlisted in the Construction News Specialist Awards 2014 and in the awards of the National Federation of Demolition Contractors in the same year – went the same way. And although it did not attend and is currently fighting its way back to financial solvency, Anthony O’Connor was shortlisted by Construction News this year; the awards ceremony taking place as the company was negotiating with its creditors over its Company Voluntary Arrangement.
So yes, it is entirely possible to chart a contractor’s financial performance via its annual statement and company accounts. But a misplaced concentration on winning otherwise meaningless trophies should set alarm bells ringing.
And if any national leader gets a bit too busy in the sculpture acquisition business, you might want to keep an eye on them too.