I’LL tell you what this column needs: A relaunch. It needs to be ruthless, radical and probably something else beginning with ‘r’, though I haven’t quite thought it through.
The point is that we can’t stand still; new times mean new revelations, new resolutions and even, though, in the interests of alliteration, it means shifting the focus to salad vegetables, new radishes.
This, as Tony Blair so inspiringly and cogently used to put it, is a time to look forwards and not backwards or even (which might have been a more interesting option) sideways – and have you noticed, incidentally, that among the executive classes the generally meaningless phrase ‘going forward’ is being increasing used to just to fill gaps in the conversation.
It’s as if the old standbys ‘er’ and ‘um’ sound too indecisive and that the only way forward is to substitute one nonsense syllable for four.
However, despite all this forward thinking, I have been looking backwards because this week I found a yellowing bundle of my old columns and wondered whether I could recycle any of them without some spoilsport reporting me to the Editor.
Which of course I could have done because my columns go back at least 11 years whereas readers’ memories of them are generally gone by teatime each Friday. It’s just that (as you will know if you’ve ever been surprised by an old photograph of yourself) things are sneaky and change without you noticing – shrinking chocolate bars and spreading waistlines being obvious examples.
So that although I could almost get away with my recycling scam because my column seems very much the same now as it did 11 years ago and generally covers the same topics (which you will be aware of to screaming point), it wouldn’t really work and somebody would notice.
This is because I have changed; the tone of my old columns is that of a younger man, if you can call people over 50 ‘younger’ (which, as all teenagers agree, you can’t).
This isn’t to do with the growth of wisdom or the slowing of faculties, it’s more a mood that has passed. My old columns are more jokey, irresponsible and prone to go off on a tangent than my present ones and even though you might not notice the difference, I do. Which is why I can’t bring myself to recycle old columns.
(Which reminds me of James Thurber’s famous cartoon showing a mild-looking man walking into his bedroom while wearing a striped pyjama bottom with a dotted pyjama top. From the bed his fearsome-looking wife is screaming at him: “Well, it makes a difference to ME!”).
Anyway, back to the relaunch. This doesn’t have to be radical, as most relaunches aren’t. You might think that the labels on sacred products such as Marmite and Guinness haven’t changed over the years but they have; it’s just that the huge businesses behind the brands have found a way of updating things sneakily, without alienating brand loyalists.
This is the future; expect very soon to see a new Oliver Cross column being rolled out and going forward. It will be cutting edge and so current that if you pick it up, you’ll singe your fingers. But you probably won’t notice.