Information overload

Matthew Reeves on RBS boss Stephen Hester's bonus, the BBC and his electricity bill

In a world where we're constantly bombarded with useless and utterly ignorable information about sinking ships, or from Google pestering my every move with news about how its privacy options are changing, it's actually quite nice to be addressed personally in writing. Staying on Google for a second, their warning would be far more impactful if they just flexed a bit and showed us all a little glimpse behind the curtain with a warning like: "We're changing our privacy settings. Don't forget to buy your dad a birthday card this week, and the best way to shed fat fast is through a planned regime of diet and exercise. Click here to learn more."

So, as I was saying, I was greeted by a lovely, personalised, stamped and posted letter. I love getting these individual little packages of joy. The crisp paper, the routine of inspecting the front, then the back, while you survey the seal. The satisfying, no-going-back feeling, so rare in the digital age, of the paper tearing under your Zeus-like, pyjama-clad might. The little snags as the folded sheets still cling to their home while you attempt to liberate them into a whole new world. Then: "Southern Electric. Please pay us £569.86. Thank-you." It was a good piece of communication, I'll give them that. It's exactly what a corporate message should be. Brief, to the point, and misleading.

I've been living in my current abode for a good few months. During this time, Southern Electric has amassed a solid, going for gold at London 2012, 100 per cent unsuccess rate. Every bill has been wildly inaccurate. They're so good at it that I have hallucinations of walking home one day and finding them repossessing the windows because I haven't drunk enough glasses of water. They've hooked me in with fear, and I'll never miss a payment.

So in my boring little existence, what do I next get faced with on the news? Some bloke from a Scottish bank is getting paid more than me. That's ok, because I work 40 hours a week, don't have much responsibility, and I'm not the public face of a global company going through one of the toughest periods in its history. Our pal Hester nearly got a bonus roughly the size of the paycheck paid out to the head of the BBC, which does bother me. The BBC guy actually does a good job of making sure the BBC doesn't spend more than it gets given, finding someone to go through the incredibly huge supply of budding and eager producers of amazing TV and choosing a few good ones to make some shows to fill the gaps between the news, re-runs, Blue Peter and dancing. Hester on the other hand, doesn't deserve the money he's getting. And he's a failure in that he's a multimillionaire and hasn't even hired a good publicist. Southern Electric could teach him a thing or too about keeping the masses happy.

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