You might as well give an elephant a chainsaw



One too-clever-by-half young lad was interviewing for a job, there was nothing he couldn’t do better than anybody else. So finally the interviewer, exasperated asked “Can you wheel smoke in a barrow?”

Quick as a flash the lad came back with “You load it, I’ll wheel it.”

One thing I’ve learned, no matter what you’re doing there’s always somebody out there reckons they know how to do it better. It doesn’t matter that they’ve never actually done the job; it’s just that they’ve got enough life experience to be able to tell them how wonderful they’d be if they had to do it.

Some professions suffer more from this than others. Teachers suffer badly; after all, we’ve all been to school, so we are all experts on schooling and how teaching should be done.

I’ve had it myself; I’ve been told how I should handle cattle by people whose whole experience of livestock handling was that they were allowed to fetch the class hamster home during the holidays. (It died twice and Mum had to go to the pet shop with the corpse in a carrier bag to make sure she brought one back the same colour so that nobody noticed.)

But there is another phenomenon. While everybody knows how to live everybody else’s life better than they do it themselves, the vast majority of us are happy enough to just comment and barrack from the sidelines. We don’t roll our sleeves up and organise the person’s life for them. There are exceptions and they’re people we’re all wary of, ‘pushy parents’ are one category of people it’s possible to be derogatory about without being politically incorrect.

But put people in power and it can go to their heads. In fact it can go to their heads if they merely aspire to gain power or in the case of John McTernan if they merely advise people who aspire to gain power.

As John McTernan said, “You can’t trust people to spend their own money sensibly.”


Let people decide what to do with their own money! You might as well give an elephant a chainsaw.

All I can say is that if these people don’t trust us to spend our own money; I’m surprised they trust us to choose the right party to vote for.


What do I know, you might as well ask the dog.

As a reviewer commented, “This is a selection of anecdotes about life as a farmer in Cumbria. The writer grew up on his farm, and generations of his family before him farmed the land. You develop a real feeling for the land you are hefted to and this comes across in these stories. We hear of the cattle, the sheep, his succession of working dogs, the weather and the neighbours, in an amusing and chatty style as the snippets of Jim Webster’s countryman’s wisdom fall gently. I love this collection.”



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13 thoughts on “You might as well give an elephant a chainsaw

  1. The Story Reading Ape March 21, 2014 at 12:01 pm Reply

    A great final point Jim 😀

    • jwebster2 March 21, 2014 at 12:03 pm Reply

      If you slip the knife in, it’s always wise to twist it 😉

      • The Story Reading Ape March 21, 2014 at 12:05 pm

        Finishes things off nicely 😀

      • jwebster2 March 21, 2014 at 12:11 pm

        Rumour has it that a well placed knife thrust often does 🙂

  2. Kay Kauffman March 21, 2014 at 1:11 pm Reply

    From what I’ve heard, they don’t. Not in South Carolina, anyway, where they passed a law requiring the state to fund the primaries. But they only funded the primaries for the Democrats and Republicans – when the Libertarians filed their paperwork, it was rejected due to lack of available funds. Apparently the Republican governor was worried he’d lose if the Libertarians got a candidate on the ballot.

    • jwebster2 March 21, 2014 at 3:52 pm Reply

      Whilst not a lawyer I would have thought that the available funds should be divided between the available candidates

      • Kay Kauffman March 21, 2014 at 4:13 pm

        You’re right, they should have. Apparently they disagreed. I guess the law was enacted to prevent people from “buying” campaigns, but it wasn’t properly funded or something. So, in theory, it’s not a bad practice, but the reality hasn’t lived up to the theory.

        A bit like communism…

      • jwebster2 March 21, 2014 at 4:31 pm

        Not just communism, it was GK Chesterton who said “The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried” 🙂

  3. M T McGuire March 22, 2014 at 10:22 pm Reply

    Love it but the best bit is the G K Chesterton quote in the comments.



    • jwebster2 March 22, 2014 at 10:43 pm Reply

      I can probably keep up an appearance of wisdom with the help of google and some half remembered quotations. But yes, his comment is one that has stuck with me for a long time

      • M T McGuire March 22, 2014 at 11:01 pm

        One I must remember, too.

  4. keirarts March 24, 2014 at 5:23 pm Reply

    I don’t think anybody spends their money wisely, I know I don’t but that’s my mistake to make.

    I think the big question is what to do with the people who spend it all then come complaining. The jobs market is so rotten at the minute.

    • jwebster2 March 24, 2014 at 5:28 pm Reply

      I think we’ve got to treat people as adults. If they had it and blew it, then that was a decision on their part and we’ve got to honour their decision.

      If they’re someone who has never had it because of a rotten job market, but has always kept trying to make a living and support themselves, then fair enough, the State Pension should be good enough to support them.

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