The Bismarck was the most powerful battleship in the world.
First time out, she utterly destroyed the pride of The Royal Navy, The Hood.
1,500 men died instantly.
Only 3 survived.
The best ship we had, gone in a second.
The Germans knew we had nothing to stop The Bismarck.
Until she was attacked by old Swordfish torpedo planes.
Ancient, rickety biplanes, so fragile they were nicknamed ‘String-bags’.
They didn’t even have a cockpit, the crew of three sat out in the open.
They flew at 90 mph, so slowly that the Bismarck’s guns couldn’t hit them.
The Bismarck had radar-controlled anti-aircraft guns, designed to shoot down modern planes, attacking at 250 mph.
Not bumbling old wood and fabric antiques.
One Swordfish launched its torpedo with the torpedo-aimer hanging upside down outside the fuselage while the gunner held his legs.
The torpedo hit and crippled the Bismarck’s rudder.
Which allowed the entire Royal Navy task force to catch up and sink her.
The most modern ship in the world brought down by something that belonged in a museum,
Cockup over conspiracy.
During the same period of the war, Churchill tried everything he could to get America to supply Britain with arms.
He would meet with Roosevelt again and again.
And every time Roosevelt would agree.
But every time the weapons never came.
The pattern was always the same.
Churchill would state his request.
Roosevelt would nod enthusiastically and say “Yes, yes.”
Then later, the request would be denied.
Churchill couldn’t work out what Roosevelt’s game was.
Why was he misleading him, manipulating him, using him?
His deviousness, his cunning, constantly confused Churchill.
Recently, I saw an interview with Roosevelt’s secretary.
He said, “What Churchill never understood was that, when Roosevelt nodded his head and said “Yes, yes”, he wasn’t necessarily agreeing. He was just indicating that he’d heard and understood what Churchill had said.”
Cockup over conspiracy.
I think we’re all guilty of that.
We spend all our time interpreting the world, instead of just listening.
I’m as guilty of that as anyone.
I failed at everything at school, so I grew up knowing I wasn’t very smart.
Finally, at art school, I discovered advertising.
I knew it must be easy because I was good at it, and I was thick.
If I could do it, everybody must be able to.
So when I became a creative director, I developed a short fuse with people who wouldn’t do what I wanted.
Knowing there was only one reason they wouldn’t do it.
They must be lazy.
And there was no excuse for laziness.
Then one day Paul Bainsfair said to me, “Dave. Have you ever thought, maybe it isn’t that people don’t want to do what you want.
Maybe it’s that they can’t do what you want?”
I’d never thought of that.
Gradually a new thought dawned on me.
What if I wasn’t thick?
In which case, maybe advertising wasn’t as easy as I thought.
Maybe some people just couldn’t do it.
Maybe they weren’t being lazy after all.
And gradually it changed my view of the world.
Maybe the world isn’t all conspiracy.
Maybe the world is just cockup.