I HAVE seen red tape!
In a government office. And guess what – it’s real. It is red, and it is tape.
I thought it was just a name for the bungling ineptitude and nervous buck-passing that went on in the halls of power. But it isn’t a metaphor. It’s the genuine thing.
They lash it round important documents. To make them look… well, important, I suppose. It doesn’t do anything else, except identify the documents that are going to be held up by bungling ineptitude and nervous buck-passing.
Red tape is less efficient than a paper clip or a bulldog clip, a hole punch won’t work on it and the only thing in its favour is that it holds more than a folder – and believe me, the size of some government documents it needs to.
It might fall undone, of course, unless you tie a knot that only succumbs to a pair of scissors, and I’m sure there are rules about that.
But the most amazing thing about the bungling ineptitude and careful buck-passing that gave red tape its name is that no-one has thought of changing the colour.
Why hasn’t some bright and upwardly mobile career climber come up with the obvious answer – blue tape or white tape or green tape.
You could change it every month! Then the critics could only talk about “government tape”. It wouldn’t have half the punch of the red stuff.
Actually, the tape I saw was pink. I assumed that was because it had been round and round offices, up and down in lifts, left exposed to the sun on window sills or propping doors open for so long that it had faded to pink.
But no, even when they cut if off the roll (and it’s a really big roll) red tape is really pink tape. And they don’t seem to realise that pink tape is smarter. Softer, somehow; appealing to the feminine side.
You couldn’t stonewall a vital social initiative, or a medical breakthrough, behind pink tape. You wouldn’t be dominant and in control.
Red is the colour of intransigence and forbidding. Red is the warning colour, as in lights.
But it doesn’t have to be that way! We could have green tape for environmental issues, blue tape for the police, and tape with glitter in it for arts and education.
You’d throw newspaper reporting into disarray. How would it sound: Glittery tape holds up new school.
It might even help oil the wheels of government efficiency. I mean, red tape looks daunting. I reckon people who are supposed to untie it would be afraid to. How much easier would it be if it had a line of little dolphins embroidered on it?
Much easier, and of course, no less efficient and no more expensive. They must buy the stuff by the country mile so ordering it with patterns on would add negligible cost.
The trouble is they think no-one would take them seriously. Don’t they know that no-one takes them seriously anyway?
Until they see the red tape – and that’s like a red rag to a bull.