Just rediscovered a parable I wrote in response to previous local building issues. With the new would be developers courting our affections now, I thought I’d give it an airing.
Parables for the Lemon Grower.
There once lived a landlord. This landlord had many properties and used a company of managers to help run his properties to give the best and most effective results for his money.One particular property he owned had a huge old conservatory attached to the front of the hotel. Now, in this hotel there lived a lot of people, including the landlord, Mr. Lemon. Mr. Lemon had noticed that the conservatory was beginning to look shabby and in need of repair so asked his managers to bring in a team to either repair or replace the old eyesore. The fact that the glasshouse was at the front of the building meant that people saw it before they reached the main rooms and therefore it was vital that it was a spectacular and popular design, run to the best practice and , importantly , would enable Mr. Lemon to charge high prices and make some healthy profits.The first team the managers brought in decided they could change the set up inside the building but keep the original façade and the character of the conservatory. The residents liked that idea but , although the changes brought lots of guests, the arrangement didn’t make enough money and the team decided to leave and hand the job back to the managers. Mr. Lemon wasn’t happy and told the managers to get to work quickly and start to make some changes because he was losing money and fewer people were booking into his hotel.It took the managers a long time but eventually, after some false starts, they found a team who thought they could make a huge amount of profit for Mr. Lemon. This team was lead by a man called Henry, who had made many great and wonderful things for other people.The managers looked at the proposals and thought, looked again, thought some more and decided to send the plans to Mr Lemon for approval.Mr Lemon and a few other residents liked the plan, some hated it and a few more weren’t bothered as they only slept at the hotel and always ate out , never really using the facilities anyway.Mr Lemon suggested changing a couple of things to please some of the residents and then trying again. The plans stated that the desired planting beds that were the basis for the original conservatory would be expensive to run and heat but adding some other things, such as a t.v. , some games machines and some vending machines selling items to use in the hotel itself. Mr. Lemon was concerned. He thought the conservatory was better just filled with lovely flowers and fruit trees. The managers explained that the costs of heating the conservatory for just a few plants be prohibitive and the sales outlets were a necessary evil. They argued and compromised and decided a small number of vending machines would draw money from the people who didn’t like plants but would come to see the big multi screen or play the games. Mr. Lemon was pleased that there was a dining table so guests could eat and enjoy the view.The managers went back to the team and told them of the changes they needed to make and the team went away and came back, much later , with new adapted plans.The managers were ready to press ahead with the new plans and just showed the landlord the new ideas. The landlord ,Mr. Lemon , was a bit perturbed by some of the changes. There were more vending machines for one thing, selling toiletries and refreshments, all things that were also available in the Hotel. Selling them in the conservatory would mean fewer sales in the hotel shop. The managers pressed on.Some of the residents were asking awkward questions about the plants, would they be safe with all the machines and things?The managers pointed out that, with the costs of heating and the maintenance, the plants were never going to be economically viable on their own. They muttered under their breaths that if the plants failed to attract enough people, they could be removed and replaced by more vending machines or another smaller dining table. The team were soon ready to start work on the new conservatory. Mr. Lemon asked for one final compromise, some of the plants should be fruit trees.The team conceded and planted some nice citrus trees, ones that would remind them of the people who allowed them to build their money spinning enterprise which was nothing like the original request, had no flowers and drew few of the residents in but attracted a lot of noisy unruly day visitors who stayed away from the other parts of the hotel and left late at night disturbing the neighbours and leaving lots of rubbish on the driveway.Years later, penniless and destitute, friendless and tired , Mr. Lemon realized that he had been a fool, he had lived up to his name. He was, in all senses of the word, a real lemon.So, when you want someone to fix your shabby showpiece building, do you let the managers bring in the money grabbers, do you wait forever for a better offer or do you kick out the managers entirely and bring in some who might be more reliable?
Are you a lemon too?