ISMISM; New concepts for the Nineties; No. 18: Sidism

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The Independent Online
Sidism n. A term from the 1980s that has undergone a complete reversal in meaning. Originally, it referred to the process of enfranchising the small man - the Thatcherite dream of a shareholding, home-owning democracy which would empower even the most worm-like of citizens.

In a series of highly successful privatisation initiatives, public services were sold off so cheaply that even ordinary people could make a quick buck by buying and then selling at the earliest opportunity. Sidism achieved its apotheosis during the advertising campaign for the sell-off of British Gas, in which Sid was the personification of the dopey Everyman. Even Sid, the inference was invited, could understand that he would profit from this one. Thus:

Tell Sid, voc, a reference to the legendary Spanish national hero Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar (1043-99), popularly known as El Cid. The original Cid, as portrayed by Charlton Heston, does battle with the forces of darkness in the shape of the marauding Moors. In the same tradition, El Sid led the crusade of modern individualism against the forces of corporate statist darkness.

Last week the massed forces of Siddery were unable to halt a move to increase vastly the pay of the British Gas boss, Cedric Brown, who had insidiously (qv) gained the support of fellow residivist Cedrics in the Institution of Faceless Institutional Investors. Hence: Sidism, n, the gaining of pleasure or sexual gratification from the infliction of pain and mental suffering on another person (see Marquis de Sid).

Last week also saw the start of the trial of the Maxwell brothers, who are accused of using money belonging to countless Sids for inappropriate purposes. And it saw one John Major, a former chief secretary to the Treasury, deal a further blow to Sids by blaming their "crazy" house- buying in the 1980s for the lack of present-day feelgood: for which see Sido-Majorism, a sexual practice in which one partner adopts a sidistic role and the other a majoristic one.

Sids have now realised how threadbare is the Sidism's Charter, which was supposed to protect them. A Sid who last week travelled by train from Penzance to Inverness arrived so late he was entitled to a rebate under the charter. But each of the new shadow privatised companies refused to take responsibility on the grounds that fault lay with someone else's rolling stock, signal or stretch of track (see: the wrong kind of privatisation).

Hence, Sidism, n 2: a gathering in which many Sids get together in a hall and berate a Cedric, but to no effect; 3: the realisation that the dream of the shareholding democracy was a sham. All too often followed by sidicide, in which the unhappy Sid does away with himself.