The Sycophant


This next piece is dedicated to every sycophant I’ve had the misfortune to meet. If by chance you are one of those and are reading this, I make no apology. You are what you are…

The sycophant is an all too common creature which thrives in many different environments. It can, in some cases, be very cunning and this coupled with its Chameleon like ability to blend in can make it hard to recognise. The sycophant has no boundaries when it comes to race, religion or gender and it can be said with confidence wherever the human race has been on this beautiful planet, a Sycophant will have been there too.

            Given mankind has managed to take its first tentative steps in to space I think there is a fair chance a Sycophant or two has made it into the final frontier as well. I’m sure if asked (and suitably plied with drink) both astronauts and cosmonauts would have a few suggestions. Obviously, the type of Sycophant who gets to go in to space is a rare sub breed and not one encountered on a daily basis. For us earthbound mere mortals it’s a case of dealing with the more common Brown-Nosed Sycophant.

            The Brown-Nosed Sycophant can be found in all walks of life, on both a professional and social basis. It fledges at an early age and can be quite often seen developing its future life skills in school. For the Sycophant the school yard can be a double-edged sword and whilst it will learn many valuable lessons in this environment, it will also learn some harsh ones too.

            Probably the harshest lesson it will learn is the lesson of concealment. In later life the Sycophant will seamlessly ingratiate itself amongst its work colleagues. It will be everybody’s friend and not one of them will be aware of its back stabbing shenanigans until too late. Unfortunately, in its fledgling years the Sycophant is neither as subtle or cunning and many suffer a swift smack in the mouth as a result of their tale telling actions.

            It’s usually during these formative years at school when the Sycophant comes to an ethereal understanding as to where it stands in the grand scheme of things. This is when it realises it’s never going to be one of the cool kids it so desperately wants to be. The sad fact is when it comes to natural charm and charisma the Brown-Nosed Sycophant doesn’t have any. Sure, it tries to be funny and ingratiate itself with the in crowd, but it quickly realises it’s never going to do it on personality alone.

            This is where the Sycophants keen nose starts to come into its own as it sniffs out which arse has the most potential benefits if licked and stroked to its owner’s satisfaction. In these intermediate years the Sycophant is still learning, but it learns fast and soon realises there is a “type” who crave its attention. In many ways this is parodied in nature with the Remora fish which coexists with its host, (usually a shark or whale) to which it attaches itself by way of a sucker on top of its head. Strangely enough the Sycophant is not above attaching itself to its host by means of sucking…

            It is when it goes in to the work place the Sycophant is at its most dangerous and those hard lessons learnt at college and school are put to good use. The first thing a Sycophant does is sniff out the seat of power. Once again putting its brown nose to good use. As soon as it has ascertained where this lay it will bring it’s long and equally brown tongue into play and vigorously lick the arse of the current incumbent.

            Unfortunately for the Sycophant not all bosses are self-centered egotistical twats and this unsolicited attention may not be well received.. There are some very genuine people out there and these are the Sycophants worst enemy. The Sycophant knows if it’s left to fend for itself on talent and charisma alone it’s never going to progress. When faced with such a situation the Sycophant will smile, retract its tongue and take a step back. It doesn’t disappear though as if nothing else it’s a persistent beast. Instead it will look around at those sitting next to the seat of power and assess which amongst them is the likeliest to succeed in a power struggle

            This isn’t always a quick process and could involve weeks if not months of dancing around on the periphery of the prospective hosts inner circle. During this time the Sycophant can seem quite personable as it probes away with subtle questions regarding the riders and runners on the top corridor. Once it has gathered enough facts on which to make an informed decision the tongue will come out again and the sycophant will make its move.

            This is not fraught with danger as often the prospective host will already have a Sycophant in tow who won’t want another one on the scene. This can lead to some brutal infighting as Sycophant pits itself against Sycophant. The bloodletting can know no bounds as they vie for attention and repeatedly stab one another in the back. It can be both horrific and compelling to watch, especially when a hitherto unknown Sycophant slips in to the fray and takes out its rivals by means of the age-old tactic of divide and conquer.

            Over the years I’ve seen some masters at work. The funny thing is every one of them ended up falling by the wayside. The simple reason being they all back stabbed and licked arse until each and every one of them was out of his depth. One of the most satisfying things I ever saw was the look of dread on one such sycophants face when I held out my hand and said goodbye.

            “What do you mean?” he asked as his face bounced off the floor.

            “I’m finished, put my notice in and I’m off to pastures new.”

            The realisation on his face he was now going to have to put his money where his mouth was, so to speak, was priceless. We both knew he couldn’t do it and sure enough he only lasted 18 months before he left. Needless to say, it was everybody else’s fault…

            I can’t help thinking the brown-nosed Sycophant has had a hand in some of the more dubious historical decisions the world has seen. Both Hitler and Napoleon can’t have undertaken their ill-fated Russian campaigns without some serious arse lickers endorsing their decisions for instance. I suppose you could go back to King Canute trying to command the waves to stop. Surely somebody must have tried to tell him? Or was it a case of he too had surrounded himself with Sycophants who told him only what he wanted to hear.

            One things for sure, the Sycophant is here to stay and you can guarantee there will be one somewhere near you…