Footsie 100 is a game played between 30 men, 30 women and 40 people who like to be identified as neither male nor female. The collective of participants is known as ‘the footbath’ and this phrase can also refer to a venue holding a Footsie 100 event. The object of the game is to transmit foot movements around the footbath, using only bare feet, with eyes blindfolded. Everyone invents their own foot movement to start. In the first stage of the game, players transmit and receive movements in a two-way exchange. They move around the footbath to do this with one person after another. In the second stage, players are asked to memorise their favourite received movements and start to transmit these movements instead of their own. If a movement is mirrored in a single exchange, those two players are out. This process continues until the winner is revealed as the person with the least popular preferences.
-Actually, I made all that up. You probably realise this. What is true is that a few weeks back now, a quiet voice from nowhere spoke to me the word ‘FTSE / footsie’ (see the ‘Hearing Words #1’ post of November 21st 2017). I took this to mean a couple of things. Most importantly, that I should take a look at the FTSE 100 index (as an aspiring entrepreneur I suppose).
Reading from the list on Hargreaves and Lansdown of the richest one hundred companies trading on the London Stock Exchange (not that I yet understand how stock markets work) a handful caught my eye. Associated British Foods plc, AstraZeneca, a pharmaceutical company; British American Tobacco, Coca Cola, Intercontinental Hotels Group, Rio Tinto, Royal Dutch Shell, Severn Trent and Unilever. These are not collectively the richest in the 100, but they are some of the ones I’ve heard of, and to me demonstrate how far from a globally integrated and sustainable culture we truly are.
Reading back this list, Severn Trent PLC seems to be the most incongruous. How is it that a water provider and sewage treatment provider could be in the richest top one hundred companies on the London Stock Exchange? How is it that Liv Garfield, the CEO, earns almost £1.5 million a year? Should such profit be made from providing these most essential of human services? Or are the most essential of services the hardest to provide in modern society? I don’t know, but something doesn’t seem right. On their website, Severn Trent claim:
- Our bills for water and sewerage combined are the lowest on average in England and Wales
- We have one of the lowest average capita water consumption rates in the UK
If these claims are true, what does it say about how much we all pay for water services in general, across the UK? How can Severn Trent profits be so large, if prices are so low? Does the profit come through provision of their business services including ‘renewable’ energy?
Something isn’t right. What stories are we telling ourselves, as a culture, as a civilisation, that makes this okay?