On a recent visit to the splendid ruins of Restormel Castle we learned that the 13th. century Earl of Cornwall had a personal team of hermits who, in return for scraps of food and some primitive accommodation, would pray for his continuing prosperity and the gift of eternal life. It would be fascinating to learn how the Earl measured the productivity of his hermits but should his fortunes decline, the hermits would be on hand to take the blame. There’s something darkly impressive about engaging the services of those whose lives are dedicated to abstinence, piety and penury to intercede with a higher power in the interests of wealth accumulation and the more I think about it, the more it feels like an idea whose time has come again. Surely Jeff Bezos’s gilded existence could only be enhanced by the addition of a handful of hermits on his payroll. It’s just a matter of convincing him that their modest running costs and exemption from the minimum wage would make a cost effective investment. His duty of care to the hermits could be discharged by a daily drone delivery of subsistence rations direct to their home pods. Devising performance metrics for the power of prayer should be a simple matter for the digital wizards at Mr. Bezos’s disposal. Those hermits whose performance is most convincing could be rewarded with ice-cold showers and a reduced food allowance to elevate their sense of self-denial - making them the only group of workers who can be incentivised by reductions in their pay and conditions. All that remains is to find an accountant to make a persuasive case for hermit expenses to be tax deductible.
There’s a clear gap in the market here for an online agency to recruit and supply hermits to high net worth individuals. For now we must recruit from the human population but before long advances in Artificial Intelligence should enable us to offer fully automated robotic hermits, leaving humans to do what they do best - delivering parcels and driving HGVs. Prospective hermits would require positive references from senior clergy and come fully vetted for unacceptable behaviours and socialist tendencies. Only those anchorites with the greatest experience in achieving the transfer of wealth from those who possess the least to those whose need is least, in a morally justifiable way will be offered for service. All world religions (except Brexit) can be catered for if spiritual needs should change. Fees will have to reflect the costs of all due diligence but once installed your hermit will be fully operational at minimal expense and you can look forward to a lifetime of conscience-free wealth accumulation. What follows is a draft business proposition aimed at Mr. Jacob Rees-Mogg, who would seem to be the ideal client.
As a senior Cabinet Minister and family man, you will be more than familiar with the issue of time-pressures. We are writing to offer our services to solve the competing demands of the spiritual and the material in your all too busy life. So often it is the spiritual side of our lives that is neglected in favour of our duties and responsibilities to our family and our employer. It may not have occurred to you that the perfect solution to this may be found in your own government’s policy of outsourcing and privatisation. Why not outsource your own spiritual responsibilities and engage the services of a hermit at virtually no cost to yourself? Those like yourself with the deepest spiritual commitment may find a hermit multi-pack even more advantageous. As well as praising God with impressive intensity and efficiency our fully trained hermits will pray for the success of your political ambitions and business interests. Their frugality can be offset against the environmental costs of your own lifestyle enabling you to become fully sustainable. Our hermit planning services can supply nutritional guidance and advise on minimal standards of hermit accommodation - we can even visit your property and indicate the best sites for the modern hermitage. Rest assured that our hermits have been comprehensively vetted for displeasing habits and offensive ideologies. Fees will have to reflect the costs of all due diligence but once installed your hermit will be fully operational at minimal expense and you can look forward to a lifetime of conscience-free wealth accumulation.