Thursday, 19 November 2009



When my son, George and I play Monopoly, there are a few extra rules we observe.

  • You are the enemy
  • We are the axis of evil and will use any means to bring you down
  • Whenever possible we will helpfully volunteer to be the banker
  • We will then filch between us as much money from the bank as we possibly can
  • In the early stages of the game we will steal property cards too.
  • Even though you think we are against each other we will gradually work you over towards our evil intent
  • If you are foolish enough to leave the room say to go to the loo it is fair game to steal your property
  • The number of moves made on the Board is exactly equal to advantage and has no relationship to the number of dots showing on a pair of dice
  • The wording of a Chance card is exactly what I just invented
  • Ditto Community Chest
  • Where you left your counter is where we just put it without you seeing
  • The rent due is what we say it is
  • I did just pass go and will collect £200.
  • Again.

You have been warned!

I add to this confession only one counter - that, as someone who likes to deal ethically and responsibly in my actual business life, this sort of behaviour is the perfect antidote.

Thursday, 12 November 2009


There are several recent homecomings which have grabbed my attention since my last posting (and thank you to keen readers who, through email, have been kickin' my ass).
One is the triumphant homecoming of David Haye, newly crowned WBA World Heavyweight champion of the World, having defeated Nikolay Valuev in Nuremburg.
A second is the sombre sight of the repatriation of six soldiers, killed in Helmand, their coffins saluted by the good people of Wootton Bassett, plus a few politicos trying to cash in.
And a third, the "unexpected" return of Simon Mann, a British mercenary, imprisoned in Equatorial Guinea for basically trying to steal that country and its rather extensive oil supplies.
What weave together these homecomings in my mind is an enquiry into the nature of heroism. It can be a difficult thing to unravel. So much of what we ascribe to it is societally conditioned.

Haye's struggle was inevitably labelled as David vs. Goliath, the rematch. Valuev was paraded as a freak in a freak show (especially by that most abject of freakmeisters, Don King), though in fact he showed himself to be more poised and thoughtful than many a boxer. The actual bout made for dull viewing, unless, like me, you have a taste for the tactical rather than the gladiatorial in matters pugilistic. Haye's tactic was correct. Hit and run. Don't get caught by that awfully weighty, long jab. Tire your man. Forget combinations unless you rock him and get a fleeting chance to work the inside. Hit once, and be gone. Take few shots but make each shot count. Use a deeply controlled violence. Heroism? Maybe.

The bodies of the soldiers returning from Afghanistan betray a losing game, the wrong end of a tactical game that any idiot can see is failing, and where we are the Goliath not the David. Moreover, can anyone distinctly define the mission? I think not, and this raises the question of for what these young men died. Heroism? Maybe.

And Simon Mann. I wonder if we will ever know the truth of his mission. Greed? Maybe. Deniable operations? Maybe. Sanctioned regime change of a tyrant? Maybe. Preferable oil trading interests? Maybe. Heroism? Maybe.