Wednesday, 30 November 2011


I just recalled that the other day I walked past Unite's offices in Euston Road, London.

In their entrance way was a solitary white plimsoll.


The public sector strikes have been branded a day of action. But more correctly isn't it a day of inaction?

Perhaps my pursed lip response to these events has had its due reward from inanimate things, in solidarity with the strikers. The wastewater pump in the kitchen has gone on strike.

I tell myself that these things happen only when the Missus is away. That way I can obliquely blame her absence for them. It makes me feel no better.

I would be a terrible solo anything. Truthfully, almost any calamity, minor or major is better experienced with a friend. And the only really memorable pleasures are those shared.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011


You can't speak to me tomorrow. I'm on strike. My pension is fucked, same as anyone else's. Not that I've got one, mind you. And I'm not happy.
So I'm withdrawing my labour.
And I hope it hits my capitalist pig of an employer right where it hurts. In the goolies.
Then I think I'll feel a lot better.
I'm sure I will.
And certainly I shall have helped the matter.


"Are you coming in for a coffee?"

"I don't drink coffee."

"Good. Because I haven't got any."

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


I am not good with criticism. Overbearing, demanding and disciplinary parents took their toll on my psyche. More than once in my life I've been accused of being arrogant. The detractors had a point.
Yesterday I asked for some advice on a business venture from two people I very greatly respect. They gave it a mauling. Within that, there was a good deal of sound advice. It was hard for me to hear. I had to calm my childhood - formed sensitivities coming out of the meeting.
A calming routine of mine is to go all beatific. It works very well I've found at railway stations and shopping malls. The aim of the game is to bless all passers by. It only has one rule. No exceptions. It changes my energy greatly, and I often wonder if those who are unwittingly receiving blessings actually feel it, as the sense I get is that the blessing game is very reciprocal and that people who essentially have nothing to do with you are responding to you in a very different way. A fallacy? Perhaps.
But yesterday there was another piece of evidence that beatific energy bounces back towards you. For no good reason the American man singled me out for his enquiry. He was clearly extremely frazzled, panicking that he was about to miss the Eurostar.
"I - I - I've only got a few minutes" he said, "I haven't got a ticket. Help!"
He looked about him like a startled animal.
He had picked the right person. My beatific energy must have communicated itself in the calm reassurance I was able to offer him.
"Don't worry my friend. Go down there, past that shop" I indicated with my arm, "and you'll be OK I'm sure."
I watched him scurry off, luggage in disarray.
A deep calm descended on me. More good done. Another momentary saving of souls.
I turned away to continue my own journey, walked a few steps and saw in front of me the ticket office.
Oh yes.
The selfless act does you good.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


I have been the organiser of mass resignations on two occasions.

The first, acting as "Dream Bishops" (with regalia) to a team of HR people, I and my associates persuaded the entire HR department to resign. In fact, they wrote their resignation letters there and then. There was only one abstention. It was quite a large department. The HR Director had no idea what was happening. In fact he was away on holiday and returned to a pile of resignation letters on his desk. The deal was this. The HR Director and his senior team had concocted a vision for the department that its role was to make the business come ALIVE. As part of this work we had given each of the directors an ALIVEOMETER, made from sculpted and welded steel. In events with the HR team we allowed its members to explore what their role could be in "aliving" the business. At the end of the event we offered them all the opportunity to resign from their jobs and adopt new titles as the wizard of X, the Aliver of Y and so on. They all took the opportunity.

The second was less orchestrated, but perhaps more heartfelt. I was asked to lead a team event for a marketing team. In the preparatory work for this event, what became clear was that the morale of the team was at an all time low. There was a single reason. Though the Marketing Director, who was the immediate boss of the team, was well liked and respected, the Group Director, to whom he reported was all over the team with what can only be described as abusive behaviour. I made a recommendation that the real answer to this team's issues was in working with the Group Director. His ego, however, prevented this. Perhaps predictable. The Marketing Director asked me to help him, by creating an environment where the team could take, as he put it "an emotional and motivational shower". The Group Director was not physically present for the event, though his malign presence filtered into every discussion. Lets call him Dylan. It was Dylan this, Dylan that, Dylan the other. Realising that the team could not move on without really expressing its feelings, I adopted the empty chair approach, except I filled the chair by playing the part of Dylan. I remember I had a big sign saying DYLAN in front of me and I invited team members to approach me and say what they felt they really wanted to say.
They didn't need the sign. For the next - I'm guessing - hour or so, they each approached me with a level of hatred and anger which I would have thought impossible in a normal workplace.
"How dare you pick your feet in front of me."
"How dare you make rules for us, criticise us for breaking them but flagrantly break them yourself"
"How dare you shout and swear at me."
"You treat me with utter disrespect, you sad little fuck."
"You are a total fuckwit. I wish you were dead."

Within three months the entire team, including the Marketing Director, had resigned. The Company ignored this, and backed the golden boy - their Group Director. He went on no doubt to abuse another team.
Did I feel I had done a good job?
I've sometimes wondered. Complacency in my job is inappropriate.

Monday, 14 November 2011


OK I'm joining the WI.

But there is a great, unexpected pleasure in making new things.

Today it's yogurt.

I would never have even thought about making it myself but it is incredibly easy, and again one finds an excitement and pleasure in the construction of something new and magical.

Simmer milk. Let it cool till tepid. Add a bit of live yogurt (4 / 5 spoonfuls per litre). Leave on kitchen worktop overnight. It'll then be yogurt. Stick in the fridge and use across a week. When you want more yogurt, use your own yogurt and add to milk in the same way. Completely self sustaining system. Marvellous.

With nuts and honey, an absolute organic treat.

Sunday, 13 November 2011


If you come to Berry Towers you are unlikely to get served a curry. I don't know why. It doesn't somehow seem hospitable enough. But today, the Missus was in a curry sort of a mood, and we had friends coming for lunch who are well known curryholics. So I turned my mind to matters spicy.
I've never made Bombay potatoes before. I think I've probably never even eaten them. But I had a hunch that proper roasties Bombay stylee could prove a winner. I was right. I feel unreasonably chuffed with myself for the result. Here's how.
Take King Eds. Peel em. Par boil. Drain off water. Shake em in the pan, adding a spoon or two of flour and seasoning.
Put oil in a roasting pan. More than you think is decent. Heat it up for three or four minutes. Then add two or three spoonfuls of curry paste, mixing this into the oil. I used Patak's Tikka. Take the drained spuds. Turn each individually in the oil / curry mixture. Chop two onions roughly and chuck em in. Roast for about forty minutes. About five or six minutes from the end, chop coriander and mint and toss this across the top.
Serve with yoghurt. And a cold Becks.
Listen to mmmmms, oooohs and aaahs.
Encourage naughty scraping of the pan's delicious burned on crunchy / spicy bits.