Saturday, 7 November 2015


And then?

We dream of the freedoms wealth will give us.

Wandering is free. Hills are free. Byways are free.

We chain ourselves to dreams which, if only we unlocked ourselves from the dreaming, are there for the taking.

Friday, 6 November 2015


People talk a lot of guff about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurialism.

An institutionalised version of this guff, are the various agencies, set up to, supposedly, help entrepreneurs.

An example is a nationwide competition to find the best entrepreneurs, then flood them with help from leading academics and speakers from all sorts of fields of government.

My view? This is likely to promote failure.

The true entrepreneur is a strange animal, not given to seeking or receiving help readily. Almost addicted, in fact, to doing things his or her way. Whose very drive for self determination will propel them to success, and away from the "help" offered by people who, in all probability, have never really done it for themselves.

An HR supremo in a big Company talked some more guff to me the other day about encouraging entrepreneurialism amongst his employees. I listened politely, biting my tongue. Not saying - they're employees for a reason. Not saying - finish all their contracts as employees and see who emerges as entrepreneurs. Not saying - give them a share in the outcomes of their ideas, then you'll see who is an entrepreneur. Not saying - this University course you are about to give them on entrepreneurialism - don't bother.

After all, what do I know?

There are professors of entrepreneurship. There are people with degrees in the subject. There are people with Masters and Doctorates in it.

And I have none of these qualifications.

Thursday, 5 November 2015


I saw a thing where a very well known author went into a school and gave the kids a talk. Some kid asked “what advice would you give kids who want to be authors?”

The advice was “read as much as you can”.

It didn’t chime with me. Surely the advice should be “write as much as you can”.





Health and Efficiency magazines were an important part of my upbringing. The magazines were wholesome organs of the naturist tendency. But to mucky minded boys in 1970’s Britain, they were the nearest obtainable thing to hard core porn.

Of course, no reputable newsagent would sell them to 11 year olds, and so they had to be stolen. The way of doing this was to find the Beezer comic, which was notable as the only broadsheet comic available at the time. Then, by hook or by crook, you got yourself up to the top shelf and filched down an H&E. You put it inside the Beezer, paid for the comic, and left. It is surprising that you ever got away with it. The deep crimson blushes must surely have been what any poker player would recognise as a “tell”, but somehow amongst my circle there was always an availability of Health and Efficiencies for private enjoyment.

The pages contained black and white and sometimes even colour pictures of naked people enjoying volleyball, and on swings. The swings pictures were especially valued, as sometimes, with complex origami, the pages could be reformed, so that the naked man and the naked woman swung together, then away from each other. You could speed up this movement into a blur of swings and buttocks.

This is what is known as education. Without Health and Efficiency, God only knows what might have become of me.

I have fathered three children. It’s all down to health and efficiency.


Age tenderises meat.

Monday, 2 November 2015


At an airport I watch fathers and sons, queueing, as they go on their holidays.

The fathers say stop that. Think about your behaviour. I’ve told you not to do this. Stop it now. I have told you about this before. This is your last warning. Listen to me. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Stop doing this. Stop doing that. If you carry on like this. Stop this silliness. Grow up.

And these big men tower over these little boys. And the little boys cower, or glower. And the men frown and growl. And sometimes they grip the little boys. And sometimes they even – just a little – shake the little boys. This is to make them see sense. And sometimes the little boys cry. And more than once the men say, man up. And I guess that means grow up. Become a man. Become a big man. Be like me. A man. A big man. Like me.

Sunday, 1 November 2015


At first choir practice was sixpence. But in 1971, when money went decimal, it went up to 10p. Cash in hand. Not bad. It was enough to buy yourself something at the shop. There was a MACE shop which smelt of a mixture of washing powder and ham, which is what it sold. But you could get crisps there too. You could try a new flavour each week. Pickled Onion, savoury onion, cheese and onion. There was a lot of onion.

But if you wanted sweets you went to the sweetshop. It was a purist sweetshop, and it only sold sweets. Crisps or drinks? Go to the MACE.

The sweetshop was run by a cripple. One of his legs was a lot shorter than the other. He could get around, bent at an odd angle, but he had to wear a built up surgical boot. He limped dreadfully.

When we went to the sweetshop, we would crowd in. Someone would ask for one of the more exotic types of sweets, sold in jars, one on the top shelf. Then the crippled sweetshop man had to get his step ladder to get at them, and contort his broken body to reach up and bring down the jar. It took him ages. During this time you could steal quite large amounts of the more expensive chocolate bars, which were displayed at a convenient height for children to reach.