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A conversation is recounted in the book # Shantaram  in which the character, Khaderbhai, says: “There is no such thing as believing in #G...

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Monday, 27 June 2016


So the #Leavers won their #Brexit vote and now seem to be a bit like a dog which has caught up with a car it was chasing, but doesn't quite know what to do with it. To the contrary, the tyres of the car are leaking, it's belching smoke, oozing oil and doesn't seem like quite the prize it was when it was travelling comfortably down the road.

From where I sit, which is far away in our own dysfunctional country, it seems to me that the Leavers got something they wished for and it doesn't taste quite so sweet as they had imagined. Almost all I have heard since the outcome of the Referendum has been shock and horror by those who voted to Remain and tales of buyer's (or is it seller's?) regret by ordinary voters who were arguably conned into voting to Leave. I haven't heard anything from the leaders of the Leave campaign other than retractions of promises. One would be forgiven for thinking that there would be whooping from the rooftops by the Leavers, or perhaps at least a leap and click of the heels or the odd fist pump and air punch. But nothing.

Perhaps I am reading all the wrong websites and am just not subscribed to the cool sites where all the Leavers post their cries of triumph, but then again, maybe not.

Maybe Boris Johnson thought this would be a great campaign to get him the PM's job. If that be so, it sounds as if he's welcome to it and it will be nothing short of a poisoned chalice. However, at this stage it seems as if no one really wants the job, but again I'm not privy to the inner circle so don't really know. All I know is that Boris has been pretty quiet in victory, but has made no friends of the younger voters of Britain.

All I do know is that all the public signs point to a disparate group of whingers wishing for something and then getting it by mistake, with all the huge consequences that will follow a formal Brexit, to say nothing of the consequences which have already played out. Despite no one having a plan on how to Brexit, the one group which has shown some determination to give effect to the Referendum has been the English footballers in EURO 2016.

The centuries of grandmothers' wisdom seems to have played out: Be careful of what you wish for: you might just get it.

Saturday, 25 June 2016


I want to share a story of #creativity, #courage, #inspiration, #motivation, #passion and #trust. I must immediately declare a parental interest, as my daughter Jeśka is one of the heroines of the story. But the tale is not so much about her as it is about what is possible when you simply say "Yes" to the way Life is. It is also the story of three young actors who formed a theatre company called Duckface, sourced a theatre, a script and put on a show from scratch in #London.

Earlier this year the three of them, Jeśka Pike, Nicholas Campbell and Emily Wyatt (Director), decided that they were over waiting for their "big break" and that it was time to take the acting bull by the horns. They formed their company, sourced a theatre and put out a call to playwright organisations for scripts. Of the 30-odd that they received, one was a brand new play by Donna Hoke, an award-winning New York playwright, who entrusted her new baby entitled "The Way it Is" to three actors whom she had neither met nor heard of. The Duckface trio unanimously agreed what a great piece of work it was, even though it had never before been stress-tested on the stage, and came to an agreement with Donna. Emily sourced some funding to help them hire a theatre, equip themselves, source their costumes and props, market the play and get the show on the road.

They recently completed a two week run in London, ending the run with full houses and massive acclaim from patrons, fellow actors and industry people. Remember, this was a brand new and completely unknown theatre company, playing a brand new and unknown piece. Some of the reviews on the TimeOut website included comments like: "An exceptional piece of theatre, brilliantly directed...a powerful, personal, provocative & profound play brewed-up by the talented Duckface actors group...Truly gripping play with a thought-provoking script. Wonderful performance by both actors - I couldn't take my eyes off the stage!...Daring, compelling...A chilling piece of theatre that'll have you on the edge of your seat! Beautifully played by two actors who expertly highlight some ugly truths of adult life" and so on.

Even the BBC weather presenter, Ben Rich, tweeted to his almost 3,000 followers: "A hugely intense hour of drama with 'The Way It Is'...@Nicki_Doug and @Jeskie_pie were just awesome. Catch it if you can."

On any basis the show was a huge success and I for one hope that it goes on to bigger theatres and greater acclaim. However, there is a bigger picture to the story. Save for a minuscule percentage of aspirant actors, Life has it that actors need to do their time, go to endless auditions and wait and hope that they will be picked for something and eventually get a decent break. That's The Way It Is: ask pretty much any actor who has made it and he or she will tell you about long hours as a waitron, running errands and doing menial work to pay the bills between acting jobs.

A couple of months ago Seth Godin blogged about picking oneself (as opposed to waiting for others to pick you). That's exactly what Duckface has done. Rather than hanging around and waiting for a break which might never come, they have backed themselves, taken a huge risk of unknown actors, putting on an untested play, in an unforgiving city and brutal industry and pulled it off. As a top London choreographer friend of ours wrote in an email to us and Jeśka after seeing the show: "She's got guts!" She would know what she's talking about.

One can't help feeling inspired and motivated by the self-faith and courageous spirit of the unknown actors of Duckface. My guess is they'll soon be known throughout their industry. Whatever happens, they know what they are capable of, and couldn't have known without trying it out. Yes, I'm a proud Dad, but I also feel inspired by the way these three actors have embraced Life as it is and lifted their own game to meet Life's game.

As for Donna Hoke, bless your heart for trusting the process and trusting Duckface with your creation. I don't think we've heard the end of it: in fact, I suspect this is only the beginning.

Saturday, 18 June 2016


If #time wasn’t an issue in our lives, we might:

·                     Stop stressing about deadlines
·                     Spend more of it with our children and other people who matter
·                     Take more holidays
·                     Stop rushing around
·                     Not make ourselves sick
·                     Start appreciating everything around us, rather than filtering out the trees, flowers and birds and whatever else we consider unnecessary
·                     Connect with others, including the man in the street
·                     Walk with our dogs
·                     Do more of the things we love
·                     Keep ourselves healthy
·                     Actually taste our food
·                     Meditate daily
·                     Think straight about the bigger picture
·                     Find proper meaning in our lives
·                     Eat at dining room tables rather than in front of the TV
·                     Complete all the unfinished business in our lives
·                     Clean out the garage
·                     Tick off our bucket lists
·                     Enjoy our leisure time rather than feel guilty about it
·                     Not struggle through old age
·                     Start living in the moment and not in the past or future

And it’s all possible, if that’s what we choose.

Just saying…

Wednesday, 8 June 2016


I was sitting on a bus in #Cumbria (#LakeDistrict) with my wife, Kazalette, recently when an unkempt and scruffy bloke sitting a couple of rows ahead of us (let's call him Onslow) suddenly turned around and engaged me in conversation. "Lovely day, isn't it?", which seemed like a reasonable opening line. I agreed that it was. "I've just come up by train and taxi - cost me 95 pounds, it did." Not necessarily information for which I was yearning. "Just had terrible health problems, I did. Heart and tingling fingers", said Onslow. Starting to be too much information. "And then I lost all my money - looking for a job now and hoping to get some more money." Hmmm...where's this going? And who comes looking for a job in the Lake District, anyway? "I bet you've got a good job, haven't you? What do you do?" With Kazalette frantically kicking at my shin, I finally had the presence of mind to declare that I was an author, rather than a lawyer and withdraw as best I could from further discourse with my new best friend, Onslow. And with that most of the conversation mercifully drew to a close.

On any basis, Onslow was an operator at work on tourists, what one of my late partners, Rob McGowan, might have called another hog at the trough. Rob, who was managing partner at an ex-firm of mine, had a strong philosophy that no associate should ever be admitted to the partnership if he or she was just going to be "another hog at the trough". Unless that associate was going to add genuine value to the partnership and make it greater than the sum of its parts, the path to partnership wasn't open because the associate would simply be feeding off the other partners' crops without adding anything more.

I've come across a lot of hogs feeding and watering themselves at other people's troughs in my time. Perhaps there's a need for them at some level: I can see that hogs present us all with the opportunity to get our backbones in place, take a stand for who we are and what we bring to the world, rather than just seeing ourselves as hog-feeders. Hogs, unless they are reciprocating with something, even if it's just bacon or some other contribution to the well-being of the farmer, should really be moved out of the pen as soon as possible.

It seems to me that Life has so much more to offer if you can be the one filling the trough, rather than simply feeding from it. When you're the trough-filler, you are required to draw on your resources and creativity, but isn't that what keeps you alive and looking at the big picture? The hogs eventually get slaughtered because they're not offering any of that sort of value. 

However, if you're going to be doing the trough-filling, you wouldn't want to be doing that all on your own. You would want some support and assistance. When hogs are at the trough the flow of energy, nourishment and value is in one direction only: towards the hogs. If we are going to feed hogs, we need to find a way of having them contribute so that they are earning their keep. If they aren't doing that, they'll eventually use up all of your resources.

So the take home here is to look around and see if their are any hogs feeding from your trough. If there are, what are you going to do to ensure some sort of reciprocal exchange of nourishment or value? If they have nothing to contribute, consider putting them out of the pen. Slaughter is always a possibility.

Which I am sure is the fate which awaits Onslow.