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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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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.

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