Perhaps Times Never Change

From Samuel Pepys’ Diary 6 June 1663

“By and by comes Sir John Hebden, the Russia Resident, to me, and he and I in his coach to White Hall, to Secretary Morrice’s, to see the orders about the Russia hemp that is to be fetched from Archangel for our King, and that being done, to coach again, and he brought me into the City and so I home…………………..Hebden, to-day in the coach, did tell me how he is vexed to see things at Court ordered as they are by nobody that attends to business, but every man himself or his pleasures.”

Sir John Hebden was my 8th Gt Grandfather and it is slightly chilling to read his view of the way the country was being governed then. Sounds mighty familiar.


What makes a great Networking Group?

After over 20 years of networking in many formats, both formal and informal, I think it comes down to this.  We prefer to do business with people that we know like and trust and so the role of any networking group is to facilitate the building of those relationships.  To do this there must be chat time, there must be the opportunity for members old and new to introduce themselves to the group and there should be time set aside for proper 1 to 1 meetings so that people can really get to know each other.

Networking is about business but it is also about sharing information and giving support so there should be a mechanism (e.g. a website) whereby members can easily stay in touch between physical meetings.  Of course it is good to know lots of people but I am not sure that large groups are the answer.  I prefer to be a part of a number of smaller groups with a geographical spread where I can really get to know people and have a choice of people to whom I can refer business.

 Above all there should be the minimum of formality but a genuine pleasure in being together and in seeking opportunities for each other. That’s it.

Confucius He say….

Confucius say,

“If you are in a book store and cannot find

the book for which you search, you are obviously in the…..


A Simple Way to Clean Silver

I recently came across this simple way to clean silver cutlery.  I have tried it out and it really does work.  You will need:

A Non-metallic Bowl – plastic washing up bowl, or a flat ceramic dish

Aluminium Foil

Bicarbonate of Soda

Boiling Water

Simply line the bottom of the bowl with the foil, shiny side down.  Now sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda into the bowl and place the silver to be cleaned on the foil.  Pour over the boiling water and watch the discolouration leave the silver as if by magic.  Once it is clean, fish it out with a pair of tongs, give a good wash in soapy water and the job is done.  If you have a lot to do and the process slows down, try replacing the foil.


Is this the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything?

Imagine if you will a blackboard, lying flat on the floor, one metre square. Now, imagine taking a teacup of rice and holding it one metre above the very centre of the board and then slowly pouring the rice out of the cup. Now draw a diagonal line across the board and mark off in 1 centimetre lengths. Next count how many grains of rice there are in each centimetre and plot on a graph. OK, you don’t actually have to do that but I am sure you would expect that there would be few grains near the edge, building up to lots of grains in the middle and then thinning out again as you approach the other edge. In other words a graph that looks like this:

Now, instead of rice on the board, let’s think about trees in a forest and their height ranging from the smallest to the tallest. There will be one tree in that forest that is the shortest and one tree that is the tallest and the rest will fall into a pattern much like the picture. It has to be that way because that is way that things are. What about temperatures? In any one year there will be the coldest day and the hottest day with the others falling in between like the graph. Let’s take people; somewhere in the world there is the tallest person and somewhere the shortest person, the oldest person and the youngest person, the cleverest person and the dumbest person, the fastest runner and the slowest runner. The most evil, the least evil.

It seems to me that we live in a Universe that simply follows the rules of the Bell Curve and that means that there must, must always be extremes that are both positive and negative. You cannot have the kindest person in the world without there also being the most unkind person, the most generous without there being the least generous. The most heterosexual man to most homosexual man. It just has to be that way.

So what? Well just suppose that we decide that the tress which are taller than the average are a bad thing. Does the fault lie with the trees? I don’t think so, that is just the way that they are. If we then cut down the tallest all that happens is that scale moves and another tree will find itself the tallest. Let’s take good people and evil people. We decide that people who are more evil than the average are a bad thing. Does the fault lie with them? Perhaps not then, perhaps that is just the way that they are.

The point is that you cannot have the best without there also being the worst; that is just the way the Universe works.

Suppose it wasn’t that way. Let’s change the rules. All trees are the same height; all winds blow equally strongly; all people of the same age are exactly the same height, with the same colour eyes and the same shape nose and can run at the same speed. All grass is the same length; all roses the same shade of red etc.etc. Doesn’t work does it? There is no oldest person in the world because everyone dies at exactly the same age. No, it just doesn’t work.

My conclusion? Well, if it is physically impossible for us all to be the same then we must rejoice in all being different and different in every possible way. Since I have to be different, don’t ask me to look like you, to be like you, to think like you, to believe the same things that you believe because I just can’t do it. The Universe will not let me.

Great Roast Potatoes

How to create great roast potatoes:

Oven to 190c

Recommend Maris Pipers

Peel, cut to size (about the size of half an apple)

Par boil for 15 mins, drain, and shake to fluff up.

Into a baking dish with either olive oil, goose fat or butter. All great.

Into oven for 30 mins.

In a dish tear up some herbs (Rosemary or thyme or basil), throw in some garlic bulbs, sprinkle with olive oil and a little white vinegar and mix up.

Now the magic bit! Remove potatoes from the oven and, with a potato masher, gently press to just flatten them a little.

Spread the herb mixture over them.

Back in the oven for 25 mins.

Hope they work for you!

A word of Christmas warning!!

In early December 2006, Ken Norman, my co-director, decided it was time to start gathering together his Christmas decorations and, like so many people, he stores them in the attic of his home. To facilitate their retrieval, his step ladder was located, carefully erected and up he clambered. Just as he approached the top step, the ladder decided that then was as good a time as any to collapse and so it did. As Ken started his abrupt and totally unexpected downward journey, he instinctively grabbed the edge of his loft hatch. Big mistake. Instead of arresting his descent, he was slowed briefly whilst his shoulder dislocated and then he carried on down until he hit the floor, now in some considerable additional discomfort. The story of his shoulder’s relocation is grim. In fact, let’s not even think about it. The point is that when the ambulance arrived to take him to hospital, the crew congratulated him on being the first Christmas Decoration Injury of the Year. Apparently from 1 December onwards we fall out of lofts like lemmings over cliffs. Be warned!!