Three green parrots

My first day in LA – I stepped out the door in blazing sunshine, and a green parrot flew over me.  I did a doubletake, was this just the blurred vision of jet lag meeting David Hockneyesque harsh stark sun?  No, I heard its distinctive chatter and then saw two dog-walkers equally transfixed.  Then two other parrots swooped down to join the first parrot, exposed against the cloudless blue sky on a telephone wire.  The three of us humans were all amazed and pleased by the start of our day, and for me the start of the first day of my trip here.

A good omen.

I confess, none of these pictures are from this visit.  Without wheels on this trip, I’m not going to be able to make it to my favourite seaside places this time.  But they capture for me the most positive aspects of Los Angeles.  Here are my jet-lagged ramblings.

This was home a long time ago. Now it is a place on the other side of the world I have to visit from time to time, and every time it feels stranger.  Skyscrapers with small bits of manicured and manufactured green are about as natural as it gets in the city itself.  Sometimes I go for a little refuge to sit in the cemetery where my mother’s ashes were scattered; it rests between massive skyscrapers and near a car park, it’s also where famous people like Marilyn Monroe are commemorated with wall plaques.  My mother rests in esteemed company, not that she was ever a MM fan.

But this trip feels different.  

Going ‘home’ means for me a quite limited regime.  I walk to the public library which connects me with the world and which is adjacent to the yoga studio where I have the pleasure of working with Jasmine Lieb, one of my favourite teachers whose sympathetic rigour and intensity is unparalleled. It’s a shame I’m nearly always jet-lagged when I work with her since it means I’m in some sort of limbo state unable to appreciate fully what she has to offer.  It engraves itself on me at some deep level, the level of impressions, dreams and memories.

From there I go to Whole Foods Market for their amazing salads or a great vegetarian restaurant like Real Food Daily.  It’s mad to travel halfway across the world for the food, but sometimes that’s what these trips feel like.  There is nowhere in Britain (that I know) that has such amazing vegetarian food.  Basic needs become everything on these trips.

The plane was half-empty on the flight here, a luxurious and strange experience .It brought home to me the impact of the recession and I whiled away as much time as possible on the flight reading just about every newspaper that exists, all full of confusing reports of the supposed, possible recovery.  Surrounded by accents in unfamiliar tongues – Greek certainly one of them – I drifted in and out of a half-conscious state riding the waves of the rhythmic sounds, and trying to ride those sound waves on the intermittently very rough journey we experienced that made me feel, all over again, I never want to do this trip again.

‘Do you have to go?’ a friend asked me when I was explaining to her what it is like.  That question shocked me, though I’ve been asked it before.  Yes, I feel I do.  There is some sort of duty engrained deep in my being I feel it would be a transgression of who I am to override it. Do I enjoy it?  I’m always sure I don’t in advance, that I feel disconnected from my self while here. I feel a sense of dread leading up to the trip, and recovery is full of relief and also exhaustion.  Yet I also sometimes experience once I’m here, a sense of huge relief – and also escape!  Escape from the cold of Britain, not just climactic, economic, but also how the people are.

From the moment I arrived – after I was submitted to an excruciatingly bureaucratic Customs search (because I had too little luggage!) – when I met my father’s Phillipino carer at the airport, I was struck by the liveliness and energy of Americans all over again.  It takes a year in Britain to make me appreciate this huge cultural difference.  When we went to a delicatessen in the evening and all the serving staff (American, Scottish, Australian, Asian and Mexican) joined in genuinely friendly banter with us, other customers and each other (at one stage bringing my father a birthday cake for Grandma – his birthday is tomorrow) – I felt a corresponding energy rise despite the fact I’d been up by then for more than 24 hours.  On one level it seemed like a caricature of American life and could have been a scene from a movie – in the same way that the film I’d seen on the plane caricatured Britain with its coverage of the Henley Regatta.  But I’m happy with the caricature, it meets my needs.

On the flight out I watched Social Network about the creation of Facebook.  I have so taken against Facebook without having any real data, I wanted to know more.  It was fascinatingly horrible.  I have no idea how accurate the characterisation was, I assume the story was factually correct, but what interested me was that my gut feeling about the facile type of connection Facebook provides was so confirmed through the film, and it also seemed quite a misogynistic foundation –  basically undergraduate superficial connections, largely built around sex, parties and drink.  And the apparent betrayals, dishonesty and deceit in the business dealings provided a shifty foundation for any kind of genuine communication vehicle.  How can such a corrupt medium support a good message?  (I know I’m being unreasonably harsh but bear with me!) I read a survey about the use of Facebook recently courtesy of Michael Langlois’ newsletter, and I was interested in his comment that connection is not the same thing as emotional engagement.  For me that says it all, and I now feel comfortably confirmed in my intuitive response to the medium which encourages a kind of abbreviated staccato communication that’s all about soundbites and not at all about enquiry, thinking, dialogue or understanding.  Maybe this is the other side of the American character, the one I spend much of my life running away from.

I was also prompted by one of the characters in the film who is a real charmer, to think how I am currently being drawn in by (male) charmers in the world of work and activity.  Even when I know they are perhaps not motivated by a fully conscious agenda they are nevertheless still some form of ‘conman’ – still I let myself get energised and drawn in.  I have had two work disappointments recently built on these insubstantial foundations.  And all along I could see it coming, and yet was still saddened when it did.  It’s like I want to believe I’m wrong but I know I’m not.  My vision is as clear as when seeing those three parrots.  I need to learn to trust it more.

And then I’m also noticing a trend with women in the current workplace, where I’m observing the survivors are shrill, forceful, full of bravado (are these the human parrots?) – one of you described one of them to me like someone who could have rounded people up for concentration camps.  And the casualties who are losing their jobs (women I like) have vision, idealism, hope but lack that hard edge.

(I base these comments on extremely small samples of two each, so am prepared to have my theories shot down.  Jet lag is a carte blanche for stream-of-consciousness thinking!)

What does that say – a world full of conmen and macho women, with discarded ‘weak’ females littering the curbs?

Well, as I venture back out into the harsh light but lovely warmth of the California sun I will look out for these characters and ponder more.

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90 Responses to Three green parrots

  1. souldipper says:

    I watched Social Network and was intrigued how such a huge service began with such a small puff of ingenuity. And so adeptly ravaged by a conman!

    Face Book can be all those things you mentioned – it’s there if I want to bother reading it. However, it has given me back a family connection that I cherish. I have watched grand nieces go through courtships, marriages and birthings – shared in photos and family comments. I watch the great grand nieces grow into gorgeous young people. I watch my family age, go through medical routines, go on trips and act dumb at home. I would have none of that without this platform.

    I’m in my mid 60s – most of my friends pooh-pooh the connection with all sorts of privacy concerns. Balderdash. We have the ability to control the privacy levels in various ways – it just takes some dedication to learn about them and see how we do have control.

    International travel has become a daunting exercise for me. I went to South Africa two years ago and it was a 45 hour trip to get there. I jumped on the Safari jeep the minute I arrived (no exaggeration) and I never did catch my breath. Everything was packed into a grand 5 star event, but my body, mind and soul was forever ‘marathoning’ the Olympic style itinerary.

    So, bless you for your devotion to a dear ol’ grandad. You must have made his year.

    • Hi
      Thanks for this interesting comment. I have lost my response once so far due to my inadequate grasp of wifi. Just to say I know my views of Facebook are irrational and of course it does all the good things you describe, if you want it to. I think my main issue is that the style of communication it seems to encourage, based on a very limited view, is really superficial – just a kind of brief comment or banter. I have no real problem with this, but it does seem to me that people are more keen to pitch up for this kind of dialogue rather than something more meaningful. Am I wrong? Happy to stand corrected!

      Your trip to South Africa sounds fascinating. I share your views of international travel, and I mainly only do it now when I have to – though I must say a bit of temperate sun at the moment does me no end of good!

      I won’t tell my father you referred to him as Grandad…he’s having enough trouble coming to terms with his 89th!

  2. Dody says:

    Wow! You are here, but SO FAR AWAY. I wish we could say, “let’s meet!” Unfortunately, it would cost me at least $2000 to get there, probably. I have not been to California since I was fifteen, even then (1973) it was an expensive trip.

    “I feel a sense of dread leading up to the trip, and recovery is full of relief and also exhaustion. Yet I also sometimes experience once I’m here, a sense of huge relief – and also escape! ”

    I relate so completely to this statement. It seems, every trip I take, while I am filled with anticipation, I am also filled with dread. I worry about the unknown, the drastic possibilities. In my head, I play out all the disasters that could occur. I hate to leave my cozy nest. Yet, when I get there, I am so thrilled I didn’t act on my hermit like tendencies.

    LA has always seemed over the top to me, a mid-western girl living in the mid-south. Plenty of people would feel out of place there. You may have a greater sense of affinity for that edgy city, coming from it as you do. I know it would leave me slightly addled.

    I was interested to read your FB comments. I have wondered about you and FB and I was right! I knew, somehow, just from our bloggy correspondence, that you were bothered by FB and all it represents. Maybe, you sense that I am someone who embraces FB and let me share with you why:

    The all encompassing reason IS CONNECTION. I am in touch with people who had previously been lost to me. For instance, there is a ‘group’ of people from my childhood town, the one I lived in longest as a child (my dad was transferred a lot) anyway, I love being in contact with these folks. And it is nice group. We share pictures and comment and have fun times going down memory lane “Do you remember where the such and such store was?” It is amazing how many places, things I have forgotten. All of these memories are restored to me. It is truly incredible and so much fun.

    Likewise, staying in touch with my family: immediate, secondary, far flung. I can’t say enough for how wonderful this is. For instance, I am friends with my 1st cousin’s son in a way I would never have been previously. He lives in Seattle and I rarely see him, but we are good FB buddies, writing messages, exchanging thoughts and I know him like I never would have.

    But, all of that aside, the primary reason is a deeply heartfelt one. I have a deaf sister. Communicating with her has always been a huge issue. She has always felt ‘left out’ of normal avenues of corresponding. Really, all that was open to us was letter writing (which we kind of did, but life got in the way) or calling on the phone using an intermediary, so our calls were always constrained. But Facebook has opened our world. She is as ‘in the loop’ as any of her hearing relatives. She participates in the banter on the walls of all of her friends and relatives, with NO limitations. It is like a miracle and I thank Mark Zuckerberg every day for giving us this instant, fun way to speak to each other EVERY DAY! I have a lifetime of “hearing” guilt associated with this sister and FB gives me a small reprieve from the load this has always been. For the first time, she feels like “one of the gang.”

    I get all the privacy issues, but, like anything, if you read the fine print, carefully follow the directions, you can block out most of the world. And, unlike some, I do not have thousands of friends. But, I make no excuses for the fact that I love, use and enjoy Facebook.

    Gosh, I hope you have a great time on your trip. I know we will meet when I finally make my trip to England – I think I would rather see you in that setting!

    All the best – Dody

  3. Hi Dody,
    great to hear from you, it’s been awhile and I’m hoping you’re well. I am sitting here in Starbuck’s enjoying the Wifi and the SPACE (similar places in the UK are usually really busy with shared tables etc and a feeling that lingering is not ok), I could get used to this! 70 degrees outside already and it’s only 9.30am.
    Your comment is really interesting and like you not being surprised about me and FB, I’m not surprised you’re actively using it – but hearing about your deaf sister and how it has brought her a new way of engaging and connecting is really moving, and I wouldn’t have thought of FB offering that kind of opportunity if you hadn’t shared that, so thanks so much. I will re-evaluate all my views. I am curious – have you seen the film and what did you think of it, and do you know more about the background? It really put me off.
    So you were in LA in 73 – we could have met then! I don’t have a sense of affinity for LA but it is familiar territory and in some ways I love being here (briefly). It has helped a lot since I discovered the amazing countryside near it – ranches with wonderful views, wildflowers and great walks above the sea; and also yoga which I never practised when I was here.
    I agree that meeting in England would be better for us both and I am already looking forward to your visit.
    I also really identified with your comments on mine about dreading journeys in advance and then feeling pleased about overcoming hermit tendencies once having arrived. I particularly feel this about transatlantic journeys, which for me are confused with issues to do with ‘coming home’. I also do wonder if it’s something to do with aging because I don’t think I used to feel this way at all when young.
    Sorry for jumping around in this comment on yours, I am finding it hard to control the notebook cursor!
    Do stay in touch,
    Karin

    • Chris says:

      This blog is starting to tie back to the previous one – at least in respect of leaving home. For me the dread aspect of the journey out switches immediately upon arrival to concerns about the journey home. Which is partly why I’m such a homebird I suppose.

      • Yes, Chris, I can identify well with that switch. For me there is usually an interim period of release from either anxiety, staying in the moment with neither concern pending. But all too soon that feeling of expectation and concern starts to press in. I am getting better at suspending those feelings though, which is interesting to observe. Homebird, hmm? If so, then methinks a parrot!

  4. Chris says:

    I see – a brightly coloured squawker liable to bite if provoked and feather-pluck if unhappy????

    • Karin says:

      Ah, this is getting a little technical for me – but yes, I guess so, especially when certain members of the Parish Council may be involved! I am sure parrots also have some more endearing habits and characteristics?

      • Chris says:

        They also, in my house at least, make us laugh. They have the knack of repeating what they’ve overheard at totally appropriate moments. I was once told that the balance between me making a success of a job that the previous incumbent had failed miserably in was that I was naturally funny and made people laugh. Not sure I wanted that on my CV. But yes – I can see that good and bad I definitely have parrot characteristics.

  5. Wendy says:

    This is my first visit to your blog Karin and I love your writing style. A natural story teller with a bit of humour and a snippet of cynicism – an enjoyable read.
    I could definitely read the jet lag between the lines.
    I totally understand what you are saying regards facebook and in many ways I agree with you. The stocatto type ‘conversation’ does leave a lot to be desired, but it is more of a ‘on the hop’ kind of ‘rushed’ affair isn’t it. A sad but true reflection of society as a whole these days.
    And then we have the ‘conmen’ and ‘macho ladies’. I’m so glad you qualified your points by letting us know this was just a very small section of your world, because life would sure be sad if we were expecting to meet those people in everyone we met.
    Life is choices all the way – I love that I get to pick and choose who I hang with, which means I can choose not to befriend the conmen and macho ladies of this world and I can choose to not engage in disconnected, unengaging, random ramblings of facebook.
    Now, the parrots – what a splendid sight they must have been so early in the morning. I’m trying to imagine it as my only experience of LA is the airport (and that was only once) and coming from a lovely, little place like NZ, I found it incredibly intimidating and unfriendly.
    I have enjoyed reading your item and also the comments that followed. Thank you for inviting me to view Karin.
    You may like to take a look at mine also. My writing is a totally different style but there you go – we are all unique and special. http://www.freedomkiwis.org/blog

    • Karin says:

      Hi Wendy, it’s great to see you here and thanks for your comment. You’ve made a lot of interesting points (I’m still jet-lagged, so continue to read between the lines…)
      Regarding FB, I was talking to a friend about it last night (she was in NY, I was in LA then, I’m not anymore!). She made the point that when we were in high school we spent hours on the phone, and that while some of us probably had what we considered to be deep and meaningful conversations, many others probably had far more superficial exchanges. Any social media tool such as FB offers the opportunities for either and more, it all depends on the users. I also read an interesting article on the potential of the internet by Adam Gopnik in ‘The New Yorker’ when I was hanging around in LAX last night waiting for my flight, and he made the point that people see the potential of the internet either as ‘Never Better’ (things/communication has never been better all due to the internet ), ‘Better Never’ (it would have been better had we never discovered it), or ‘Always Was’ (whatever is the newest ‘thing’, eg television in its time, is cursed for its distracting effect on society, its superficiality or whatever). It’s interesting to think about which group you’re in – I’m definitely not a ‘Better Never’, I’ve got a lot of ‘Always Was’ in me, and there’s a good dose of ‘Never Better’ as I’ve found the internet has given me some stimulating people to have exchanges with – such as you right now. As with anything, it all depend on how you use it, power rests with the person. Enough on that.
      Thanks for commenting on conmen and macho ladies, where no one else has ventured yet. You make the same point – we have choice about who we engage with. But it can be interesting when we detect patterns, such as I seem to be taken in by conmen when I should know better, or I keep encountering macho women on my path. I think there’s lots to learn by exploring these patterns.
      LA is intimidating and unfriendly, but it has lots to offer in its own inimitable way. Far better than what the airport suggests.
      As you know, I’ve had a quick look at your blog and will be back when I’m less befuddled. Do come back here too.
      All the best
      Karin

      • Chris says:

        This is a continuation of the conversation I was having with Karin just above Wendy’s comments but the blog has denied me a link to reply up there. Is this some kind of techological curb on the length of exchanges – or, perish the thought, on their quality?

        I just wanted to say that I found Karin’s last comment encouraging and that it makes me optimistic for the future.

      • Karin says:

        Yes, it is a technological curb as you put it – nothing to do with quality. But compared to Facebook, WordPress rules and constraints are child’s play!

  6. Madhu Sameer says:

    Hi Karen,

    Wonderful blog, gives me much to agree with, and disagree with 🙂

    ET go home. I think it isn’t just US and LA, I could have written exactly the same about my visits home. It isn’t just the place that does this to us, in my opinion, its the meaning that the place holds for us. We see it differently than it really is. Transference 🙂

    Facebook. Ah I have a vastly different experience. I guess it is just a media, and one can use it for different purposes. It has the power to bring tears of gratitude to my eyes over and over again. I connected with tons of elementary school mates, middle school friends, high school friends, college friends, neighbors from all over the world – people I never thought I would see again, people I had already mourned and struggled to let go of, extended family that I only see once every few years but long to be able to see, talk to and touch. Younger generation – an army of neices and nephews – that I never had time to mix with and did not really know, and who did not know me except as a “that aunt!” . I also made new friends who were introduced by old friends and have now become best friends. I feel like a new person in the last 4 mos, as far as my support and security levels are concerned. I have no visit planned yet, but already have a long list of places to visit on my next trip, and dinners, lunches and parties planned whenever my next trip is, to wherever it is. I can get stuff accomplished in India, Australia, Dubai. I can ask questions – however weird – and they get answered immediately. I can wake up at any time of day and night and find a shoulder to lean on. I have been motivated to write Urdu poetry – something I haven’t touched for over 30 years since I moved away – under the watchful eye of a dozen or more established and published poets. Listen to music that I had forgotten. I am mentored in business. I am supported, loved, cherished and made to feel precious. A feeling I hadn’t had since I left my home 30 years ago. It honestly makes me cry with emotional overwhelm and gratefulness as I realized how hungry I had been for love and support of those I love and those who love me but had separated for stupid economic reasons. Of course I have a iron clad firewell, only people I personally know are allowed. Or those who are highly recommended by those I trust.

    So it is just a media. We make it fit into our personalities. No heartbreaks for me. Only love, and security. An arranged marriage mindset doesn’t look for romantic love on the web ! Perhaps you must try it for yourself and experience facebook. It becomes what you want it to become. For me it is pure bliss, esp in times like these that I have and am experiencing…
    M.

    • Karin says:

      Hello Madhu,
      I completely agree that it is the ‘going home’ mindset that provokes a lot of this. However, going home to LOS ANGELES has some particular twists associated with it.
      When you write about Facebook, I feel how much it has affected you positively – and others have written compellingly here about their own gains from it. It is wonderful that you have rediscovered connections and are gaining so much support from it. It feels to me like it is designed for people who are in some sense part of, or in some cases wanting to be part of, large extended groups – whether family or other.

      I am not really a group person though I love being in groups and seeing what happens! I am hovering on the brink of FB, and just crossed over. But my experience so far is frustrating and bizarre. Following the earlier comments on my post and some other considerations, I decided to sign up. What has happened since is I’ve spent hours searching for help to a bug that affects my page (and not just me – many other users). It is very boring so I won’t go into it here, but it means I now have an invisible virtual identity where I want to be seen – which is raising a whole host of other questions/experiences for me about social media, connections and the internet. So perhaps FB is just not for me – I have no problem with this.

      Good to see you here again and take care,
      Karin

  7. Madhu Sameer says:

    Oh the parrots. They are symbols of surveillance. You were indeed secretly observing a whole lot of stuff, and I believe they just manifested that internal desire of yours, externally.

    • Karin says:

      ‘Surveillance’ – the word scared me and made me shudder at first….but the interpretation really works well in terms of observation and maybe ‘taking the helicopter view’. And on reflection, the word is probably a good one. Thank you.

  8. Chris says:

    Those patterns begin to worry me. I have a number of women friends who seem regularly to fall under the spell of conmen. Am I in fact part of a pattern – the sort of woman who has friends who get conned?

    I’ve some experience of the cult of the macho woman in business although maybe I’m harking back too far. It seemed to me when I worked (in a very male dominated world that I left some 14 years ago) that the general view was that girly women and macho women prospered at the expense of solid professional women who just got on with the job. But that actually the ones who could accept that men were men and who could work with that without trying to change it, and who did the job well with good humour and a degree of tolerance, were quietly appreciated. I have a nasty feeling that as we moved forward into the more ‘tick the box’ style of judging and managing all that went out of the window. Karin will have a much more recent opinion due to her current ‘surveillance’ opportunities. Has it changed, Karin? Or am I looking backwards through rose-tinted spectacles?

    • Karin says:

      Interesting questions, Chris – do you think you are part of such a pattern? And do your other female friends get knowingly conned? For me, that’s the interesting part of the phenomenon which I have to say is intermittent and infrequent.
      As for the other question, I think I see less of the macho women and girly women thriving over others on balance, but one example springs to mind who does a bit of both, and that seems to be a highly successful mix! I am also aware I spend much of my time in very different organisational environments than those where you and I did. And I think the current climate is encouraging more of the macho behaviours in both men and women which is a very worrying trend. I am not sure where it is coming from – it all seems so very chaotic, it is as if good practice, consideration and helpful discipline are all falling by the wayside. I hope I am wrong.

      • Chris says:

        I long ago formed the opinion that it’s all down to sexual attraction. Those of my friends who seem to succumb to conmen are doing what has happened since we came out of caves or maybe before that – letting their feelings about a particular man cloud their rational judgement of his proposition. They mostly seem to go for a different kind of man from the sort that attracts me so maybe that’s why I can see what’s coming more easily than they can.

        Working as I did in a man’s world I always felt that a woman had an untold advantage provided she could do the job to a high standard and exercised good judgement. If you played your cards right you could achieve equality when it suited but could also play on man’s natural kindliness and politeness to women when that suited as well. I can still remember a (laughing) complaint from a guy at the Stock Exchange who said that he always ended up losing out to me because I knew what I was talking about, I represented one of the largest member firms and he aways felt he had to open the door for me and let me speak first. I dread to think how successful I might have been had I been blessed with girly attributes as well!

        And re your final comments, I very much fear that you are right.

  9. Karin says:

    Chris,
    I think it’s a mix of things of which sexual attraction is one. It could also be escapism, or delight in a prospect or…

    On point two, I think social mores have changed/are changing/are always changing. Those gender-related behaviours are far less visible, and there is clearly a generational element/dimension to it all. I think this is true in both private and public sector. However, I suspect there are still some professional arenas where what you describe continues to be true. One comes to mind.

    • Chris says:

      I’m feeling like a work-place dinosaur. Is the change all one-way – women becoming more macho in organisations so that they are more like pseudo-men and the chaps are more at ease in dealing with them? If so that sounds like a backward step.

      • Karin says:

        No, I don’t think it is change all one-way. I think the acceptability and demonstrable relevance of ’emotional intelligence’ in ‘getting results’ (for those who need external validation), has meant that men have become more aware of and able to access these qualities and dimensions, and permission has been given by society generally and by themselves to do so. This has a sometimes subtle but definite effect on their behaviours.
        When I think about this topic, I find it hard to dissociate age from gender influences and effects. When I was a young woman working in often very male environments, I observed that male-female interactions were very different than they seem to me now. One factor must be age, and the age-power relationships that exist – I say that in the most neutral sense. So now working with men of the same age as myself or younger (as well as sometimes older – but less often!), there is a very different dynamic. That, coupled with the growing respect for emotional intelligence, creates very different interactions. It feels more equal to me. This is a personal observation because I have so many examples drawn from my own experience as well as observed and described experience of others – so I find it very hard to generalise or be conclusive.

  10. Pugwash small piece says:

    I am of course at an advantage Karin knowing the people of whom you speak.

    I am responding because you kindly wrote and asked me to.

    My own view is that managers’ actions ought to be gender neutral and judged as they exist, as actions. The people to whom you refer are in Human Resources (a rather pompous description) and in the public sector. In my experience a pretty deadly combination of uncaring , inhuman , soulless destroyers of potentially good organisations.

    There is no predicament so bad that an HR professional cannot make it worse. I remember one very senior one coming to me one day and saying

    ”x, who works for you, has been off sick for a year now so we must dismiss her” .

    So I said

    ”why ? She is not getting any money now. She costs nothing and by keeping her employed I know we give her some hope- fire her and she will have none”.

    (This employee had cancer and I expected her to die.)

    ”Michael, that’s not the point, we cannot have the staff lists cluttered with those not attending work”.

    (At this point you could hear the shunting sounds of the cattle trucks in the marshalling yards).

    The lady making this point- for it was one of the caring sex -that wished to do this bad thing- was very senior and meant what she said.

    So I explained .

    ”Listen very carefully. My employee – for whom I have responsibilities as her manager-has a contract. In that contract she has life cover. But the cover is only effective if she is employed- and you know this- so you are proposing to sack someone with advanced cancer who is costing you nothing just to tidy up some records and thus remove her life cover at the very time she is definitely going to die” .

    ”Oh yes ” replied the concentration camp guard tapping her riding crop on her shiny boots.

    The correct thing to do would have been to humbly agree. But then I don’t do correct politically or otherwise. The employee died and the insurance paid up.

  11. Karin says:

    Hello Michael,
    thanks for this. I had another strand of the debate in mind, but your comment is welcome. I recognise all too well the behaviours you describe, and I remember this appalling story. Unfortunately I’ve heard more recent versions of that story too. So it goes on….
    Just for clarity, you know only one of the people of whom I speak. And there are many people I know and work with in HR who I like and respect. Sadly, there are people in (m)any functions, in the private and public sectors, who can exhibit these values, attitudes and behaviours. But thankfully, there are many others who do not.
    Your stories always make me think.

    • Chris says:

      It’s a smallness of mind and spirit and vision isn’t it? Like bad drivers who only see their own car and their own journey needs and cannot see themselves as a unit in a far wider traffic situation. Thank heavens for managers who look at the entirety of things.

  12. Pugwash small piece says:

    As for Facebook. I think it is dangerous.

    It lures people into lightweight communication and creates a myth of engagement that is unreal.

    Also people do make errors and become publicly vulnerable to bad folk. Its chummy personalisation is a trap . It is a computer system to make money. It has no higher moral purpose.

    I would always advise anyone using facebook to be very very careful.

    • Karin says:

      So, if you are aware of all those hazards (and possibly more), what makes it dangerous? Going in with your eyes open and all that…..like any tool or medium, doesn’t it depend on how you use it and what your motives are?

      • Captain Birdseye says:

        May be but I think it a snare and delusion. Millions of folk like moles peering at screens silently tapping a keyboard as a substitute for real human interaction ?

        While all the while the vaguely unhinged (or worse) swim round and round waiting for someone vulnerable to reveal too much….

        It’s not for me- perhaps I am a feeble paraniod ?

      • Karin says:

        Feeble, never! Paranoid, perhaps………………….
        I have some not insignificant sympathy with your views however. Perhaps I am one too!

  13. Pugwash small piece says:

    ”What does that say – a world full of conmen and macho women, with discarded ‘weak’ females littering the curbs?”

    I don’t see weak females. I see vulnerable less senior people who are in economically weak negotiating positions being ill treated by harridans enjoying their brief moment of power.

    Beware the soft man in touch with his feminine side. For he will always betray for his own advancement or advantage. A soft man is more dangerous that a hard girl in flat shoes and tweeds. This is not a gender issue it’s a behavioural characteristic.

    Beware the ambitious- for they have no moral compass. And never trust anyone who had to apply for their job. They have betrayed their weakness by the ambition of the application.

    So to find someone who you can trust they need to be hard- straight dealing- clearsighted- and be in their job because they were asked to do it. That is a minimum set of tests- beyond that brains help too but they are less important than being moral.

    These essential tests disqualify rather a lot of people- but that doesn’t make them untrue.

  14. Karin says:

    Is harridan gender-neutral?
    A man in touch with his feminine side is not ‘soft’. You misunderstand.
    Ah, ambition – here we go again. Ambition for what cause? – that is the question. Perhaps we need to distinguish between ambition and drive.
    I must disagree with your blanket statement about never trusting anyone who applies for their job, particularly in current times. On behalf of friends and colleagues who are being required to (re)apply for their own jobs, as you point out, they are in hierarchically and sometimes economically weaker positions – this is not a trust issue, nor is it to do with ambition. It is just the way things are.
    Trust – a topic that will be covered in my next blog post plus one. You are ahead of the game.

  15. Chris says:

    I’d pick up on the comment about people applying for their jobs, too. Unless you class being offered a job as a result of a selection process as being invited. Otherwise invitation smacks of getting in because of who you know as well as because of what you can do. And refreshing of organisations by people arriving from other jobs with different experiences will fall away.

    If you really mean applying (never having held the post) in answer to an advertisement for instance, that’s got to happen or the whole infrastructure of getting good people into the right jobs would collapse.

    If you mean re-applying for your own job most people, I would guess, would be insulted/annoyed by it but probably do it. Changing jobs, unless it is your choice, triggers a whole set of practical/family issues.

  16. Karin says:

    I find ‘ambition’ is a degraded word in the UK. If you’re on the interview panel you’re looking for people with ambition – but not too much of it. Having ambition can raise the spectre of not being controllable. And when I ask groups/individuals, are you ambitious? it’s interesting because many private sector people are comfortable saying yes, whereas few public sector people are. It feels like having ambition is a guilty secret.

    In my view there is nothing wrong with ambition – what is key is the underlying motivation. If the ambition is totally about Self in isolation, out of a context or sense of community/shared purpose, then ambition can be misplaced, misguided, dangerous, even an illness. But without ambition, nothing would happen! So people need to have the ambition to, for example, apply for jobs or go to the gym or whatever…. But always, the question for me is, what is their underlying motivation? What informs their action?

    I agree that people getting jobs without applying has the feel of ‘boys’ club’ (whether it’s men or women). On the other hand, some organisations have got themselves hamstrung by equal application processes, and not allowing themselves to make pragmatic, informed decisions to be able to offer a job to someone who is already in situ and who is ideal for the post. ‘Fair’ application systems applied rigidly can lead to insane outcomes!

    Re-applying for jobs is a painful imposed process that will be more prevalent in times to come especially in the public sector. It is never fair – you are known by your organisation, for better or worse, and this will be reflected in the outcome, whatever people say about the process. If you don’t apply, you can find yourself without a job; or you can give a message of not having ambition. You always have a choice, but in that moment, it can feel like a very limited, or self-limiting, choice.

  17. Captain Birdseye says:

    Reapplying for your own position is a peculiar form of mental torture to apply to anyone. Clearly applying in those circumstances is a defensive move not one of ambition. In my own view anyone who puts staff under that sort of pressure is completely unsuitable to be a leader of people. It is a weak thing to do.You do not need to torture someone first to fire them for not being up to it. Why degrade their self confidence first ? For what ? merely so some HR person tapping their ridng crop on their shiny boots can claim to have organisationally clean hands ? The HR person who devised this torture of fellow humans should be the first out of the door.

    It is also quite wrong to immediately leap to ideas of nepotism. There is no nepotism in a headhunter putting you forward to a new organisation, and there is no nepotism in that organisation , having hired you for a while, choosing to offer you a more senior position.

    As Karin well knows even public sector bodies sometimes do this , legitimately.

    I didn’t (and wouldn’t have) applied for my last two directorships in my short sojourn in the public sector , nor did I apply for the two CEOships I held in the private sector (In fact I positively refused the second when it was offered but was dragooned as a result of a partnership election- I still think I wasn’t very good at it). So to say such a model cannot work is not right.

    I have also applied for jobs of a lesser seniority than the one I held- and very difficult it is to get folk to take such applications seriously. They think you are barking -but it is hugely more fun to function comfortably inside your level of ability – you do a much better job and sleep nights.

    But it doesn’t fit the normal model. But then neither does Buddhism and that has much to recommend it too.

    • Karin says:

      I have no difficulty with choices that don’t fit the normal model. However, it always pains me when good people (often better than their seniors) opt for the sleep-at-night choice – I’m glad for them (regarding sleep) but frustrated that the organisation doesn’t benefit from their quality at a more senior level. My own issue I realise.

      I agree with much of what you say though I would say it differently. And I wish you didn’t have it in so ferociously for HR people. There are some good ones out there!

    • Stephen says:

      There is a very fine line between nepotism/favouritism and people to applying for senior positions. Headhunters work in a nether world where they do not rely on written references but take word of mouth assessments as their measuring tool. Its the old boys network dressed up in “professionalism”.
      Much of this is driven by employment laws implemented for very good reasons but then interpreted in isolation by people who have very little creativity and are “just following orders”. From my experience of both applying for my own job and asking others to apply for their own in most cases the outcome is almost certainly predetermined in which case why not tell people that either they’re going to continue in their jobs because they are suitable or tell them they are fired?

      • Captain Birdseye says:

        The answer to your question as to the reason why the perfectly sensible approach you propose isn’t taken, is that HR invariably advises the organisation that by going through this painful costly time wasting dishonest process the organisation can do what it always intended to do, while reducing the risk of being criticised or having claims made on it.

        Further evidence of their moral turpitude.

  18. Captain Birdseye says:

    Reflecting further

    So much of what is done is held out to be in the name of ”fairness” when in fact it’s about protecting large organisations against complaints by individuals.

    Pilate would have recocognised it.

    Like political correctness is the new fascism. ”Think like us or you will never advance”.

    And the innocent fall for it.

    • Chris says:

      Wow! Some good pondering going on here. I (sorry Karin!) rarely have a good word to say for professional HR people. The best ones I ever met were in a Stock Exchange jobbing partnership many years ago where HR was staffed by people who had never quite made it in the mainstream activities of the business but were known to be sound and sensible people who understood the values of the organisation. But that was a very long time ago. I think Michael would have approved of many of the individually tailored decisons they made.

    • Karin says:

      Regarding ‘think like us or you will never advance’, a related point is that it is increasingly inappropriate/impossible to disagree with the latest organisational story/myth of a rosy future. So it has always been but my sense is that in current times it is even more the case.

      Someone I work with who reads this blog but hasn’t yet commented (and doesn’t work in HR!) told me about a book called Smile or die: how positive thinking fooled America and the world. If you are one of those who doesn’t smile in your organisation, you run the risk of being labelled an outlier and being treated as an outcast. For example, the word of the day is ‘transformation’ when the unpalatable reality is budget cuts.
      It is not so much that the innocent fall for it (though this is true for some); it is that people play it safe for all sorts of complex reasons, which could go way back into their pasts and have little to do with the current context. This point, which I already knew, was brought home to me again today.

  19. Captain Birdseye says:

    Certainly I know that whenever my my American offices reported things were going well . (”Gangbusters” usually) I would assume their business was about to go under and jump on a plane and go and find out the truth.

    ”Mission accomplished”.

  20. Captain Birdseye says:

    There is a pervading in myth in modern white collar middle class mortgaged property owning Britain that people are well off.

    The truth is that a large proportion of this slice of the population is only two or three monthly pay checks from penury. So the threat of losing their job is very frightening. It keeps them under control. The stress of being required to ”apply for your own job” or ”attending an assessment centre” etc etc is enormous.

    Banks have lent more and more to people and in the process have acquired the rights to higher and higher proportions of workers’ future incomes. This is deliberate. (And it is what creates illusory asset bubbles) . But it has enslaved people to obedience to keep their jobs.

    If folk all realised that and avoided that trap they would be ostensibly poorer but in practice much happier.

    • Chris says:

      I’m not sure it’s the fault of the banks. People can say no. It’s that people want everything NOW. I’m back to my old theme of rights and responsibilities. It’s no good thinking you have the right to have everything material you ever wanted and financing it with a huge loan if you don’t then accept the responsibility for paying it back and managing your affairs prudently until that is achieved.

      When we had a huge new Sainsbury’s built locally someone wrote to the local paper saying that they should be forbidden to carry so many different lines of stock as it just meant people who couldn’t afford it spent more. My mind boggled. Who was putting the things in the trolley? Who was offering up the credit card? People need to say “no” more often and not blame others.

      • Here we have to face the careful balance between the nanny state and a more laissez faire attitude that assumes we can all be responsible in our choices.
        Whether it be making a decision to give up smoking or not to eat fatty foods or not to drink excessively or not to over extend one’s finances there is always an assumption that people have the information and intelligence to make their lifestyle choices. Sadly this is not always the case and therefore a responsible society will give guidance and if that isn’t sufficient then it is likely that regulation is the next step.
        Possibly going off at yet another tangent, but somewhat relevant, is the recent campaign in the Times about two teenage girls who were killed on a level crossing and blaming Network Rail because they had not implemented automatically locking passenger gates. Sad as it is that two young people died I feel they had a significant responsibility for their actions. To take this to an illogical conclusion we would put barriers alongside all roads lest people stray off the pavement into the path of a car travelling at 50mph.

    • Karin says:

      Having reread all these comments with a technical eye, I must say I do agree with this one. Well put.

  21. Captain Birdseye says:

    Let’s see now. In the Red corner I have

    Banking and Credit card companies with marketing budgets running to some billions whose primary objective is to get people to sign over their future earnings. To this end they have deliberately fuelled asset bubbles with sub prime lending and offer very expensive money to buy tawdry consumer goods to the none too sharp.

    In the Blue corner I have

    Mr and Mrs Chav -with three GCSEs between them – who have been told house prices always go up and DFS Sofas are provided interest free and Cars are a really good thing to buy-and to that end they are barraged with expensive advertising. They have been told from birth that acquisition and ”things” will bring them happiness and being without will make them miserable.

    Perhaps you could help me to produce a fair handicapping proposal to this contest ?

  22. Chris says:

    And how come we have so many people with only 3 GCSEs between them? I’m all for protecting and advising the truly vulnerable but far too many people nowadays who could take responsibility for their own actions and decisions do not do so and then expect to look round, blame someone else and be dug out of the hole.

    • Karin says:

      There is much merit in all that you all say. We could go on and on in this vein – but where do we go from here?

      Michael’s apt observation resonates, ‘They have been told from birth that acquisition and ”things” will bring them happiness and being without will make them miserable.’ These values and beliefs, and the corresponding behaviours, are deeply embedded in the English (also North American) psyche, are they not?

      It is reassuring to see budding Buddhism and an Eastern orientation sprouting in an archetypal English village. For more on national characters – a field ripe for further controversy – see my next post. But don’t let a new page close this chapter!

    • Captain Birdseye says:

      A complex question. In part it is due to society bringing up children without a respect for learning. In part it is due to relatively poor education being available. And ultimately at the feet of yobbish disruption.

      But the real blame lies in dishonesty.

      No politician or teachers leader will say ”these yobs are so lacking in common courtesy and respect that it is impossible to teach them”.

      Or, ”These teachers are simply not up it”.

      (Personally I think the blame lies primarily with the yobs.)

      The teachers/leaders should make it clear that they will only teach kids who are well behaved. That’s what they do at public schools – you disrupt, they chuck you out. So rich kids get discipline -the ones that most need it don’t.

      School should of course be voluntary. So kids who don’t want to learn shouldn’t have to. (Funny how they all want to learn in India and Africa) and teachers should be free to chuck out persistent offenders.

      ”But they will be on the streets” So ? That’s better than ruining every else’s education. And as soon as only the well behaved were going to get taught behaviours would change quite rapidly.

    • Captain Birdseye says:

      Even if they had 10 GCSE’s each I still think the big corporations’ persuasive marketing is more powerful than relatively simple individuals.

      Quite a bit of current lending, if done years ago, would have got the lenders banged up for Usury. A law that we could do well to introduce.

      Visser and Mcintosh

      ”Usury – lending at interest or excessive interest – has, according to known records, been practiced in various parts of the world for at least four thousand years. During this time, there is substantial evidence of intense criticism by various traditions, institutions and social reformers on moral, ethical, religious and legal grounds. The rationale employed by these wide-ranging critics have included arguments about work ethic, social justice, economic instability, ecological destruction and inter-generational equity. While the contemporary relevance of these largely historical debates are not analysed in detail, the authors contend that their significance is greater than ever before in the context of the modern interest-based global economy.”

    • I think Chris the answer lies with the parents and yes, that is a very simplistic view. I taught for over 17 years in Primary schools and know that if the parents are interested in the education of their children and become involved then the children will, in the main, be interested in education and be enthusiastic in school.
      Linked to this, but an area I’ve only witnessed at arms length, is how parents today continue to support their children long after they should have flown the nest. A prime example being when youngsters go to university. I know when I left home to go hundreds of miles north to college my father dropped me off at the station, said his goodbyes and that was it. In the next three years I was expected to find my own means of getting home (or not) and effectively find my way in life to the extent of getting jobs during the holidays. Contrast this with my observations today where parents are transporting their children to and from college every holiday and excusing the kids for staying in bed until the afternoon because they are “studying”. Times have changed and the outcome is evident in a young population who appear unable to be responsible for their own lives.

  23. Captain Birdseye says:

    Is there an edit facility on this thing to correct my spelling mistakes ?

    • Stephen says:

      No. You need to have additional rights granted to be able edit something that’s been posted.

    • Stephen says:

      Of course. The thought police are everywhere, even in our own minds. It was ever thus! Do these short comments start to make the blog look like Twitter?

      • Chris says:

        Couldn’t agree more with all the comments about education, teaching. parenting, discipline, letting kids go. Where/why did we lose all that good stuff for so many people? It’s a tragedy.

    • Karin says:

      Michael,
      I edit posts generally on instruction only. I think I have played God once – I can’t remember now, as it has faded in the mists of time. Let me know if you want me to correct your spelling mistakes. I am a very good proofreader.

  24. Captain Birdseye says:

    1960’s Crosland’s Education policy followed by the anti establishment (who were a pretty useless lot) media.

    Then Murdoch preaching his Christian purity while debasing women in his papers and constantly saying anyone in charge was rubbish.

    Then the BBC being hijacked by the proletarian pseudo upper klass left.

    And a civil service attuned to national demise, with its constant devaluations, fraud and utterly useless and continuously degrading public services.

    A church that has totally failed in its duty of moral leadership.

    Hardly surprising the UK ordinary young are not exactly role models of achievement.

  25. Karin says:

    And who, may I ask you all, do you admire? Where is your hope (if hope is not a dirty word)?

    • Stephen says:

      When things start going off track the facilitator asks a question. There’s always hope even in the deepest despair otherwise there is nothing. It is popularly rumoured that even within the Egyptian hieroglyphs there were grumbles about the yoof of the day and so this thread is just following a well trodden path of the old criticising the next generation. I find that reassuring and I gain a great deal of pleasure from being a grouch – it’s part of the British psyche which leads neatly into the hyphen blog…

    • Stephen says:

      I struggled with your question and no doubt used a number of avoidance tactics but today in an email conversation with Michael (or El Capitan as he shall forthwith be known) I realised that my father is someone I admired the most. I learnt from him a significant number of my life skills and he helped me to realise an enormous lesson – that life is not fair and one shouldn’t expect it to be. He also gave me a great deal to aspire to. He was a Royal Marine Commando and was one of the first to land on the Normandy beaches in 1945 – the memory of his bravery, character and fellowship have helped me on numerous occasions to keep me stable and sometimes take the more difficult route because it was the right thing to do. This all sounds a bit twee but that’s how it is…

      • Karin says:

        Hi Steve,
        I was just thinking, as I read, how much I was enjoying your comment – when I got to the bit about it sounding twee. Not at all! Sounded genuine to me.
        I admire different people for different things, and the list and explanations would get far too long if I wrote it as a comment as opposed to a post! And you know how wordy I can be…….

  26. Karin says:

    Thanks for being my mirror, Steve – some behaviours are so habitual, so embedded, they just happen! Not intentional facilitation, a genuine question – but yes, you’re right. I like the Egyptian link and also the clever link to the next post – not that the intention is to stop this post’s chat which I’m enjoying reading and dipping into….

  27. Captain Birdseye says:

    In no particular order.

    Tielhard de Chardin
    Rommel
    Amundsen
    St Augustine

    But why didn’t you ask who we don’t admire?

    Geldorf
    Bono

    In my view slightly worse than Stalin and Mao.

  28. Captain Birdseye says:

    ”There is only thing worse than a direct question is a direct answer”

    George Smiley.

  29. Captain Birdseye says:

    Or in English

    ”The only thing worse than a direct question is a direct answer”

  30. Captain Birdseye says:

    Nonsense

    For changing the way people thought

    St Augustine and Tielhard de Chardin

    For demonstrating that good leadership works

    Amundsen

    For understanding strategy and communicating the difference between fighting and winning.

    Rommel

  31. Karin says:

    Always the danger with a synopsis – it makes the reader want to see the full article.

  32. Captain Birdseye says:

    Its subscription only – Fifty guineas

  33. Chris says:

    Sorry for the delay. I’ve been very tied up with practical matters – a very sick dog but fingers crossed now on the mend – but my mind has been very engaged with trying to think of anyone I admire. And the numbers are very few. I agree with Michael that Bob Geldorf and Bono are not among them. I don’t like the mix of modern performing fame with a sort of patronising knowing best. So easy to do when you know you won’t be called upon to turn words into end-product. I’d rather go for Bill Gates if we are talking fame and philanthropy.

    Dollie Parton and Jemima Parry-Jones are two people I admire immensely. Never met the former and I’m a good friend of the latter but they are both warm-hearted, feisty ladies, superbly talented in their different worlds, who work extremely hard and who have faced up to their own setbacks and not expected someone else to come to their rescue. I do find myself currently arguing with people on the the television who have exercised their right to be in Libya for whatever reason but seem to think that all the responsibility for getting them home rests with the government “who should have been here right by my side within ten seconds of violence breaking out”. But I won’t get sidetracked into rights vs responsibilities yet again. Put the Princess Royal into my short list of people I admire – much in the same vein as the other two and a lady who has wholeheartedly taken on board her duties and not milked the privileges which others in her position have done. And King George VI who must have had Duty carved on his heart in modern imitation of Elizabeth the First and Calais. I was about to say Elizabeth Fry for services to humanity but now I’m puzzled as to why I’m so short of men on my list. I’ll go away and think about that.

  34. Karin says:

    Yes, I was noticing that you are short of men on your list, Chris, and Michael is reciprocally short of women. I wonder why.
    I am intrigued by Dolly Parton being on your list and hope you will expand. You have mentioned her once before on this blog, I think in relation to your ‘interest’ in music, if I can call it that. How has she come onto your radar, I wonder?

  35. Chris says:

    My relationship with music is best summed up by a story told, I believe, by Nigella Lawson who faced with a maths exam wrote ‘I don’t do maths’ across the paper and left the room. I don’t ‘do’ or ‘get’ music. The closest I can get to it is something where I can hear and understand the words. So I gravitated towards Country and Western and came across Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson etc. Oh – I also quite like things like gamalan orchestras and some drumming. I like the rhythm and the pattern of the noises – maybe it’s the mathematical nature of them that appeals to me.

    Having discovered Dolly decades ago I learnt things about her over the years and came to admire someone who had provided for herself after a hard start to her life and gone on to provide for members of her extended family – not lavishing material goods on them but helping youngters through college and ‘paying for results’ as it were, employing relatives at Dollywood and so on. I like her work ethic. I like her attitude to life. I like the sheer brass-necked determination that made her break away from managers and agents and manage her own career. I like the brazen longevity of a career where age can be the determinant of its length if you’re a woman. And the words she uses harmonise with my thoughts about life. She’s a clever, tough, witty, warm, hard-nosed cookie with a soft centre. Something I might aspire to be but could never achieve.

  36. Karin says:

    Now I’m a little curious about why it is Country and Western music – it can’t just be that you can hear and understand the words, there must be something more to it. There is a lot of other vocal music where that applies.
    And I am not sure whether it is the exterior or interior you see as something you might aspire to but would never be – or both!

    • Chris says:

      My elder brother was into Country and Western so maybe I just drifted in after him, liked the simple direct messages and the twangy sound and looked no further. With lots of other stuff I can hear the words but wish I couldn’t. And most definitely both!

      • Stephen says:

        I’ll be up front and say I don’t like Country and Western music however words for me are an important part of a listening experience, that is until recently. I went to see Portico Quartet this month despite the fact that I’d seen them before and wasn’t impressed the first time however I have friends who really do like them so I was prepared to go again in the spirit of giving them a second chance. Well my opinion didn’t change – no words and too much improvisation however the Portico Quartet were only the supporting act and they were followed by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra. No words but what superb rhythms, music full of slow builds and then repeating the build.
        So I now accept that words aren’t essential but I’m just at the start of this journey.

  37. Karin says:

    I was wondering whether you liked the stories of Country and Western too – they are usually told in a straight manner but they draw you in. Try folk music too, though that is a broad church and there is lots in there you probably wouldn’t like. I know what you mean about not wanting to hear the words with a lot of stuff. Well, I dispute you on both!

  38. Chris says:

    Yes – I can go with the simplicity. I more and more seek simplicity in my life.

    On the tough cookie with a soft centre thing I laughed out loud today. In my exalted position as Chairman of the Parish Council I occasionally receive challenging e-mails from angry members of the public. Which I did today. I drafted what I thought was a fair but firm reply and copied it, as is our habit, to all the other members of the Council. Almost before it had gone I got a reply from one of them saying “Ooh you are a tough cookie. Well done!”. Which just goes to show that you can fool some of the people some of the time.

  39. Captain Birdseye says:

    This morning number one son rings up. ”Hello Dad I start my new job today.”

    ”Thats nice”

    (This son has an IQ in single figures.)

    ”Whats the job ?”

    ”Global IT Director for a £500 million turnover international company” -household name

    One’s children never cease to surprise one.

  40. Karin says:

    A nice counterpoint to Steve’s latest comment. (What a shame they sit far from each other on this ‘page’.) I am glad that you admire your son! I look forward to hearing how it goes….there are at least two people on this blog who can advise him (not including yourself of course).
    Perhaps I should produce a post called ‘Fathers and Sons’ – although someone’s already written that one, Ivan Turgenev.

  41. Sherry says:

    I saw three green parrots too one day, if you care to hear the long, long story…

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