Thursday, 15 December 2016

Roll on 2017

Just in case you thought I was keen on accelerating the end of this year given it's place in history now as 'the year when the improbable happened, consistently', I'm not.

No point rehashing what has gone - deaths, dumbed-down democracy, diabolic detritus - but possibly worthwhile reflecting on what, possibly, was the (most unhelpful) comment of the year levelled at me yesterday during a presentation with a client for whom I am doing business development work.

"... the easiest way to find whom to contact at an organisation is to google it."

Who would've thunk it?

Maybe that's where we've been going astray in 2016.
The answers were there all along.
Silly us, we used our brains to figure out matters that we really didn't need to.

Tsk. All that wasted time and effort.

So, 2017.

I might just start googling things before you get underway.
You know, just to be ahead of the game.



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Saturday, 12 November 2016

America, you're fired

What a tumultuous week.

To take my mind off the crazy happenings over the pond, I went for a cycle ride today.

In the pouring rain.

For 78km.

Yes, I know - I was in good company at least.

And if you are going to lead by example when on two wheels, you abide by the rules. In this case #9.

Anyway - America. WT actual F?

There has been so much written since Wednesday's announcement about the most improbable candidate this side of Tutankhamen reaching the highest office of the largest economy in the world, that I am, quite frankly, all 'read out'. I have heard the views from either side, analysed the logic, searched the rationale and the psyche of the voting populace as to how such a result could occur (hello, Brexit anyone?), delved into the annals of history, swapped opinions with any number of individuals... and un-friended a few people on Facebook.

Life is short enough without having to put up with obnoxious and toxic views from the petty-minded. I have a choice too. It is called the < delete > button.

In my mind now I foresee The Donald acting out his celebrity status on a world stage. I can only imagine the type of conversations that will take place (although possibly not quite as funny as these ones).

The Donald: The wall. I want that wall built. By the Mexicans.
White House aide: Mr President, sir, I think you said you wanted Mexico to pay for it?
TD: Yeah, right. Pay for it. Find me someone to build it.
WHA: But sir, you can't...
TD: You're fired.

The Donald: I want all Muslims microchipped.
White House aide: Sir, I think you mean 'vetted'?
TD: Vet? Who? McCain?
WHA: No sir, the Muslims who...
TD: You're fired.

The Donald: Obamacare. Repeal it. Bigly.
White House aide: Sir, you can't just...
TD: You're fired.

The Donald: The White House. Redecorate it.
White House aide: Sir, Mr President, can you be more specific please?
TD: Gold. Rename it. The Trump House.
WHA: I'm afraid you...
TD: You're fired.

And so on.

If Britain was a joke on the world stage post-Brexit, then the US has gone one further (or more).

Reality TV has a lot to answer for.



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Saturday, 22 October 2016

Food for thought

I have calmed down (a little) since the Brexit referendum, although I am yet to speak to some individuals and 'bridge the gap' given how they chose to vote.
It's a democracy.
Time heals, yadda, yadda, yadda and all that.
I cannot dwell on it or the palpitations start again.

Anyway. I attended this week a three-day business conference in Liverpool. I had no idea what to expect (given the sector and the industry with which I was fairly unfamiliar) but one of my clients invited me and so - hey presto - there I was.

It was excellent.

Some very insightful plenary sessions, a number of valuable breakout discussions, many interesting attendees, and a range of truly brilliant speakers:

  • Pascal Lamy, former Director-General, World Trade Organisation
  • Richard Harrington MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Pensions
  • Joanne Segars, Chief Executive, PLSA
  • Andrew Neil, journalist and broadcaster
  • Marcus du Sautoy, Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics, New College, Oxford
  • Nigel Kirby, Deputy Director of Economic Crime Command, National Crime Agency
  • Sir Lenny Henry, comedian, actor and charity activist
I am quite exhausted but equally exhilarated from the volume of input.

Diverse as these individuals all were, and varied as their own backgrounds and careers might be, there appeared to be a unanimous theme amongst them: we have not even come close to the mountain of problems in future years (yes, years) with the UK voting to leave the EU. 

I will not seek to paraphrase what they spoke about, but it was best captured in Pascal Lamy's comment regarding the complexity ahead: "Getting an egg out of an omelette."

And on that note, I shall leave you with another cartoon.



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Saturday, 1 October 2016

Saturday, 10 September 2016

Granny gear

Next week some of the ladies (and one lad aka one of the husbands, not mine) from the cycling club are heading Up North to do the NC500. For safety's sake - and to avoid the worst of the A9 between John O'Groat's and Inverness - we are altering the route slightly, however it will still mean some pretty meaty riding distances over six days.

Oh, and a few hills. Quite a few, in fact.

Cue discussions with OH about the gearing on my bike.
It got quite, ahem, technical. He is an engineer after all.

LCM - I need to get a bigger gearing on my bike, the cassette on my new one is only 11-25t.

OH - You have a 50/34t compact chainset, you don't need any more.

LCM - But all the good climbers have at least 11-28!

OH - You don't do any hills.

LCM - Maybe I would if getting up them was not such a struggle?

OH - And your new bike is 11-speed. Your old one was only 9. You already have two extra gears.

LCM - Even some of the men in the cycling club have a 28 big ring!

OH - Your gearing is fine.

Maybe I just need to buckle down and bite the bullet. Or grind my teeth as the pros do when tackling the big climbs (to the point of wrecking their pearly whites and requiring extensive dental repairs later on judging by some of the books I have read).

Alternatively, I could visit my local bike shop - conveniently the name behind our cycling club, therefore providing labour free of charge to members - and 'just do it'.

Guess what?

this is what you call
"a very nice granny gear"

I haven't told OH.

I'm just waiting to see how long before he notices.
Or asks how I coped with the hills.


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Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Blind leading the blind

It says something about 'where' you are in your own life cycle when you take notes at a meeting - without glasses - and then fail categorically to make sense of what you have written.

I developed, during my university days, my own form of shorthand. It is something I used to pride myself on as being the sole individual who could interpret it. It certainly put paid to other slackers who asked if they could "copy my notes" and then never asked again.

The problem more recently, however, was that *I* was stumped with my own scrawl.

So I did what any sane person would do in today's age: I posted on Facebook and asked for help.

Cue an old friend commenting that I would "make a great GP".
Funny that. Medicine had been my first choice of career but events conspired against me.

And then another friend (with a PhD in Community Health) came to the rescue.
She pointed out that I might have (horror, shock) spelt one word incorrectly and therefore the interpretation of what followed did not make sense.

Guess what?
She was absolutely right.

And when I thanked her, she noted that she "can read doctor's writing. Years of practice."

Definitely missed my calling.

to... two... sle... sla... what...?


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Saturday, 6 August 2016

Cack handed

In my time I have been known to take, edit and post a few pretty natty movie clips, if I say so myself.

Some have been impulsive filming sessions on holiday, some have been more structured in content.
Most have been downright silly and tongue-in-cheek.

However today I probably - inadvertently - outdid myself.

On a bike ride with my cycling club I managed to extract my phone from my rear pocket, turn it on, get the video working and shoot some footage... all with my left hand and without either falling off my bike or dropping the phone itself.

And before you tut-tut me, it was on a closed road in Windsor Great Park.

However, I appear to have failed categorically when it comes to pressing the 'stop' button.

The result? Quite comical.

Judge for yourself.

video



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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Kevinshen

There is absolutely nothing I can think of that will effortlessly lift one's spirits than the prospect of a rendezvous with Kevin.

Nothing.

Despite the absence of three members (Tough Mudda called to end-of-year school performance duties, La Diplomat dealing with visiting relatives, and the Wine Writer undertaking experiments involving chicken houses, children's feet and lack of running water - yes, we were confused too) we still managed to put the world to rights and host some serious conversations that did not necessarily involve either a) food, or b) books.

Incredible.

Although of course it did not take long for us to partake in the former and discuss the latter.
And the Pimms was delicious too, especially on a hot summer evening in the Doctor of Psychology's leafy garden.

However, the most important item on the agenda was the upcoming nuptials of one of the Kevinettes: yes, Belfast Blonde is getting married next month and hence the bookclub momentarily transformed itself into an impromptu hen party.

Cue gifts.

All food or book related. 
Funny that.

And balloons.
Helium (one) and LED versions (five, one of which then burst because, as the Lovely Radiographer scolded me, "You made it too big!" - first time for everything, I guess).

And a veil - complete with cutouts of wedding themed book title covers.
Absolutely priceless.

But the coup de grace was the pink sash. 

Our lovely hen donned it with pride. 
We all looked at it askance, tried to decipher the lettering, and then the Botanical Artist voiced what most of us were thinking.

"Who is Kevinshen?"

"Oh," replied the Lovely Radiographer, "They didn't do apostrophes!"

So there you go.

Kevinshen is getting married.

No apostrophes required because she is pure class and we love her.

Kevinshen - a bookclub first


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Sunday, 10 July 2016

How to make a mess in two short weeks - the speedy guide

Yes, it's still imploding.

And yes, it's going to get even worse.

We are but at at the peak of a very slippery slide-y slope into the depths of self-annihilation by proxy, aka 'how-to-push-the-destruct-button-without-assistance-because-it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time'.

I can only poke fun at a situation that is almost too comical to be real (but it is, real, I mean) and seek humour in what has become the death knell for my own business that I have spent three years building. I won't bore you with details, suffice to say that 'postponement' and 'procrastination' - by clients, not me - has morphed into total shutdown and cost-cutting with immediate effect and no sign of change for the foreseeable future.

Oh joy.

So we had this:

the 'real' reason DC had to resign

And this:

the truth behind the back-stabbing 'partnership'

And this:

I have no words
(well, I do, but not fit for publication)

Which has now morphed into this:

the man from Del Monte, he say he no go anywhere

Being challenged by this:

the Eagle has (almost) landed

AND THEY ARE NOT EVEN RUNNING THE BLOODY COUNTRY!

Oh no. 

That little ditty now comes down to these two:

twins separated at birth?

And guess what?

Rather than focus on the humongous f*ck up that has been left by the referendum (at every level), the press and the country are now having a right old ding-dong about whether being a mother or not is a qualifying feature to lead a bunch of feckwits party country as the nation faces the abyss.

Talk about missing the point.

But then again, I guess that is consistent with the whole issue, isn't it? 

Hooray for propaganda. At least the results will be unswerving in that regard.

*continues to shake head in disbelief*


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Sunday, 26 June 2016

It's okay, I get it

Just in case you had been living in a cave of late, there has been an historic event taking place here in Blighty. Let me enlighten you.

We have - sorry, had - a Prime Minister who won the last election with an outright majority. Unfortunately there was plenty of infighting and bickering amongst the ranks, so rather than act like the patriarchal figure he was elected to be, he appeased them with a sweetener.

"If we win, we shall hold a referendum about Britain being a member of the EU, okay?" he said, to much applause of those feeling aggrieved.

Now, had he been somewhat more aggressive like, I dunno, Maggie Thatcher, he might have actually said, "Sod off you lot, if you don't like the way I'm running the show, then the door's that way!" But he didn't. He let the toddlers have their tantrums and then rewarded them for chucking all their toys out of the pram.

Amazing. Even Adele has better crowd control. But then she can sing and engage with an audience, so I sort of rest my case.

Anyway. Cometh the man, cometh the hour.

Fast forward one year from the election and the referendum indeed takes place. Now this is where it gets confusing, so pay attention.

The PM is renown for constantly slagging off Europe. It is, apparently, the bane of his life and the reason for everything that is out of his control. Except tax havens. That's a whole other story. But he conveniently glosses over that.

However, as the factions line up on both sides of the 'leave' or 'remain' argument, the PM opts to prop up the latter. It turns out he does like Europe, after all! So do many others, from a variety of backgrounds - former arch enemies are suddenly best buddies, amazing!

The voting electorate is very confused.

Even more confusing is that the doomsayers heading up the campaign to 'get Britain back' consist of some of the most polarising individuals in current politics: a floppy haired former mayor of London, a prior Education Secretary who vilified virtually every educator in the country with his lofty agendas, and a self-confessed 'man of the people' who made his fortune as a commodities broker, headlined a racist propaganda campaign and failed not once, not twice, but seven times to be elected as an MP.

Quite a collection of misfits. Did I also mention that the first two were journalists-turned-politicians? No, thought not, but there you go.

So. Referendum day. The nation on tenterhooks. Twelve long weeks of ugly, nasty and thoroughly unpleasant campaigning over.

Guess what? Britain votes - albeit by a very small margin - to turn its back on the EU.

I won't go into the pros and cons and arguments, there has been plenty of writing about it and many, many incredibly eloquent pieces over the past forty-eight hours. Far more than I could ever piece together coherently in this blog post.

I will merely say two things to put matters into some perspective:

  1. the second most searched for question in the UK since the results were announced was, "What is the EU?", and;
  2. this is the only time in over twenty-five years of living in the UK (more than half my life, in other words) that I am seriously considering moving to Australia.
Time will tell.

In the meantime, much sadness, shock and quite a degree of anger.

(c) imgur.com

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Sunday, 5 June 2016

Once more unto the doctor

Hey ho, guess who's back? None other than the infamous Doctor LCM of the even more infamous BADASS* clinic.

After more than a year's sabbatical, the piles of pleading letters could no longer be ignored. It was time to deal with the clamouring requests and select a choice patient whose dilemma needed attention tout suite.

The lucky individual to benefit from the Doctor's words of wisdom in this edition is desperate. And when we say desperate, we mean just that, in every sense of the word.

So without further ado, let's get going.

"Dear Doctor LCM,

For many days weeks months now I have been trying to find meaning in my life. I get up, have breakfast, shower, dress, sit at my desk, look at my computer and... wait. 

That's it. 

No matter how hard I stare at the screen, or how many fingers I cross, or how many lucky omens I seek out, nothing is forthcoming. It would seem that the world turns and I am at a standstill.
All the 'How To' manuals, the TV programmes, the self-help courses and so forth have come to nothing. So many promises of what or where I should be at this point of my life have failed categorically to eventuate. 

Surely I am due a revelation of some sort to guide me on a path of enlightenment?

Please help. I am very disheartened and confused.

Fond regards,
Junior"

Doctor LCM replies:

"Junior,

Unless you have been living in a cave of late, there is a referendum in little over a couple of weeks' time which will determine whether the UK stays in Europe or not. As I see it, you have a few options to find, as you so aptly put it, 'meaning in your life':

  1. sign up to the 'Leave' campaign - that way you will find yourself in the esteemed company of Nigel Farage, Boris Johnson, Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin,  Rupert Murdoch et al which in itself should give you plenty to worry about (e.g. slight racism) other than your own persona;
  2. sign up to the 'Stay' campaign - that way you will find yourself in the esteemed company of David Cameron, George Osbourne and 'friends' (read: the entire political spectrum of the world on both sides regardless of past history or disagreements) and be able to focus on learning how to talk to the general public as if everyone were a moron given they did not attend Eton or the like;
  3. migrate

I also hear the clergy are recruiting as current numbers are low. Am sure they would welcome you with open arms. Possibly more given recent trends. Plenty of 'meaning' there, my dear fellow.

The choice, as they say, is yours.

You're welcome,

Dr LCM"


If you too have a pressing business or personal matter that you would like answered or on which to receive similar valuable advice, please submit to the Doctor and wait patiently in line.


*Business Advisory and Select Services


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Friday, 20 May 2016

Open letter

Dear all

Yes, I have been absent somewhat of late.
It's not you, it's me.

When I mentioned that my word for 2016 was 'focus', I wasn't half joking.
Finding work projects and a means of income generation is no mean feat, I hardly need to justify that.

Being told by (prospective) clients that they "absolutely want to work with you, can really see the value," but are not quite able to commit at present due to (in no particular order):
  1. Brexit
  2. low Q1 revenue
  3. business reorganisation
  4. going AWOL
  5. "needing to do some more work beforehand"
  6. total cluelessness in general
  7. incompetent corporate fuckwittery (my own term, it's copyrighted)
  8. fobbing off with ridiculous excuses
  9. all of the above
  10. none of the above, because they haven't got the common decency to even reply to an email let alone return a phone call
is down heartening at best, borderline suicidal at worst.

But, never mind.

Onwards! 

Something's gotta give eventually, even though it may be my own sanity (because the bank balance is already fucked so there's nothing more to lose in that regard).

Bear with me, I'll be back at some point.

LCM x





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Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Bitch-fest

An interesting read today.

Since I posted my own views on the subject of Ms Sandberg's 'Lean In' stance in working life (I shan't link, you can do your own search), I have heard from a wide spectrum of women - career or otherwise - who either loved it or were nonplussed.

The post I read today was interesting not so much because of its content (although I will admit I was delighted that finally someone else was bold enough to write that they thought the tome was a pile of cr@p), but because of the comments.

The author published the same post in two separate sites: on her personal blog and on LinkedIn.

Comments on the former were nearly all supportive of her article, from both men and women. I counted one (slightly) negative reply.

Comments on the latter were divided but broadly contentious about the mere fact that one wealthy and successful woman (Trunk) was querying the 'right' of another (Sandberg) to dictate how females should operate in the workforce - yes, that is a gross generalisation, give me some respite - and then seek forgiveness because, as a recent widow, she now states that she "will never experience and understand all of the challenges most single moms face, but [she understands] a lot more than [she] did a year ago."

So I have a question.

What if she were actually living on - or below - the breadline? What would the challenges look like then?

Because, in truth, that is what it really, really, really comes down to.

But when you have squillions to hand, and the ability to hire two nannies, and a housekeeper, and never have to worry about keeping on top of the damn laundry pile, well then...

THEN you actually have no feckin' clue of what the challenges are all about. Partner or no partner.

So my point is this: Ms Trunk might have a bee in her bonnet, much as I did when reading - and loathing - all that rubbish about needing to 'lean in'.

But what she states now - and this even more so because she too is a highly successful and wealthy self-made business woman who was a single mother for many years - resonates further.

Sandberg attempting to claim the moral high ground by saying she 'understands' now that her personal circumstances have changed (and I am truly sorry for her tragic loss) somehow just rings hollow.

Maybe if she gave away some of her vast fortune to those who need it I might change my tune.

Off the soapbox now. I need to find more work projects.

Does Sandberg need a strategic business development advisor, d'ya think?





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Wednesday, 27 April 2016

The most bonkers Kevin yet

You would never guess that Kevin has been around for sixteen years.

You would also never believe that a congregation of adult women who really should know better are still able to laugh hysterically about the most (in the face of it) mundane items.

You would furthermore be probably quite incredulous at the amount of food - and beverage - we manage to put away over the space of a few hours.

We are not nicknamed 'The Bookclub Trough-ers' for nothing, you know.

It takes years of practice, believe me, to be this good at eating and drinking and still be able to discuss books and authors and other - less literary - issues.

For example:

  • the hosting Kevinette (who under 'the rules' gets to select the books for next time) asking one of the foreign members of the club whether they would have chosen either of the last English language books we opted for, only to be told, "I did choose them, I hosted the previous meeting!"
  • a Kevinette deciding not to vote for one of the new book choices proffered because they couldn't tell what the book was about ('A shepherd's life')
  • another Kevinette vetoing a further proposed book because they didn't understand what it was about from the cover ('A whole life')
  • one member getting so excited about being invited to a book launch by an author (with whom she has collaborated) that she got a) the date wrong, b) the day wrong, and c) the month wrong, when asking us all to join her
  • wondering whether there is a theme in one Kevinette's selection of books given they all appear to involve brain tumours, brain tumours, murder... and comedy
  • telling stories about a former colleague's mishaps with prospective parents-in-law when she made a dress out of IKEA fabric and visited for Sunday lunch... and blended into the furnishings which were of the exact same material (yes, we wondered too)
  • writing comments in the black book - another fundamental rule of Kevin, supposedly to recall what we read and what we thought about the tomes consumed, although the handwriting is pretty illegible given it gets passed round towards the end of the evening - and then realising that we skipped a section at some point in the past and are filling in a random blank page that is not even sequential to the last meeting 
  • but not wanting to continue writing on a new clean a-few-pages-along page when space runs out, thus prompting one Kevinette to merely opt for scrawling "Ditto" under another's comments - I blame the wine, and the popping candy chocolate doing the rounds...
But, best of all - the absolute icing on the cake - was when the Botanical Artist queried, "Why are we looking to read a book in Swedish?"

The book in question? 


Or apparently 'Låndskipping' if you've been frequenting Kevin for too long. 


* with apologies to the film 'Sixteen Candles'

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Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Old(er) dog, new tricks

Today I tried something new.

I lie. I tried something different.

Given my loathing of 'death by powerpoint' presentations, I have always sought to lead by example.
In past corporate roles I have done away with the dreaded slides altogether - and thus eschewing years of precedence by former management - and turned dreaded hour-long meetings into engaging and memorable TED-style talks that lasted no more than twenty minutes and were uplifting and valuable to all involved.

When meeting with prospective clients, my business partners and I have jettisoned the typical method of using an overhead projector and loads of jargon, for a far simpler - and more effective - session involving drawing icebergs and penguins and circles and timelines (you have to be there, trust me, it makes sense).

So today I gave a presentation to an up-and-coming new company.
Out of respect I will not divulge names or topics or agenda or remit, however I will say that I opted for a different tact altogether.

I used my cartoons to illustrate points.

They liked it.

They laughed.

And they asked whether they could keep the cartoons.

Let's see if it reaps rewards.
In the meantime, nothing ventured, nothing gained, I reckon!





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Monday, 11 April 2016

Survival

I've been busy.



Which entailed dressing up like this:



And doing this:



Yes, I am singing.
Really.

Some twenty-five-odd years after last doing backing vocals for a band I thought this would be an apt way to celebrate a half century. Along with an 80s disco theme, masses of friends and loads of dancing.

And it was brilliant.

I even sang in key.

Not bad when you cannot hear yourself talk, are trying desperately to lip-read, and your ears are already ringing from the volume of the speakers.

Or maybe that's just age.

Nevermind.
As you were.

I'm 50 and loving it.
You?

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Half century

Tomorrow is my birthday.

I will be 50.

I feel somewhere around 32.

I am not quite sure where time has flown except that it appears to have gone rather fast.

To celebrate I am having a big party with an 80s theme, with all guests invited to don their best outfits  honouring the period and dance along to a fabulous live band.

There will also be a photo booth which will undoubtedly result in plenty of silly memories to recall the event - which is the whole idea.

I did a quick summary of the range of friends (and family) invited and how they have come into my life:

  • rowing
  • cycling
  • running
  • skiing
  • book club
  • school (mine)
  • school (offspring)
  • work
  • writing
  • volunteering
  • neighbours
  • rugby
  • business associates
  • holidays
  • HOUSE MATES (late edited addition after best friend pointed out this dreadful oversight!)

Quite a variety and frankly I am amazed at how many have accepted to come along and celebrate (although I believe the theme has something to do with the appeal as well). It is a testimony also to the melting pot that is London given the wide range of nationalities, backgrounds, ages and cultures everyone hails from. I cannot wait to see them all together.

Hopefully my own outfit will do the evening justice as well. 
It's something along these lines:


Lacy fingerless gloves sorted. 
Crucifix necklaces, check.
Red lipstick, ditto.
Now. Where are my hair crimpers?

I'm almost ready!


Saturday, 27 February 2016

Focus

Ever heard the saying, "Don't enter a battle of wits with an unarmed person"?

I feel of late as if I have been un-wittingly drawn into such (see what I did there? genius) by way of my involvement with certain aspects of my life to which I devote - much to OH's annoyance - a substantial amount of time, none of it fee-generating, but very engaging and interesting and personally rewarding.

Well, I say 'personally rewarding' but in truth the fine line between that and wanting to head-butt a few people for the sake of knocking some common sense into them is rapidly diminishing.

So, a question to all of you: why do trivial matters evolve into substantial issues and how do you avoid the avalanche of time-wasting that accompanies the mêlée?

Do you:
a) attempt to put out any fire as soon as it appears by stamping on it
b) pull out a hosepipe, turn it on full blast, and aim at anything that moves
c) don a wetsuit, head for the nearest lake and bob about until the fracas has passed
d) call emergency services and try to explain whilst exonerating yourself from any culpability
e) focus on more important and pressing matters to hand

Me? I draw a cartoon.

Because that's what sensible people do in times of idiocy.



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Friday, 12 February 2016

Interlude

More to follow... in due course.

In the meantime, another cartoon.


Yadda yadda yadda...