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Stuart Lennon

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Tears and Tantrums

Brexit

Honestly. What did we think would happen?

The United Kingdom is not terribly united today. A voting turnout of 72% has voted 52/48 in favour of leaving the European Union.

So, 48% of the voting public is feeling pretty miserable.

That’s the thing about a referendum. Unless there is a landslide, then a significant proportion of the electorate is going to be ticked off when the results are announced. Judging by my telephone and social media feeds this is what has occurred. Emotions are running high.

I have been open about my preference for ‘Leave’. I posted here.

Like everyone else, I know lots of people on both sides of the argument. Most are passionate about their views. Some, on the ‘Remain’ side, are now feeling very angry, upset and concerned. They see the vote as a catastrophic error. These are the people posting increasingly strident views on social media. It would be unreasonable to expect those friends ‘not bothered’ or those on the winning side to be furiously posting, I suppose.

The geography of the voting makes things even more vexing. In a nutshell, Scotland, Northern Ireland and London wanted to remain, and everyone else wanted to Leave. This has led to calls for another referendum on Scottish Independence and even on Northern Ireland uniting with the Republic of Ireland.

Oh dear. Lots of tears and tantrums.

Financial markets have reacted badly. I don’t want to belittle this – but the markets betted heavily on a remain vote. In fact the only exit polls were conducted by Hedge Funds. When the vote started going the other way – ‘panic’ ensued. Panic, in this case, means that traders holding positions that supposed a remain vote, unwound those positions to mitigate losses. Large UK companies have not suddenly become worthless.

What happens now? Put simply, nobody knows. They are working it out as I write, and probably still will be while you read.

I have been struck by the continued arrogance of the media, the pollsters and the politicians. A simple question was asked and a simple answer given. Yet, the talking heads are still explaining that people voted because they are racist, or because they are old, or because they don’t understand.

This combination of outraged friends and ‘establishment’ arrogance leaves me feeling the need to justify myself.

So, for the record.

I am not racist. I’m no teenager, but I’m not a pensioner either. I feel that I have a reasonable understanding of business, politics and logic. I am not a wide-eyed little Englander. I still voted leave.

I respect everyone’s right to a view. I admire the passion and commitment. I am refreshed that the continent is actively engaged in looking at how best to move forward.

Brexit – The end of days?

Bullingdon Club

I wrote a post about Brexit not long ago. You can read it here.

This blog is not really intended to be political, but sometimes I can’t resist.

The terribly dashing chaps highlighted in the photo are the poster boys of the Leave and Remain campaigns. Increasingly, both campaigns are spouting sensationalist rubbish.

They would have us believe that the day after the referendum, businesses will collapse, or instantly prosper. Our borders will become impenetrable, and fortress UK will sink like a stone, or soar like an eagle. Other European countries will heave a huge sigh of relief, either glad to see the back of us, or delighted that we have stayed in.

I hate to disappoint. Actually, absolutely nothing will happen. The vast majority of ordinary people in mainland Europe will barely register that we had a referendum, let alone know the result. Should we choose to exit, it will take at least two years to negotiate the terms.

Mr Cameron has hinted that Brexit will prompt war, pestilence and plague and Mr Johnson suggests that having defeated Napoleon and Hitler, mighty Britain will finally be subdued and made vassal by bureaucrats in grey suits.

If we are talking war – I would look a little further East to Mr Putin.

Should we stay or leave, business will get on with it. That’s what business does. The world will continue to turn.

In my never humble opinion, the EU is finished anyway. While our Eton boys biff away, the Italian banks are once again on the point of collapse and when they go down, they will take the state with it. The European Central Bank will come up with a plan, as it did for Cyprus, Greece and Ireland. Given that the Italian economy is an awful lot bigger, the plan will need to be an awful lot bigger too. Ferocious austerity will be imposed on Italy. (Good luck with that.) There will need to be gargantuan write-offs of debt, and German citizens will need to accept another kick in the living standards to keep Italy afloat: At least until Spain collapses anyway.

In the past, countries could use interest rates and quantitive easing (printing money) to influence their economies. That option is no longer there, meaning that countries in real trouble are saddled with the exact opposite monetary policy that they need.

Let me add a disclaimer here. This is just my opinion. I do not work for the IMF, ECB, BOE or even The Economist. But I’m right.

Grexit, Brexit, Anyexit. None of these will fatally the EU. The EU was fatally wounded in 1999 when the Euro was introduced. It’s just taking a bloody long time to die.

Y is for Years

SnakeOil

‘Last month, I wrote a book, one hundred and twenty four blog posts and made six hundred and eighteen thousand dollars.’

Well done! It is always nice to see a fellow writer do well.

There are a few claims like the above out there. Gurus who have cracked the secrets of making gazillions from writing ‘by following these few simple steps’.

One of the few simple steps is, of course, to wire some money to the guru.

I am an open-minded sort of guy and have read a few of these ‘written-in-a-month’ books. My overriding feeling on finishing is always ‘what did you do with the other twenty nine days?’

I’m sure that there are writers out there who write fast, edit quickly and publish in a heartbeat. I’m sure that they have produced brilliance. I just haven’t found any yet.

I can tell you from experience that there are definitely writers out there who write fast, edit quickly and publish in a heartbeat. They produce crap.

Books that have moved me contain years of work. Years of thought, years of experience, years of work. The drafting might not take years, but the process as a whole does. At least that is my perception.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

X is for Xenophobia

sabre-tooth-tiger-_1117360c

(Image taken from The Daily Telegraph.)

Xenophobia. ‘Fear of that which is perceived to be foreign or strange.’ Wikipedia.

More recently Xenophobia is understood to mean specifically a fear of foreigners.

In the best debut novel ever written by me, the hero Sean finds himself in a new country, facing new people and challenges.

He is Xenophobic. Of course he is. We all are. We would be stupid not to be. I am no evolutionary scientist, but I suspect that fear of the foreign or strange was essential. It is what made our ancestors look at a sabre-tooth tiger and think ‘Hmmm… Not sure that I’m going to go give that thing a hug’

When I hear or read the word xenophobia now, people are using it to lament that prejudice remains. Prejudice about gender, race, disability and sexuality. I believe that it is in our nature to fear that which is strange or foreign. We overcome these fears through learning and education. At the root of learning is reading.

Read more.

book_guide_hero_books

To eradicate prejudice, we need to read more, to learn more, to become familiar with more and more different people and situations. This will help us overcome Xenophobia.

In short, sign up for my e-mail newsletter and I’ll let you know when the best debut novel ever written by me is available – and you can join the fight.

By buying it.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

Bye Bye Desktop

Optimized-IMG_0171

I have posted about how I am becoming a little more analogue in my approach to life.

I felt that technology was beginning to dominate and dictate my days. Through a combination of electronic tools, I was always connected and always looking at one or more screens. I decided to reassess how I used all these wonderful gadgets. First, I swapped my iPhone for a ‘dumb’ mobile phone – one that works just as a telephone.

My next target was my desktop at home, where I sit to write. The picture above shows how dominating the computer is – both in terms of real estate and visual impact. The iMac is a beautiful piece of kit – and its screen demands attention. Attention that I very often gave it.

Below, is how my desk looks now.

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Quite Zen isn’t it?

I still have access to my electronic life – I am writing this post on my MacBook.

The laptop sits either on the slide out shelf under the main desktop – or in a book stand to the side. I open the laptop out when I specifically want to use it: At other times – I use the desk to write letters or notes with a pen, on paper.

How novel.

V is for Venality

dollars

The Oxford English Dictionary defines venality as;

  1. The quality or fact of being for sale.
  2. The quality of being venal; readiness to give support or favour in return for profit or reward; prostitution of talents or principles for mercenary considerations.

Like it or not, venality is a fact of the world that we live in. I don’t think that I have ever read venality used as a positive attribute, it is always used pejoratively.

In the best debut novel ever written by me, the protagonist, Sean, could be characterised as venal. He is ambitious, he wants to get on and, he wants to succeed. He is prepared to work hard to achieve these aims. Does this make him venal?

I suspect that it comes down to how far he is prepared to go to get what he wants. The actions that he takes will determine our view of his motivation. After all, one person’s ‘venal’ is another’s ‘driven’.

Are we not all venal in some way? Certainly in the ‘developed’ world, many, if not all of of us, satisfy number 1 in the definition above. We sell our time and effort. That is how our world works. What is far more interesting to me is what principles we are prepared to put aside or suppress in return for reward.

Is venality inevitable in our world?

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

BREXIT. Yes Please.

Brexit

I love Europe. I have lived in several countries on the continent and visited pretty much all of the rest. I speak a few of the languages. My wife has an Italian ID card.

Whether it be for business or pleasure, I am forever travelling around Europe.

Then why do I want Britain out of the European Union? (BREXIT)

I live in a village in England. I vote for my parish council, my borough council, my independent Police Commissioner and my Member of Parliament. Lest I be worried about under-representation, there is also the House of the Lords; for whom I don’t vote. To support all of these folk, the UK has constructed enormous bureaucracies, that support the democratic structures of the UK and implement the policies agreed.

As a member of the EU, the UK also has to elect members to the European Parliament, as does every member state. To ensure that these people are able to effectively discharge their duty, the EU has also built an enormous bureaucracy to support it, in many languages across a wide area.

Who are these structures paid by?

Well, by the tax-payer, of course.

As I am sure every European has experienced – each element of these mammoth structures is desperate to constantly prove its importance; by fixing something. Should there be an absence of things needing to be fixed, there is no let up – they simply fix things that aren’t broken, or even break things, so that they can fix them.

In my business life, I have spent some time inside the ‘Brussels Bubble’. The term is surprisingly accurate. There is a bubble. Life within the bubble involves quite a lot of lunch, long and voluminous meetings about not very much at all and the occasional migration, when the whole bubble packs up and becomes the Strasbourg bubble for a while. (On a positive note, I should point out that the lunches were excellent, and always involved good wine.)

Everyone in the bubble is very well paid.

By the tax-payer, of course. 

For me, BREXIT is about paying for less idle and needless government.

Politicians and the bureaucrats are in the business of shaping our perceptions. (Bullshitting in other words.) I will give one more recent example.

Mr Obama, President of the United States has recently popped over to the UK to share his wisdom. He seems like a friendly enough sort of guy and he is President of the United States of America – so I, for one, was interested to hear what he had to say.

Mr O thinks that the UK should stay in Europe – apparently to save the US the bother of having to negotiate individually with the UK. It’s just so much easier to do everyone in one go.

Not the most persuasive argument.

There was even a mild tone of threat – as he explained that it might take ten years for a UK outside of the EU, to negotiate a trade deal with the USA. The sub-text (sorry, bullshit) for this line of argument is that trade deals are BIG. Difficult. Tough. Require LOTS of highly skilled (and paid) negotiating teams.

Here is my effort to help the world move forward.

Mr O. Take the trade agreement that you have with the EU and save it in a word document. Do a ‘search and replace’ or two. Replace EU with UK for example. Proof-read it, make a couple of manual changes where necessary and sign it. I think we could start on Monday morning, and be on the first tee by lunch-time.

You’re very welcome.

I am led to understand that the Brussels bubble is very similar to the Westminster bubble. It may well be. I will tell you one key difference:

On June 23rd, I have a chance to vote myself out of the Brussels bubble and the enormous cost of it.

 

S is for Stationery

Spotlight logo

I have already blogged about Bureau Direct, where I get my notebooks. Another outlet where I recently purchased lovely headed paper is Honey Tree.

Spurred on by my enjoyment of writing in notebooks and sending letters, and egged on by my fellow addict Amanda, I signed up to Spotlight Stationery. For a small monthly fee, they send me a surprise box of stationery at the end of each month. Amanda wrote a great post on her other blog about these boxes.

They are beautiful. I received my first one in March and was instantly smitten. The day of receipt, I sent all of the postcards from the box to surprised friends.

Go check Spotlight Stationery out, they are fantastic.

If you haven’t already deduced it, I am a big believer in enthusiasm. In the past, I ran training courses and had a slide that read;

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

It’s absolutely true. Whether it be business, blogging, writing, love or even stationery, do it with enthusiasm. The outcome may not be everything that you hoped for – but does it matter? The other thing about enthusiastic people, is that they are forever smiling.

Funny that.

Must dash, my new stationery box is due any day now.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

 

Q is for Quixotic

don-quixote2

Quixotic – Extravagantly chivalrous. (Dictionary.com)

Acting with the desire to do noble things without realism. (Wiktionary)

In the best debut novel ever written by me, the protagonist, Sean has a bit of the quixotic about him. In many ways, it is an attractive trait. Nobility is appealing, I think.

In Sean, I am never sure whether he is quixotic by compulsion or convenience. After all, an overblown desire to do noble things can also be a cover for other, less lofty, motivations. Perhaps I am unfair to the lad. you will have to read the novel to find out.

I have noticed how all the major political parties in the UK are getting quixotic about pensions now. To look after our senior citizens is indeed a noble cause. Given that I am heading in that direction myself, I’m all for it. However, at some point, somebody needs to inject a bit of realism.

As a society, we now spend enormous sums of money on life-enhancing and prolonging medicine and treatment. In the UK, much of this is funded by the public purse through the NHS. As a result of this amazing work, people live longer. Drawing a pension – again funded by the public purse.

Either the public purse needs to get bigger or we are going to need to have a rethink about pensions and health.

Still – quixotic. Great word.

Blogging from A to Z Challenge

P is for Procrastination

ahh-procrastination

Of late, writing for me has been 1% production and 99% procrastination.

In fairness, I believe that a large % of most endeavours is spent on activities that have little, or at best, only a tangential bearing on the aim of the endeavour.

Take E-mail for example. Those of us who have worked as office employees at some point in the last twenty years have spent inordinate amounts of time on e-mail.

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this. (Procrastinating perhaps?)

With hindsight, I believe that all e-mail is procrastination. Not some of it, not even most of it, all of it.

You may not believe me, and I am sure that you are right. I am often wrong about these things.

As you are believer in e-mail – please sign up to this site – and I’ll send you the odd e-mail to keep you in the loop.

Forgive me, I have digressed. I am a champion procrastinator. I have multiple methods.

Self-Improvement is one. (Books, Apps, Courses.) Applications. Ways of automating processes that I don’t even do, is another. To-do lists. Facebook. Buying stationery, changing wallets, oh I could go on for ever.

As I write this post, I am in a new daily routine. Essentially, I remain digital-free until after lunch. So far, it has been a huge success. But then it is only day 2.

How do you procrastinate?

Blogging from A to Z Challenge