Author Archives: thatconsultantbloke

About thatconsultantbloke

Based in North Wiltshire UK I try to have fun whilst making things happen. I spent almost 40 years climbing the corporate ladder before getting bored with being too far from the action. Now I use my experiences of that time, the good and the bad, to keep the bills paid and have fun helping clients turn strategy into positive results.

Letters to the editor – driver shortages

Sir

Those or the Remainer persuasion are claiming that our departure from the EU has caused a shortage of lorry drivers, but they are missing a trick: They fail to note that it has also caused the pan-European shortage of drivers and the same problem in North America. Surely they need to aportion credit where credit is due?

Or is it that there is a shortage of truckers across the globe and our escape from the totalitarian regime has nothing to do with it?

I think that we should be told.

Yours etc

Disgusted of Dorcan

Leave a comment

Filed under Letters to the Editor - I think we should be told

Thinking Swindon

This time of year has a number of important dates for me, but one that I often overlook is that it was 37 years ago this month that I moved to Swindon. Since then I have lived at two addresses in the town and, for a year, one in Chiseldon so I have spent more than half my life in and around the town. I seem to have put down roots here, especially if I tell you that I have lived in this house for 32 years.

Swindon was part of my life for any years following my earliest memories. I was born about 25 miles away and, although we gradually moved further and further away, our crockery at home was always referred to as having be bought at Swindon market as were one or to other things around the home. In fact my mother still had some of that stuff when she died and it ended up in the recycling centre over at Cheney Manor.

As a family we moved East through Berkshire and Buckinghamshire to Surrey and then to Essex. I continued that migration through the latter county after I left home and on a rough reckoning had lived at 14 addresses by the time that I decided to take the advice, “Go West, young man”. But Swindon had crossed my path on various ways over the years.

In 1972 I got a job at Brown Brothers in one of their Essex locations at a time when the head office had just moved out of the Great Eastern Street site in London. The admin functions had all gone to Swindon and there was regular contact with people down here, (the central stores operation had moved to Wolverton, another railway town that was to become a big part of my working life a decade and a bit later).

Towards the end of the seventies the railway involved me briefly with the town. The first was when on a day out to the West the locomotive pulling our train failed and we were stuck at Swindon waiting for a replacement for long enough to mean that my day out was effectively wasted and I ended up going straight back to Essex after grabbing a bite to eat at my destination. The following year I was on my way back on the train from Bristol when we were stopped at a signal shortly after passing under the M4. As we waited I could see the new housing development of Toothill, little knowing that I would own one off those houses about 7 years hence.

So what bought me to Swindon? By 1984 I was living in North East Essex, but working in London. I had a three hour round trip commute and so was gone from home before the children were up and home after they went to bed. My marriage was dying as we became strangers and so I wanted a job nearer home and there was nothing much that I could find locally at that time, but the firm that I worked for were expanding their Swindon operation and so I threw my hat into the ring.

A job offer came through and so I moved down here, staying initially at the Swandown Guest House on Victoria Hill, but then moving in with a colleague until the sale of my old house and the purchase of the new one came through in about the November. We lived in Toothill and I had about a 30 minute ‘bus ride to work on the Outer Circle with an annual season ticket that cost me £99 (a weekly rail season ticket from home to work at my previous address had been £127).

It was to be the move that launched my career and gave me much more besides, but initially I felt that I had made a dreadful mistake. As is often the case in business the project that I was due to work on was running late and I had little to do. My first two or three weeks were a round of induction sessions and introductions to people in various departments that I would have to work with, most of whom were really too busy to spare me the time. They had their own language of acronyms and such that baffled me and the organisation’s IT department, the London end of which I had just moved out of, seemed to resent me as a deserter of the cause.

One of the only joys that I had was exploring the industrial heritage of the town after work and one one of those walks I happened to look up at the right moment to see Concorde heading out towards the Atlantic, hearing it seconds later. The evening Concorde became my talisman in those lonely days before the family moved down to join me.

Things got better though. We had a bigger house here and we settled in. The children made new friends and I got my first promotion which eased things financially for us. We exchanged our old banger for a relatively new second hand car and started to have a annual holiday. Life was not too bad; West Swindon was not a bad place to live with the Link Centre within walking distance, the big Carrefour supermarket (now ASDA) as almost our corner shop and plenty of ‘buses to get us into and out of what was then a decent town centre. Swindon was a good place to live in and you could often spend most of a Saturday in town.

As the town spread West and North the council seemed to lose the plot. The genius of the fifties and sixties in reinventing the town faded and somehow it all went wrong. It’s odd, because it is thriving town with plenty of employment and new opportunities coming in regularly, yet the town centre has been allowed to decline to a point where it is hard to see how we can ever get it back. Forward Swindon was a catastrophic failure and odd projects have been allowed to proceed with no apparent cohesive plan while the urban sprawl continues into what was, when I moved here, sacred green belt land.

I do appreciate an element of hypocrisy on my part; all three of my Swindon area homes have been built on what was, fifty or so years ago, open fields. It’s what happens and we have to accept it. The population has been allowed to grow out of control and people have a tendency to breed. All off these people want homes and there are not enough to go around so we either have to cull the population or build more houses; guess which one will happen. High-rise is acknowledged to be unpopular for all sorts of reasons and so more of the fields will have to go. At least here we are using a reasonable amount of brownfield space too, but the spacious developments like to one that I live in, built in the 1970s, are a thing of the past.

Times change and the world now is not the same as when I moved here. There is no sense of community, but, from my perspective, there hasn’t been one at any of the places I had lived at down here. We have lost the vibrancy of the town centre though. Out of town superstores, shopping centres and strip malls have taken care of that in the same way as they have in most American towns; why pay to park in town when you can park for free around the edges and the shops there are better?

I still live and work here though, and am happy enough to stay. Seventy is creeping closer and I have no idea how many more years I have on this planet, but I see little likelihood that I will move anywhere else now. The town has been good to me; my career exploded after I moved here, I met the love of my life with whom I have shared 32 happy years now and I am very grateful that things conspired to bring me here.

All in all Swindon is OK. You can get to other parts of the country easily from here, some of the most beautiful countryside is a few minutes drive away and the place keeps growing so there are opportunities for those who live here and for their children. Sure there are negatives, but there are more positives. Forward Swindon may be a thoroughly discredited phrase now, but maybe Go Swindon will do instead.

Leave a comment

Filed under General postings, serious stuff

Writer’s Block

I appreciate that this blog has been neglected for quite a while. It is not my only blog and they have all lacked content lately.

There was a time when my business travels left me with time to both think and write. Those days are gone, at least for now, and my daily commute is a ten minute drive so these is no scope for my scribbling. At home there are too many distractions.

I have had the block before, even in the days when I had a deadline for a monthly feature of around 1700 words. Somehow something would flow from brain to fingers to keyboard and on to the cloud for my editor to review, even if I did often have to stare at a blank screen for several daily sessions until the eleventh hour. This time, with only self-imposed deadlines, I have been pretty sterile for several weeks.

The problem is not a lack of ideas. I use the Notes app to capture random thoughts and also record audio clips where I can. There is a wealth of stuff to prompt me, but putting it into sentences and paragraphs that I am happy to publish is another question.

I will get past it. This is evidence that I have moved on enough to get something happening, so, as always, watch this space.

Leave a comment

Filed under General postings, writing

Scottish Independence

I have no problem with Scotland becoming independent; I would rather that they didn’t because I believe in the Union as something that I have grown up with, but if they want to go then fair enough.

What needs to be clear though is the basis of their going. The end of any influence over the government of the rest of the UK and no more money from the rest of the UK being the starting point. Nothing that I have seen from La Sturgeon gives any indication of how Scotland could survive alone and perhaps that is why around half of her constituents seem to be against a split.

The EU have made it clear that they would not admit Scotland as a member so I cannot understand how she seems to cling to that idea. In general she seems to me to be one of those people making a lot of noise about something that she will never have to deliver whilst having enough shreds of populist ideal to keep the votes coming her way.

One of the criticisms of the UK leaving the EU was that those of us who voted to leave did not know what we were voting for and I have never denied that. I knew what I was voting for and was very clear about it, but the obvious dismay of some fellow leave voters when the truth dawned clearly showed that they did not understand (not that the Remain camp ever explained exactly what staying in would mean either). I think that many supporters of Scottish independence do believe that they will get some form of support from the UK after any divorce and that we would not sit by and watch them go bankrupt.

There are those in England who are getting heartily sick of the whingeing from the other UK nations and would happily see Ulster become part of a united Ireland, would recreate Offa’s Dyke and Hadrian’s Wall, possibly with some boundary adjustments, and let them all bugger off. England has its now problems so why keep baling out these troublesome bailiwicks? It should be no surprise that many of those Scots who oppose independence fully understand that they have it good right now because of the handouts from South of the border. Perhaps we should cut off those funds and give La Sturgeon a bit of a hand here?

Personally I believe in the Union and would like to see genuine unity, but time will tell. The Scots have had their generational shot at a referendum and could not get enough support for independence. They should now get on with life.

Leave a comment

Filed under random rants

Blinkered vision

The Remain camp are still muttering about us leaving the EU and delighting in every glitch. Even where the fault is actually with an EU country they still gleefully post it as a “Brexshit” failing. Yet where are there criticisms of their beloved EU’s performance on Covid issues?

The UK is streets ahead on vaccinations because we did not have to suffer the centralism and bureaucracy that the EU loves, but there is no word from the Remainers about any of this. Rather they main about our government’s performance.

Leaving the EU is not what they wanted and they will never change as long as they wear the blinkers.

Leave a comment

Filed under random rants

are we out?

So we appear to have finally left the EU. After much wasted time, much of which falls to the Remain camp and the intransigence of the EU it seems that we have finally left, but we are not yet out. Ceasing to be a member is the end of that stage of the process, but if we are to truly leave we need to start divesting the UK of as much of the EU cobweb as we can and I look forward to seeing signs of that happening.

For me leaving the EU was never about a dislike of Europe or of foreigners. It was about the shackles of the EC and its desire to control every aspect of human existence. I know that much of the EU regulations were written by us, not just because we are good at that sort of thing, but also because it gave us a chance to make them less ridiculous. But that was only worth doing whilst we were members and stuck with having to do everything by committee.

Now that we are out we can use everything that we want to, but have no need to use the things that we did not want. I look forward to seeing them gone.

Leave a comment

Filed under serious stuff

Apparently I am a racist

Over the last week I have seen a few posts on social media, some using identical words, that accuse me of being a racist. Not by any direct action I might have taken, but because I am white and was born back in the nineteen fifties. I have heard this argument more than once over the last six or seven years and I am told that it is taught in school here in the UK. 

My initial response that if someone wants to brand me as a racist, then fine, they are entitled to an opinion and I don’t really care what people think of me, especially those that don’t know me from Adam.  I will not criticise them as individuals, but their opinion is fair game.

The people using this argument do not know me, nor what I think, feel or do, yet they will accuse me of something whilst patronising me by saying that it is not my fault; that I am a victim of circumstance. I have no sorrow in saying that I think that this argument is a load of bollocks, because I am what I am through the choices that I have made, through the way that I have interpreted what I have learned and experienced over the, almost, sixty eight years that I have existed. I am capable of critical thought and am not some brainwashed product unable to understand the world around me. If I am a racist then it is not by accident of birth.

I am appalled at the thought that an officer of the law could kneel on a man’s neck until he was beyond help. I am appalled that this could happen anywhere, let alone in the country that has become my part time home for the last twenty eight years. But there is much else afoot in this world that appals me too and at the heart of most of it is ignorance and intolerance. The argument that I am a racist because of my birth does itself demonstrate both of these traits.

Am I a racist? If you want to believe that I am then go ahead. But if you accuse me of that then where is your evidence? What have I done that gives you the right to make that accusation? The principles of natural justice require you to present your case against me, but if all  you have is a sweeping generalisation that I am a racist because I was born white then I suggest that you need to take a long look at your own attitude and beliefs. 

The people who believe that my contemporaries and I are inherently racist are probably not bad people. I don’t know them all so will not judge. I think that they mean well and want to live in the same sort of tolerant society that I do, but if we are to get there we need to understand each other and work together. 

A fundamental part of the accusation of my racism is that I would have been brought up in an atmosphere of white supremacy. This ignores the fact that my parent’s generation fought a war against, in part, the white supremacy of the Nazis and the yellow supremacy of the Japanese. Far from any belief in white supremacy I was taught that all people were equal and when there was the occasional comment from someone to the contrary it jarred. White supremacy is an obvious illustration of racism, but racism is more than white supremacy. Consider the acts of genocide around the world; yellow skinned people killing other yellow skinned, white on white, black on black, brown on brown. These are all illustrations of racial hatred, even when some are wrapped up in religious banners.

To say that I am a racist because of the environment that I was born into is an interesting argument from an academic point and I understand it, but it ignores much that would contradict it. The world was changing rapidly when I was born and things that reflected attitudes of white supremacy like imperialism were already being rejected. After a second major conflict in a quarter of a century there was a strong movement to a more equal and tolerant society, not just in racial terms, but in all terms. Consider where we are now to the time that I was born into nearly seventy years ago. One thing that you will find is that ignorance and intolerance have not gone away and social media has exposed just how rife they are. Not necessarily just in racism, but generally and sadly that is a facet of human nature. We are complex people and do not all think the same.

My code is simple; I will treat you with kindness and respect regardless of your skin colour, race, religion, sex, sexual leanings, wealth or anything else that might, or might not, differentiate you from me. If that is reciprocated then we will get along fine. If it isn’t then I will do my best to have as little further contact with you as possible. If that makes me a racist in your eyes then so be it. In my eyes it makes you a bit of a bigot.

Leave a comment

Filed under about me, america, serious stuff

Nearly 70 and no tattoo

This train of thought was kicked off by a friend sharing something on Facebook. Normally I avoid re-sharing such things, but “50+ and no tattoo” struck a chord. At 67 going oil 68 and still unadorned I shared the post.

I did once fancy a tattoo. This was in the early 1970s and with the end of my teenage years knocking on the door I seriously considered some ink. At that time the males in my orbit came into roughly three generations; the lot who had managed to get a bit of time in the forces in the First World War, those, like my Dad, who had done their bit in the second bash and the ones who had done National Service. All had tattoos of some sort and as we rolled up our short sleeves in warmer weather my forearms looked conspicuously bare by comparison (as did the arms of others my age).

There were two problems. Firstly there were not that many tattoo parlours around in those days and the ones that did exist tended to be in less salubrious parts of town. The other was, for me, an aesthetic one in that I did not want a new tattoo, I wanted one that looked nicely weathered in.

The young lady that I was with around that time quite liked the idea of me getting a tattoo, especially if it included some commitment to her. I mentioned this to the other members of my platoon at the next Civil Emergency Core practice and they were horrified. A cleaned up version of their advice was “No way old chap”.

I took that advice and forgot about the whole tattoo thing until the more recent craze for getting inked. Whilst I can accept that there is some artistry around and some tattoos look very good a lot do not; they look bloody awful to my eyes. Fortunately for both of us the Berkshire Belle feels the same way.

Leave a comment

Filed under about me, random rants

Letters to the editor – will they ever learn?

Sir. A certain group of people are at it again, now deploying a tactic on the topic of the Corona virus that has failed them twice in very recent history.

I refer to their smothering of social media channels with the most appalling nonsense with regard to the UK government’s handling of the crisis. Everything is too early, too late, too little, too much and so on. They twist their arguments to suit and all with the sole aim of bringing down the government.

They seem to forget that this government was recently elected despite their efforts to encumber us with one that they would have approved of. When they talk of the Prime Minister’s performance as “sampling” I wonder what they would have thought had we had Jeremy Corbin and Diane Abbott managing things.

Not only did their flooding of social media fail to elect a Labout government many of these same moaners used the social media platforms to keep us in the EU by flooding it with messages of doom. That failed too.

Will they ever learn that the silent majority are not so stupid that we will believe all of their nonsense? I think that we should be told.

Yours etc, Disgusted of Dorcan.

Leave a comment

Filed under Letters to the Editor - I think we should be told

The joys of writing, part seven

There are those days when I can stare alternately between a blank page and the world outside my window for ages with nothing flowing between brain and fingers. On other days the two parts will connect and words flow freely onto the screen, but with none of them making much sense.

The magic happens when the words just flow and a good story emerges. It may be fact or fiction, a blog, article or book; it doesn’t matter as long as it just pours out of me.

It is rare that any such good session is perfect. Almost always I will print a copy off to look at later and read off the page. That is where I will see the typos and redundant words and can correct them, making whatever it is that I have written tight and economic. Of course if any such piece is going before an editor they will improve it further; the fresh eyes always make a difference.

Nothing can compare though with that thrill of a good hour, part or full day at the keyboard. It makes up for all of the frustrating days when nothing worthwhile can be prised out. They always come; I just don’t know how, when or why and maybe that is why they are so special.

The odd thing is that, when faced with a deadline, something always does come. It’s just that not everything forced works as well and whilst I have never had a piece rejected, there have been many where I have taken my fee with no feeling that I have earned it.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder though and just because I do not like one of my offerings does not mean that others will not enjoy it. The hard side of that truth is that something that I feel is magnificent may fall short of my reader’s expectations.

It doesn’t matter though because the pleasure that comes when the words fly onto the screen is such that it will keep me going for days.

Leave a comment

Filed under writing