I have just given the 'Smethurst' talk to the Harrow branch of the University of the Third Age at the Harrow Arts Centre. The talk went extremely well, helped in no small measure by a very lively and stimulating audience. The reception quite lifted the gloom induced by the drive to Harrow via Stanmore and Pinner during the rush-hour. What a splendid organization the U3A is. More power to their elbow.
Last night's 'Apprentice' confirmed my view of the vacuousness of modern so-called marketing. Two teams were required to come up with a new ready meal idea. One team dreamed up 'Healthy Horrible Food' (with bat's blood) aimed at children. Since youngsters can be notoriously fussy in their eating habits, the fact that a bunch of them from a primary school absolutely gobbled it up wanting more, confirmed that it tasted good. The other team produced a 'fusion' of Caribbean and Thai (both foods noted for their 'hotness') with apparently catchy packaging. The food inside though was not good - bland and uninteresting - Caribbean? Thai? The contestant who cooked the original recipe hadn't even tasted it.
You've guessed it - the second team won more orders from retailers and won the event. NEVER be taken in by packaging.
Difficult to believe that it's the longest day today after the rubbish weather we have had for so long this year.
Watching The Apprentice last night, it was difficult not to be impressed with Lord Sugar's no-nonsense management style. I particularly liked: 'What part of "shut up!" didn't you understand?'
I remember watching one episode of The Apprentice several years ago, when the whole thing suddenly became clear to me. 'S'r Alan' had been ranting against his unfortunate apprentices following a sales or cost-control disaster. Industry is about sales, costs, and the management of people. Control those three, and everything else falls into place. I rather wish I had been aware of the Alan Sugar business philosophy when I was working in industry. It is worth ten of those relentless management fads that were inflicted on us.
Perhaps the government, particularly one or two of its more high-profile ministers, could learn something from Lord Sugar.
Google is coming in for a lot of stick on its tax affairs of late. When I was at school, we were told that whereas tax evasion was illegal, tax avoidance was perfectly legal. Furthermore, any finance director who failed to minimize his company's tax liability would soon be booted out by the shareholders.
Google insists that it pays its legally due taxes in the UK and HMRC appears to agree. Clearly the problem lies with the government. If Google conforms to the rules, and still the government insists that they are not paying enough tax, the solution is simple. Change the tax law.
I admit that I am not an objective observer. I, along with millions of others, benefit from the free use of Gmail. Google have digitized my first book, Henry's Trials; it is possible to read around 25% of it on line as a taster. Again, with no charge to me. Google has also digitized untold thousands of old books and made them available, free of charge, on line. This has helped my research enormously.
In short, I am a fan of Google. Whether or not the company is too powerful is a moot point. Most users of the Internet substantially benefit from its facilities. Let us have, by all means, an intelligent debate on the fair payment of taxes. But let us have no more of this nonsense about 'immoral', legal, tax avoidance.
I have expanded the 'publications' page with some commentaries on the various entries. Writing these has been quite therapeutic, as my good friend Chris R, who helped me considerably in setting up this website, has observed. I hope they (the commentaries) are seen as being helpful and not too self-serving. I have, for the most part, resisted the temptation to 'have a go' at persons who have severely stressed me in the past. I refer, of course, to one or two members of the senior management team at e2v. No names, but they know who they are.
Welcome to the Mirli Books blog written by Peter Maggs