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The Lopsided Writer

Something small, but potentially catastrophic (if you're of a certain melodramatic mindset) happened this week. 

The arm of my glasses broke. 

Is that it? I can hear you asking. What's the fool talking about now? But bear with me -

We've been together since the mid 1990s, as you can probably tell from the style (or lack thereof).

I don't wear them anywhere now, apart from at home, writing - understandably - but they are special to me. 

They're the glasses that helped to write my first book, create my first talk about... Read more

The Greatest of Gifts

You're always on dangerous ground when you use a superlative, so a little qualification first. 

I'd probably argue that the greatest gift of all is life. 

But given that - as you're reading this musing - life is something we share, a kind of base line delight and privilege, I'm talking about something extra.

And for me, that's imagination.

An example of how it can amuse, engage, entertain, and so much more -

I was riding back from a meeting in Cambridge this week, and saw a delightful view - 

I tweeted about... Read more

Planting Ideas and Inspirations

It's long been a habit of mine to eat trees full of apples.

Orchards of the things I must have gotten through in my time.

I think it dates back to my TV reporting days.

I vaguely remember once getting worried about my weight, in one of those angst moments of the thirties, and deciding to cut out biscuits, and chocolate, and other such snacks. 

But that left me lacking energy in a job where energy is essential. So I started eating apples instead, and never stopped. 

I would always respect nature's ingenuity and try to dispose of the cores... Read more

Return on Investment

One of my goals on moving to Cambridge was to get to know more about business. 

I've spent most of my life in the public sector, so, in my way of trying to never stop growing, wanted to learn about the private sector world. 

It's been a pleasure doing so - and my respect for business people has only increased, with the extraordinary hard work they put in and the risks they take to follow their dreams.

But there is one big collision between my private and public sector self. Which is this - 

There's a phrase in the world... Read more

The Finest of First Impressions

I'm going to do something dangerous, and possibly ill-advised here, and enter the debate on dress codes. 

Yes, before you say it, I know I'm hardly one to have much of an opinion on clothing, or fashion, but...

Last week, I gave a Secrets of Success aspiration talk at the excellent Harington School in Rutland. 

You always know what kind of a school you're visiting - well run, with high standards, or sadly otherwise - within the first few minutes.

If everything is organised, you're expected, there's someone waiting for you, your presentation is loaded up and ready to run,... Read more

A Stark Divide

There's a stark divide in life, one which separates people I very much want in my world with from those I very, very much don't.

And, happily, there's a straightforward test to work out who's who. 

I did something rare last week, and had a little time off.

Some fine old friends came visiting, I showed them Cambridge, and we watched the World Cup; a simple, but effective plan. 

Steve, Trevor and John (you'll immediately recognise the film star presence of the other buffoon) did't know each other until I introduced them, and... Read more

The Secrets of a Successful Event

I may well have mentioned this before, but I think it’s worth talking about again as it’s so important - 

The secret of success in teaching, or indeed any form of event.

I was at the Winchester Writers’ Festival last weekend, and had a quite delightful time.

Everyone who came on my courses was kind enough to say they enjoyed them, learnt a lot, and thought they went well. 

So, why?

It all comes down to three P's -

First of all, preparation. 

I started getting the courses ready around Christmas... Read more

The Secret Weapon

Writing can be a lonely business. 

Not to mention demotivating, when - as sometimes happens - the words won't come, not to mention the ideas, energy or faith. 

However!

There is a secret weapon to splat the darkness of those doubts in a pure comic book instant kapow! moment. 

Festivals, fairs and gatherings! Like the wonderful Winchester Writers' Festival, from which I have just returned, a little jaded, but utterly uplifted.

What a weekend. A mere blog couldn't capture it - I'd need books, and neither of us, you nor I, have the... Read more

No Man Left Behind

This is a tough blog to write, because, to be frank, I’m not sure I’ve got the words to do the subject justice.

But I’ll give it a try, as it’s such an important issue.

We’ve all used the words touched, moved and humbled for remarkable experiences, but this week I got absolutely swept up, crashed down, and emotionally spun dried.

I went to an event called No Man Left Behind, which was about mental health amongst men.

As you no doubt know, there’s a big issue with this, with suicide rates – particularly among younger men – worryingly high,... Read more

The Best of Bosses, The Worst of Bosses

Since moving to Cambridge, I've had a new boss.

And this guy is both the best and worst I've ever known. So demanding, but capable of great understanding, too.

Yep, you got it. The new boss is myself. And it's been fascinating finding out more about him. 

He can be mean to the extent that he sometimes leaves me groaning. For example - 

I'm teaching a course on how to deal with pressure in two weeks' time. It's one I've done before, and it went well enough. 

But the boss, being the guy he is, insisted I looked at it... Read more