29 May, 2020

Wish, perk, answer ……..

No real inspiration today, so a mixed bag: a wish, a perk and an answer.


Today’s news, mostly not new: Hong Kong liberty threatened; British Prime Minister avoids discussion on Cummings and lockdown rules; EU pushes for Brexit extension; Britain refuses.  Amazingly though: Trump threatens to shut down twitter.   These are all political issues and all involve deliberate breaks in communication and deliberate misrepresentations.

If I had my way I’d insist on a global school syllabus: every child in the world would have to learn five languages really well:

  • His/her native language
  • Another foreign language – probably English for non-native speakers
  • The language of music: the global notation, preferably practised via an instrument or singing
  • The language of numbers and quantities: mathematics, statistics
  • The language of logic

If we all had these in common, internalised and developed from an early age, then as we grew up we would discover more and more skills that we share with every other person in the world: the ability to argue from a more common logical base; the delight and emotional bonding of creating music together; a better understanding of quantitative arguments and a greater ability to detect their flaws.

Yes, these are simplistic, and yes I know that some of them – statistics and logic for example – are notoriously vulnerable to corruption, but to start from a common base, to know that everyone else has the same base and is likely to detect your weaknesses and deliberate dishonesties, and to travel the world in the knowledge that you will find identical points of contact with every other human, surely that would be a bonus – better communication globally and less room for misunderstandings.  It could prevent so many political and social problems:  1 Corinthians 15 v33: “Evil communications corrupt good manners”. We’ve all seen that happen.

Three cars a year

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, after the MBA, I was again working for British Aerospace but this time as its Director of Management Development based in Farnborough and reporting to the Main Board.  It was a global role with a remit to maximise communication, management skills and synergies in the company’s business units worldwide.  More on that another time perhaps, but I thought I’d describe an unexpected perk. I had a company car as did all the more senior execs, and during my time with BAe in Britain it bought Rover, the car company.  This posed a particular challenge for me because  the automobile sector and its culture were very different from those of military aircraft, civil aircraft and weapons manufacturers.  What was not a challenge though was Rover’s policy of putting a large number of ‘almost-new’ cars on the forecourts of garages and of their other sales outlets.  They had worked out that sales of almost-new vehicles were popular and especially profitable.  The answer, when they joined BAe?   People like me received a new Rover 800 every four months, to ‘run it in’.  We didn’t complain.

The importance of Pavlov

Back to my illness, but somewhat humorous.  I asked Dr S my consultant neurologist why at various times of the day the saliva problem gets worse.  It seems to happen at random, with no pattern.  She said that unconsciously I’m thinking about food.  Yes, Pavlov.  Well, I’ve always liked dogs but didn’t think I shared that characteristic.

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