What the Dickens?

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Along with a colleague today, we took a small group of people from our office around the Hatton Garden and Smithfields area on a ‘Wellbeing Walk’ (as part of our Wellbeing Week activities). The walk had a Dickensian theme, with lots of fun facts about the area, and a good time was had by all.

One thing that came clear to me was that Dickens was a man with a passion for campaigning. He fought for justice in the ‘cruel and harsh’ magistrates courts that operated in the Hatton Garden area, fought to improve the lot of the poor children growing up in the slums around Saffron Hill, campaigned for public executions at Newgate Prison to be carried out behind the prison walls, contributed to the debate around the closure of Smithsfields Market (for live animal slaughter, anyway), and campaigned against the Yorkshire Schools (which he wrote about in Nicholas Nickleby). I suspect this was just scratching the surface of what he got up too.

It got me thinking that I really do need to be doing more in this regard. I must confess to feeling somewhat impotent at times; ‘why would anyone listed to me?’ But then, going back to my post recently about extreme ownership, is not the right attitude at all. It isn’t a case of why would anyone listed, it should be a case of ‘why aren’t you listening to me’? It’s an important realisation to make.

A challenge

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A few months ago, MP Sam Gyimah posted a short piece on Medium arguing for a second referendum. Yet the article, while it waxed lyrical about the disaster of Brexit and the calamity of No Deal, was very thin on the ground on facts and figures. I posted a reply, which surprisingly garnered a few claps (or whatever they are on there), asking him to elaborate and back up his assertions with some cold, hard facts.

He didn’t.

Even when the likes of Mark Carney and Philip Hammond and various people at the CBI keep peddling the same old warnings, the substance still feels very thin on the ground (which it really shouldn’t for these people). Now, I know I’ve gone on at length about the fact that Brexit is a choice made by our subconscious minds and we don’t always know precisely why we believe these things to be true for us, but people like the head of the Bank of England and the Chancellor of the exchequer, should really be able to back up these nebulous assertions with some kind of evidence.

Indeed, I think that if they did and they were presented in a straightforward, no-nonsense way, most sensible people would go, ‘Oh dear, we made a mistake, look at those terrible facts and figures, what were we thinking?’ And yet nothing is generally forthcoming, and so far the rather thin offerings of doom and dispair amount to little more than speculation and opinion.

So, here’s a challenge to everyone who wants to discuss Brexit, both Leavers and Remainers. When you get into a debate about it, or express an opinion, try to at least offer some kind of rational, evidence based argument. I would be more than happy to be wrong, if the evidence was presented to me. Yet, I’ve just not seen it.

Perhaps those clever boffins in London keep it all hidden away; no point showing to the ignorant masses, they wouldn’t understand it. Try us! We’re not as daft as you think.

We Are History

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It always amazes me when people of a more left-wing persuasion sneer at historic traditions, such as those seen this week during the state visit of President Trump. I’ve heard several disparaging conversations around London this week in which the word ‘pomp’ has been spat out, almost in disgust.

This, to me, is a very cold-hearted attitude to take to the wealth of history that exists around us and we take for granted each day. It’s not only built into the fabric of the cities and towns we live in, it’s in our culture and our language. It is very much the core of the extended order, and it influences us on a daily basis. Yet so many are blind to this, more concerned with how they appear to other people, too keen to dismiss the rich history around us as somehow embarrassing.

Barely seven years ago, when London hosted the Olympics, there was a great outswelling of national pride, buoyed, I think in great part by Danny Boyles’ incredible opening ceremony, which brilliantly demonstrated the great diversity of our nation’s history. For a short while, people believed in the country, not just the conservative types.

Alas, the show moved on and we returned to our myopic ways, our hearts shrinking back to being two sizes too small. It’s a shame, but such is the cynical (and hypocritical) heart, I believe, of the left (despite the constant proclamations that they are the only ones who care).

So, when you’re next out and about, rather than staring at the phone in your hand (and getting in my way), look up and around you and think of the people and the history that surrounds us, those millions of interactions and relationships and decisions and ideas that occurred through history so you could be there, at that moment, marvelling at the view. Perhaps, then, our hearts will start to grow again.