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A Walk Through Time

Jan 27, 2017

So here we go again! What was once ‘this year’ can now be officially classed as ‘last year’. Yet another epoch spent on life’s roller coaster, and always an ideal moment to take stock - and always, I might add, a good opportunity to indulge in an appropriate cliché. 

Firstly, I must say that, during the year, the writing of these articles has been great fun and I do appreciate the comments I get from readers, although some of them I find physically impossible to carry out. I find that an ‘article’ has almost become a unit of time and the requirement to produce one always seems to come around so very quickly. To me a year is twelve articles long. 

Of course we cannot let the year go by without mentioning Donald Trump, who even gets a number of mentions in the song about Nellie the Elephant! I don’t want to get involved in the feeding frenzy that seems to have grown around this hirsute personage who is soon to be inaugurated as US president, but it appeals to me that the word ‘trump’ in some English speaking communities actually means: breaking wind in a particularly loud way. We shall see; but I would add that I do still remember all of the fuss when Ronald Reagan was made president, and he didn’t turn out too badly. 

The other major (and momentous) event in our lives during the year was BREXIT. At this stage, who really knows where this will end? Somehow I am still largely optimistic (might as well be) and so far the effects have turned out to be more encouraging than I assumed. 

One of the most profound statements ever made by the much quoted philosopher Nietzsche was that “all great thoughts are conceived by walking”. Now as most of you who read this column are no doubt aware, walking is one of my hobbies. I don’t just mean a stroll round to the shops, but something maybe more energetic than that, although not necessarily much more. I’ve done a lot of walking over the course of the year accompanied by my daughter’s border collie, Zac. Some of my ideas for these articles have often materialised during this time, although it is putting these at too high a level to describe them as great thoughts.  

So the world turns and life moves on and I hope that 2016 was a good year for you, and (if it applies) also for your business. The moving industry seems to be doing OK and I know that we have all sorts of rules and regulations to contend with, but in reality it does have the appearance of a modern and dynamic business sector. I have not been directly involved for some ten years, but observing things from this perspective – you’re looking good! 

Whichever way you consider it, ‘moving’ is still a tough old industry. I’m not sure what the average return on capital is (does anybody?) but if you consider the number of coffee shops being opened in the average high street, and then when you look at the returns made, it makes you realise why. There’s a fat profit in a skinny latte - although running a removal company can keep you awake just as effectively as drinking a cup of coffee.   

I suppose we always have a tendency to dramatize the present and to idealise the past, but I am reminded of the old (maybe apocryphal) Chinese curse, ‘May you live in interesting times’, which I suspect was written with a definite sense of irony; but it can also be taken literally.  And whilst we are on the subject of aphorisms which can have a dual interpretation; I like the old Jewish one that says: ‘May you get everything you deserve’. Lovely!  

To continue this sinuous journey. Are you aware that in many parts of the world - and still in some areas of the UK - the word ‘remover’ actually means undertaker? This comes from the original English usage of the word and how this came about is perhaps obvious, but during the same time, an undertaker was somebody who undertook to obtain capital for a business venture. That’s before we purloined the word ‘entrepreneur’ from the French, and just to square the circle; ‘entrepreneur’ was almost a direct translation of the original English word ‘undertaker’ (gulp). To summarise: in previous times a remover’s warehouse would have been full of corpses – and that’s probably not unlike the average removal warehouse on a Monday morning in present times! 

Finally may I express the hope that 2017 has started well for you and that it continues in the same vein. Maybe I should apologise for the convoluted nature of this piece but I’ve just got back from walking the dog! 

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