Tony Allen: And Finally... Don’t get me wrong

Mar 19 | 2020

Sometimes it seems like a major responsibility working on a nascent article for ‘The Mover’ especially as it’s fundamentally the last item to be read and you really want to conclude having created some sort of an impact.

Tony Allen: And finally...The problem which I sometimes have is that it’s difficult to be topical when you’re writing for a monthly magazine.

Just a few moments ago, Mrs Allen and I were looking out of the window, like two mesmerised kids outside a sweet shop, watching, what seemed as if the whole of the polar ice cap had been melted and dumped in our front garden. Believe it or not,  I alluded to this problem in my previous article over a month ago. Since that time I think it’s now correct to affirm that our garden seems to bear all of the hallmarks of a far eastern paddy field - I wonder what the current price for a bushel of rice is?

Can you see the problem? By the time you read this, we could be looking at plans for building an Ark or alternatively we could be facing all of the problems associated with a severe drought; and what is more, I could be held responsible for writing about a subject that is totally out of context.

To paraphrase the words of the late and maybe not so great British Prime Minister Harold Wilson: ‘A week is a long time in journalism’, and I should add that I haven’t even touched upon forest fires, and  I’m steering clear of the Coronavirus, although I believe it has now been re-named, which, hopefully, should make it less infectious!

Anyway who am I to complain? The unpredictability of life is what keeps us on our toes. Being resourceful and innovative is what makes us successful; and whether writing an article or running a company there is really no escape from this condition. It doesn’t matter how hard we try, it is virtually impossible to consistently get things right. As much as we might prepare in advance, by definition we can’t actually prepare for the unexpected.  

Companies need to ensure that the products and services that they offer still remain within context, and the business landscape is littered with examples of companies who did not apply this philosophy.

Admittedly every product and service has a life cycle, the length of which is often hard to predict. I sometimes quote the example of the fax machine, which was a major breakthrough in a function previously dominated by telex transmission. We all had to have one, no matter what the expense. It was going to change our business lives; and it did - for a short while.

So what happened? Well computerised communication by email was introduced and almost overnight the fax machine was ‘out of context’ – it became the ‘ex-parrot’ of the communication world. Things had moved on so quickly that it was: goodbye Mr Fax; don’t forget to write!

Another problem with regard to article writing, or text writing in general, is how the meaning of words can ‘wander’ and graduate over time. This is especially valid with the young, where the meaning of words can mean the complete opposite of what they originally meant and new words are constantly being created. This process can happen so quickly that one’s intended meaning can change or go out of fashion within the space of a few weeks, and that can make a nonsense of something that you’ve written.

Take for example the word ‘egregious’, which seems to be in very popular usage at the moment, and is used to  explain something that is conspicuously bad. Well this word originally meant something that was ‘conspicuously good,’ so one has to be very careful. There are so many minefields, especially in modern parlance.

I can remember (thankfully) a time, not long ago, when you would hear it said that nobody writes to each other anymore. Yet now, with the advent of texts and e-mails, we do it all the time. Ironically you can now often hear the point being made that nobody talks to each other anymore. It’s a funny old world!

Anyway, enough of semantics, I notice that it’s stopped raining, which is a nuisance because I’ve got an article to write and I should really take the opportunity of being outside, metaphorically, tending to my rice. If you get my meaning.

Me neither!