Vote, vote, vote again and then a bus comes….

It is the proverbial bus analogy you wait ages for one then they all come together. Ironically buses of late have taken a political hue, as they seem to be the weapon of choice for various political parties . A strange choice when most of us don’t have an particularly good relationship with them. We are either fed up waiting for one, cheesed off stuck behind one or really hacked off because we have just been cut up by one. There again, I suppose it is not dissimilar to our relationship with political parties.

Our new national hobby of regularly popping off to the ballot box is quite tame compared to somewhere like Italy who has had more than 65 governments since 1945.  However ,there is a large chunk of the UK’s population who vote most Saturday nights for someone or something on tv talent shows. 

But what does it mean for all of us ? On a day to day basis, it is six weeks of media political bla bla. Promises, lies, hypothetical tosh and ‘we are better than the others, cos we say so..the NHS is no danger…we will raise/lower your taxes….we love everybody….we will lead you to the promised land…’. However, the consequences of this bun fight, is those who don’t really care , will carry on as before , those who consider the options, will do exactly that, and consider. They are unlikely to make extraneous or unnecessary purchases because of the uncertainties that come with an election especially this one. Ultimately, we are not talking about huge changes but it is the small percentage changes that make the  big differences in running a business in today’s climate.

If we were a nation such as the Italians, or the Belgians who had  no government for nearly two years making little difference, we would probably ignore the political shenanigans. But we are not . We are certainly a nation of the indifferent and the concerned. I am certainly in the ‘concerned ‘ camp, not from the outcome perspective, but from the importance of having a vote to influence any particular outcome. For the ‘ unconcerned ‘ , who may well believe they can’t make any difference whatever they do, this is one opportunity that if you think all politicians are the same , return a spoilt ballot paper. If a chunk of those who regularly don’t vote returned spoilt ballot papers, this could represent a substantial portion of the electorate. A 10% return of spoilt ballot papers would have a seismic impact of politicians of any persuasion. 

Not voting has no impact and no say. But what  really gets me going, is the continuous drivel about what Brexit means to you, your job, your wages, the price of fish , the colour of your passport and whether we will sign a fantastic trade deal with Papua New Guinea. Currently it means nothing to anyone because nobody has the slightest idea what it will be. So please, considering that we have to let politicians bleat for six weeks , just tell us what you would like to do as opposed to what you  claim you will do if your aunt was your uncle .

For the rest of us we have to get on with what we do, assume nothing, and plan with what we know rather than considering the impact of the impact of the  Papua New Guinea trade deal. 

Back to buses… maybe it would make life very difficult without them, but nothing like as difficult if we didn’t have the vote .

Financial Crisis ? Avoid dental floss !

The thieving gits ! The penny pinching, mealy mouthed, underhanded bunch of robbing swines!

An esteemed organ of our virtuous press has just discovered that our nation’s supermarkets are making up their ‘weakening ‘ margins by increasing the margins on items they don’t sell much of. Well, never having been a financial director (or even met or sat next to one, as far as I know) of a supermarket chain , I can see the amazing logic…’let’s look at the products we sell the least off and ramp up the profit margins . That will show them foreign discounters, what’s what!…’

Apparently, under inflationary pressure through  the comparative weakness of sterling, the nations storekeepers are seeking to improve their margins on items such as dental floss, water filters, cashew nuts and fresh trout.

I am no apologist for U.K grocery outlets. Over the years as a supplier I have been at the wrong  end of their very pointy sticks , as I am in no doubt many suppliers will, currently, be feeling a similar sharp end. However, to suggest they are using this tool to rebalance the books is way off kilter. 

Since last June 2016, it was inevitable that inflation had to creep back into the nation’s shopping basket. All multiples will have had forward currency contracts (I have read JD Sports had a contract on sterling/ dollars at $1.45 until the end of this 2017?) as would most prudent suppliers. However, most of these will be coming to their end and the new ones will be at rates around 10% lower. Supermarkets are not charities . They are commercial enterprises designed to create profits for their investors. If they don’t make profits and seem to be developing strategies for constantly increasing profits , they will no longer attract investors and seek to exist. There are alternative business models, such as Cooperatives, but within the U.K. their offer is not deemed especially attractive to the consumer (6.1% share of the 2016).

So if they try to increase their margins by ‘profiteering ‘ on your fresh trout and cashnew nuts rather than fresh bread and milk (but pay their suppliers more!) than so be it. Just for once, this is not the greatest crime they have committed. They are guilty of others but I suspect the ‘fresh trout syndrome’ is purely a reflection of a cost increase that can be relatively easily passed on. The other purported crime is decreasing pack sizes. Well that ain’t nothing new. It has been a technique oft used when supplier and retailer want to maintain a retail price point and both are under cost pressures. Both are examples of the few occasions when suppliers and retailers get bad press trying to do the right thing.

Regrettably, we are all facing a period of inflation beyond our control. Consequently one of the few ways of minimising its effect is to avoid dental floss and fresh trout.

Alphabet  Soup…

Only twenty six letters and they create nearly 200,000 words in the English language alone. From that number many millions of books have been written, all using the same words, the same letters , but in different combinations.

This discussion came about this weekend when seeing another tranche of recipes in the weekend papers . Julia said there are only so many ways you can dress up an omelette. This is , of course true, until tomorrow when another Chef comes with another idea. It might be rubbish but then so are many of those millions of books. That’s not really the point.

Anthony Armstrong Jones (Lord Snowdon) of royalty and picture taking fame once said he would take five hundred photographs to get one good one. So we can assume that several thousand rubbish books need to be written before you find one worth reading. That’s not really the point either.

It is mankind’s ability to be creative that sets us apart. Retail analysts have for years questioned the ability for consumer markets to continue to grow as there is nothing else for the developed market consumer to buy. Well there is currently data to support that argument. However, in 2007 Apple launched the IPhone. It was well received but it was also described as something we don’t need. We still don’t need it but up to July 2016 one billion had been sold .

That’s what makes retailing of any product or service exciting, nobody has any real idea of what the next big thing will be. In spite of any prevailing economic conditions, the IPhone was launched just prior to the financial crash of 2008, something will catch the consumers imagination . More importantly there are huge organisations investing millions of dosh to find that illusive but desirable concept that we, in turn, will part with our hard cash even if we don’t need it. Furthermore, we will queue up in the early hours of the morning to make sure we have before anyone else. What is really curious with technology, is that we are likely to pay more and get an inferior product if we queue to become early adopters. Even with Ryannair, if you buy early you pay less and get an opportunity for a ‘marginally’ better seat.

That is one of society’s dichotomies. It can be extraordinary at creating for the future , but is very poor at learning from the past. ‘Social media’ did not exist twenty years ago. It was not even a vague idea twenty five years ago. However, knowing if you stick your head above the parapet , there is a very good chance you will get an arrow in the eye, has been around for over two thousand years. If you get my drift .

This is a long way from the alphabet. I suppose what I am really driving at is no matter what is around the corner , economically or socially, there will always be opportunities as there is such a huge combination of possibilities. On a micro level, that is our own sphere of influence, it needs a level of creativity (and a bit of luck) to discover your own personal metaphorical ‘IPhone ‘ . Just remember, whatever it is, derives from only twenty six letters and only ten digits (0-9).

We can no longer rely on just knowing what sold well yesterday.

Populism…I think not ….

Both the UK and International media have droned on about the current string of ‘Populism ‘ first started with Brexit and then Trump. I believe this is utter tosh. Well at least the Brexit bit.

The rationale of Trump’s success, as seemingly bonkers as it is, was probably underwritten by Populism. But aligning it with Brexit misses the point, if not a whole load of points.

Let’s be clear how Populism is defined . And it is a clear definition.

the principles and doctrines of any political party asserting that it represents the rank and file of the people.

This is the simplest and most common definition used by a number of dictionaries and reference sources. Ironically, it first came to light in 19 century in the States, with the Peoples Party of the USA

Well that sorts Trump out but for the most part has little to do with Brexit.

I need to declare my position, albeit I have previously posted my opinions some time ago. I voted to remain and I still believe in the EU, despite it being corrupt, undemocratic, and unaccountable, which maybe says a lot more about me! However, we have a democratic vote , which I accept and should get on with making the best of it, 

The UK has been wobbly and unconvinced about the whole ‘European thing ‘ since the day we joined. It is not even marmite ( for the hordes of international readers ‘ love it or hate it ‘). Even the most ardent remainers have had many doubts and questions, concluding with ‘there is no better alternative ‘ or something similar.

Leave , or Brexiteers, had and have many motives, ranging from immigration, sovereignty, distrust of the EU, fed up with some of its, sometimes odd, regulations ,financial inadequacy and complete lack of clarity. Within these motivations there is, of course, a feeling of disassociation from our own politicians. However, this was not the driving factor illustrated by recent ‘by elections’ where the supposed ‘populist ‘ party fared badly and is in complete disarray. If Brexit heralded a populist revival they would be wallowing in success and they are not. The overriding reason for the referendum result  was that the British public wanted to leave the EU.

I would hazard a guess that currently many mainstream European politicians are lumping the Brexit vote in with Trump and perhaps Beppo Grillo in Italy , to try and demean the UK decision as somewhat naive and oddball. If the EU politicians continue to ignore that many EU citizens disagree with many of its processes , but have never been given the opportunity to express themselves then they will only encourage the growth of truly ‘populist ‘ organisations . Then the problem arises with the Populist vacuum being invariably filled by groups who have other spurious agendas which are masked under Populism and you end up with more Trumps.

There appears to be an intentional confusion created with Populism and Nationalism . 10 years ago Le Front National in France and The Party of Freedom in the Netherlands were never described as Populist. They were classified as extreme right wing nationalists. The word Populism has helped masked their,perhaps, more extreme intentions. Pure Populism can be clothed in political clothing from either end of the scale from extreme left to extreme right and anything in between.

That all said , with an ex chancellor of the exchequer having 3 jobs plus that of an MP , with an annual income exceeding that of most people’s life time earnings, and an opposition leader who has no idea why his party’s support is plummeting, the political disconnect in the U.K. will grow. In which case there is an increasing likelihood of a real Populist reaction.

So I suppose that blows my theory out of the water. Well, not really as it has nothing to do with Brexit. 

Chain links….

Much was made in the media of a recent story about Waterstones book shops masquerading under the guise of a local independent.

They have gone into places like Southwold ‘Knightsbridge on the East coast’ painted the shop in the local ‘pastels’ and given it a name such as ‘Southwold Bookshop’ .  Now you are browsing in the warm, friendly and cosy apparently local book shop. Yet it is not.

Well, I say, in the event of most small towns not having a bookshop anymore,

 ‘So what?’

They are not imposing an anonymous national retail chain blandness on the High street. They are restoring a much missed retail outlet. But more importantly they are helping to restore part of the retail community that many of our towns so desperately need.

I am not suggesting that it is ok for Tesco’s to open up loads of ‘Ye Olde Grannies Pantries’ in the hope of conning the locals into their dens of ‘retail’ iniquity . But a bookshop is a very different proposition. Despite the explosion of e-books, the sales of printed books in 2016 rose for the first time in four years. Nevertheless, much of the purchases would have been online. If, for no other reason, there are very few bookshops left. Consequently, new bookshops have to be welcomed no matter how they are clothed.

Perhaps, there is even more significance to this development. Books were one of the first  commodities   to be targeted by online operators . Consequently, book stores were the first to suffer the consequences. This may be an indicator, no matter how small, that the market has discovered it cannot rely entirely online. There are other indicators but I think this has another significance.

Much has been discussed by retailing ‘experts’ about the dying High street, especially in small towns in the U.K. Online sales, rent, rates, and general costs to operate all figure strongly. What has only just been realised is the importance of high street retailing to a local community and by this I don’t mean places to shop. Shops are places where local people meet each other and ‘socialise ‘ in an everyday superficial level. In many situations, especially with the elderly, and those who live alone, it is the only time they get to talk to people on a day to day basis even if it is only to the person on the till. Furthermore   I suggest there is a greater chance a small child who is taken into a bookshop is likely to ask their parents to buy them a book than seeing one on a screen. That can’t be  a bad thing. 

If bookshops, in particular a chain, think there is a commercial need to return to the High Street, then they should applauded not mocked. This is not the first time I have said this but perhaps this a sign of things to come . Entrepreneurs considering ‘shops’ as an entry to market. 

However, there is proviso. If this to happen, people do have to buy something when they are in the shop !

Afro American Automobile Association…..

Or in common Poker parlance ‘four aces’.

Equality of the sexes has a long way to go in the UK. It has come a long way, but there is work ,yet to be done.

However, with the appointment of a female head of the metropolitan police, a second female  Prime Minister, and of course the Queen (even though she has nothing to  do with equality, more to do with the inequality of birth) nevertheless there are three females at the pinnacle of UK society. 

Yet only 7% of the CEO’s of the UK ‘s top 100 companies are female. It is similar figure for the total number of women engineers. Within the STEM  job statistics(science, technology,engineering and maths), the female representation is about 12%. 

Consequently, we have two opposing pictures. At the very pinnacle of power, we have women but just beneath that, the movers and shakers are still predominantly men.

So what ? We are , or indeed have, entered a period of much social and political change. Nobody is very clear in what direction we are going . It is not a new phenomena. During the twentieth century, much changed after both world wars. In the nineteenth century , the industrial revolution quite literally revolutionised for good and bad, much of the world. 

Much of what is happening today has one overriding common factor the main players within this change have been men. I am not arguing whether these changes are good or bad, the point is who are the driving forces. Ironically, one of the ‘players ‘ participating in this change (albeit unintentionally) Hillary Clinton, lost out probably , in part, due to her connection to a male dominated political history.

There are only four heads of government in Europe who are female , if you extend that to the entire world you can add another three. Despite two hundred years of  rapid social change , there are times when it may seem that the underlying forces remain unchanged.

So back to the four aces. We have,maybe, 2 aces and a Queen (after she is only a Queen, and there by dint of birth). If perhaps we had a female head of the judiciary and maybe a female Archbishop , we could lay claim to the full set. And the point would be? Perhaps, there would be a more balanced and less hysterical approach to the way in which we organise society. 

I say ‘perhaps ‘ because we don’t know the outcome. We don’t know the consequence of a more equal gender based hierarchy. Some would say that women who attain power, assume the negative trappings of men, in that ego, vanity and the corruption of power take over. Maybe they do when women are in power on their own, maybe they have to , in order to maintain power. Yet despite this, a hand full of aces has got to be worth a try.

I am sure every poker player gets over excited holding two aces. For the more cautious among us we can see the benefits of holding on for the full set. Whilst politically the aces may not suit all, but as the  other various UK political parties fail to offer female alternatives , we should accept what we have and seek to encourage the rest of our society to embolden other able females to seek out their futures as aces. 

Rightly, we are told to learn from history. With the odd exception, it repeats itself. The one thing history cannot teach as what would be the consequence of an equal society. We have never really had one (occasional small matriarchal communities). Until we do, we won’t know what it can achieve . What we do know , and what cannot be argued is that it would be equal.

Try being an exhibitionist …..

Within our industry, you could spend the first six weeks of the year, every year, crossing the globe from China, through Europe to the States attending trade fairs. I am not suggesting this is a good or desirable plan, however there are the hardy few that try.

Over the last ten years trade exhibitions of every variety (not sure about armaments exhibitions) have suffered falling attendances. There are exceptions but they are few and far between.

I have worked out that I have spent 18 months of my life working away at exhibitions. I have not climbed Everest , I have not trekked across the Antarctic , neither have I warded off a herd of rampaging elephants with my bare hands. But I have spent a load of time standing , on what, increasingly became a few expensive square metres waiting for people to come and talk to me , or rather have me talk to them. Then go to a mediocre restaurant and finally  sleep at loads of mediocre hotels. So no comparison! But what is quite odd is I have totalled loads of different everyday activities, from having my hair cut to spending time in car parks. The total number of days amounts to more than my biological age. So I don’t recommend anyone trying the same calculation.

I digress.

 Falling attendances are attributed to economic cycles,less buying points, ever higher travel costs and buyer apathy to name but a few. I believe when things are tough and there is a load of uncertainty, exhibitions should be ram jam full. 

Trade exhibitions of any hue, are opportunities for buyers to look at new suppliers, feel and touch new product, look at trends , network with their industry colleagues and finally , the simple act of standing outside of their own business and taking a broader view of the market place without the daily stresses and strains of being surrounded by your own commercial constraints.

There are few clients I visit, whose second question  isn’t (first being ‘hi, how are you, are you well? Lousy weather, so are you ok?‘ . For non native English speakers, that means ‘how are you?’ ,the complete sentence is then repeated after receiving an answer .) ‘ what is happening out there’  . And it is not just a polite question, it is a genuine request on information on what is happening in the market place.

The answer to this question is limited to the views of the person you are asking and what part of the distribution chain they represent . Within an exhibition environment you can access views of every level in the chain, apart from the end user, but you are in contact with them in your business. Some exhibitions are very focused i.e. They only represent their own market place , whereas the Spring Fair in Birmingham, for example, represents a whole host of retail market places, from Party, toys, and greeting through housewares, jewellery and luggage. There are, I believe, unparalleled opportunities to take a very broad view of the retail market place in all its glory or otherwise. I must emphasise I am no apologist for this Show as it has many faults , but its outstanding USP is the breadth of product and a vision of the UK retail High street.

Yet visitor numbers continue to decline, or worse, you get the comment , ‘I come every ten years’. What I do find strange is that there are still visitors who come for 3 maybe 4 days every year, and there are others with a similar business model , who only visit every 3 or 4 years. There is a direct corollary between the relative success of the former against the later.

We all need to step outside from the confines of our own businesses and take a wider look at what is going. A good trade exhibition offers this facility. It is the one opportunity to take a peak at the near ‘future’. Something we cannot, nor should not ignore.

Think on this, Exhibitions are becoming increasingly expensive to show at and to visit. However, The Nuremberg Spielwarenmesse, the world’s largest trade toy fair, although suffering declining attendances, is still successful. Buyers from all four corners of the world travel to a town in Germany at the height of winter,where they will have to pay a small fortune for a basic hotel room in central Nuremberg. Then,when they get to entrance of this trade show,have to pay another small fortune to get in. And they do in their thousands. They can’t all be wrong. 

Trump is the least of our problems…at least for the moment….

In the next twelve months we all face many unknowns. Unknowns are problems in their own right because being ‘unknown’ makes it very difficult to plan and act, we can at best be prepared to react.

What we can plan for are the ‘knowns’ .Retail analysts , much like most other analysts aren’t necessarily the best indicators of things to come ,but you can’t avoid their historical data.

U.K. Retail sales in December were apparently down 1.6%, this was against an uplift in November. Whereas, the total figure (including online) is not clear , it is very evident that footfall is down. Springboard , a retail data analyst states that there was a fall off 20% in the footfall in shopping centres for the New Year sales.

There could be a whole bunch of reasons for this but what is clear there appears to be less people going out to shop and then they are spending less . Again, this has to be taking into context and considering a number of factors, such as online, changing habits , lack of confidence, ‘don’t need anything’ syndrome, and a mistrust of retail ‘sales’; to name a few.

Backed up against this there have been reports from some retailers, which were surprising. Waitrose ended with Christmas figures better than expected and even Marks & Spencer’s experienced like for like growth and that was with clothing as well as food . In fact, according to the Kantor World Panel half a billion pounds (wrote this as I don’t the number it equates to, nor did the journalist who originally reported the figure). So the figures don’t really equate, percentages down, figures up . What do we believe?

Whatever the real picture there are two ‘knowns’ on the retailing horizon, inflation for the consumer and rising costs for the retailer (living wage being one example). Both of these are financial sponges. They suck money out of the people’s pockets. Yet, even if there are these storm clouds and consumer spending is hit, our fellow consumers will spend approximately £300 billion per quarter (Office for national statistics)! A load of money by any standards. Any good retailer’s first priority is to ensure that they get their share of this . 

Now in expressing my opinion I may part company with the odd reader ( it maybe all, as ‘the odd reader’ may well define the total number of readers). The retailers that survive and prosper are those who are innovative and progressive. Those who are over cautious , are most likely to suffer. The ‘cut back on stock, not try anything new, just sell what we have always sold ‘ brigade , just won’t sell enough. Sticking to what sold yesterday, is not tomorrow’s template. The consumer has and is changing, they will expect the retailer to change. If they walk into the store and it is not well stocked and there are not new and fresh products, they may not come back so often or worse still they may not come back at all. This , in itself, is hardly a new approach but is ever more important. Consumers expect and demand new offerings.

Julia and I have just come back from a trade show in the States and we visited some party stores as well. Yes, that great big mega consumer society, suffers from similar problems. We saw at first hand, the difference between well stocked, big choice ,good  customer service and the opposite. The difference being customers. The former, obviously, had a lot more(the same day,an hour apart) than the latter , of everything.

Retailers, who started during the financial crash understand the need to innovate. Those who are longer established , tend to err on the cautious. Perhaps ‘cautious innovation ‘ is a path.

It requires a great deal of boldness and a great deal of caution to make a great fortune, and when you have it, it requires ten times as much skill to keep it.

Ralph Waldo Emerson (19th American philosopher)

What won’t work is battening down the hatches and hoping yesterday’s plan works tomorrow.

Trump is one of the many unknowns. We have no real idea whether his Presidency, will have any effect on us. As is the case of Brexit, it is a complete unknown, as we don’t what it is or will be. We need to deal with what we know…who knows maybe aliens are coming ..that will sort the wheat from the chaff.

Wind beneath my wings…a breath of fresh air ?

The title is a bit of a stretch to the blog content, but sounds a lot more catchy than Alchemy , or maybe it doesn’t. There again, does Alchemy Wings mean anything? As a test of severely limited ingenuity, I shall try to create  a meaningful link to the title, by the end of the blog.

Alchemy Wings is a startup in central London, offering an online delivery service to a  trial of 50 corner and convenience store, delivering crisps, snacks, and drinks (both alcoholic and non alcoholic) to their immediate customer base. Nothing especially exciting or revolutionary about that.

What I think is revolutionary are the startup’s backers, organisations such as Diageo, Coca Cola, Mars and Heineken. They are taking the view that whilst the biggest percentage of their retail sales come from the giant National Chains, their biggest profit margins come from the Independent. They don’t want to see a  further decline in the number of independents. Finally, the penny is starting to drop (not related to any drop in the Pound!).

How the thing works is that if you live ‘locally’ you can order your six pack and crisps from your local shop online (via Alchemy Wings web site) and get delivery in one hour. The trial service is confined to inner London , but if it works the plan is to extend it to large towns throughout the UK. Whilst the concept of setting up a web site for local independents is not new, the support given by big and powerful brands is,and perhaps sheds a little light at the end of the tunnel for many retailers.

I am not  expecting an explosion of corner shops. That is never going to happen, there are too many other obstacles not least , are the  independent shop owners (particularly corner shops) who are rubbish retailers. Yet, it does indicate that major suppliers are starting to understand that the future does not lie just with multiples. 

Suppliers in every retailing sector should take note. It is not an easy balance, as in some sectors independents are either not in sufficient numbers or not sufficiently professional. If the numbers stack up, in terms of outlets and professionalism, creative  ways of supporting the good retailer should be investigated and pursued. 

If supported, there is plenty of evidence that good independent retailers will continue to prosper despite intense competition from online operators, multiples and multiple discounters. This independent engenders loyalty to creative and supportive suppliers. It is just very surprising to see such initiatives coming from such big brands. 

Unfortunately, good retailers not only need support from good suppliers and consumers, they also need support and understanding from local and central government. Perhaps, the involvement of major international brands may help in raising the volume of that call.

It goes without saying, 2017 will be a tester. At every level of the chain , we,all, need to be creative and supportive. Happy 2017 !

So finally back to the title : Wind= Alchemy, feet = independent retailer and  finally ‘the breath of fresh air’ = major brands. That was a bit easier than I thought.

Party Snacks…unexpected guests….

Reading the Times on Christmas Eve, thinking all was well with the Christmas World in our house, I got slapped in the face by a wet fish .

Julia, we must get down to the shops, NOW!

What? Where? Why ? ..Julia quietly questioned..

We are unprepared for any unexpected guests …and can’t make any salt cod crostinis

There were 2 pages of quick snacks for unexpected guests. The ingredients included cod,Roliolino(no I don’t know), fresh rocket, fresh spinach, 1kg of baby tomatoes, dried porcine mushrooms, fresh sage leaves and a whole lot more. We did not have one of these items . And  we ,certainly,don’t have these items sitting around doing nothing let alone at Christmas. 

Now, I don’t want to give the wrong impression but we don’t want unexpected guests, and if by some unfortunate freak of nature (we are not especially hospitable animals ) they did turn up, a turkey sandwich would have to do, assuming we were feeling that generous and wanted them to stay long enough to get their coats off.

What such an ‘esteemed ‘ organ of the press is doing printing  drivel the day before Christmas is beyond comprehension. Well, actually that’s not altogether true, as most of them print derivations of drivel on a daily basis. However, will Rupert Murdoch be suggesting to Jerry that they whip on down to the grocery store in Christmas Eve . No, of course not, but then I am bloody sure they don’t have unexpected guests. Mind you, Jerry was a bit unexpected .

Suppose, now this will go onto articles about being prepared for unexpected lovers at Valentines , how to prepare for discovering it’s not your real mother on Mothers Day, and finding out you are a proper little ‘bastard’on Father’s Day.

I have come to think that not only can you not trust what is printed in the press, apart from the tv listings and sports results, they rarely print anything of any use . 2016 , the year of post truth ( not completely sure what that really means, but don’t think it is any different from any other year) , 2017 could be the year of the half truth. One half being Brexit is bad for us, the other half  Brexit is good for us ! 

But above all, a personal appeal …please do not try and make your readers  feel inadequate or stupid, it only makes your journalists look stupid , and  then even less people will read Daily Newspapers…so who would look stupid then?

Post Christmas bah humbug over, Happy 2017.