20 of 365

It’s six weeks to the day that mum passed away.  And tomorrow we will be meeting social services Bucks to discuss our complaint against the care agency that was looking after mum.

Mum had suffered with dementia for many years.  And I had made a complaint because I had witnessed, prior to mum’s last admission to hospital, treatment which I can only describe as abuse.  I had also notified the Care Quality Commission and raised the issue with the local police, who advised that it was a matter for social services.

After mum was admitted to hospital she also became the subject of a safeguarding process.

I feel it’s important that social services investigate the circumstances around the complaint fully.  I would like to see that key lessons are learned and all appropriate actions are taken.  I would also like to understand how well the safeguarding process was implemented and whether lessons could be learned from this too.

We are meeting with social services tomorrow.  If possible it would be nice to get an independent participator at the meeting; like healthwatch – because that would reduce the burden on us as a family to hold social services to task.


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As a contractor I have to send annual accounts to companies house and a tax return for the company to HMRC.

This year, for the first year I can ever remember, my company accounts are late.  There is a statutory deadline to submit accounts – which is 9 months after the year end date for the company.  My year end for my company BizDev Limited is 31st July and the accounts to year end 31st July 2018 I believe needed to be submitted by 30th April 2019.

I have had several chasing letters from companies house – but want to make sure the accounts are right before submitting them.  My accountant had prepared them some time ago, I just hadn’t sent them back to him signed, and for that reason they hadn’t been filed.

Last week I reviewed them in detail and sent some queries to Peter and Eddie which they had duly replied to, and after further reviews this weekend – we have established that I wasn’t looking at the final copy – and therefore I have to complete my review again.  This is in fact good news.  One of the chasing letters from companies house came just before our holiday to cornwall, Denise had sent the copy I emailed her down to Cornwall for me to sign – and instead of signing them (I wanted to give them a review, because a brief flick through gave some indicators that they weren’t accurate), I had written to companies house to tell them they would be late – due to mitigating circumstances, which I would explain at a later date.

So it’s fair to say, there is still some work to do before they’re signed.  But I am determined to get my house in order and file a copy that’s accurate.



18 of 365

We are very lucky in Beaconsfield that we have the National Film and Television School.  This has been in the town ever since I can remember.

When I was a boy, mum answered an advert in the local paper and soon after a TV crew turned up from the school and made a short.  To my knowledge, the school has been there for over 30 years, probably far longer.

I have the opportunity of working with a young film-maker this summer; Erik Winzell.

I saw Erik’s advert locally and got in touch yesterday with a view to discussing some ideas.

Erik Winzell's Advert

For those of you who know me – you’ll know I am passionate about comedy.  This year,I’ve posted a comedy cv here and over the last year I’ve given about half a dozen live comedy performances.  3 of them have been with Big Nose Comedy hosted by the multi-talented David Lewis.

My comedy mentor Chris Head and I discussed a couple of interesting projects this year.  And I have an interesting ideas for a comedy character.  Basically I’d like to get time in front of a camera to see what comes out of these ideas.  Because Erik will be in Beaconsfield this summer, it’s something I can do locally – that could help us both out.

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22nd June 2019

An open letter to the Hope Church Beaconsfield:

Dear Tom and all of the congregation,

Thank you all so much for the support, love, care and attention that you have showed all of our family, but especially Mum, during the past years.  And thank you so much for all of the support, generosity and kindness that you have all extended to our wider family during the period before and after her passing.

As you know, Mum was disabled following a hip-replacement operation in 1999 that left her with a girdlestone hip.  And for 20 years, lived with that condition.  Dad passed away in 2006 and so Mum lived the next 13 years largely on her own until a few years ago when she had a 24/7 live-in carer.  She received a diagnosis of dementia some years ago.  And she battled with these, and other health conditions, until her death last month.

There was so much love and kindness shown to Mum, Dad and the family from her friends at the church during those 20 years.  From ladies bringing soup, lifts to and from church and house group meetings and people popping in.  But there are far too many to acknowledge in a single letter.

And more recently of course, the church held the funeral service – and took care of all the finer details;

  • the flowers (hand-picked) and wreaths (hand-made)
  • the wake (home-made scones, in a most wonderful afternoon tea) and
  • the broader wishes of the family (including the musical tributes)

during this incredibly difficult time.

We wanted to say a big thank you for everything over the 50 years or more that Mum was a member of the church.

With much love,

Graham, Denise and Steven (and our respective families).

16 of 365

Gangsta Rap is a children’s book written by Benjamin Zephaniah.  I enjoyed reading it and finished the book this week.

Gangsta Rap – Benjamin Zephaniah

It was at the Bedruthan last week, that I realised the book I was reading at the time was taking an enormous amount of effort to read and assimilate.  I was just starting Chapter 3 of that book on Moore’s Law (#geekfest) – and it was going to start to get even more technical.  What I needed was a mental slowdown.

“I am on holiday” I thought, I should be reading for pleasure – not to give my brain more complexity.  This book caught my eye, in a charity shop in Newquay.  I’d been an admirer of Benjamin since I heard some of his poetry at Brunel University in the late 1980’s.  So why not?

This book introduced me to a culture I know little about, hip hop and living in East London (Stratford, Newham etc.).  I used to work alongside Stephen Timms when I worked for Ovum Ltd in London (1986-1987), and I think I went go-karting there with Barclays.  But those are my closest connections to Newham – and Stratford is a place that I’ve only ever really passed through on route to somewhere a bit more middle-class.

Anyway, the book, the book I hear you cry.

As the primary audience is children, it’s unsurprisingly quite easy to read.  It’s based around three main characters;  The protaganist Ray or X-Ray-X his rapper/street name, Prem (Prem de la Prem) and Tryone (Pro Justice).

These three teenagers are expelled from school and start a rap outfit called positive negatives.  The band acquire a  manager – have a moderate amount of success before troubles start to hit the band – in particular Ray.  The troubles come from a rival band in the West End of London.  And an east versus west mentality is fueled by the press.  The police appear unable or unwilling to understand or get to the root of what is happening.

Ray has a sister Kori, and she likes R&B – and even though this book’s main story line is around the boys, Kori and her friends and the band’s girlfriends are also key characters.  Ray’s Mum and the Mum’s of the other band members are also featured.  So I quite liked the diversity.  Although it did seem that most of the white people in the book were either crooked, naive or gullible (apart from Fingers, sorry I almost forgot Fingers – he was safe and a legend – you nearly got me there BZ).

Most of the main characters seem to have nick names like Marga Man and Bunny ( based on Blacker Dread perhaps?).

I won’t spill any more beans, just to say if you have a teenager who likes their music, or is feeling isolated or having a tough time – they might like this book.  It is wonderfully written and uplifting.  It was a lovely escape for me.  And an important eye opener into culture.

Will it impact my life, yes probably; now that I know that rapping is just street poetry – it’s made me very curious to listen to some more.  So Dr. Dre, Tupac, Busta Rhymes you’ll be coming onto the streaming gadget soon, just as soon as I finish listening to Pino Palladino on No Parlez.

As an aside, I did wonder this morning as I was writing this review whether Dr. Benjamin Zephaniah (multiple honorary doctorates) had a more important message to portray in this book.  Was it a parable for society in general?  Is the east-west divide just talking about the local music scene, or is he referring to world politics?

If you ever end up reading the book, I would be interested to hear what you think about that !

Now that I’ve finished with the book, if you would like it, please get in touch and I’ll send it to you.  I only have one copy though, so be quick.


15 of 365

It’s really great working for an employer who gives you the flexibility to work from home.  Yesterday was another such day, and I really do feel I work better that way.

In the morning I cleared my diary to focus on some key work tasks that had to be finished by the end of the week.  And after taking a lunch break – where I visited the GP and storage-mart in Loudwater I returned home.

A letter was awaiting me, which put me in a bit of a spin. The local council had been inspecting our allotment and it had been found lacking.

Mr Panicky Poo into action

On the verge of eviction

I called the council straight away upon receipt of the letter. I’d arranged for Steve to come and help rotavate at the weekend and I was worried that any investment in the allotment might all be for nothing if we were served our 1 month’s notice.

This is what the council would have seen if they had visited the site this week.

Before we'd strimmed

It’s a jungle out there!

I explained to the council that we had mitigating circumstances. I sent the picture below, along with some emails that showed evidence of intent. We had been trying to hire a rotavator and getting to clear the site at the weekend.  How ironic!

Carrots, Potatoes, Strawberries, Onions, Leeks and various others

Fruit and Vegetables in-waiting for the allotment

Natalie had been working for weeks, months even, growing and planting – ready to transplant to the allotment – but it hadn’t yet been cleared.

I called Gary and after work he came to the rescue.  We headed up the plot and he took a strimmer straight to it – whilst I raked.

Readying the Plot

After Gary and I cleared a patch

Afterwards we headed back to the house.  It was a great chance for us to catch up, as well as for me to do some manual work for a change (I remember how much Caroline laughed when we told her!)

Destined for a crumble

Rhubarb from Gary

Back at the house, Gary gave us a present of some freshly cut Rhubarb before he headed off.

Later that evening I finished reading my book.

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View of the garden

We have a lovely garden with a big oak tree at the bottom.  Yesterday, Steve came and tended to it whilst I was out at work.  This morning, after the rain we had yesterday, it caught my attention as being very green and lush.

We have some plans for it.

  • New Greenhouse
  • New Garden Shed
  • Water feature on Pond
  • Protect the Fence on the right hand side
  • Check the oak tree and remove dead wood
  • Protect the Patio

I’m also hoping to help Natalie with her allotment, the first job is to hire a rotavator and Steve will come and help turn the allotment over.  It might be a bit late for spring planting though, but we’ll do what we can with the help of this book we bought for Natalie in Stratford-upon-Avon from Waterstones when we visited earlier in the year.

Ready to tackle the allotment

13 of 365

It was my first day back at work after a two week absence.  The first week was the week of mum’s funeral – and the second week off was the holiday in Cornwall.  The holiday couldn’t have come at a better time, it was much needed.  But the weather really let us down.

It was a long day, I woke very early – too early – and set off for Croydon around 6:00 a.m.  After I’d parked the car I stopped in the Croydon Park Hotel for a cup of tea and found the staff to be lovely there.

At lunchtime I wandered off to get something to eat.  And spotted a Nando’s near East Croydon Station.  I couldn’t eat there because it was closed to the public – something about giving vouchers out to local businesses.  Not sure how they had missed us – at our offices directly across the road!?

I ended up eating at Milano’s in No.1 Croydon instead.  Chicken Soup (Heinz Cream of Chicken Soup would be my guess), and a tuna and salad sandwich.  All very nice and for £5.60 probably less than I would have spent at Nando’s.

On the way home I used the time to catch up with some one-on-one phone conversations with friends;  Gary and Pete.  I’m planning to see them both this week.  I also spoke to my brother Steve.

At home there was time for a quick nap before dinner.  Chicken Kiev, mashed potatoes and peas – was very nourishing – comfort food.  I walked the dogs down along the river near the Spade Oak and after that read a couple of chapters of my book – before a solid night’s sleep.


12 of 365

On Father’s Day I had a symbolic ceremony where I said goodbye to Mum and let go.

I was given the red balloon as a present – and it was something that came back to our house after the funeral.  There it stayed whilst we were in Cornwall.  And it was still there when we got home.  .

As you can see, if you watch the video, the balloon has a mind of its own and at first is reluctant to leave.  But then it is caught by the wind.


11 of 365

Self-Orientation the big killer

The Trust Equation

I sent my friend “The Trust Equation” from the book “The Trusted Advisor” today.  I sent it as a conversation starter – and I’m hoping that I’ll see him face to face soon to discuss it.

Back in the earlier 1980’s I had lent my nameless friend some money.  After a long summer waiting, he had not made any effort to pay me back.  To resolve the matter we’d agreed that he would part with some records (an old word for vinyl) to add to my growing collection.  We sat in his bedroom and individually valued each one together at prices ranging from 50p to £1.00, until we reached the magic figure.  There were some that he couldn’t bear to part with and he kept, and that was ok – it wasn’t sentimental for me – it was business!  I can’t remember how much I paid for my copy of Martha and the Muffin’s on clear vinyl – but I still have that record today.

We have been friends throughout that time – and it’s the accumulation of all those experiences that have allowed me to trust him so much.  And also the fact that I believe we share the same values.  We live very different lifestyles, move in different circles and have different goals and ambitions.  But put very simply I trust him.

Can this equation apply to teams?  I think it can.  Can it apply to organisations though?  I’m not sure, perhaps it needs a different equation – because self-orientation doesn’t quite fit – as it’s not a living entity.  But let’s ignore that for now.

When I think of the relationship I have with my bank (it’s no longer just a dark horse) I just don’t trust it.  I was trying to figure out why I don’t trust the bank.

For me, it was boiling down to the fact that the bank is there to make money – and they make money from their customers and put the money making ahead of their customer’s interests.  I’m not going to give examples in this post.  But relating their behaviour to “The Trust Equation” above, their “self-orientation” is way too high.  My bank doesn’t look to do the right thing, it looks to do the thing that’s in their interest.  Shame on it!