There are three things which the gentleman guards against. In youth, when the physical powers are not yet settled, he guards against lust. When he is strong and the physical powers are full of vigour, he guards against quarrelsomeness. When he is old, and the animal powers are decayed, he guards against covetousness.
Confucius (551-479 BC), The Analects, Book XVI, para. 19
Here’s a little, random inspiration from TV’s Gregg Wallace.
I was in the car yesterday, listening to Graham Norton’s radio show and Gregg Wallace was a guest (promoting a new book by him and his wife). I only really know him from Masterchef, but I thought his story was fascinating for independent professionals.
He started out as a greengrocer, supplying fruit and veg to pubs and restaurants in London. His enthusiasm and passion for locally grown, best quality produce soon led to him supplying most of the top chefs in London:
“I was passionate about it. I cared about it.”
A freelance writer interviewed and wrote a profile on him for a trade magazine. As it happened, she also wrote for BBC Radio Four.
She enthused about him to her colleagues and he was offered a show on the radio.
The radio led to television and his current career.
Throughout it all, he says, the key to his success has been people, rather than produce.
“All the telly I do is about people. Masterchef, even though it’s a cookery show, it’s really about the people.”
My takeaway from the interview: opportunity comes to people who are passionate and dedicated to what they do.
A little site maintenance has led me to a new look.
Hopefully, with the addition of page breaks (“Continue reading”) and featured posts, the whole should be more navigable and more readable.
Please let me know what you think.
At the same time, by the wonders of Amazon OneLink, if you now click on any of the book and music links in the text (at least over the last three months’ worth) you should arrive at either Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk, as appropriate. If you are in South Africa, Australia or Japan, I’ve no idea where it takes you.
There will be a fewer further, smaller changes to come as I explore the new WordPress Theme.
If it can keep its head, though, and bring off a Brexit that does not plunge the country into chaos or paupery, then its long habit of exercising power, its ruthlessness with its leaders and its ability to mix firmness with flexibility—qualities which have made the Conservative Party the democratic world’s most successful political machine—may yet see it through. And the intellectual skills of a rising generation—not something it has always been able to count on—may, if exercised to the full, allow not mere survival, but success.
It’s a beautifully observed, beautifully written book that shows you its worlds through the eyes of each character, immersing you in their perceptions and prejudices.
It is often referenced because of its use of Stoic philosophy and that seems to come on two levels.
There’s the slap-in-the-face-obvious storyline of a man in his hour of darkest need, who comes across a Magic Book. The constant references thereafter to Zeus play to this surface reading, so I guess that may have been Wolfe’s intent.
However, at a more interesting and subtle level, all of the main characters go through something of a Stoic revelation. In each arc, we see and experience their own version of “being a man”, from former football hero and real-estate mogul Charlie Croker’s trophy-wifed, quail-hunting, plantation-owning, machismo, through Roger White’s educated, elegant, professional career, to young Conrad’s desperation to provide for his family. As the story progresses, each evolves a different – and perhaps more Stoic – view of what it means to be a “man in full”.
I enjoyed it enormously, yet I came away feeling slightly let down by the final 100 pages or so (of 740). They felt rushed and, I suppose, I wanted a slightly different ending.
That said, it’s well worth a read over the summer.
The leading rule for a lawyer, as for the man of any other calling, is diligence. Leave nothing for to-morrow which can be done to-day. Never let your correspondence fall behind. Whatever piece of business you have in hand, before stopping do all the labor pertaining to it which can then be done.
I was gambling in Havana
I took a little risk
Send lawyers, guns and money
Dad, get me out of this
Every sovereign professional has a lawyers, guns and money moment at one point or other.
Warren Zevon’s my favourite songwriter, after Bob Dylan. He was literate, witty, satisfyingly cynical and musical. He took the easy-on-the-ear musicality of the West Coast, Asylum-label sound of the Eagles, Jackson Browne et al and added his own black humour and an edge of film noir. He also wrote the most fragile love songs.