If you’ve been to Europe, you will know about chocolate. Belgian and Swiss chocolate is world famous. Anyone visiting Germany will soon discover Ritter Sport. It comes in a distinctive square packaging that you sort-of crack open. Now Germany might not come first when you think about chocolate, yet if you visit and get to try Ritter, then you will agree that Germany’s chocolate is first class. Ritter comes in all sorts of flavours, from Wholenut to Nougat. Everyone has their favourite.
Travelling today on the train out of Hamburg, I met with a lady who told me how the new airport in Berlin was being – how can I put it, for these are Germans – mismanaged? Now that is not a thought for those who think German management is fantastic. That most of it is, does not mean that some of it isn’t. Because chasing the bottom line is as prevalent here in Europe as anywhere.
Because the company running the construction program keeps losing contractors. Sometimes they go bust. On other times they just can’t do the work properly because they are using foreign labour or whatever. This is not uncommon in a world where the business model is of squeezing the profit margins of those beneath you. Hammering those who are relying on you for work. It means you have real power in your dealings with them. The only problem with their business model is that its costing them a hell of a lot of time and money … all of which means lost profits.
Now remember our poor husband who had to stay up late at night to finish a pitch? They had phoned him at half past four on Friday, wanting his response by Tuesday midday.
On a chilly February morning in 1906 HMS Dreadnought was launched. From that moment onwards, she outclassed every other battleship. Made obsolete at a stroke. Dreadnought was better armed, better armoured, faster, you name it. Nothing could touch her. Nothing could get near her. The world’s navies had little ships that had only four guns. Now even if they were small ships, these weren’t toys. Seriously big guns and the things they lobbed towards you weighed half a ton. That isn’t the sort of thing you bat back with a tennis racket. Nevertheless, HMS Dreadnought had ten and threw five tons at you for every two you shot at her. You aren’t going to hang around long and have that sort of evidence written all over you.
Brian is pursuading Dave to return to London where he is appreciated.
(Their names are retained for reasons of anonymity.)
Summer. The gentle lap of waves against the promenade on a warm summer evening. The sun is still up only cooler as the blue sky turns to ultramarine. Across the water lights flicker on where the moutains cast shadows. Sitting at a trottoir cafe, Brian is cross with Dave for leaving their band. Dave is a talented trumpeter and wanted to strike out elsewhere. So he is here in Switzerland with his friends. In Switzerland you can’t have a band and play unless you have a Swiss player. Steve the bass player found himself without a job.