My cousin Tony, who died a few days ago, was always ahead of me. Five years older than me, he founded Time Out in 1968, 12 years before I founded my law firm – originally Fenwick Elliott & Co -are now Fenwick Elliott LLP. We both had offices in Covent Garden at that stage, and it was a year after I had launched my law firm that he faced an immense challenge. Two thirds of his staff walked out to form a rival publication which was promptly subsidised by the taxpayer, courtesy of the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone. I know that Tony found it immensely unfair that his own and other people’s taxes were being used to try to pull down the magazine that he had created. But Tony, whilst somewhat shy, was immensely resourceful and determined. Eventually, Tony prevailed. His magazine, Time Out, flourished and his taxpayer funded rival collapsed.
It was not long after that that I went through a not dissimilar fire. All four of the partners who I had invited to join my law firm decided that they could take it over, along with the goodwill that I had created, and walked out to create a rival firm. Determined to follow in Tony’s footsteps, I was determined to regrow my firm from the ground up. Eventually, I prevailed, and the rival firm collapsed. Fenwick Elliott LLP is now the largest and most successful specialist construction law practice in Europe.
Challenges continued for both of us. Again, I know that Tony found it extremely irksome that the BBC poached on the travel guide ground that he had nurtured – again with the benefit of taxpayers’ money. But again, he persisted.
Cancer is what gets my favourite cousins, and it was cancer that got Tony in the end. His obituary is in The Times today, and The Guardian.
I was lucky to have Tony as a cousin.
 the Guardian obituary is generous, bearing in mind that it was written by two of the journalists who were part of the 1981 walkout
Microsoft have updated its browser, Edge. It says, inter alia:
“When you use InPrivate browsing, your browsing data (like cookies, browsing history, and passwords) isn’t saved on your device after you’re done.”
I think they mean:
“When you use InPrivate browsing, your browsing data (like cookies, browsing history, and passwords) are not saved on your device after you have finished.”
It is pity that “updated” so often means “dumbed down”. And anyway, I do not like the idea of Continue reading
I was in a shopping mall the other day, passing a lottery stall, when I was struck with the very distinct thought that if I were to buy a lottery ticket, I would win. They were advertising a prize of $20 million, which I thought might come in handy. So I bought a ticket. In order to minimise any prospect of mishap, I bought a 50 game ticket, which cost me $34.90. My instincts do not usually let me down.
The draw was a couple of days ago, and I did indeed win. But not $20 million.
No one won $20 million; the jackpot was spread out among a couple of dozen people. They got about $700,000 each.
But my win was more modest. I won $18.
I suppose if one looks through the small print, they warn you about this sort of outcome. In fact, I would be surprised if there was not such small print. But it is disappointing. Very disappointing. Continue reading
Being locked down has meant that I can’t fly interstate or internationally for work. And I have had a nasty virus. I have been practising my lockdown skills.
I.e. watching Netflix.
I can’t watch Outlander any more. It is wholly unrealistic. In the real world, someone would have drowned the ghastly, whingeing Brianna ages ago.
And so I have been watching Money Heist, also known in its original Spanish as La Casa de Papel. It is refreshing to see something stylish from Spain, instead of the usual Hollywood pap.
But it comes with a problem. It has been dubbed into English. Well. Actually it is worse than that. It has been dubbed into American English. Multo queso, as they say in Spain.
But for advanced Netflix users, there is a solution. It is possible to set the language to “European”. Which means Spanish in this case, it seems. And if your Spanish is a bit oxidada, you can turn on the subtitles. Much Continue reading
I never thought that I would be the sort of person that would end up with two chainsaws. So how did this happen?
The explanation for the first one is perfectly straightforward. I bought it a while ago to do some tidying up in the garden when I lived in Adelaide. It’s black and yellow. And had never previously given me any grief. Not that I had needed to use it very often.
Now I live at Myponga Beach, the world is different. For a start, there is no mains gas. There is a stove, which keeps the house warm, and that requires firewood. Normally, I buy firewood from Ken. It’s easy. I ring up Ken, ask for some firewood, and he delivers it. Nice red gum, usually. It burns very well.
So, it’s May now. Nearly June. Winter is icumen in. I was starting to run low on firewood, and so I rang Ken. To ask for some firewood. “Are you feeling patient?” he asked. That was bad. On enquiry, it turns out that people around here have been buying firewood as fast as they have been buying lavatory paper. Panic buying. Because of lockdown. Pointless, of course. But there you are. Ken said that it would be about four weeks before he would be able to catch up, and deliver some firewood for me.
How to survive for four weeks with precious little firewood left? With winter icumen in?
Well, as it happens, I was able to look around my small 4 acres. And I was able to see that Continue reading
All puppies create a certain amount of mayhem. Until now, the damage done by Mercutio has been pretty modest. He chews up cardboard boxes, and redistributes shoes around the house. That’s okay. Well, okayish.
But a couple of days ago, Mercutio ate my glasses. Well, chewed them up, to be more exact. I have been doing pretty well recovering from my recent hip replacement surgery, but I do need to build in some recovery time into my schedule. So, I settled down on the daybed next to the pool to finish off the last few chapters of Philip E. Tetlock’s excellent book Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction. After a certain point, it being a lovely sunny afternoon, I put my Kindle and my glasses down beside me, and dropped off for a quick siesta. When I woke up, there was my Kindle. But where were my glasses? There were bits of lens scattered around me. I later found what was left of the frames on the lawn. Continue reading
It is cold and wet right now here in South Australia, but I am not bothered by that at all.
The hard-won independence of the UK from the EU came at 9.30 this morning, local time. I celebrated here at The Phenelry with my lovely Louise and a busy breakfast table of like-minded friends. We played Rule Britannia – loudly – and a recording of Big Ben. We drank French champagne and South American coffee, with bread and bagels freshly made from Australian flour. And of course, sausages, bacon, mushrooms, fried tomatoes, scrambled eggs (free range of course) and other good things.
It rather looks as though British fortunes will be something of a mixed bag over the next few years. On the one hand, Britain can look forward to increased prosperity, free from foreign control and (for most people) with a re-found self-confidence and pride. That will be good news, not only for the British, but also for its many friends around the world, including of course Australia, as Britain is freed up to do the trade deals that it wants to do and to put in place a sensible immigration policy.
But for quite some considerable time, the corridors of power will still be full of left-over remoaners. In the United States, Donald Trump said that he was going to drain the swamp, but it is very evident indeed that the swamp there does not want to be drained. Something of the same is likely to happen in Britain. By way of example, someone on the BBC evidently thought that it was a good idea to spend public money having the very unfunny socialist Nish Kumar put on an absurd and insulting piece about Queen Victoria. I’m not sure anybody could seriously regard this as comedy – rather Continue reading
Stick – bad – good
stick – bad – good
Usually, we think of walking in two-time. Or, if you fancy marching in a more military style, four-time. Hup 2 3 4. But it turns out that, after a hip operation, and after progressing from a walking frame to a walking stick, getting around is more a question of a waltz. A very slow waltz. The physiotherapist in the hospital was very specific about the order in which the stick and the two legs have to go. It is not an entirely intuitive three-time:
Stick – bad leg – good leg
Stick – bad – good
Going up a step is different. That is good leg – stick – bad leg. But going down its back to stick – bad – good.
Somewhat bizarrely, I was able to stand up and even take a step or two on the same day as the operation. They saw off the top of one’s femur, ream out one’s hip joint with a substantial electric drill and bolt on some new bits. As my excellent surgeon warned me, the pain Continue reading
I will be sworn in as an Australian citizen on 26th January.
The local council, who do the swearing thing, have asked for “a brief couple of paragraphs with your history as where you have come from and why you have chosen to settle in the Yankalilla District. This information will be used to introduce you to the community.”
My paragraphs are as follows:
My grandfather James Elliott was a Queenslander and my grandmother Gwendolyn Manton was a South Australian. They moved to England for my grandfather’s work, my father Dennis was born in England, and that is where I was brought up. Around my grandfather’s Sunday lunch table in London, I regularly met family and friends from Australia, and indeed other parts of the Commonwealth.
I moved to Australia some years ago after a career in the law, based in London but often requiring travel around the world.
I chose my present home, on the hill above Myponga Beach, because it was then permissible to take my dog Perdita for a run on the beach at the end of the day’s work, and until the present dog ban was introduced, that daily ritual was the greatest pleasure of living here.
I am retaining my UK citizenship, so will have dual nationality. Unhappily, dogs are now banned from running on the beach (it seems they frighten the foxes which eat the local hooded plovers), so neither I nor Continue reading