When I was a teenager I often used to stay with an aunt in Oxford.  The word ‘aunt’ probably doesn’t conjure up the right picture.  Please imagine a shapely, well groomed 38 year old woman who smoked (her cigarette stubs were covered in red lipstick), drank copious amounts of gin and tonic and had numerous admirers/lovers.  More to the point (after that build up, sorry to disappoint you!), she was also an avid reader. My aunt introduced me to, indeed made […]

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Going ouside your comfort zone

It’s the time of year when newspapers and magazines carry articles about New Year resolutions. Sometimes the advice is not to make any resolutions at all, thus making it hard to break them. A feature in my newspaper today suggests making resolutions that are easy to keep.  They include: I will not lose weight. I will not go to the gym. I will not try to be a better person. I will not learn anything new. I will not give […]

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An unintended consequence

Many years ago (everything that ever happened to me, happened a long time ago!) I used to run interpersonal skills programmes for senior managers in the Northern Ireland Civil Service.  This was in the days of IRA activities with bombs a frequent occurrence in Belfast.  It was decided to use a venue well away from the troubles – a small hotel on the quayside in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, not far from the Giant’s Causeway. The course was attended by about […]

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I felt sorry for a filing cabinet!

We are busy downsizing and getting rid of things we have had for the best part of 42 years.  I placed a ‘for sale’ advert in the local paper advertising a filing cabinet.  It was an ordinary, unremarkable 4-drawer metal cabinet, slightly battered and a bit rusty.  The asking price was £10. On the day it appeared in the paper, a lady rang up to enquire about the cabinet.  She asked me lots of questions, what colour was it? (light […]

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A queasy night

  Many years ago, to celebrate a significant wedding anniversary, I booked a romantic weekend for my wife and me in a hotel.  It was unusual for me to take such a bold initiative.  Throughout our marriage, my wife had usually been the one to make holiday arrangements.  So, my initiative was a bold, out of character step that I undertook with some trepidation.  My first mistake was, on the phone, to tell the helpful hotel receptionist that I was […]

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Recent Anecdotes

Learning is voluntary – so long as it is done!