You wonder how much that was inspired by his own experience of the daunting task at St Pancras.
Tuesday 10 January 2023
Friday 6 January 2023
If you’ve been
watching the ITV drama series Stonehouse
you’ll know the Walsall Labour MP John Stonehouse faked his own death in
November 1974, creating the impression that he’d been drowned off a beach in Miami, only to turn up later in Australia where he was arrested. Later he was
gaoled in the UK on various fraud charges.
At the time, I was a reporter at ATV, then the ITV company for the English Midlands, and I covered the story extensively. Shortly after his disappearance, I remember interviewing (sadly only by telephone) an American detective who told me he thought someone might have made Stonehouse ‘an offer he couldn’t refuse’ and that the MP might currently be ‘wearing a concrete overcoat.’
The detective turned out to be wrong, but the most surprising thing about the affair for me was that I had done a discussion programme with Stonehouse shortly before the General Election of October 1974 in which he and a Conservative MP had knocked lumps off each other in the customary manner. I’ve always wondered whether Stonehouse already knew he was going to fake his death a month later.
I did a number of interviews with his election agent, Harry Richards. This is one from May 1975:
Monday 2 January 2023
I hadn’t used Travelex for some time when I went to Denmark at the end of
October. At Heathrow, as I had done so often in the past, I went to Travelex to
buy, on this occasion, Danish kroner. I asked for a buyback guarantee, paid
over the usual additional fee, and was told this would mean I would be able to
change my money back at the ‘spot rate’ on the day. I assumed this meant the
rate might move a bit in my favour or a bit against me.
Imagine my surprise when I tried to change back my remaining currency using the buyback guarantee, and found I was facing a loss of 27% (!). When I remonstrated with Travelex staff, they told me that a thrusting new CEO had moved into the company and that this virtual destruction of the buyback guarantee was one of his initiatives.
I wrote to Travelex to complain and said I felt I should have been warned at the outset that the ‘buyback guarantee’ no longer protected the customer, but they dismissed my comments, saying only that they would in future ask staff to ‘clearly communicate exchange rates before a purchase is confirmed’. If this means anything, it should require staff to say something like: ‘please be aware that purchasing this buyback guarantee will not protect you from suffering a substantial loss of perhaps 25% or more on any money you change back.’
Has anyone else had a similar experience to me?
Sunday 1 January 2023
Human Being of the Year Brexit-wise for 2022: my award goes to Chris Grey, author of the blog https://chrisgreybrexitblog.blogspot.com/. Though to be honest he probably also deserved the award for 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021.
Emeritus Professor of Organization Studies at Royal Holloway, University of London, he blogs most Fridays on Brexit, cutting through the lies, deceit and confusion that have plagued the UK during the Brexit years. He writes authoritatively, soberly and fairly, but also readably. It is consistently the best thing I have read on the subject.
One of his many illuminating insights is that both Conservatives and Labour are trapped in what he calls 'performative' policies on Brexit. That they constantly advocate courses of action that are not designed to benefit the British people, courses of action indeed that they know will damage the British people, and whose only point is that they appeal to the prejudices of Brexiters and make them feel better.
Leaver or former remainer, right wing or left, if you want to really understand Brexit, invest 10-15 minutes of your time each week in reading Chris Grey.