A collection of short stories and journalistic commentaries depicting my simple life
and how I fit in with the modern day universe of our times


I want you to imagine something
really strange...

I want you to imagine that you have taken leave of all your senses, and for some reason have decided that you want to travel to Rawtenstall. And you have no idea how to get there.

You flick through your address book, and realise that you only know 3 people from Rawtenstall... William Roche (Ken Barlow from Corrie), Jane Horrocks (from Little Voice), Pete Waterman (from Stock, Aitken and Waterman renown (He owns and plays with a couple of the steam trains here))... and me.

William isn't returning your calls, (he can be like that when acting) Jane is away doing a pantomime season in Rhyl, and so as a last resort you decide to contact me for directions.

Despite being a little miffed at being your third choice behind two 'C List' celebrities, you nevertheless catch me in a charitable mood, and so I send you step by step instructions on how to get here.

I then think no more about it until the day of your journey when I get an irate phone call from you...

“What have you done to me... Have you any idea where I've ended up? Burnley... bloody Burnley! It's even worse than Rawtenstall.”

I'm amazed to receive your call - not because you say Burnley is worse than Rawtenstall, (It is) but because you got lost. I mean, I know my directions were spot on. 

"I don't understand it," I say,"you should have arrived in Rawtenstall without any problems. Did you follow the directions exactly?"

"Of course I did,” you say somewhat irritated, before adding a little sheepishly “…for most of the way. But then you directed me along the motorway. I don't like driving on the motorway, and so I went along the A640 which looked as if it runs alongside it. And it did for a while, but then it veered off. It took me an hour to get back on track. Anyway, I got back on your route eventually, and I came to a roundabout. You said take the third exit, but I didn't like the look of that at all. It went straight through a scruffy industrial estate. I'd have got my car filthy.

So anyway, I took the second exit which looked to be going in roughly the same direction, but went through some nice countryside. Don't know what happened after that, but the next thing I saw was a 'Welcome To Burnley' sign. It’s the last time I ask you for directions!"

I'll come back to Burnley in a moment, but
I want to give you another scenario first...

I want you to now imagine something almost as strange as the desire to visit Rawtenstall. I want you to imagine that you are having a second childhood moment, and have decided that you'd like to make an Airfix model of a Lancaster Bomber. So you go into your local model shop, mumble something about it being a present for your nephew, and take home a box of bits, some glue and some instructions.

The shop keeper thinks no more about it until he opens his doors the next Saturday morning to be faced by you - red faced and angry, and brandishing something in your hand.

“Look at this!" you say, shaking an object so close to the shopkeepers face that he can't quite make out what it is. "This is supposed to be a Lancaster Bomber. It looks more like something spawned from a brief liaison between a wheelie bin and a Dalek! I can't believe you sold me this piece of crap."

“I don't understand it", says the shopkeeper, after removing what was supposed to be the Lancaster’s wing from his left nostril. "It's not meant to look like that. Did you follow the instructions?"

"Of course I followed the instructions - sort of." you reply. 

"I mean you can't follow them word for word can you? The big bits looked easy to put together and so I did them first. I know the instructions said you had to do some small bits first, but I wanted to get going with the damned thing. Anyway, when I'd done the big bits, I was going to do the little bits later. But then I couldn't get them to fit in - and you needed to have them in place to finish the model off. I couldn't get the tail to go on at all. Last time I'll buy a bloody model from you!"

For a number of years now,
something has puzzled me...

Why I can sell the same product to two different people, and one writes to say that it is literally the best thing since sliced bread, and yet the other writes to tell me that it is a steaming pile of horse poo, and I should be locked up for selling it.

Same product... two completely different reactions.

I should point out that these are not products purchased for the way they look, or what they do when you plug them in. They are products comprising purely of information and instructions which you will need to follow in order to do something...

Usually when I get this sort of diverse reaction, it's a product designed to help the recipient make some more money.

Now for quite some time, I've suspected that the divergent experience people have with these products correlates with the propensity of the recipients to follow the given instructions. In other words (like the villain's in my two stories about getting to Rawtenstall, and building an Airfix model) the people who failed, were unsuccessful because they simply didn't follow the instructions.

I mean look at it this way...

If you had to cross a minefield, it would make sense to follow exactly in the same footsteps of someone who had already done it, would it not? Does that not make sense?

Taking a different route because it looked either quicker or by-passed some nasty mud, wouldn't really be a sensible option. You would have absolutely no idea whether your deviation from the prescribed route would result in total disaster. In a minefield, the gap between total success and total destruction may be little more than a hairs breadth, and the uninitiated have no way of knowing where the make or break borders are.

And it can be exactly the same in a business or money making enterprise.

Now as I have already said, I suspected that the difference between success and failure... between sliced bread and horse poo... with these products, was in the application of the instructions, but I couldn't really prove it. You see, when you set up and run a money making project, the number of things you need to do - and the order in which they need to be done - necessitates a relatively complex process. And asking someone to recount the process they've gone through isn't normally very productive...

They can't remember - or simply don't want to remember!

However, I recently had a breakthrough, because I once launched a betting advisory service, and the process involved there is one of childlike simplicity. It goes as follows:

1. Receive a recommended bet by email detailing the event, the outcome to be bet on, the acceptable odds and the size of the bet.

2 Place the bet!

That's it! Really!! There's absolutely nothing further to do. No decisions to make, no further actions to take, no thinking to do. Nothing!! It's all done for you. Just follow the bloody instructions.

By the end of the first month of this new service I was delighted. The results had come in just as I'd expected and hoped, and anyone following the advice in that first 30 days would have found themselves with over £600 in profit.


Or so I thought until I received an email from an irate customer... "You said this service would be profitable. I've been on it for a month now and I haven't made a single penny. In fact I've barely broken even. I've been conned etc etc etc..." You get the idea.

So I emailed this gentleman back and expressed my surprise at his disappointment. I asked him to send me his betting records, so that I could see why they didn't tally with mine.

A couple of days later I received an email detailing a betting record for the month, which did indeed show a small loss. But his betting record had very little in common with the instructions he’d been sent.

There were 5 days worth of bets which were missing altogether, ("I was away on holiday that week.") another 3 bets which weren't placed ("I just didn't fancy those.") and some winning bets that were placed at a fraction of the recommended staking level ("I was a bit short of 'readies' that week and so I had to cut back.") There was even one bet which I hadn't even sent him at all! ("That was one I picked out myself.")

The guy had paid for information from someone who knew the betting equivalent of the road to Rawtenstall, the right way to build a Lancaster Bomber, and the way through a minefield - but had chosen ignore or be ‘selective’ with the purchased advice...

With the result that he'd ended up in Burnley,
holding a piece of crap with half his leg blown off!

Now look, there's a really important caveat here. Obviously, you have to choose your business advisors carefully in the first place. But once you've done that, there's no sense in then being selective, or trying to second-guess with respect to the information, instructions and route map you're given.

It's not a menu from which you can choose the 'dishes' which seem the most palatable. You have to swallow the whole meal...

You see, as children, we'll almost always choose the ice cream over the spinach - given a free choice. And even as adults, when we know better what's good for us, the lure of the palatable, easy to swallow part of the meal is always a strong one...

And so it is with business.

But you have to swallow the whole meal - exactly as it’s served up. Miss something out, or eat it in the wrong order, and you could very well find yourself nutritionally deficient or with indigestion...

Or skint-arsed as my bank
manager likes to call it!

So buckle down people and eat your bloody greens. They’re not just good for you; they’re essential. But by all means, just make sure your chef knows how to cook them first.

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Its my own fault really, its all about what I see in the world, and how it all translates for me.

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