The Redoubtable Ms Clarke

The Redoubtable Ms Clarke

 

They said at the start “It’s a position of trust”
And accuracy is an absolute ‘must’
Ms Clarke was aware of the need for discretion
They would not tolerate any transgression

Despite these quite rigorous stipulations
Perhaps even because she liked tight regulations
Ms Clarke was happy to work for that firm
And her acceptance of all she would gladly affirm

Her duties covered a significant range
Receipts and payments, often foreign exchange
Processing documents, checking the prices
Extensive use of computer devices

Payroll and wages presented no problems
Her awareness of tax was really quite awesome
Marginal costing, credit control, even VAT
To Ms Clarke a cinch, unlike you or me

Trial balance, profit and loss, bank reconciliation
All processed without the slightest vexation
The final accounts from these easily prepared
Her bosses, amazed, just stood there and stared!

Thus Ms Clarke was well on the way to a godlike status
As master of the whole admin apparatus
But then it became something of a surprise
To find in the ointment there was a small fly

For actual money handling there was little call
But in this obscure corner began Ms Clarke’s fall
Most firms still have need of some petty cash
And with that fund employees sometimes get rash

The amounts of money are merely a trickle
But nonetheless one might get into a pickle
The total fund is called an imprest
But these small amounts can herald distress

Ms Clarke somehow succumbed to temptation
Perhaps she thought she deserved compensation
Anyway by a relentless process of syphoning off
From her worthy employer she performed a rip-off

Gradually over many months and years
A large sum of money would disappear
But because the account was still called ‘petty’
Not large paper, more like confetti

But one day when Ms Clarke went off on vacation
The auditors expressed a little vexation
About lack of clarity in Ms Clarke’s account
Which spawned in their mind some significant doubt

So while Ms Clarke basked in the sunshine of foreign climes
It became clear she had perpetrated exorbitant crimes
Her petty fraud had resulted in a vast accumulation
Exposed by this somewhat belated examination

On return Ms Clarke became the subject of an inquisition
The result of which, an unwilling admission
That she had helped herself to what she believed she was due
To label her as a thief was not really true

But I am afraid the majesty of the law extended its arm
Claiming that to condone fraud would result in great harm
Ms Clarke was reminded of her position of trust
Where not only accuracy but integrity was clearly a must

Poor Ms Clarke found her freedom somewhat restricted
As of fraud our hero was duly convicted
The law was thus applied in appropriate measure
Detained for some years at Her Majesty’s pleasure

Ken Fisher

What gain have the workers from their toil?

What gain have the workers from their toil?

What gain have the workers from their toil?
I have seen the burden God has laid on the human race
[Ecclesiastes Ch 3 v 9 & 10 Bible NIV]

Perhaps the life of faith and trust
Is for most of us simply too much
Submission to God’s sovereignty
Great strictures denying  humanity

Sufficient that we do our best
Without accepting His request
To live life by our God obsessed
Each moment by the Lord possessed

Those who labour in God’s garden
Shouldering a mighty burden
Toiling  for some heavenly gain
What earthly joy for all their pain?

And yet a life of dedication
Can provide true compensation
Extending love to one another
God’s face discovered in our brother

Ken Fisher

Purpose and Profit

Purpose and Profit

 

Traditionally it has been the view that profit
Should be the only aim of a business enterprise
Of course in the interest of shareholders
And fund managers, a surplus is surely wise

Others would claim that firms should have a purpose
That stretches beyond mere shareholder satisfaction
Wider stakeholders must be in contemplation
Else against raw capitalism there will be a reaction

Industry should take account of many disparate factors
And maximizing returns cannot be their only intent
The welfare of employees and the public at large
How will the products affect the environment?

Technological advance has wrought many changes
New gizmos developed never heard of before
Novel methods of dealing with complex situations
Ingenious methods of selling new products galore

When basic needs are met and standards are rising
The citizens pursue greater aspirations
Their eyes are cast on a wider horizon
Other goals now arise to become their new passion

Many factors determine strategic objectives
Political turmoil, economics, even advanced automation
So how to achieve profit amidst such a maelstrom
What is the purpose?  What consummation

Is this the dilemma for entrepreneurship?
The purpose that all this effort achieves
To survive and prosper amidst constant change
An outcome in which all might justly believe

Ken Fisher

Proximity Without Community

Proximity Without Community

Could it be that surrounded as we are
By thousands of our fellow human beings
Yet our heart cries out for companionship?
We have proximity but lack community

While sitting on a crowded tube train
Hundreds of heads clamped by earphones
Fingers tapping on smart phone screens
Perhaps community is in the ether?

Even while jostled in the rising lift
Our personal space acutely threatened
Proximity enforced upon us
A community manifestly silent

In the age of individualism, solo performance
highly valued, the allure of the selfie over all
Of course nominally we admire ‘team spirit’
But community consists of elite teams

In the pursuit of comfort and privacy
More than ever live as single occupants
So we become a community of persons
Living in proximity but in a soul-less community

In work we may be surrounded by others
But our freedom is regulated, our productivity calibrated
Together we are enslaved in the joint endeavour
But that common bond is very tenuous

And so we bob along like corks floating in a tank
Proximity demands that we impinge on each other
But in no way are we united in community
Perpetual drifting along together in independent flow

Ken Fisher

A New Version of Yourself

A New Version of Yourself

Perhaps what we need to do is something really radical
Reject past history, forget all that’s done and dusted
Boldly initiate change, don’t say that it’s impractical
With firm resolve our life can surely be adjusted

Why the need for planning such a revolution
With our daily lot are we really discontent?
What is the problem seeking a solution
Urging us to consider the need to re-invent

The style gurus and life coaches have written their prescription
The old self has got to go, its habits and obsessions
A need for a new version of yourself is their firm conviction
A rebirth, a new start,  new image, absolutely no concessions

Thus if we really want to follow that advice so ‘wise’
A complete make-over of all we are, appears to be imperative
Like that ugly ducking or caterpillar we then will metamorphasise
But can we ensure contentment after all this change restorative?

Ken Fisher

Silent Sentinels

Silent Sentinels

 

Silent sentinels strewn across a barren moor
Giant windmills, blades turned towards the flow
Of air which thus provides the driving force
Breath converted into mechanical energy

Human intervention made redundant
In this inanimate workshop in the hills
Unattended machinery, autonomous devices
Whispering their subservience to mankind

Some protest against the presence of these sails
Scarring the skyline by their whitewashed towers
Others claim they are the enemy of birds in flight
Their mighty flails threshing them to early death

Advocates of green energy laud their contribution
To saving the life of our fragile threatened sphere
Renewable resources much more environmentally friendly
Sustainability is the watchword of these zealots

And as arguments rage and debate seethes below
These tall structures quietly spin their magic spell
As long as they have breath their duty to perform
We can live and work and play as they gyrate

Ken Fisher

 

Plan B

Plan B

Sometimes it is wise to prepare a Plan B
If plan A should fail I am sure you’ll agree
Common sense demands we give consideration
If what we intended might end in frustration

In commerce and trade Plan B is worthwhile
If bold risk-taking is not the appropriate style
Caution is needed if firms want to stay liquid
Ensuring their losses are tightly restricted

It is all very well to boldly go forth
Believing Plan A has infinite worth
But when in time expectations flounder
Having no Plan B is surely a blunder

In politics too Plan B is essential
Although MPs believe in the life providential
Declaring success whatever arises
Denying changed plans cause them surprises

And so in life when things diverge from our plan
An alternative course we should take if we can
Plan A,  no doubt in its day a sensible course
But if needed, use plan B, and have no remorse

Ken Fisher

Black Friday 2018

Black Friday 2018

Black Friday is about to dawn
Indeed it seems never to have gone
This mad scramble for bargains
Gives birth to rugby scrums in shopping malls
And melt-down on computer networks
As search engines and eager bargain-hunters
Hit the town centres and the web browsers

I wonder if this whole exercise has some cathartic purpose
Pent-up emotions being released in some orgasmic frenzy
But who stirred up the desire in the first place?
Did we harbour some deep repressed longing to buy, buy, buy
Or was it the wiles and blandishments of the advertisers
On behalf of the retailers in their constant quest for profit
Who ensured that we would not remain lethargic

Well whoever is to blame, ourselves or the market place
We are assured that Friday will produce record-breaking turnover
Shops may be crammed with customers
And the on-line trade will ensure the white-van army
Of delivery agents will shift the goods from anonymous
Warehouses up and down the land, to your door and mine
And we will jump for joy at the ring on our door bell!

And this year when traditional retailers seem under threat
Perhaps this annual rugby scrum of hungry consumers
Will bring comfort to those who our high streets would save
Remind the great shopping public that the internet offers no
Tactile experience as they wrest coveted goods from fellow buyers
Let’s hope it might renew interest in the whole shopping experience
Heralding a rebirth as we celebrate traditional Nativity

Happy Christmas
Happy shopping!

Ken Fisher

Hunker Down

Hunker Down

 

Ever feel tempted to just hunker down
When the world around is wearing a frown?
So much is happening that is not to my taste
To a place of refuge I need to make haste

But where can I hide when there is so much to fear?
No place of safety seems to be near
Unless I intend to get out of town
The only choice left is to hunker down

But what are all those menacing threats
That raise the pulse and bring on the sweats
Where does that bogeyman reside
Show yourself – why must you hide?

Perhaps the spectre is all in my head
Fears from the past, long since dead
So why any need to crouch and to cringe
When on my peace they no longer impinge?

The problem today is we are too wide-awake
Newsfeeds from the media drag us in their wake
In every tragedy we must participate
The press conspires to make this our fate

But what are these fears which strike at the heart
And our reasonable thoughts will thus distort?
Some might be just a mere irritation
Others undermining the whole blessed nation

So forebodings about an impending malady
Aches and pains that we claim are agony
Through to major concerns about Brexit
Which politicians are likely to fix it?

Then there are concerns for the life of the planet
And climate change perhaps leading to havoc
Debates about trade bring on endless haggling
Can so easily end up with loud sabre rattling

At the personal level, heavy debt brings on much tension
Finding a job, a home, and affording a pension
So no wonder we feel quite overwhelmed
To take some evasive action we are thus compelled

But if at the end of the day there is no easy cure
The vagaries of life we must simply endure
Hunkering down for the immediate duration
Our only response to a dire situation

But let’s not allow ourselves to get too depressed
And with our problems become quite obsessed
In due time dark clouds are bound to blow over
We will rise from the hunker and regain composure

Ken Fisher

Would You Credit It? – Yet Again!

Would You Credit It? Yet Again!
The Credit Crunch – Ten Years on
On the 10th Anniversary of the start of the 2008
Credit Crunch former PM Gordon Brown has issued a dire warning
of the prospect of another one.

We’ve lost those days of easy spending
Supported by our banker’s lending
Good-bye to wine, blooms by the bunch
Thanks to the wretched credit crunch

How has this happened, what has gone wrong?
Failed to save for far too long?
Or in our dealings with the bank
Not always been entirely frank

The truth it seems is more elusive
The money men are quite evasive
You might have thought they would be frank
Helping us to trust our bank

Unknown to us behind the scenes
Our cash obscured by complex screens
Was sweetened up like golden honey
But ended up as “funny money”

In former days banks held deposits
And lent from deep within their closet
But now-a-days that’s not enough
Competition’s far too tough

So out into the money market
Like Mother Hubbard with her basket
To multiply her store of cash
Nothing ever seemed too rash

To profit from this increased store
The banks got ready to explore
Lending out to whomsovever
Re-inventing the “never-never “

It mattered not how you would pay,
Or from the contract you might stray
The banks were there to do a deal
No matter how that made you feel

If soon you found you’re out of luck
Re-payment made you come unstuck
Instead of payments made on time
You very soon became “sub-prime”

The US bankers took the lead
Meeting every borrower’s need
But very soon the world at large
Ensured they too had joined the charge

A new regime came into place
To grant huge loans and win the race
Thus none of us need ever wait
To meet our needs however great

Every banker now must sell
To prudence they all said farewell
But every spender really happy
Credit granted very snappy

But then it all became unstuck
Spenders seemed to lose their luck
As they began to hit the red
Bankers could not sleep in bed

Suddenly their glorious plan
Amazingly “had hit the fan”
Borrowers gathered at the dole
Bankers seemed to lose control

This enterprise had somehow stumbled
As one by one the moguls crumbled
Thus had begun what seemed quite viral
Disease around the world did spiral

Quite suddenly as if by stealth
The end of our financial health
No longer ever in ascension
Our house, our shares, indeed the pension

Well is there any consolation
Word of comfort for the nation
Perhaps it’s this – why do we trust
In things so quickly turned to dust?

A post script to these earlier verses
Shows that in banking not much reverses
In latter days we’ve seen PPI, Libor, and small firms squeezed
By mighty bankers who prefer themselves to please

Ken Fisher

 

Utility

Utility

I wonder if in this modern world
Worth’s only measure is Utility
Unless we can calibrate the gain
It holds little plausibility

In dark days of war and long thereafter
Essentially production was restricted
Utility the hallmark for everything
Lest by waste we were afflicted

Of course the aim of most artifacts
Is to serve our human need
Objects are therefore produced
As the market has decreed

Classical economists propounded
An action is right if happiness it brings
Utilitarianism promotes this belief
Joy the measure of all things

But surely in this wondrous world
Exist things some consider useless
But lacking these elements of our life
Mere production rendered fruitless

We cannot simply stamp a utility mark
On our regard for one another
Art, music, and faith’s eternal quest
Dominant functionality cannot smother

The treasures which flow from the Aladdin’s cave
Of our modern supermarkets
Help to meet our insatiable desire
Our boundless pleasure is their target

But ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ however much
Might try our hearts to please
Yet in our souls we seek for more
To set our minds at ease

And thus we continue in pursuit
Of that whose only function
Is to lift us from mere usefulness
And grant emotion’s unction

Ask not only what something does
What purpose can it serve?
Rather how it might life enhance
And thus our praise deserve

Ken Fisher

Is Normal Life Sustainable If We Always Tell The Truth?

Is Normal Life Sustainable If We Always Tell the Truth?

 

A recent TV programme* advanced the proposition
That to sustain daily life we must resort to deception
Apparently social intercourse forces us to lie
To uphold concord the truth we must deny

Of course there is some debate on the nature of a lie
To condemn all false words or actions is to oversimplify
There is a difference surely between a fib or small white lie
And a monstrous whopper which you can rarely justify

Proclaiming the whole truth may well result in hurt
When we make no effort to soften a harsh word
We speak with veracity but how will it be received?
Surely the hearer is bound to feel aggrieved

Research has claimed we shrink from boldly stating
The stark truth to others when we ought to be berating
Afraid of offending  their feelings or causing alienation
We meekly soften the blow, espouse prevarication

We lie most commonly to our own kith and kin
Perhaps we consider that is less a sin
Or perhaps we are too afraid to disturb the uneasy peace
Recognising reality would family discord increase

But in business too we often use fabrication
Describing our products using much exaggeration
Trade descriptions legislation is meant this to prevent
But unhappy customer reports are still widely evident

Another aspect of untruthfulness is the deliberate omission
Thus it is what we fail to say that merits admonition
We sanitise awkward facts and situations
Thus producing false hopes and expectations

Of course in life there are times when truth can’t be avoided
And these situations must never be exploited
Professionals giving advice from truth should not depart
Each in their own field should play an honest part

No matter the extent to which we feel we can be economical
With truth, we must n’er migrate to a world quite mythological
Rather we must seek to live our lives with true sincerity
Truth our moral compass, the bulwark of integrity

Ken Fisher

 

  • Horizon: A Week Without Lying – The Honesty Experiment