Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

Wake Up and Smell the Coffee

“Wake up and smell the coffee” is apparently a call to action
A set of circumstances, an affair, demanding our reaction
It would appear that we might have been caught sleeping
Time now for us to act, and wake from idle dreaming

Some say the expression is used to tell us we are wrong
Time for a sharp rethink to move our thoughts along
Others say it is just a phrase to say we must wake up
To harsh realities, so many problems piling up

Wake and smell the coffee tells us to become aware
Not hide below the duvet or even turn to prayer
For although prayer may have its rightful place
Nonetheless these issues we simply now must face

So when someone reminds us of that beverage we should smell
It’s obviously something helpful that they wish to tell
And if we are truly wise we will produce a prompt reaction
A timely answer to advice which springs us into action

Ken Fisher

The Singer Clock

The Singer Clock

 

Singer is a name you won’t easily forget
For decades this brand ruled supreme in
the world of sewing machine production
from treadle power to sophisticated control

Even today you will find Singer machines
in Asian sweatshops and chic fashion houses
But in Clydebank, Singer was also renowned
for its massive factory clock on a tower

For miles around, this monstrosity could be seen
Signifying industrial power and market domination
But like so much of Scottish industry it met with decline
And even the clock gave its final tick in March 1963

When the clock first appeared in 1885 in Clydebank,
then the European headquarters of this early multi-national
It signified the wealth and importance of the enterprise
And its enormous timepiece was a symbolic crown on success

Unfortunately this chronometer probably hung like
an albatross around the neck of the business
It was powered by massive cast iron weights
driving the mechanism that required twice weekly winding

Over the years of the 20th century several changes
were made to the clock. The dials and numerals
were redesigned and various forms of illumination
were employed, inside by gas, outside by spotlights

None of these was very successful, being too dim
or casting unwanted shadows from the internal machinery
In 1928 a total of 145 lamps were attached to the hands!
Then World War II snuffed out illumination and almost Clydebank

After the war, when some normality was restored
The clock came back into service with new enamelled
“Singer” signs re-lit for all to see from far away
But the fate of the clock was on the horizon

In 1963 the clock was finally ceremonially stopped
“As part of area reorganisation in the interests of
production with a smaller labour force”
The aluminium hands were made into souvenir ashtrays!

This was before smoking (and domestic sewing machines) became much less fashionable!

Ken Fisher

Background material from International Sewing Machine Collectors’ Society website.

Get Wired In

Get Wired In
[for National Paper Clip Day]

I wonder if like me, you had no idea
That there is a useful device that brings us cheer
It’s a humble item of office equipment
Which ensures our papers get proper treatment

I am referring to a widget often overlooked
But is ever so useful to keep our sheets hooked
Together in some storage container or file
Where they need to reside for quite a while

This simple device, just a bent piece of wire
To greater fame it would never aspire
But the service of the humble paper clip
Is vital to ensure that loose pages don’t slip

So today I am told is National Paper Clip Day
And coincides with another office holiday
So perhaps all the paper clips will straighten themselves out
And leap from the desk-tidy as they dance and shout

For we certainly should celebrate the paper clip
Whose value our minds will often let slip
We should rejoice in its power to keep things together
An example we humans might sometimes remember

Ken Fisher

 

typo

typo

Discovering you have made an unfortunate typo
Is enough to turn a sane man into a sycho
After you’v checked every word of the script
Your reputation for accuracy has suddenly sliped

Typos come in many different disgises
Sometimes in ways that would even surprise us
You find them as as unintended duplication
And ocassionally with ones’ wrong punctuation

Spelling as you see is very often a trap
Resulting in many a ritten mishap
And of course there is the sin of omis ion
Its something that would justify strong admonision

Of course such prolbems we can quiet easily solve
And a good spell-chequer would these mostly resolve
Typos might simply be caused by a smelling mistake
And with determination the foul habit we’ll brake

An example of a typo I will never forget
Caused the passing public quite an upset
A sculptor, on a statue, carved out the following inscription
“This monument was paid for by pubic subscription”

Ken Fisher

Cyber Safe

Cyber Safe

 

All of a sudden we have become more aware
Of the potential dangers lurking out there
When we had assumed that all our data’s secure
And of our privacy we felt we could still be sure

But news of the latest world wide hacking
And of storage devices the blatant ransacking
Our sacrosanct records hitherto inviolate
Some unknown intruder sought to liberate

And not only did these felons seek to gain access
Their aim was by blackmail to achieve much success
And by extortion derive a profit quite handsome
By demanding from us a large bit-coin ransom

If we did not accede to their outrageous demands
They would wrest possession out of our hands
And we could no longer govern our business affairs
Or financial assets held in banks, bonds or shares

And health authorities that maintain records of patients
Found that not only people but systems acquired complications
And so the way in which we run things in all organisations
Were subject to widespread data starvation

And when we reflect on the risks around cyber security
When so many computers now have little immunity
One wonders if perhaps we should take a step back
And use chalk and slate – much less easy to hack!

 

Ken Fisher

White Van Man

White Van Man

 

If I am honest with myself I am filled with prejudice
Because I view the white van man as if he were some vice
In recent years he has come to dominate our streets
And this type of vehicle seems to come in fleets

He (or she) weaves their way throughout the heavy traffic
At speeds as good as any Jeremy Clarkson fanatic
And when they decide to stop and block the thoroughfare
For the other road users they simply don’t seem to care

Of course the rise of this modern entrepreneur
From humble tradesman quite obscure
To ubiquitous solution for all that we desire
Gives a quick and easy nostrum if only we will hire

Apart from all the crafts and trades traditional
White van men now handle things much less conventional
So pet grooming, dog walking, or if your walls need scraping
Portable discos, barbecues, or even some landscaping

White van man has found a way to access all locations
The sat nav easily pinpoints any house throughout the nation
And despite the fact he may cause mighty road congestion
He will eventually get there, of that there is no question

Because we have fallen in love with on-line shopping
All these parcels will then need rapid shipping
So the white van can be detected night and day
He must meet his target-time and never go astray

Perhaps instead of getting peeved at the sight of white van man
We should be thankful for all that’s concealed inside his van
Whether it is his skill and the tools to meet our needs
Or on-line goods from Amazon and favourite books to read

Ken Fisher

Green Energy

Green Energy

The need for energy that is said to be renewable
A utility whose worth is doubtless invaluable
Has prompted the search for this holy grail
Manifest in the breath that moves these sails

As the invisible air-flow traverses the land
The pressure exerts its powerful hand
Forcing these mighty blades to rotate
Driving the dynamo as they twist and gyrate

We are able to steal from the atmosphere
By subtle legerdemain it would appear
And simply by raising up these metal arms
We have beguiled the wind to yield its charms

So thank goodness for this mysterious spell
Green power from this wondrous carousel
And as long as that breeze continues to blow
Such bounty on us it will surely bestow

Ken Fisher

Iconic

Iconic

You must have noticed how the word ‘icon’ is now much overplayed
In ordinary conversation we seem to hear it almost every day
Historically the word was used to describe a religious work of art
Nowadays applied to distinguish some object thus setting it apart

In the digital age icons are used to represent a useful ‘application’
Click on the app’s icon and its faculties leap into action
So in this case the icon is a symbol representing a function
The graphic and the routine working in conjunction

Now we seem to have decided that anything exceptional is ‘iconic’
From a well recognized brand name to a modern health tonic
Thus everyday symbols like those for Apple, Coke or Dyson
Stimulate in our minds a sort of anticipatory frisson

All this is good for the salesmen and marketing gurus
But I wonder if the term ‘iconic’ they have patently abused
Indeed we seem to hear that label used so often in these days
It has long ago begun to sound like an inconsequential phrase

So perhaps we should resolve to give the word ‘iconic’ a well earned rest
As a description of anything that we extol as being the very best
And find some other words to refer to artifacts exceptional
And avoid hinting at ideas that are really undeliverable

Ken Fisher

The Rule of Law

The Rule of Law

Who needs lawyers? You may well ask
To give an answer, quite a task
The law seems a profession quite lucrative
Its rewards are clearly remunerative

But the Rule of Law is much more than lawyers’ pay
About precepts that control our every day
Our freedom, our rights and our obligations
Legal rules forming society’s foundation

If people wish to live together in community
In ordered peace, and with impunity
From the imposition of others’ aggression
Their rights protected from transgression

They therefore need rules imposed by state
Which in disputes will arbitrate
So when crime is committed or contract broken
Justice will not simply be forsaken

Through history, law has come from many sources
The Common Law and Equity, followed by the Statutes
Rules made by Parliament to govern our affairs
Intended to ensure that common life is fair

Judges too have played their part
As legal interpretation turned to art
Laying down new precedents
With which lower courts must be content

Some European laws are imposed on our nation
These are Directives and Regulations
And all this may change in two years time
As Brexit becomes the new paradigm

Then there are local rules and even byelaws
Devolved legislation for simple causes
Thus we are enmeshed on every side
We must conform or woe betides!

The Rule of Law requires the Courts
Wherein the lawyers do besport
Judges and juries all required
That true justice ne’er be denied

And then we have our worthy police
Maintaining order, even peace
The Rule of Law they will enforce
That’s what their duties will endorse

Thus a whole apparatus is put in place
That the Rule of Law might be manifest
But above all the population must agree
That justice is what they want to see

Equality under the law is fundamental
Exceptions would be detrimental
To its strictures we must all comply
Even sometimes with a sigh

International law seeks to see fair play
Holding nations in its sway
Maintaining law where’er it can
Seeking justice for every land

In the end we have to have the Rule of Law
Or nature prevails, raw in tooth and claw
And to obey the law is surely wise
To sustain a world more civilised

Ken Fisher

BOGOF [Buy One Get One Free]

BOGOF

[Buy One Get One Free]

 

 

You are no doubt familiar with the technique
A marketing device, by no means unique
Whereby you are tempted to buy more than one
Because to get two they don’t increase the sum

Contrary to what you and I might well think
This has not been contrived to simply hoodwink
For centuries these offers were seen to be good
Apparently first used by Josiah Wedgewood

BOGOF is a method of marketing things
Extolling the benefits claimed goods will bring
Services too are sometimes offered in doubles
At no extra cost nor any more trouble

Economists claim that BOGOF increases sales
And the costing structure takes account of details
So although two items are given in exchange
Any loss of margin the turnover regains

So that is why BOGOF items appear regularly
And with sellers and buyers it has popularity
This clever marketing trick can simply combine
Your satisfaction with their bottom line

Ken Fisher

 

 

Squaring the Books

Squaring the Books

 

It’s that time of year when the books have to be ‘squared’
The results of the business are thereby laid bare
The initial  task is to prepare the Trial Balance
An exercise which by itself is no mean challenge

All bookkeepers already  know that for every Debit
There has to be another corresponding Credit
If by chance any are found to be missing
We have an unacceptable condition

Throughout the year we have monitored Cash Flow
If we haven’t done that our success we’ll torpedo
And regard for our Budget is quite fundamental
To ensure no problems have become incremental

Of course the Trial Balance is just the first stage
Not providing all the facts for success to be gauged
We need to proceed to the P & L or I & E account
To reach that, there are problems we must first surmount

Yet many adjustments have to be considered
Prepayments and Charges still to be rendered
The obscure complexities of annual Depreciation
Capital and Revenue expenditure and Asset Valuation

The Statement of Financial Activities will show how we’ve done
And hopefully nothing serious has gone wrong
Enough money to pay our Creditors as due
No Bad Debts to get us in a stew!

All the facts need to be drawn from the daily Ledgers
And aggregated together for us then to consider
And next we can channel the results of this trawl
Into the Balance Sheet which will then reveal all

Of course every Transaction needs to be classified
If we get that wrong others we assuredly misguide
The decision to retain Profit can Stakeholders upset
Keep the Shareholders happy, a much safer bet

Fortunately in this modern age we’ve got rid of the pen
Fancy software now employed by all our businesses
And computer systems process all the raw facts
Leaving us to do little except VAT returns and Tax

So when you receive the Audited Report and Accounts
Please consider them well and don’t simply denounce
Think of all that hard work that is contained in those pages
And you must then appreciate the Accountants’ enormous charges!

Ken Fisher

P&L = Profit and Loss   I&E =  Income and Expenditure

Apprenticeship

Apprenticeship

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Today is Budget Day and it is interesting to note
a new emphasis on Apprenticeships.  An old idea
being given new clothes 

The image in this picture represents great distortion
Of what apprenticeship today is really all about
Their TV show antics seem out of all proportion
The normal rules of business they prefer to flout

Of course there is little doubt it brings us entertainment
But do the images they create show us much of business?
Surely apprenticeship involving good work placement
Should let us experience a working life in all its richness

In latter years many young people have shunned apprenticeship
So off they went in droves, hoping to become a graduate
Believing that the University would them for life equip
But in the end wealth and success proved not their future fate

So recently there has been greater realization
That practical training rather than lofty theory
Might better serve the young denizens of our nation
Than book learning of which they become weary

Getting your hands dirty in workshop or in laboratory
Might then prove for many a much wiser bet
Adding steadily to a growing skills inventory
And incidentally avoiding piles of student debt

In the old days apprentices into journey-men became
And now-a-days these trainees can show similar success
The system of advancement is now much less arcane
As in the modern day labour market they smoothly can progress

So to Lord Sugar we must offer due deference
He and his team of two have kept us all amused
But the real life apprenticeship is our own preference
And between the two we are surely not confused

Ken Fisher