Forget the chaos - smell the primroses

2009-05-19 00:00

I HAVE ignored the old maxim “information travels, not man” and come to England to find out, first hand, what is happening to the British economy and business — amazing that I can sit here in deepest Devon and make my report to KZN! Over the coming few weeks, I hope to bring you details of how industries, major organisations and SMEs are coping in a first-world country steeped in socio-economic chaos. I believe there will be much we can learn from what is taking place here.

The first thing that has struck me is that we tend to bash our government pretty hard in South Africa, although there’s no doubt that in almost every example of incompetence cited, it has been well deserved. However, make no bones about it, British politics and government is in just as much disarray as ours in South Africa. New Labour under Gordon Brown’s leadership doesn’t know whether it is Arthur or Martha. I like to imagine Tony Blair, a couple of years back saying, “Oh alright then, I’ll go”. Talk about Houdini — what an escape! After only being here a couple of days, I needed to visit a doctor. I went to my old medical practice and asked to see a doctor I have known for many years. I explained that I am staying with my daughter and am a fully paid-up UK pensioner. On the day of the appointment, the receptionist said, “Before you see the doctor, you must pay £25”. Over the next 10 minutes all hell was let loose, with the doctor scrapping the charge on the basis that if she could be treating immigrants from all over Europe on the National Health Service, she could certainly see a British Citizen.

In complete contrast — and way outside my normal brief — I feel I must report on the British countryside. Never before can I recall it as beautiful as this. It occurred to me that I hadn’t visited here in April/May for decades.

What a picture it forms. Only the great poets could do justice to its splendour. Forest and woodlands densely carpeted with bluebells that shimmer as a lake. In sheer contrast, the hedgerows adorned with massed clumps of the brightest of yellow primroses. The year 2009 must also be the greatest for many in respect of the azaleas and peonies. The backdrop to these must be the verdant green of new leaves and contrasting copper beeches and blossoming hawthorn and fruit trees. If only man could harness chaos with such splendid result as nature is able to! All in all, a breathtaking spectacle.

As with South Africa, the motorcar industry is extremely important to the UK’s economy and is currently a major element to the chaos that government has not yet found an answer to. In doing so, it has not satisfied the needs of ma­nufacturer, distributor and the all-important customer. Many different propositions have been brought to the table and I shall be looking at this industry more closely next week. If it stops raining tonight, I am going to have a braai!

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