I spilt some water on my keyboard. Not a lot, it popped up when I opened the bottle. I wiped it away immediately, even gave the entire laptop a (to be honest, well overdue) clean and tried to get back to work.
About ten years ago, when one of Mole Graphics’ largest customers went bust, owing us a shedload of money, I spoke to the bank about a loan. They were polite and enthusiastic until they ran the figures. We were not, they said with a tinge of regret, eligible for a loan unless I could persuade two of our other large customers to confirm, in writing, that they would continue to buy print from us for the next five years. I tried to explain that I could probably get these letters but, given that many print buyers changed jobs every couple of years, they would be essentially meaningless.
Don’t you just hate chasing unpaid invoices? I don’t get involved that much. Our persistent, pertinacious and polite people in accounts do most of it but occasionally I’ll pitch in if they feel they’re making absolutely no headway or the client is being wilfully obtuse (which, to be fair, is relatively rare).
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about signs recently. That will come as no great shock, given that they are such an important part of Mole Graphics’ business. These reflections were prompted by a trip to the library to collect a potboiler crime novel. I realised that, depending on which sign you believed, it was either open straight through from 10am to 5pm or, as it turned out, closed for lunch between 1-2pm. I wasn’t the only one left dumbfounded: at the door, a three-year-old boy was trying to persuade his reluctant mum it was worth waiting for ten minutes until the library reopened and the nursery-style singalong - which, from personal experience, invariably features a round of ‘Wheels On The Bus’ - would begin.
I want to save the planet. Honest. Apart from anything else, I’d like Mole Junior to be able to continue to call the third rock from the sun home. That’s why, ignoring the grimace from my tech savvy offspring, I will shortly replace my venerable iPhone8 with a reconditioned version of a slightly newer edition. I read somewhere that if everyone in Europe kept their smartphone for six months longer than usual, it would be the equivalent of taking 1m cars off the continent’s roads, which is not too shabby.
“You’re fired!” I can’t wait for someone at the BBC to say that to Lord Alan Sugar after what feels like the 478th series of The Apprentice, a TV show that sheds about as much light on running a small company as Jack and the Beanstalk does on the forest products industry. For me, Sugar is a one-hit wonder, or maybe one-and-a-half hit wonder (Amstrad plus making satellite dishes for Rupert Murdoch), the Kajagoogoo of British business. To my mind his enduring profile says more about the paucity of the media’s imagination, than it does about his actual achievements or indeed the quality of British management.
It’s about this time of year, Wimbledon being over, that Mrs Mole starts pining for France. We’re heading down to the Loire, which is lovely - although Mole Jr always complains that it is shut - but not until the end of summer. I used to holiday in France with my parents and my schoolmates always found it amusing that the whole nation went on holiday for the whole of August. Thinking about it today, I wonder if the French have a point. My inbox has already started filling up with out of office replies, and getting any business done before the end of August becomes increasingly difficult.
‘Five ways SMEs can save money’ said the email heading. Always interested in ways of economising - it’s in the Mole DNA - I opened it but stopped reading after the second tip: ‘Utilise your workforce’. In other words, make sure your workers are actually doing some work. After that devastating insight, I hit ’delete’ as fast as I could.
I rang my bank the other day about a loan. To be clear, Mole Graphics is not struggling, I actually wanted to borrow to invest in the business.
Bah humbug! My gentle post-Christmas reintroduction to Mole Graphics was disrupted by an email outlying six critical business trends for 2O22. The first was: ‘Turn your marketing strategy into customer journeys’. I don’t know what the other five trends were - I deleted the email in fury.
Ever keen to keep the readers of this esteemed organ up to date, I actually did some research before penning this end of year column. What, I wonder, will be the big trends of 2022?
Alright, I’ll come clean. I voted for Brexit. I didn’t care about immigration, nor did I believe that Eurocrats wanted to regulate the shape of bananas.
“To be or not to be, that is the … gazoormonplatz” That is the punchline in one my favourite Bob Newhart sketches in which a monitor is tasked with checking the theory that if a monkey is given a typewriter and an infinite amount of time the primate will type something as good as Hamlet.
I only work from home two days a week but it has become increasingly clear that this is too much for Mrs Mole. Her principal complaints are that there are too many dishes to be washed, too much milk being consumed and too much garbage being produced. I don’t know why she worries about the rubbish because, under our long-running power-sharing agreement, bin maintenance is the one area where I have complete authority. Even so, in the interests of domestic harmony, my transition to an ‘office-first’ approach to work will have to be accelerated.