What has happened to the British stiff upper lip?


By Andy Barr | Head Yeti

June 12, 2013 | 6 min read

Let me give you (and my editor) an insight into how I prepare this column every week.

Time for us Brits to man up, whines Andy Barr

I don’t actually “blag it at the last minute” as one P-45-seeking person in our team suggested last week, but actually take notes in my little Moleskin book (I bought into the marketing hype) throughout the week and then, come Friday, I try and craft it all together.

This week, my column is, for once, early. Why? Because my little notebook has already had enough scribbles penned in for one week. Sadly though, and rather annoyingly, it is largely full of whining.

Whining about Vodafone for legally avoiding paying corporation tax (how many people do they employ in the UK and if there is a legal way to do this, why not?).

UK city-based analysts whining about the unemployment figures… Why? Because they dropped, but only at the same level that they increased in the last update on the figures.

Contrast this against how the wider business world is writing up the story (example: Bloomberg) and they are saying it is another example that the “UK economy is gaining momentum”.

Finally, and this story is breaking as I type, and probably inspired me the most to make it a “what is happening to us Brits”: why did the England cricket team snitch up an Oz player for starting a scrap? That is not very British at all.

We all know the Aussies are a rather rambunctious bunch, largely down to their criminal heritage I believe (LOL, joking).

A little light japesting and some rough and tumble after a night on the Fosters should be expected by both parties and not leave one party running to mummy and asking for the offending player to be put on the naughty step.

Where has our stiff upper lip gone?

Fortunately, my own whining is over; let’s look at a massive positive from the week.

Asos, the darling of the fashion world, is setting the benchmark once again with a stormer of a third quarter set of results. Also, something that slipped under the radar for many (not me, I am hugely fashionable, think Zoolander crossed with Ron Burgundy), ASOS teamed up with Primark for a trial of selling their products via its online store and they aced it.

Primark has been the darling of the high street for several years now, and likewise, Asos is the darling of the internet high street; so the marriage was always going to produce very pretty looking sales babies. They have not disappointed.

Finally, OFGEM is back in the headlines for trying to “create a level playing field” in the energy market and “reduce the dominance of the big 6”. Now, I don’t know about you, but this story seems to come round every year.

Every New Year, after popping the cork of the Prosecco (it’s a recession) and pulling the string of the party poppers, I immediately sit down and make a list of the stories I think will appear in the following year. Yes, I know, I live an exciting life.

On that list I usually have the following: Mobile phone watchdog vowing to cut the cost of calling overseas; the Met office making a prediction about either a BBQ summer or umbrella summer; the pictures of the “Christmas ship”, where shipping containers full of Christmas presents floating over from China are sold in to the nationals and finally gas and electricity prices going up, or rumoured to be coming down, but never do.

OFGEM needs to show clear and tangible actions and not just throw these lines out; be seen to be penalising a company for its actions rather than just trotting out generic lines.

When I worked in the utility industry, for a distribution company (jargon o’clock) we lived in fear of OFGEM using its Dawn-Raid powers to look into things. The reality is that I can count on one hand the number of times this has actually happened to a power company.

P.s I was tasked with preparing the “Dawn-Raid” action plan. We actually had a run through of it once and it was good fun until the American CEO shouted something about me being fired if I ever did a test of it again so early in the morning. I was fired in the end, but that’s another story.

Have I got it wrong? Come whine at me on The Twitter @10Yetis


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