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THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Sharks, bitches and the difference between the English and Norwegians

It’s Monday morning and after a run in humid early morning “mizzle” (as it is known in Cornwall – that’s light rain that seems to penetrate clothing it is so fine) I’m about to pack and leave for 4 days “on the road”. After calling in to see Bonnie this morning I will be driving 350 miles North to Manchester, there to deliver the Pontiac GTO to the only dealer in the UK who can service it (!) and then to deliver dental workshops in Manchester (Tues), Belfast (Wed) and Watford (Thu). That’s a lot of travel but I’m looking forward to connecting with clients and finding out what’s “hot to trot” out there in the real world. Yesterday the weather was glorious so, after I finish “The Known World” (excellent book) with a cuppa, it’s off for a 3-hour walk from Porthcurno towards Lands End, during which we spot a couple of enormous basking sharks feeding just off the coast.

A fellow walker allowed us to borrow his binoculars and we watched these docile creatures in awe at their size and beauty. During the ensuing conversation the male of the couple (that’s the walkers, not the sharks) shared with us that he had retired at age 55 on a modest but comfortable pension and didn’t regret finishing work for one minute. That’s the second such conversation in the last few weeks – and with the prospect of at least another 15 years of work to get kids through education and finance property, I felt a little dispirited. But actually, thinking about it on this morning’s run, I love my work and, as long as cash flow is secure and I don’t burn out – I’ll be happy to keep going for a long time yet. Hilarious highlight of the day is settling down at 9.00pm to watch a new BBC TV series, “Blizzard”, which recreates the race to the South Pole between Amundsen and Scott. This time, it’s Greenland as the setting (no sled dogs allowed in Antarctica) and a group of bumbling English middle-class adventurers and scientists against a crack squad of Norwegian experts in dog-handling, skiing and arctic exploration. I’m sure there was serious intent when the programme was planned but I find that watching the trials and tribulations of the English team is some of the funniest television I’ve seen for some time. Don’t miss future episodes if you have the chance. Best part of last night’s opener was the struggles our own team have with the sled dogs. One of the pack is a bitch who comes into season and is making the other dogs unmanageable as they only have one thing on their mind. I thought I had laughed enough when the leader of the team, Bruce Parry, was interviewed whilst taking a dump in a snow hole at -20 degrees. Riveting programming. But no – there was better to come. Team England decides that the best way to motivate the male dogs to pull their sled is to walk the “in-heat” bitch 100 metres in front of the party. Said bitch, of course, quickly realises that the only way she will get a “seeing to” is to sit down and wait for them to catch up. Party of randy male dogs arrives and immediately start to tear each other to shreds in competition. Being English, our team are filmed trying to reason with the dogs – “now come along chaps, this isn’t cricket, let’s all be friends.” (that wasn’t actually said but you can imagine it) Classic mayhem is followed by the quote of the night: “One of Amundsen’s bitches came in season – he had her shot.” I think that may account for the difference between Norwegians and English – they make us look romantic?

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