Monday, 23 April 2012

A degree in Public Relations

"What's your daughter going to read at Leeds?" I asked.   "Public Relations."  was the answer.  "PUBLIC RELATIONS !!! "  I exclaimed " How on earth do you spend three years doing a degree in Public Relations?"

I have been thinking about that  over the last couple of days and still just do not see how you could fill three years doing a degree in PR. OK sure you need to learn a bit of French so you can find your way around a decent restaurant menu and I will admit that those from 'disadvantaged backgrounds'  may need to do an accelerated crammer in basic table manners. Also a knowledge of wine and how much you can drink before you become paralytic and are sick all over the journalist you are entertaining is vital, but does it really take three years at University to learn this?

So what else should a PR degree course teach. Well obviously an ability to write good English is vital and, more importantly, an ability to write an amusing press release which will appeal to the journalist on the receiving end of it and get him to either give you a call or just write the story blind from the press release.
When I was writing a regular property column for the Field magazine I used to get inundated with press releases and most were boring to a degree unimaginable unless you were a brain dead girl in PR.    

But at the end of the day if you want press coverage then you need to go out to lunch. And not one of those pathetic modern affairs which last an hour and everyone drinks fizzy water before going back to the office- no you need a proper lunch-with bags of alcholol -lasting most of the afternoon. Why? because after a lunch like that you have truly 'bonded' with your guest and from then on you will always be able to pick up the phone and get your story at least listened too if not acted on.

Thinking back to that three year degree course in PR at Leeds you know the really sad thing is that the one thing they probably don't teach is the miraculous benefits of liquid lunches.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Bats v men - a question of priorities

 A few weeks ago  thieves broke into a nearly complete house nearby and ripped out the underfloor heating system getting away with a few hundred pounds of copper pipe but causing some thirty thousand pounds worth of damage.  A day later one policeman turned up to 'take the details'.  Three days later not far away two dead bats where spotted lying in a road opposite a building site in a village. Four police cars turned up with seven policemen!  The building site was shut down immediately even though as bats are nocturnal and builders tend to knock off at 5 pm so, logically, it seemed highly unlikely, if not impossible, for the builders to have had anything to do with this major crime.  Bats thiugh are now more important than people. If you question anyone why this is so they quote the European Endangered Species Directive on bats.

Now personally I don't have anything against bats -although I do draw the line at sharing my bedroom with them - in fact I rather subscribe to a school of thought which says having bats in your roof space is a good thing as they tend to eat insects and bugs. They are, I am told , especially fond of the Death Watch Beetle, a nasty bug which is so virile that it will bore into solid oak and can cause enormous damage to ancient buildings. Apparently the Death Watch Beetle, when it sticks its head out of the bit of wood it is feasting on, makes a distinctive tapping noise, and Mr. Bat swoops down and gobbles him up there and then.

Having said all that it does strike me that we have got things out of proportion and I do doubt whether bats are nearly as endangered as their fans say they are. Could it be that we have all been suckered into believing they are endangered simply because they come out at night so few people see them? Certainly when I take the dogs out on a summers evening just when it's got dark the air is full of bats.    

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Old soldiers - a new role

I was at a very jolly reunion lunch with some old comrades the other day when one of them said :- 'you know it is really stupid having these young lads getting their legs blown off by IEDs it should be us - the old and bold - we should be out there in Afghanistan leading the patrols because - frankly - our legs haven't got many years left of good use in them anyway.'  There was 100% agreement round the table that we would all volunteer for IED detection duties if the army took us up on our offer. Then it also occured to me that, for those of us with problems with Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning, this was also -potentially - one of the best ways of being able to pass on your estate free of  IHT, as even the grasping HMRC does not levy IHT on the families of those servicemen who die on operations.  Now some may think that volunteering to go to Afghanistan with an aim of being killed purely to avoid the iniquitous IHT is going it a bit far and I would agree with that but - if you are wounded in the service of your country then - when many years later you do die- your family can still get away without paying IHT providing your doctor certifies that 'you died of war wounds' and as no one can say for certain that your life was not curtailed - even slightly- by the trauma of being wounded HMRC never challenge such a case.

There was an MP at our lunch who had to leave early as 'Our Dave' was going to address a meeting of Conservative MP's so we told him to relay our offer to the 'powers that be' -  Oh and also relay that we  were all on side re hitting the tax relief on charitable giving those who had experience of seeing charities in operation in such places as Bosnia being loudest in their contempt for them,    

Sunday, 15 April 2012

whining charities

So what's all the fuss about?   From reading the paopers you might imagine that 'rich men ' had been restricted in the amount they can give annually to Charities. Rubbish. Any one can give any amount they want to chatities it is just from now on you won't be able to claim tax relief on your charitable giving. And about bloody time too. Not every charitiy is a paragon on virtue, many in fact are pretty dubious and why we - the tax payer - should fund a charity selected on the whim of a rich man regardless as to whether that charity is actually doing something which is in the National interest or is, as many are, a mere gravy train whose principal aim is to keep the chief executive and his/her acolytes in the manner to which they are accustomed beats me.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Church and Easter

The odd thing about the Church is that every Easter it has a great opportunity to 'sell' itself to packed pews with the AIM of getting us to change from being , High Day worshippers only, to  becoming more regular members of the congregation and every year the it blows it.  

How many times over the last eighteen years have I - remembering Jesus's words- suffer the little children to come unto me - and forbid them not -  taken my extended brood to Church and had my spiritual contemplation ruined - not to mention those of quite a lot of the congregation as well - by my vain efforts to keep my children under some sort of control.  And how often, during some tedious part of the service, have I turned to my Bible and refreshed my memory with words of Jesus - who said;

 But when you pray, use not vain repetitions as the heathen do; for they think they will be heard by their much speaking . Be ye not therefore like unto them ; after this manner therefore pray ye.  And he forthwith taught his disciples the Lords Prayer .     

Now of course the Church, in it's wisdom, totally ignores Jesus's advice and your average church service is stuffed full of 'vain repetitions' not to mention 'much speaking' with the result that you are lucky, at Easter, to get out in under an hour and a quarter and vow not to put in another appearance till Christmas.