I have been enjoying the latest series of The Dragons Den. I say enjoying
even though I spend most of my time shouting at the TV in frustration. It’s
not the often inept presentation of the inventors and entrepreneurs, who
are trying to prise money out of the dragons that leads me to despair.
It is the way that the multi-millionaire stars seem to enjoy ridiculing
the poor fools who enter their lair. A young couple, who had invented what
seemed to be a quality product, have just been called naïve by the tall
one. Of course they are! They are nothing but kids and have only been in
business for a few months.
Its as if they want people to be the finished article when they arrive
into the den. But surely they wouldn’t need to ask for help if they knew
all the answers.
Apart from Theo mentioning his ‘children’s inheritance’ time and again it
is the lack of comprehension they show regarding they are giving away that
riles me up.
Duncan Banatyne, for example, is estimated to be worth £320m. During this
latest episode he offered £200k to a couple of inventors. Your initial
reaction might be one of amazement at such an investment.
This is such a small percentage of his overall wealth. If you or I had a
bank balance of £1000 it would be the equivalent of giving away 63p. That
would make the above investment mere loose change to a wealthy businessman.
I am not commenting on the integrity of Duncan and his fellow Dragons but
context always gives you the right perspective. I am sure they give many
thousands of pounds to charity every year and that such giving makes a
definable difference to needy causes, but let’s keep it in perspective.
A recent survey indicated that the lowest earners amongst our population
give a higher percentage of their income to charity. I am quite sure that
most of our people give more than 63p to charity each year.
Figures vary but most commentators reckon that the average annual giving
by British people is 0.8% of their yearly wage. I know many people who give
a lot more than this.
It has been moving to see the response of the British people to the
Pakistan flood victims. Whilst never enough a substantial amount has been
raised and most of seemingly by ordinary folk.
So whilst the Dragons enjoy publicity seeking in their den as they revel
in handing out spare cash to young hopefuls, the rest of us make a real
difference by pooling our resources to help those who don’t have the luxury
of owning any loose change.
I have been enjoying the latest series of The Dragons Den. I say enjoying
Following a recent cold snap Mrs M and I decided to bring out our winter
coats from hibernation. There is something both concerning and comforting
about such an event; concerning because I become all too aware of another
passing year. Comforting because I am reminded how much I love to wear my
As I pulled from its pockets old train tickets and a selection of receipts
I was reminded of some of the things we enjoyed during last winter. A trip
to York to visit our youngest daughter. A day out with our parents to
sample real ale and country fare in a Yorkshire dale’s village.
I tried the coat on to make sure that my summer intake of beer and pork
pies hadn’t enlarged my frame too much. With a gasp of success I exclaimed
that it still fitted me ‘like a glove’. But only just!
As I displayed my victory over the calories to Mrs M she reminded me that
there was a time when growing out of our clothes was seen as a normal part
We reminisced about the last few days of school summer holidays when our
parents would prepare for our return by buying new uniforms. My mother, as
with most other parents back then, would always buy my jacket a couple of
sizes too big.
Then, as I complained about it not fitting she would announce, as if
offering a timeless truth, ‘you will grow into it’.
And so I would turn up for that first day back at high school to meet all
my friends and compare how much of our hands were showing from beneath our
That was then, and this is now. I don’t need a new coat every year. I can
make my old faithful jacket work a treat. As I expressed this last
sentiment to my bride a button popped off as if to puncture my elation.
Not to be defeated I found the family sowing box and began the repair
It is some time since I last tried to thread a needle and I don’t recall
having any difficult with the process. In fact I always prided myself on
being able to offer my mother support for such things.
Now, however, this seemingly simple exercise has turned into a major test
of my grown up abilities. No matter how much I squinted I could not get the
I donned the reading glasses that I only need for ‘the smallest of
writing’ and still could not find a way to complete my task.
Not to be beaten I tried to find a bigger needle hoping that the eye would
be larger and give me a better chance to thread the cotton.
I am nothing if I am not a tryer and I swear that I missed several TV
programmes before I followed my mother’s example and asked for help from my
Almost without taking her attention from the TV she threaded the needle
and handed it back. In an instant I realised what my mother felt like when
she had to rely on me for such tasks.
Once the job was done I put the coat to show the result of my work. As I
inhaled in order to fasten the buttons Mrs M offered me the following
comforting words ‘don’t worry you can slim into it’
Apparently a shopper with aspirations of being a social commentator has
again taken a stand against retailers stocking Christmas product too early.
The individual concerned has taken the bold step of re-labelling the
festive signs found in a supermarket with other home made slogans
including; ‘Not Yet Christmas’ and ‘Come Back In December’.
I am not sure what drove them to this end but the fact that they came
prepared suggest they had spent some time brewing their anger.
As funny as I find this action I am not advocating that we should all take
to the isles in such an act of defiance even though I can understand the
sentiment behind this latest protest.
I wonder if the store in question has any CCTV footage of the perpetrator
and whether they intend taking further action.
I can’t help thinking that life is meant to be seasonal and that having a
gap between summer and winter is good for us. They used to call this gap
autumn but now the edges of our historic divisions have been smudged.
All of this begs the question ‘when should the Christmas festivities
If we follow the song then we should start on the 24th December and
celebrate the twelve days of Christmas. If we enjoy the chocolate offered
by modern advent calendars then we would have to start at the very
beginning of the month.
Retailers, however, follow neither of these models and start well before
the rest of us have mourned the loss of summer. They then begin to rip
through the tinsel on Boxing Day to entice us in with massive sales.
Every family will have their own tradition and ours is no exception. The
tree is brought out on December the first and we begin our countdown to one
of our favourite holidays.
We often don’t even begin our shopping until this point. This will seem
odd to some. We have friends who begin buying their presents in the post
Christmas sales in preparation for the following year.
Whilst I admire their organisational skills in doing so, and the fact that
they save a good deal of money, I feel as if this is step too far for my
It also seems unfair to Santa (just in case we have younger readers) who
then has to store them for a full twelve months. This is a logistical
nightmare and must present health and safety issues in the North Pole.
You could imagine Father Christmas contacting his union in order to
complain about the extra workload. I wonder what type of action he might
take in order to place the celebrations firmly back where they have
He could work to rule and only deliver to houses that still have chimneys.
He could limit his involvement to families that can be bothered to provide
mince pies and a tot of whiskey as he makes his travels.
Or he could visit the Bradford area in September and re-label the
Christmas decorations in a supermarket. I cant wait to see the CCTV