Happiness is not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
Posted: April 26th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Health, Life Stories, Retirement | No Comments »
Peter Thornton talks to Dermatuff user, Flo Lees
Formerly chairman of Thorntons, Peter Thornton was inspired by his own experiences to develop an innovative new skin protection product, Dermatuff which helps prevent skin tears. In the third of his guest posts, Peter recalls how he had the idea for Dermatuff and a particular sticky moment along the way.
I worked for 35 years in the family business, Thorntons, the confectioners. During that career I was really lucky because I could usually see the answers to problems without too much difficulty. Of course the ideas had to be refined as they came to me as I said in my last blog but generally the answers to almost anything would occur if I just let the problem lie in my mind. That business was a marvellous environment for innovation, it was very stable, in my day always made a good profit, always had lots of cash in the bank, made great products that one could be very proud of and had a social working environment which was second to none.
Having plenty of money around meant that mistakes could be made without it having a dramatic effect on the business, the start-up entrepreneur rarely has that benefit. Actually this is probably a very good thing because having plenty of cash around is a good background to getting things wrong. If you are very short of money then you have to think of every possible way to do what you want to do for no money or hardly any money. You also have to be wary as to what you do because a mistake can finish you off completely.
When I lived in Wensley near Matlock in Derbyshire I became quite familiar with the local Minor Injury Unit. My most memorable visit there had been one day when I was alone in our home some time after I had left Thorntons. I was wandering around the house when I noticed that my wife had left a box of Thornton’s toffee on top of the piano. Being always an addict I could not resist taking a piece. As I wear plates in my mouth holding various teeth which have been removed, I must be very careful when eating toffee. On this occasion the toffee stuck to my bottom plate which was immediately loosened by the chewing motion, pushing a wire hook which was on one end of the plate well into the inside of my cheek.
This was rather like a fish hook and could not be removed by any pulling strategy that I tried. I therefore decided that I would have to go to the Minor Injury Unit where I proceeded in my car with the bottom plate hanging out of my mouth and firmly hooked into my cheek on the inside.
Of course I had to give my details to the reception staff who were quite amused to see the state that I was in. They asked my name – Peter Thornton, what had caused this incident – I struggled to explain that I had been eating a piece of Thornton’s toffee whereupon broad smiles spread across their faces particularly when they realised that the business had been my career background.
Not long after that I had to go to the Minor Injury Unit again. I had a vintage Aston Martin which was parked in a large garage that I had. I was walking past it one day and inadvertently my leg knocked quite gently against the rear bumper. Imagine my surprise when I look down at my trousers and realised that they were completely soaked in blood. Rolling up my trouser leg I saw what appeared to be a horrific injury; a large flap of skin was hanging from my leg with blood pouring out of the wound.
They sewed it up for me and then I had to keep returning for re-dressing once per week for several weeks. This was the first of many incidents of this nature. Eventually I went to see my GP and said “what can I do about this?” “Nothing,” he said, “you’ll just have to be more careful”. “Isn’t there something that I can wear? Pills that I can take or something that I can rub in?”. To which he replied in the negative and told me that I had got thinning skin as a result of taking cortisone for many years.
This seemed to be a serious affliction; I began to lose my confidence and to be extremely wary about where I was and what I was doing. The trouble about that state of mind is that it seems to make one even more vulnerable.
At that stage it had not occurred to me that I might be able to find a solution to the problem, I had to suffer several more accidents before I put this problem firmly in my mind as needing a solution.
For more information about DERMATUff, visit www.Dermatuff.com.
Posted: April 22nd, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Health, Life Stories | No Comments »
Peter Thornton talks to Dermatuff user, Flo Lees
Formerly chairman of Thorntons, Peter Thornton was inspired by his own experiences to develop an innovative new skin protection product, Dermatuff which helps prevent skin tears. In the second of his guest posts (read the first one here) Peter considers the role of intuition, emotion and charm in becoming an entrepreneur.
Being highly intuitive is the first essential for an entrepreneur. In the last couple of years I have become convinced of the effectiveness of the empirical system of personality definition known as MBTI – Myers Briggs Type Indicator. Try it online for nothing, it’ll tell you how intuitive you are and what your other characteristics are.
The system has four preference pairs: Extrovert/Introvert, Intuition/Sensing, Thinking/Feeling and Judging/Perception. Abbreviated to: E/I, N/S, T/F, J/P. My profile is E(65%),N(88%),T(90%),J(64%). The ideal profile for an entrepreneur is said to be: E,N,T,P. Not quite perfect apparently and yes, I do think too much.
I think it’s really important for every individual to understand their own personality and I have been attempting to understand mine since I was a very young man. The trouble is that nobody ever tells you, at least not truthfully so, or on an informed basis. It was eventually MBTI that made my rational personality features clear to me. You get a comparison with the system; you know how you compare with other people.
Intuition is the most extraordinary gift, my theory is that somehow the brain amasses a huge database of information and when you put a problem into the brain it automatically retrieves appropriate information and produces a solution.
Not that all intuitive solutions are always correct, they quite often are not and have to be examined consciously. It is also sometimes the case that the intuitive solution is not so, it is just an emotional reaction to an emotional situation.
The emotional reaction has to be particularly carefully guarded against; I believe that most intuitive people, creative people, are also quite emotional people, if you suspect that the solution is an emotional one then leave it for a few days before doing anything about it. The emotional state gradually dies away so that it is usually gone within a couple of days.
British people have been much more open in the last 10 years or so about revealing their own emotional behaviour. I have been very open in my book ‘Thorntons, My Life in the Family Business’ about mine. It used to be that personal emotionality was totally hidden and suppressed; we tried to give an outward impression that all was calm and untroubled. This was a very bad thing because suppressed emotion has dangerous side effects on our health and well-being and impairs rational judgement. I have been very watchful of my own emotional behaviour since I started Dermatuff Ltd.
Just as our rational characteristics vary as measured by MBTI so do our emotional characteristics. Some people are extraordinarily stable and remain in the same balanced mood all the time. Other people including myself incline naturally towards bipolarism to a greater or lesser degree. I believe that this is due 50% to nature and 50% to nurture. The important thing as with our rational characteristics is to know ourselves and to know how to control these characteristics.
I am very fortunate to have learnt how to control bipolarism in my case: ‘cut off the peaks’ – never get too excited or depressed then things come much better into balance. It needs constant effort though because it is not natural behaviour. Decisions taken when on an emotional high or on an emotional low can have very dangerous consequences.
I was talking to a friend of mine recently who told me that her sister had been extraordinarily successful in business. I asked her what characteristic it was that made her so successful. She replied “well it’s not really that she is brilliantly intelligent or well educated, she is just extremely charming, I think that it is charm that matters more than anything don’t you?”
So remember ‘cut-off the peaks’, make the best of your extroversion and be charming, keep a quiet mind and don’t think too much so that your intuition can work and keep the balance between judging and perception.
To find out more about Dermatuff, visit www.dermatuff.com
Posted: April 16th, 2013 | Author: admin | Filed under: Designing for the Future Competition - University of Brighton, Life Stories | No Comments »
La Dolce Vita Knightsbridge, London 1953 by Thurston Hopkins courtesy of The Aldrich Collection
Thurston Hopkins, one of the great photojournalists of the 20th century, celebrates his 100th birthday today. Hopkins, an alumni of one of the antecedent colleges of the Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton, worked for a number of picture agencies but most particularly at Picture Post where he worked until it closed in 1957.
Picture Post pioneered photojournalism and quickly became an important historical resource documenting both the Second World War and the immediate post war years. Another photographer who submitted pictures to Picture Post and was offered work at more or less the same time as Thurston went under the name of Dick Muir. Women photographers were almost unheard of at the time and to get her work considered Grace Robertson, who was to become Thurston’s wife, had to use a male pseudonym.
Both Grace and Thurston are still enthusiastic supporters of the Faculty of Arts and are often to be seen at the annual Graduate Shows casting their eyes over the work of the latest generation of artists, designers and photographers.
We are very lucky to have work from both Thurston Hopkins and Grace Roberston in the Aldrich Collection at the Faculty of Arts, University of Brighton. For more details, visit http://arts.brighton.ac.uk/collections/aldrich
Posted: August 30th, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Life Stories, Retirement | No Comments »
One of my favourite Tweeters is @boyfrombristol. Today he tweeted this gem of a story about unrequited First Love in the wake of the 1948 Olympics which he has kindly allowed me to reproduce here.
The first cut is the deepest run the words of the old Rod Stewart song, and no truer words have ever been written. I was reminded of it a few weeks ago when four old boys met up for a quiet drink, a chat on current affairs, and an occasional stroll down memory lane. We all grew up together a long time ago in war-ravaged Bristol. With a combined age of 300 years, we share a million memories of our beloved city. We sat and watched the closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games. The conversation switched seamlessly back to 1948, for this was the year when London last hosted the Olympics. Suddenly, we fell silent, all eyes turned to me, and we all burst out laughing.
You see,1948 was the year that I fell in love for the very first time. I was only eleven when it happened. She was a new girl on the block…Her name was Maria Theresa, a tall, slender, elegant, Italian girl who spoke no English. Like all the greatest love stories, my love was unrequited. It wasn’t for the want of trying. I tried everything. I gave her my whole week’s ration of chocolate. She took it, ate it, but remained aloof. I offered her my collection of Italian postage stamps. She politely declined. Then, I had my brainwave, and a cunning plan slowly took shape.
The 1948 London Games had just finished. There were no television sets in our world, and we had contented ourselves with some crackly commentaries from our battery driven radios, and some grainy images from the Pathe Newsreels. But it had still excited our young imaginations. From an early age, I had the ability to run. This, I decided, was the way to Maria’s heart. I announced that we would be staging our very own Olympic Games. I spread the word on the streets with an almost evangelical zeal. Lord Coe would have been proud of me.
Eugene Street was to be our Olympic Stadium. Neatly tucked away behind the Bristol Royal Infirmary, it was already our soccer pitch in winter and our cricket pitch in summer. Now it would be our athletics stadium. Come the day, and 10 would -be budding Olympians, of various shapes and sizes, turned up to take part. Molly and Mavis held their skipping ropes across the road to create a finishing line, and the street fell silent as we lined up at the far end.
I was dressed up for the occasion. White vest, new short, grey flannel trousers, and new black daps (plimsolls for non Bristolians). I was also sporting my new, trendy, royal blue and scarlet striped braces
I got away to a flier, and I sped down the road. I was the Roman God, Mercury, with wings on my heels. I was bearing a message of love from Romeo to Juliet. My Juliet was standing about 10 yards behind the finishing line, holding her younger sister’s hand. She wasn’t even watching. Then, when I was about 20 yards from the finish, she looked up and our eyes met. I threw both arms in the air in a victory salute. The buttons on my trousers parted company with my new braces, and my trousers headed for my ankles. Panic !! I was commando, and for a couple of strides, everything I had was on display to the world. I managed to grab hold of my trousers just as they were passing my knees, but as I stumbled to the finishing line, Ronny and Johnny swept past me. I fell across the line in a blurred flurry of arms, legs, trousers, braces and prepubescent genitals, in third place.
I doubt that I will ever forget the look on Maria’s face as she stared down at me. Then she spoke quietly to her sister in Italian, and walked away. She and her family moved on about two weeks later and I never saw her again. But, I would always remember those final words. They sounded so romantic to my young ears.
Six or seven years later as I was about to enter the Royal Navy for my National Service, I was rummaging through some old books in Christmas Steps. I came across an English / Italian dictionary. I bought it, took it home, and slowly translated what Maria had said.
‘Ogni volta che lo vedo mi sento male’
Every time I see him I feel sick
The first cut is the deepest. I don’t think that I have ever truly recovered from that day, and even 64 years on, I still blush at the memory.
This story was first published at http://kingsdownkid.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/it-was-long-ago-and-far-away.html?spref=tw
Posted: January 21st, 2012 | Author: admin | Filed under: Care, Grandparents, Life Stories | 1 Comment »
Readers of this blog will know that I am a big fan of Eve, my friend now in her 90s, who is tackling getting older with considerable aplomb.
This week I learnt of her latest project. Eve was speaking to a friend who runs a charity shop which had a great many donated jigsaws. Whilst the jigsaws were popular, the volunteers simply did not have time to check that all the pieces of each puzzle were in the box so the jigsaws often languished in the stock room.
Up steps Eve who suggests that she could get together a group of friends who would happily check and complete the jigsaws so as to enable them to be sold. And so the Jigsaw Club was born.
Once a week Eve and her friends get together over a cup of tea and do jigsaws - not only does it help the charity, the activity, as Eve says ”keeps both brain and fingers moving”.
What a lovely idea – and a win, win for everyone involved.
Posted: January 26th, 2010 | Author: admin | Filed under: Life Stories | Comments Off
Dr Penny Aeberhard retired as a GP in 2005. In 2007 she volunteered to teach gynaecology skills in Nepal.
“Before starting out, I refreshed my supply of books for use in the developing world, buying the newest edition of “Where Women have no Doctor”, a manual in leprosy and the Oxford Handbook of Tropical Medicines. I also packed my book on “Hindu and Buddist Myths”, knitting, music tapes, a small radio for the BBC world service and my laptop.
I found myself on the rim of the Kathmandu valley amidst stunning scenery but with somewhat changeable mountain weather. Manmohan Community Hospital had been built 2 years earlier by a partnership of 2 Nepalese NGOs. Serving 63,000 people, the Hospital had 7 general beds, three maternity plus the labour bed, X ray and basic pathology.
After a week of fact finding, I presented my thoughts to the management committee who agreed that I would spend my remaining time on management and training.
I kept sane in my six and a half day week by good reflection time in pleasant if simple surroundings, warm and friendly people, local walks, reading, and the BBC news .
After I returned home, I received an email from one of the doctors: “Though it was a very short time I had the opportunity to be with you. But I have learned lot of ideas to run the hospital perfectly. It is not a matter of relation between doctor and patients but also between the staff and administration which I am trying to improve. Everybody got their third dose of hepatitis B vaccination. Cleaning commete also working very smoothly.” (sic)
With continued frustration in the NHS, it is good to feel creative and unencumbered by paper, computers and red tape.”
A longer version of this article first appeared in the RCGP International Newsletter Summer 2007.
Posted: December 17th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Life Stories | Comments Off
Ronnie Fox has been a City lawyer all of his professional life. Having already founded one law firm, Fox Williams, and at an age when most of his contemporaries had already been pensioned off, he left to set up new firm, Fox.
“I am determined to have fun and enjoy what I am doing. The most exciting period of my professional life was the couple of years after starting Fox Williams and founding Fox 20 years later reignited that excitement. Just doing this makes me feel ten years younger.
Besides, by comparison with US lawyers, the British stop far too young – it’s a great waste. People are starting to want to work longer and I feel that I am part of this new trend”.
Ronnie Fox is one of the leading employment and partnership law specialists in the UK – and for good measure, an expert on age discrimination.
Fox lawyers – http://www.foxlawyers.com/
Posted: November 6th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Life Stories | Comments Off
Eve is in her 80s and her daughter, Sue visits her every day. I have always been struck how elegantly they have managed to negotiate the challenges of the mother and daughter relationship as they both get older.
“Sue and I have always been close. I enjoy my independence but Sue and her husband Rob are always there when I need them. I think it is important to talk openly to your children about how much help you need – and sometimes more importantly, dont need”
“Mum and I are very good friends. She is a very independent lady and whilst making sure she knows that we are always there when she need us, I am careful not to tread on her toes. She does tell me when she thinks I am being too over protective. I think that being open with each other helps us to maintain our good relationship so that we can cope with whatever life throws at us with resilience and good humour”.
Posted: November 6th, 2009 | Author: admin | Filed under: Life Stories | Comments Off
I have been on the look out for inspirational life stories and what better place to start than with my father.
Michael Aldrich worked in the IT industry from July 1962 to January 2000, when computers changed from being the size of small houses to the size of a thumbnail. Here’s an extract from the archive which he put together in 2009 chronicling his experiences.
“In December 2007, I was asked out of the blue:”Grandpa, did you invent internet shopping?” I thought about the question and replied, “No, but a very long time ago I was involved in something called ‘teleshopping’. Years later it became internet shopping.”
I had had to think because I had long forgotten teleshopping as well as most of my business career. My memory has always been dysfunctional. I can’t remember names which was a real problem doing a history degree! I have no random access memory. My memory is associative. If I can get the first link then I can follow the chain but frequently lurch off at a tangent. In many ways that is the story of the Archive. I set off to find the story of teleshopping and then one thing led to another. I ended up rediscovering my working past. “
The Michael Aldrich Archive: www.aldricharchive.com