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And it's a welcome to the new site!

It's been a fair few years since my website went live and as I have been told by my great webdesign team at Web Design Unlimited, time has moved on and the site was in need of an update - especially when considering the issue of security etc.

So here is my new home. Please feel free to look around. The main change you will see, apart from what I think is an easier and lighter feel to everything, is that my Blog is now broken down into individual categories to make it easier for people to find what they need to find.

Please let me know what you think about it -a big thanks for those kind of people who tested it for me and of course to Ann at Web Design Unlimited for masterminding everything!

I must now get busy writing...........................

Fancy living in 1911 or 2011?

he publication of initial results from the 2011 Census makes for some fascinating reading. Although the headline data that has filled newspapers and the online media is the increase in the population for England and Wales, there are a range of other less known nuggets in the results that should give us cause to pause.

If you compare 2011 to its 1911 predecessor it is striking just how much our length (and hopefully the quality) of our lives has improved. In 1911, there was a 13% chance that a baby born would die before its 12 month birthday- now that chance is down to just 0.4%. For adults in 1911 men could expect to live to the age of 49 with women living an extra 8% in time at 53. Compare that with our lot in 2011. A baby boy born now can expect that he will live to 79 with a female baby to 83 (women are now living 5% longer than their menfolk- so we are closing the gap!).

Now I reckon these are amazingly significant statistics. It means that over the course of the last 100 years men and women are living for an extra 55%-60% longer. Now of course, there are a whole range of factors in play here. Social conditions in 1911 were in a number of parts of the country appalling which impacted on peoples’ health and mortality rates. Infectious diseases such as TB, Polio, Diphtheria, Measles, Scarlet Fever and even Diarrhoea accounted for many deaths (as an illustration the number of deaths due to TB has fallen by 95% over a 100 year period), that could be linked to living conditions and without an NHS service to call upon, life expectation was low and relatively bleak. Women were also more likely to suffer complications and die during pregnancy. Whilst you were more likely to die through an infectious disease, that wasn’t true of Cancer which at the turn of the previous century had accounted for less than 5% of deaths compared to over 40% 100 years later. The reason for this is not clear   but may be linked to the fact that a number of cancers tend to present in more elderly people and the average 1911 citizen would be fortunate to get to 60 let alone their 70’s or 80’s where illnesses such as Prostrate Cancer for example is more prevalent.

Population wise, England and Wales has increased from 36 million in 1911 to 56m as measured in 2011. That is an increase of some 20 million people but remember, it is over a 100 year period so it has been increasing by just about 0.5% or 200,000 people each year- although the trend has been sharply up as the increase in the last decade (2001-2011) is the biggest every registered. As commentators have indicated, around half of the reason for this increase is due to the amount of net migration. In 1911 for example, the country was a net exporter of the population with a net number of 100, 000 people or so immigrating to the likes of Australia, Canada and the US. But that trend reversed from around the 1960’s and now there is net migration of around 250,000. The other main factor is that as a nation we are living longer,  due to a genuine revolution in improvements in sanitation, health and living conditions, and much better access to healthcare, this is despite us frankly, breeding less. In 1911 there were 3.5 children per household compare to 1.8 children in 2011 – roughly a 50% reduction.

Overall then, you would want to be living in 2011 rather than 1911- you are far more likely to live in better conditions, you are less likely to suffer through infectious diseases (and more likely to have them cured) and much more likely to live longer. That is a really positive story but there is a downside to it which is the strain on our pensions and social care to look after us living longer. That is a challenge that the next 100 years and beyond will need to take on…. 

Folkestone, Typhoons & the Sun....

One of the delights of working for yourself is that from time to time, as business allows, you can pop off somewhere just for a day to explore and enjoy. Now, that’s what I did yesterday (2nd June) when I popped on a coach and ended at the seaside resort of Folkestone in Kent.

Now on the face of it the reason for my trip was to attend the Folkestone Airshow – the first time it had been held since 2003 but I have a soft spot for the old trading port. I visited it last year just to get out of London (plus I had some free train tickets) and although parts of the town are, well, ‘down at heel’ (think pawnshops, 99p stores and a lot of gaming arcades), once you get down to the sea front, it is hard not to fall in love with the place.

It has what is described as “indisputably, the finest marine promenade in the world” and you walk along The Leas and you know what they mean, the old harbour area just has something about it and it has sandy beaches and cliffs on the North Downs to wander and look at across to Dover and to France.

I started my day in Folkestone by a return to Sunny Sands, a small outlet of sand, sea and beach where you can just sit yourself down, take in the cool breeze and for the start of the Jubilee weekend, blazing British weather – I even got sunburnt! I then headed to East Cliff that overlooks the water, passing at Bakers Gap, the famous National Grid Interconnector that connects electricity between the UK and Continental Europe (you can never get bored in Folkestone). Taking time for a spot of lunch at ‘Sandbanks’ – a tidy restaurant with panoramic views across the Channel- I then commenced up to the East Cliff pausing at the Martello Tower, built to defend the country from Napoleon and as you looked across the water you were just struck by the azure blue splendour of the scene.

Taking up position with Airshow fans, it was just a case of enjoying the view, taking a cup of coffee or a slice of cake, courtesy of the National Coast Watch Institute, whose helpers were in attendance, and waiting for the parade of planes to come over.

When they came they ranged from light airplanes such as the single seat aerobaticYAK 55 and the  pre war US Army Air Corps trainer, the Boeing Stearman to the Red Arrows , the Hawk, a RN Sea Fury and of course the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (comprising an Avro Lancaster, a Hawker Hurricane and of course the Spitfire)- portrayed against the backdiop of the Dover Cliffs, it was as iconic an image as you could wish for.

I then walked into town to see the end of the airshow but Folkestone up on the Leas was just teeming with people – and the place was abuzz which was nice to see in a place that is someway behind its Victorian splendour as the place to visit or live.

Down on the front though and the show ended with the kind of bang that only a RAF Typhoon can bring you. The 2 seater multi-purpose fighter flying at close to its 1,500 mph capacity genuinely shook people. You heard a boom and suddenly everyone was looking up at the sky as the fighter thundered its way across the town. So ferocious was its speed that car alarms went off in unison due to the vibrations felt. There are fewer more exciting sights or feelings then to have a fast jet boom pass over you at 1,500 mph….

So, with a final cup of coastal coffee that was my day out in Kent. Air show enthusiasts were left happy, the hoardes of holiday makers in the town seemed enthused, traders were busy and the only personal downside was that my sunburn was starting to hurt. Time clearly for some after sun lotion. Next Stop: Boots.

And it’s an hello from me…

HelloThanks for visiting my website and for reading this, my first blog- you are all welcome here!

As this is my first blog I thought I would give an outline as to the kind of things I will be writing about so you can get a flavour of what is to come. I aim to post, comment, write about the kind of things that interest me and I hope you. Whether you are a small employer trying to work through the maze that is employment law, an HR professional in a central government department or local authority wanting to see what is current in our industry, an employee trying to resolve an issue,  an editor of a magazine or website looking for new or provocative ideas (and maybe a new writer!) or just someone browsing on the web, I hope to have something here to interest you.

So, what do I like writing and talking about? I expect I will be focusing on what is going on in the every so sexy world of HR (or Personnel as it quaintly used to be known as)- developments in areas such as how organisations can improve the attendance and well being of their people interest me, also ideas as how to deal with management of work related stress, and what is new in change management?, just how do you deal with downsizing?, why should we care about diversity or learning and development?, and how to motivate and get the best out of people?- it’s a pretty broad canvas!

Outside of HR, I will be writing on other areas that interest me so that covers the range from the latest films (what is out there that is enjoyable, what particular themes are being explored, will 3-D survive or is it another fad?), personal finance (how do you deal with a life changing event such as redundancy, what do you do with a lump sum, where can you invest to get a decent return?, how do you deal with debts), spirituality (who will be the next Archbishop of Canterbury, what challenges are the main religions going through at present, can atheists learn from religion?), football (so who will win the Premier League title this season, who will need parachute payments next year and why can’t football clubs turn a profit?).

These are all things that interest me and I hope that they will be of interest to you too. I’m here to help, advise and write for you, so let’s get cracking!