Talking in the Same Room

In a cabin on a ferry crossing the Channel

For the first seven years of our life together, my wife and I shared a one room studio apartment with a tiny kitchen and a bathroom.

There was a magnificent white cherry tree outside the window and a view over pasture that has now, unfortunately, been heavily built upon.

We didn’t have a great deal of money.

Fast forward to now.

We have more money.

We have a house with different floors and a number of rooms.

There is a small hedged garden which requires quite enough work, but not too much.

We are fortunate enough to live in the countryside with more cows than human beings.

Now here’s the thing:

In which abode do you think it was easier to communicate?

Answer: the studio.

If you only have one room, your interlocutor is obviously in the same room.

But the more rooms you have, the greater the chance that the person you want to talk to is in another room, on another floor, in the garden.

Communication becomes more complicated.

There is interference of all kinds: kitchen noise, bathroom noise, music, computers, mobile phones and so on.

There is more clutter in every sense of the word.

You have to repeat yourself a lot.

We actually enjoy staying at hotels and studios or taking cabins on ferries whilst travelling because it takes us back to those days when communication was simple and there was not a lot else in the room besides ourselves.

So my question to you is this:

What percentage of your conversations with your loved ones takes place in the same room?

If you feel frustrated because there is less than perfect communication with your partner or family, then this might be a place to start.

Particularly if you turn the mobile phone off.

May your life never become an endurance test!






My 2016 Christmas Card
My 2016 Christmas Card

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank the 8,747 visitors to this site for their 12’218 reads over the first year that this site has been operating.

Your support is very much appreciated and I hope that you will stay with us in 2017.


In a spirit of Christmas frivolity, I will leave you with this idea.

A friend on Facebook was asking about the name of the affliction where a person answers a question, for example, ‘How are you?’ with a number.

I don’t know the name of the affliction off the top of my head.

But it got me thinking.

What if we all agreed to use a scale of 0 to 10 so that when someone asks, ‘How are you?’ we could reply with, say, ‘1’ on a bad day and ‘9’ on an excellent one?

That way, with ‘1’ they would know not to bother us further, and with ‘9,’ we would know not to bother them…

It would be so much more efficient and communicative than replying with the usual, ‘Fine,’ which really indicates nothing at all except the weight of social convention.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and health and happiness in 2017.




P.S. If you can guess where this photo was taken, I’ll send you a free copy of my 2016 album, MY TITANIC.

Scandinavian Logic

We’ve just come back from a trip to Stockholm, Sweden.

While there, we coined a new term: Scandinavian logic.

It describes situations where a certain amount of information is given but not enough to be really useful.

Example: The parking at the hotel.

The lady at reception indicated that it was in a red building across the road, that the name of the hotel was marked and then she gave us a code to enter the car park.

We drive across the road.

It is dark, so all colours are relative.

There’s a brick building that seems to be a car park but no mention of the hotel.

We drive around for a bit and eventually come back to the building.

We enter the code in the command box which is accessible from the car.

Nothing happens.

I get out of the car and approach a man working on a lorry nearby. He informs us that there is another command box.

In fact, we discover that there are three in all. For two of them, including the hotel one, you have to get out of the car to punch the code in.

The name of the hotel was taped onto the command box, but not visible anywhere else outside.

A number of similar things happened to us during our stay, hence our coming up with the term.

The problem seems to be an incapacity to put one’s self in another person’s shoes.

People seem increasingly unable to think about anyone else but themselves.

And it’s not because everyone spends a huge portion of their day hunched over a mobile phone that communication is improving.

The opposite is true.

Communication is getting poorer and poorer with every new means of communication that we invent.

It’s important to reverse this trend.

Do not make assumptions.

The situation is not necessarily clear to the other person.

What you are saying is not necessarily clear to the other person either, even if it seems clear to you.

Try to imagine the situation from the other person’s point of view.

And try to use simple and succinct language.

In the example above, a few simple words of explanation could have avoided twenty wasted minutes of searching.

What can you do to improve your communication this week?

Have a great week!




The Most Destructive Thing Since The Atom Bomb

I’m going to stick my neck out here.

What’s the most destructive thing to hit the human race since the atom bomb?

Answer: the mobile phone.

You may well disagree, and that’s your privilege, but the more I see people with their mobile phones, the more I am convinced of the truth of the above.

Television has been highly destructive in many ways. An incredible time waster, a wonderful way of controlling the masses and keeping them in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction, brain-washing them with mindless and endlessly repeated adverts to make them run after material objects that they frequently don’t even need or really want, just to keep up with the Joneses.

But the mobile phone is something else again. At least you used to leave the TV behind you when you went out. Now you can take it with you wherever you go. My wife and I went to see Coldplay in Zurich on Sunday. The concert was one of the best I’ve ever seen, spectacular in its execution with fireworks, light shows, imaginative use of screens and even light emitting bracelets. All this without even talking about the inspiring performances and an incredible atmosphere.

What did the man sitting next to my wife do?

He spent the whole concert watching a Euro football match on his mobile phone in his CHF 175.00 (£130.00, $180.00, 160€00) seat.

And this is where I really take issue with the mobile phone.

It prevents people from being really PRESENT. IN THE MOMENT.

It blurs the line between what is real and what is virtual.

And it’s gradually turning people’s brains into soup.

They don’t listen, they don’t read, they don’t remember, they can no longer think properly.

And they have absolutely no control whatsoever over their enslaving little device. A tool is no longer a tool if you have no control over it.

Who is really the master here?

And for an instrument which is supposed to facilitate communication, never has the standard of communication between people been so poor. I’m not talking about SMS messages detailing what you had for breakfast this morning, which station you have just passed on the train, or how you broke a fingernail, I’m talking about REAL COMMUNICATION.

You know, when people put down their phones, look each other in the eye and INTERACT with each other.

When they concentrate on the person in front of them and stop bullshitting about the values of multi-tasking.

When they’re in the present and fully human.

When was the last time you gave your full and undivided attention to another human being?

Don’t make the mistake of concentrating so much on the trivial that you miss out on the truly important, the moments that will never come again. Don’t miss out on real friends that are here, now, in flesh and blood and who may not be here tomorrow.

And don’t make the mistake of thinking that because you have instant access to most of the entire range of human knowledge on the internet you don’t have to bother to think, to remember, to work hard to master something worthwhile, or to decide what is bullshit and what is not.

I wish you a great, preferably mobile phone free, week.