Hold your fire

There have been occasions in our history when we were faced, individually as well as collectively, with difficult circumstances.

Presently, we are in such a position.

Nerves are raw; feelings and emotions are running high. This is partly because the nation has been told a significant number of untruths, or at least half-truths, all of which failed to provide the required information to answer a fiendishly complicated question the consequences of which would be momentous.

Some folk argue that there has been way too much communication. I’m not sure that they are correct.

It is the veracity and reliability of the content within the comms, as opposed to the quantity, that has been, and remains, an issue.

That matters will be resolved eventually is in no doubt. How, though, is impossible to estimate right now.

What we can hope for is that the present panic, fuelled by irredeemably poor quality journalism in just about every newspaper and news broadcast, will end once we recover our traditional cool and calm way of life.

In the meantime, in the short-term, what best for us all to do?

The past provides several situations and observations which are, I believe, helpful to the here and now. These three, in particular, offer a degree of sound, strategic and helpful advice to guide us through these dark days.

First, to assuage our feelings of apprehension and fear coupled with a strong desire for reassurance read this quote from Lord Curzon, aged nine, writing from school: “A hamper is undoubtedly requisite under the present circumstances. It must contain several pots of superior jam.”

Curzon was later appointed Viceroy of India. He was responsible for the restoration of the Taj Mahal and bowled the first ball in what became known as the ‘Great Game’. I do not mean cricket.

The second tranche of wise words are from the man who gave us the boot. His big moment came when he commanded Prussians, Germans, Dutch and Belgians to kick Napoleon into touch in 1815. On that momentous day outside Brussels, at 5.00pm we had practically lost the battle to find a name for one of our great railway termini. Two hours after Blucher and his Prussian Army arrived to join the other European armies under Wellington, ‘we’ won.

The Iron Duke, asked for advice once replied: “Sir, you are in a devilish awkward predicament and must get out of it as best you can.” Quite so.

Finally, may I share the words of one the great economist and academic, J M Keynes? He was possessed of a dry sardonic wit and when asked to opine on a matter which was to all intents and purposes beyond resolution – at that time anyway – replied: “It depends on the rupee-value of the dollar in three months’ time.”

In other words: be kind to yourself, do your best and be patient.