It’s your time

It’s your time …

We’ve all heard the phrase, “it’s your time you’re wasting” I’ve used it myself. It’s one of those flippant, throwaway phrases that on the face of it, is a mild scolding, but which masks something more important – time itself.

Time is the most precious commodity we have. Without it we can’t build, create, destroy, influence, entertain, beguiile, make fun of, cry at, laugh with … you get my point.

Time allows us to do anything and I mean anything, that we want to do. We have so little allotted to us that it’s criminal to think how much time we waste.

No excuses!

No distractions!

It’s your time – use it wisely, use it diligently but most importantly of all USE IT!

ACS MAGFA … the beginning

Back in 2008 I was contemplating, with some trepidation, the dawning of my 35th year career with Dixons. Over the many years I’d worked for them, first as Currys then as Dixons Stores Group, I’d had a vast array of jobs: shop floor, relief manager, window dresser, admin processor, delivery driver, eventually moving on, by way of fortuitous resignation of one individual and me, unknowingly, impressing someone of importance – I must have had an off day!

This impression lead to head office in Ealing and another array of jobs and responsibilities eventually culminating in my role in e-commerce – Oh, in the meantime, we’d relocated to the chav capital known as Hemel Hempstead famous for Jarmin Park and it’s roaming groups of feral 16 year old mothers.

I could regale you with all the fascinating shenanigans that drives a large electrical retailer and how I hated Christmas ‘cos I’d been living it since bloody July! But I won’t, maybe one day, but not now. I will however say that I’d met some complete f***tards over the years, snotty little marketing oiks I couldn’t stand the sight of (they probably felt the same about me, but I could care less) and some great individuals who I liked and thought worthy of my respect.

But the one over riding thought at the back of mind as I ploughed on through the monotonous drudgery or marketing plan after marking plan, where spring creeps into summer followed by autumn and the inevitable yuletide boredom, was that one day I would retire and be gifted the watch, spoon or whatever the f*** they give out these (or those) days as retirement gifts.

It filled me with dread until 2009 … In 2009 the angel of career death, an obnoxious little female asian thing, came in under the remit of providing a restructure for the department I was in.

And please, don’t get uptight about the ‘female Asian thing’ it’s not meant to be derogatory, unless you see yourself as an obnoxious little female Asian thing, in which case you probably couldn’t give a s***! That’s good ‘cos neither do I!

They started by trying to find dirt and inappropriate activity on everyone and dismissing them on the spot. Some of these dismissals were ‘weak’ to say the least, some attempts for breach of company rules down right pathetic: the Irish joke sent by one irish director to another irish director, springs to mind.

Anyway my nose was clean, although I did replace the Teri Hatcher garbed in Superman cape I’d been using as my desktop, just in case. Upshot was I could apply for a down speced version of my job, (go screw yourself) a job further up the pay scale (really, in my frame of mind?) or seek redundancy.

I chose redundancy after a brief flirtation with a higher salaried position. My overriding thought was that this now gave me the opportunity to escape the inevitable train ride to gold watch oblivion.

I took the money and ran.

The next year was spent trying to find re-employment firstly in the area I was already familiar with, e-commerce and later at anything I could possibly find!

I was treated to the joys of the job seeker / job / unemployment center, or Dante’s Inferno as I liked to call it. I have never in my life seen so many ill mannered individuals. Smelly, poorly dressed, gaunt, disinterested – and that was just the staff!

Seriously they were sycophantic, derogatory and useless – prerequisites for local government employment I believe.


If you work in local government, and I have caused offense – good, my work here is done! I’ve met too many of you pen pushing no-marks. The day you remember that you’re role is to serve the tax payer and not the other way round, is the day you may gain some respect.


I was unemployable! Too highly paid for a call center job – I didn’t expect the same salary for gods sake! Too set in my ways in others – being loyal to one company over so many years reeks of poor self fulfillment and ambition – apparently!

I could train for new skills but would have to pay to be trained, unlike those that could hardly speak English or hadn’t worked before, their training was free – how the f*** does that work?

I couldn’t face the monotone: “have you worked this month?” “have you looked for work this month?” anymore! I’d already opened a modest martial arts club in 2008 and in late 2009 decided to try and change the modesty into something more substantial and money making.

It wasn’t going well …

Struggling and on the verge of being penniless I was rescued by Giles Delafeld, a man I had worked for at Dixons who, for some inexplicable reason, held me in high regard. He offered me a short term contract with Blacks and then later at Alexon which gave me the financial security to live and progress my coaching aspirations.

I got to train with Geoff Thompson, a man I had admired for many years and, as a result, I met some amazing martial artists and coaches, Al Peasland, Tony Preston, Wayne Poulter, Andy Holmes, Alan Butcher, Steve Timperly, Bromley Darren Rob Poynton, Luccio Delgaddo, Rory Miller, Gary Smith, there’s loads more, but this isn’t an episode of, ‘This is Your Life’ besides, remembering them all is a challenge in itself. These weren’t people associated with my brand of martial arts, but had a vast array or martial skills and influences. I learned from them – and still am.

Along the way I also got divorced after a long marriage. I was changing, metamorphosing my lifestyle so it was inevitable that any relationship was bound to be affected and so, with regret, I had to decide what was most important to me and move on.

I could go on, but boredom beckons.. Suffice to say that the next part of my journey which began with that redundancy back in 2009 had a first major terminus at a place called ACS MAGFA.

A venue we’ve been trying to secure ever since the madman called Geoff Thompson planted the seed of achievement in my confused and battered skull. A seed kept watered by the woman who entered my life after the divorce and who even now keeps telling me ‘its all a job well done and worth doing’

ACS MAGFA opened in October 2014. It’s an old Victorian building. Damp, cold, in need of loving care and the occasional hug by way of leak fixing. It’s our venue. A place where the kids who train there will be nurtured, hugged (metaphorically speaking) and taught that they are kings and queens of their own domain. That they matter, that they count and that they can make a difference to their lives and the lives of others. As for the adults, well I just let them hit and throw each other.

I have come a long way but feel the journey, to use a modern over used expression, has just re-booted.

I would like to thank: my children, Giles Delefeld, Geoff Thompson, Kiran Sharma, all my students and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. (of course Joss Whedon’s timeless cult classic is irrelevant in the scheme of things, but I thank him anyway because Buffy rocks!)

“To dream by night is to escape your life. To dream by day is to make it happen.”

Stephen Richards

Miss Jones take a letter …

Earlier this week my club secretary recieved an email from an individual at a well know leisure centre we’ve been using asking us if we could tell them why we’ve cancelled our block booking.

To say I wasn’t impressed is an understatement. I ran the full gambit of raving and ranting emotion – ‘grrrr are these people so stupid, we’ve been on at them for two bloody years!’ – to ‘well activeLUTON are a ‘not for profit trust’ so they’re bound to supply an inferior service!’

In the end I decided to write a letter. Unfortunealy as is my ‘style’ it went a little over the top and just a little wayward so I gave up and decided to let my club secretary provide feedback as she saw fit, however ….

I’ve also decided to publish the ‘letter’ on this blog – a process that’s sort of cathartic. Read it, rubbish it, laugh or critise I don’t mind.

…. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. …. ….

Dear poor, lonely and oh so lost, activeLUTON employed person,

I write this response in reply to your email, not in the belief that you will read, digest or even be interested in it’s content, but more in the hope that in the distant future, after mankind has managed to blow himself up and rebuild, archeologists, having found the letters P,R,E along with preserved fragments of this diatribe, will conclude that people once gathered at a place called Despair to sacrifice to the god of ‘crap customer service’.

I am actually insulted:

“please may I ask why you have chosen to stop your booking at inspire?”

Really? You can’t work it out for yourself?

After 2 years of non-stop enquiry and dissatisfaction from us, you’re asking us why we have chosen to stop!


What sort of myopic brand of disinterested management do you employ at Inspire – don’t answer I already know, you don’t employ any brand of management.

But I digress, you asked and so you shall receive …

Once upon a time …

We were looking forward to our move from LRSC to the spanking new and shiny Inspire. I’d even had a letter exchange in the Herald & Post with a particularly stupid Stopsley resident bent on painting a picture of doom and gloom about increased traffic, noise pollution etc., etc. I would love to point out to the cretin, how pathetic and unfounded his complaints were, but suspect, as he seemed to be of the ‘Mr Angry from Surbiton’ brigade and probably moaned about everything, one of his neighbours may have buried him under the foundations of a new patio.

Anyway, on we moved and, despite silence to enquiries regarding invoice systems payments etc., we welcomed the new shiny future.

Opportunity knocks, but some are too deaf to hear

Google is a magnificent invention. So good that it allows people of limited intellect to search for information using single syllable phrases and the odd word or two. People have always and still continue to use the search term Stopsley Sport Centre. One of my websites uses those key word phrases, it uses them very well.

What’s the relevance?

Well apart from displaying my knowledge of key word searches and how I’ve saved oodles of cash not employing specialists in the field, it also illustrates that:


‘Cos people are so desperate to contact you they conclude my website has something to do with Inspire and activeLUTON and ring my damn phone!

I got phone calls on my mobile from anxious parents wanting to know why no one has contacted them about their little Sophie’s swimming lessons or will Courtney be running tomorrow’s Zumpilateathon ‘cos she’s ever so good and we miss her.

Some of these calls came at 6am in the morning, some late at night and all expressed the same concern that the phones at Inspire don’t get answered.

Now, because I had a healthy relationship with activeLUTON at LRSC and the other centers I’d used, I was quite happy to tell them that this wasn’t Inspire’s number, give them the correct one and apologise on your behalf saying you were very popular and thus very busy.

There was one notable exception. A young Asian lad who moaned at me ‘cos he said my site was misleading. I told him he was obviously not old enough to use t’internet and that he should get the help of a grown up.

Now of course Inspire can’t be responsible for people mistakenly ringing my phone, can you? No, but perhaps if you had answered your own phones I wouldn’t have got so many calls. They’re few and far between now and depending on my mood they either get your number or are told I can’t help.

Let’s move on a bit. Forget the ridiculous hoops we went through trying to pay our block booking fees, resorting to knocking on Wigmore Hall’s door and forcing them to take a large amount of money on account. Let’s move on to the storage and leaflet issue.

If you don’t see it, it don’t exist

I’ll admit you don’t have to supply storage for private club equipment, but we expected a level playing field and after being told ‘NO’ to our requests, one of your ‘senior managers’ was surprised to learn that a club had already managed to secure some storage space without his knowledge – finger on the pulse, or up his arse?

We had an agenda meeting with this ‘senior manager’ about this and other issues; we gave him a copy of the agenda and arranged to meet again in a month’s time to discuss progress.

A month later ‘senior manager’ had no recollection of our meeting or the agenda. I suspect he only remembers his name ‘cos he wears a name badge. F*** knows what meltdown his brain goes through when he stands in front of a mirror and tries to read it!

That was in January 2013. That’s the point that I decided enough was enough and that we needed to get out of Inspire. So we began looking for alternatives but pressed on with our Inspire bookings. Eventually we were allowed to install a one-meter storage cage, which we were very grateful for.

The quality of our leaflets is not strained

Inspire has many leaflet dispensers full of activeLUTON run activities (in fact at the time of writing, the same leaflet virtually festoons a whole wall.) We asked about having our own and were told that only activeLUTON ones were allowed even when quite clearly leaflets for non-active clubs were on display (forget the paid for ones, we’re talking about the ones left on the counters, ledges upstairs etc.)

This was a constant bugbear, with me telling the staff that they weren’t supposed to allow 3rd party leaflets on display – just like the storage issue, it was going to be a level playing field for all or none.

We pushed the issue and were told by ‘senior managers’ that the problem was one of synergy and aesthetics. Allowing poorly designed leaflets on display would create a poor impression –


Well go figure!

Well lucky I’m an okay designer then. I designed a leaflet that looked for all intents and purposes like an activeLUTON one, sent it in for approval and waited, and waited, and waited.

Eventually after a bit chasing by our club secretary we got the okay – she’d done so much chasing I’d thought about hiring her out to Henlow dog track! I got them printed installed them at Inspire and was pleasantly surprised as they seemed to fly out the door – only they weren’t! I kept finding them stuffed behind activeLUTON leaflets.

Oh well! A small victory of sorts, except it wasn’t, judging by the number of naff looking leaflet specimens now allowed on display for other non activeLUTON clubs.

But that’s okay, ‘cos Inspire should be doing more to help promote non activeLUTON clubs and activities. Of course, I’d had to pay good money to replace my existing leaflets so that the new ones wouldn’t look out of place; even more motivation to leave Inspire – they just kept on giving!

It doesn’t mat(ter) anymore

Now we move on to the mats. When the mats are in use, your studios are an accident waiting to happen. The mats are okay, but the floor when used with the martial arts mats isn’t fit for purpose, rather like your management. They slide all over the place and have to be constantly moved back into position. Some of them also have little rips and tears, but they’re acceptable.

However, ‘senior manager’ told me that they were all brand new and that none of them should be damaged.

Ah! But some of them came over from LRSC says I.

No they were disposed of says he.


As many of my students and some of your staff who had transferred form LRSC could confirm, some of the old Stopsley mats were/are at Inspire. That’s not a problem in itself, but again it illustrated how ‘senior manager’s’ finger on the pulse was again actively employed elsewhere – and lest I forget, one day ‘senior manager’ entered studio 3 and looked horrified at the small but obvious wall damage at the far end of the room. I was touched by his concern; it had only been there about 6 months!

Finger, pulse, finger pulse – anyone spotting a pattern here?

Customer service, new heights of Inspiring mediocrity

You’re staff have no concept or understanding about what goes on at the center or when. I’ve had karate students and people interested in that Korean thing I can’t bring myself to name that looks like River Dance, sent to my class and individuals I’ve expected to turn up directed to other classes. I don’t expect your staff to have an in depth knowledge of what’s on offer, but the club or activity location is that too much to ask?

Well yes, obviously, ‘cos we’ve raised this before!

We’re nearly at the end, be patient (I f****** have been for 2 years!)

I’ve lost count the number of times that the mats have not been put down ready for one of my classes. It beggars belief that having been there since day one Inspire staff are still confused as to when they should be laid (the mats, not the staff).

We used to play a game ‘mats or no mats’ and place small wagers. We stopped when the popular outcome swayed massively in favour of no mats – it was no fun anymore.

We’ve had individuals turn up at 4pm on a Saturday to remove the mats in readiness for events on a Sunday – we finished at 4.30pm. One poor lad said he’d been told to put them away early by his manager. My club secretary got to him before I did, he should be eternally grateful to her.

On a couple of occasions breaking all the rules governing health and safety the kids took it upon themselves to lay out the mats – I’m still expecting a call from UNICEF on that one.

I’ve had a female chirpily inform me on arriving to set out the mats 15mins after my Saturday class was due to start that she thought we there on a Sunday. When I asked her to get a manager she informed me she was one and promptly took offence and got very defensive when I pointed out that we’d never been at Inspire on a Sunday and challenged her to check her computers.

I was actually quite calm so, if she offends so easily then perhaps a career at Inspire isn’t the place, but then awful customer service does begin with denial, and phrases like: “If you raise your voice at me…” and “I don’t have to listen to that tone …”

Well guess what hunny bunch neither do I!

As a club we run a number of coaching initiatives under various ACS brands, one of them features Bollywood Fitness run by my club secretary. She approached ‘senior manager’ and some other individual possibly cloned from the same useless material as ‘senior manager’ about running a class, initially as a demo to introduce it.

When, where, how, if, what, was left with both ‘senior manager’ and ‘senior manager clone’ Good stuff, except we’re not sure in which year to expect a response on how to progress this.

We’ve given up waiting and will be launching these classes ourselves elsewhere very soon.

Opportunity knocks, sure does, but ignore it and it walks

And lastly (I’m sure that there’s others I’ve forgotten, but even I’m starting to get bored with this)

Having secured storage space it was annoying in the last few months to be denied access to the cupboard except to remove items I needed at the start of the lesson.

This is the same cupboard, open to all, that had previously compromised Data Protection laws by having the records of children using the playgroup session at Inspire in a folder for all to see. We pointed this out to ‘senior manager’ who of course probably had no idea that a playgroup even existed at the centre and was probably to busy trying to locate his missing finger.

I asked why the ‘lock out’ and was told that things had gone missing. Would that be the same sort of things as my folding sack barrel truck that someone had pinched a few months earlier that no one new anything about – pathetic!

Perhaps if you improved security by installing a card gate system that worked and locking the building on closing so no one could actually walk into the place with intent to steal then I’d be more sympathetic. But having someone walk into the gym and use it with all the lights off after the center was ‘closed’ tells me that your security protocols were created by a child of six.

In summary. I like Inspire (the building) it’s a classy looking leisure center with enormous potential. I like many of the young staff that work there, what I don’t like is the rubbish management, the inability to handle simple processes, the naff phone system – I’ve seen how it works, a flashing light on the edge of counter staff’s peripheral vision, no wonder nobody gets through – and the appalling, mediocre, useless, mind numbing, customer service.

Active Luton needs to pull it’s finger out – ‘senior manager’ can leave his where it is, it’s f****** useless wherever he puts it – Start employing quality managers and that’s from the top level down. They need to engage in new levels of customer satisfaction, customer experience and the customer journey, ‘cos many people have taken that journey and will never return.

The new and young staff needs leadership, nurture them, lead them, train them, and create some pride and fulfillment in and around the place.

There’s a famous often quoted (most of the time misquoted) line of dialogue from the baseball movie ‘Field of Dreams’

“If you build it, he will come.”

Well guess what, it was built and he did come but now he’s f***** off because he don’t’ like you anymore!!

From the heart …

This is not a rant nor is it a plea for sympathy, it’s a statement of truth – or at least the truth as I currently perceive it and, although truth is sometimes vanquished behind a hazy cloud of emotion, I think it’s just about clear enough for the sun to shine through.

As you all know, for the last year we’ve been looking for our own premises. We’ve inspected  a few, wasted money on surveys and solicitors fees and eventually, so I thought, found what we needed.

Having applied for change of use via planning application it was refused on two naff and poorly justified reasons. Sour grapes you could say, if that were just our opinion you’d be correct, but it isn’t.

So we’ve appealed, a laborious process that involved our club secretary visiting businesses in the area to obtain letters of support and a small payment to an industrious ex student canvasing door to door.

We’ve a strong case, a valid case, justified even and lots of bits of paper! The process will take about 3 months – however, we’ve recently learnt that may cost us the venue.

Not going into details, but suffice to say it doesn’t look good.

I wanted to rant, rave and generally kick things, but after a conversation on Saturday with my mentor Geoff Thompson, I was reminded that my intentions, whatever they were, should be aligned and pure and that the energy used on seeking out some form of retribution was energy ill-spent and wasted.

In short, all my efforts should be directed towards my intended goal and not to the misdemeanours or actions of others – I sort of knew this, but this latin temperament sometimes grabs hold of the English stiff-upper-lipedness and throttles all common sense out of it.

Having declared vociferously in a moment of anger: “If we don’t get this venue I’ll close all the clubs and stop coaching!” I now find myself calmy chastised by my own ‘pure intent’.

We will get a venue and maybe it won’t be this one. We do have to (as reminded by our gorgeous club secretary this morning) think about splitting up the Stopsley kids class into two separate sessions on different days and I have to keep aligning myself and not be distracted.

As Buddha would say: “Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

In praise of discomfort …

Mats pounded soft from the limbs of ages,
you seek solace in the hope that this time, it will not hurt.
You watch, you listen.
Hands blur in motion while feet dance their rhythm,
and yet, as the twirling white mass flies, with graceful ease through air,
you miss something, small, but significant, simple but pure.
Your concentration shattered by the sound of palm crashing,
then drumming it’s relentless beat of submission.

Once, in ages past, straw became the comforter of pain, the soaker of blood,
as warriors, not yet hewn in battle sought knowledge and the way from those that
were sculpted, that were shaped, that were Samurai.

Now the battlefields are gone, but the battle lingers – in oneself!
All is still, silent, save for the amused bleatings of the young or the groans of older aching limbs too long bruised or bashed.
And yet the player endures, smiles, wipes the sweat from brow and flies again.

Blood rushes, punches stretch forth, legs kick out. Hair is grabbed, joints are locked, organs shake and points of pain are pressed home.

Why? You ask.
Why let this ritual of discomfort, pain and endurance persist?
Why battle when there is no war?
Why strike out when there is no threat?
Why land when there is no need to fall?

Words hard pressed against the tongue fail in their praise of the majesty of the art.
It is not about discomfort, sweat, tears, it is about the joy of the art itself, the flow from one poise to another, from grace to gracefull, from ploy to counter.

It is about watching young limbs trying trying to master the necessity of technique,
against the deception of failure.
It is about the timid stepping forth against the ragging voice of doubt.
To do or not do, that is the question.

But above all else it is knowing that while the body crashes and nerve ends mash, we live.
We breathe, and thus we honour the majesty of creation itself.

I pick myself up, dust myself down, wince, smile, ache and rejoice while tugging at dishevelled clothing and wonder,
…are there funny white pyjamas and crash mats in heaven?

The long and winding road – part 1…

I don’t believe in fate, we are masters of our own destiny and choose which path to walk upon, even when we may have asked for divine inspiration. So, it’s a little strange how a recent conversation with my sister about something that happened over 40 years ago may shed some light and provide proof, that the road I’m currently treading is the right one.

I’ve always loved sports and always played them, even those I didn’t like, cricket and golf for instance, at least I tried them and, if I’m honest, I was reasonably okay at most them and a little better at some others.

Martial arts though, was never really on my radar. I tried Judo once, didn’t like being thrown by a smaller guy (when you’re 14ish the arrogance of youth does tend to cloud the actual purpose, I kick myself now for not understanding this purpose) and I tried boxing, which I enjoyed, but the guy I went with didn’t so I never went again.

I count myself reasonably determined and, although growing up I was ridiculed for being part Italian, I seemed to develop a self resolve that to some extent protected me. I was bullied (like many kids) for being slightly different, accentuated by my parents ridiculous request that I be excused morning assembly on the grounds that I was a Roman Catholic, great!  Because it made me even more different and an even better target.

Now funny thing is, I never ran to my parents, teachers or friends about any of this treatment which involved, pinching my football (I was seldom without one) slapping me around the head, calling me names, challenging me to a fight or having me walk a gauntlet of punching and kicking.

I always stood my ground (and got verbally and physically slapped) and I never ever crossed the road when the bullies, having spotted me, advanced in my direction. My fighting prowess at the time involved stoic determination to take the slap and move on, or to push my way through. I never ran, because that meant they would just look out for me the next day.

Why did I do this? I don’t know. And I cannot for the life of me remember any individual I looked up to who behaved in that way. My mindset, even at that age was not to show fear, hide it (even though I was afraid) don’t cry (even though at times I was in pain) and eventually the bullies gave me up as a hopeless case.

This attitude stayed with me well into my teens, but became suppressed after a few years exposure to the grown-up world. Yes I got into scrapes, some of them, looking back now quite funny. Like the time we were being chased after attending a disco at Ashcroft by a large group of ‘tin town’ neanderthals, and my bright idea of convincing my group of mates to stand our ground and fight.

Great idea until I stopped, faced our pursuers, challenged them and then realised that my ‘pals’ had actually not stopped running and I was now on my own. In those days (before I stupidly started smoking) I was quite fast, so I legged it and while overtaking my mates, called them all the names I could think of!

But anyway I digress. Even though I clearly remember these episodes others have been clouded and misfiled over the years so that they are beyond re-collection until someone jolts them into place.

I had the good fortune to spend Christmas with my two sons in Australia at my sisters house. It did take  a while to accustom myself to both the jet lag and the most awkward feelings of displacement when looking at Christmas decorations in over 30 degree heat – and don’t even get me started about Boxing day on the beach! Anyway, my sister started re-calling for the benefit of my sons some of the things I’d done as a kid.

I wasn’t a great fan of my siblings, I was sporty they were the opposite, I read loads of comics and books they rarely did – so little in common. One day as my sister recalls she told me about a problem she was having with a girl at school (I was still at school myself at the time). This girl was bullying her, telling her she was going to get her, etc, etc you know, the usual bullyish two consonant, single vowel, guttural vocabulary.

Now apparently (and I have no recollection of this episode, but her telling it did fire up another memory later) I told her that she was to look the girl directly in the eye, to show no fear (even if she felt it) appear confident and to demand of her what her problem was – in short, not run away or cross the street.

And it worked! She left her alone!

So, it appears that over 40 years ago I was teaching the same principles of ‘confidence’ as a means of defence, that I am teaching now!

I was a little surprised, having forgotten the episode so we continued reminiscing, then, when we were clarifying other ‘memories’, I recalled the occasion I persuaded a violent drunk to leave the ‘Chelsea Girl’ shop she was working in next door to the Currys store I was working in, merely with a firm word and the offer of a cigarette (possibly the only occasion my bad habit came in useful).

So there you go, full circle!

Seems my vocation was mapped out for me all those years ago and I’ve just re-discovered it.

What was that I was saying about fate?

Must be predestination, preordination, predetermination, what is to come, the writing on the wall, luck, chance, predestiny – think they call that kismet.