Never say never

About 20 years ago I had a conversation with the Marketing Director of a tobacco company in Asia Pacific. I was trying to sell him on the idea of creating some scenarios for the future of the industry.  He liked the idea and ran it up the chain of command. The response from above was “no point, there’s only one future scenario” (that the industry would disappear, and nobody would smoke). This was before the widespread introduction of e-cigarettes and vaping. But my mind at the time was somewhere else – and to some extent still is. The question for me then – as it now – is why do people smoke? I still don’t know, because the project never materialised, but my suspicion is it’s initially to do with rebellion and then perhaps relaxation or anxiety. If this were to be true then one might want to look at the deep drivers of rebellion, relaxation and especially anxiety. If, for example, there was a broader scenario where people were more anxious, this might drive a renaissance of smoking (dependent upon availability and legal restrictions). My serious point here is never to say never. People get the future wrong for numerous reasons, but one of the key reasons is extrapolating from current trends, which often bend or change direction given enough time.

Welcome Baby Jesus!

Some readers may remember Ted, my lovely little lockdown lamb (not quite so little anymore). What you won’t know is that Ted was a crossbreed, so the farmer that actually owned him had him castrated to keep his flock pure bred. Trouble is he may not have been castrated very effectively. Ted has had a son. And get this. His son was born in a stables on Christmas day. In the morning. He’s been named Jesus, obviously.  If anyone wants to bring Baby Jesus some birthday presents might I suggest some gold as it’s currently a record price. If you must you could bring Frankincense, but keep the Myrrh.  

PS – I’ve just got the headline: Father Ted and the Immaculate Conception.

I think I just retired

After 40 years of working and what I think might be 18 years of talking on stage about the future I’m done. No more futures. I did a talk this morning in the City of London and existed stage left (I’d like to think Ziggy Stardust at the Hammersmith Odean in 1973, but his persona was far more alluring and he did it with far more style).

I do have a new book for children coming out in May/June next year that will require some support, but beyond that that’s all folks. I will continue writing – but not about the future – and might do the odd talk about other things. Beyond that I plan to spend my days looking out various windows pondering the nature of human existence.

Thank you and goodnight.

Future Friends

For years I’ve been thinking about organising drinks for a group of people interested in the future. I did it once at Imperial College, which was a disaster. The mindset of some people at Imperial was that the drinks had to have an ROI – a measurable result. Yup, you spend £200 and it has to be justified with an immediate outcome.

I remember arguing about this a bit and thought I’d won. I hadn’t. I showed up to a room above the Polish Club in Exhibition Road and there were whiteboards, Posit notes and pens.
I assumed another event had run late, but no. The idea was to ask people what they wanted to discuss and cluster like-minded individuals around the whiteboards. I wondered, is this how these people organise their dinner parties? Does a lamb kebab require an ROI?

I got a bit drunk. So did a professor of computing, who at the top of his voice declared “Richard, we are now friends, that’s the fucking outcome:”

Anyway, I’m foolish enough to try this a second time. All I need is a date and most importantly a venue. I think a nice pub in the backwaters of Belgravia, near Victoria Station.

Watch this space…