GREAT PUT-DOWNS

I have long been a fan of great repartee and in particular of great put-downs, the main reason being that I have always admired people who can respond quickly to a situation or a comment with some intelligence and wit rather than with a four letter word as has become more common today.

Winston Churchill was a great master of this art form, the most well-known one of his being when he was accosted at a party by a woman who said “You are drunk Sir Winston, you are disgustingly drunk”. His riposte was “Yes Mrs. Braddock, I am drunk. But you are ugly, and tomorrow morning I will be sober.”

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons


My recent trip to Singapore made me remember my own personal greatest put down which was delivered at my expense by one of my political heroes, Dr. Lee Kwan Yew. This made me think about others that had been directed at me over the years.

Here are my three favourites:

My #1 Personal. I recently had the need to visit my ophthalmologist as I started having small light flashes in my left eye, and as this tends to be a symptom of a detached retina, thought that I should get some medical advice. My wife came with me, as her French is better than mine and also because visits to an ophthalmologist can often make it hard to drive afterwards when ones pupils have been dilated to the size of a dinner plate. After numerous tests he told me that he had good news and bad news. The good news was that there was nothing that he needed to do. The bad news was that there was actually nothing that he could do, as this was just a natural part of ageing, and that it would soon happen in my right eye as well. I responded with the fact that this made me sad as it really brought home to me the fact that I was getting old, being the first real sign of ageing that I had had. My wife leaned across the desk and said to the Doctor “It must now be obvious to you that my husband shaves in the shower and has not looked in a mirror for a long time.”.

Author:  Nutschig at en.wikipedia; GFD license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Nutschig at en.wikipedia; GFD license; via Wikimedia Commons


My #1 Business. SAP has long been a sponsor of the McLaren Mercedes team in Formula 1 Grand Prix motor racing, and during my tenure as the Regional Head of EMEA I had the fun of hosting guests at the event in Monaco, hardly an onerous task. One year I was meant to be joined by one of the SAP founders who was a keen car enthusiast and the owner of several Ferraris. At about 1.00am on the Saturday morning of the Monaco weekend event, I received a phone call at my Cap Ferrat Hotel, from one of his assistants, to tell me that our founder would not be able to make the trip to Monaco, and that he wanted me to cover all his appointments. A schedule would be sent to me via email. I checked the schedule early the next morning, and it looked OK with only one unusual appointment at the Nice Ferrari distributer at 10.00am that day. I duly turned up at the allotted time to be met by a camera crew and a gaggle of reporters from the local newspapers and media. It seemed a bit strange but, as an SAP Board member, I felt I would be able to field any questions about SAP that they could throw at me. After photos had been taken of my doing a “grip and grin” with the owner of the Ferrari distributorship in Nice, which did start to sound some warning bells, I sat down with the TV interviewer. His first question to me was “Well Mr. Hayman, can you tell us why a founder of SAP would be interested in investing in the Nice Ferrari distributer ?”. This was definitely not a question that I was expecting. Gathering my senses, I delivered an answer around the fact that SAP and Ferrari shared a commitment to quality, speed, allure, excitement and other “blah”, and during the following 10 minutes of follow-up questions I felt that I had really hit my stride on the whole idea of there actually being a connection between an SAP founder and a Ferrari reseller. It was a relief when the interview ended, but based on the fact that I knew nothing about the investment, nor why it had been done, nor why I was there at all, I felt that I had acquitted myself really well … that was until the interviewer thanked me for my time and said “That was really interesting, and I did think for quite some time that you were going to say something that actually made sense, but I was wrong.”

Author: Hatsukari715; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Hatsukari715; via Wikimedia Commons


My #1 Political. In 1997 when I moved to Singapore to set up the SAP Asia Pacific Regional Headquarters I was invited to be a guest speaker at a business conference where Dr. Lee Kwan Yew was to deliver the opening keynote address and I found myself sitting next to him at the lunch table. He had obviously been well briefed on his lunch companions and at one stage turned to me and said “Mr. Hayman, I believe that you have recently moved to Singapore, and I just wanted to personally welcome you here. I am told that you have been coming to Singapore for the last 20 years, and I was interested to hear your opinion about how Singapore has changed in that time”. I gave him my opinion about the changes that I had seen, and finished with the statement that my only disappointment was that large parts of the old Singapore like Bugis Street, old Colonial buildings and long rows of old Chinese style shop-houses had been mown down to be replaced by modern high rise buildings, destroying some of the charm and atmosphere that had made Singapore so interesting. The great man put his hand on my arm and said “Mr. Hayman, what you call charm and atmosphere, we used to call poverty.” It was such a wonderful put-down that I couldn’t be offended by it, and it only made my admiration for him grow.

Author: Robert D. Ward; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Robert D. Ward; via Wikimedia Commons


And my all-time favourite …. A member of Parliament once said to Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) English Prime Minister in the reign of Queen Victoria “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of the pox.”
“That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your principles or your mistress.”

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THE LESSONS THAT MANAGERS CAN LEARN FROM SINGAPORE

I have been a big fan of Singapore, and in particular of its founder Dr. Lee Kwan Yew, since I first visited the island in 1977. I had the privilege of living and working there for over 6 years, before being transferred to Europe, and after an absence of more than 10 years, I recently revisited this vibrant, exciting city state for a week for a family reunion, and also for some of the best food in the world.

Author: Jxcacsi; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Jxcacsi; via Wikimedia Commons


I loved the energy and the sense of purpose, and I also realised that there are many things that people in management positions can learn from Singapore and from Dr. Lee.

Author: R. D. Ward; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: R. D. Ward; via Wikimedia Commons


Build a vision … I am not talking about the importance of a “vision statement”, which most companies have proudly posted on their web sites, and which usually only state what companies tend to believe their markets want to see (see “The 3 great business lies” posted August 2, 2010), but a true roadmap of where to go, and of what has to be done to get there. When Singapore was expelled from the Malaysian Federation in 1965, and became an independent republic, it was a tiny, impoverished island port with a population of under 2 million. In the following 50 years it built its population to a well-educated 5.5 million, built a world class reputation for transparency and integrity, and become one of the wealthiest nations in the world on a per capita basis. Just like Dr. Lee, as a business leader you need to have a clear plan of what it is you wish to achieve, how you plan to do this, and how you will enlist the wholehearted support and commitment of your people, making sure to take them with you on the journey.

Look after your people … After independence in 1965 a major emphasis was placed on building programmes to overcome serious housing shortages, coupled with financial incentives that enabled citizens to easily purchase their government provided housing, resulting in one of the highest home ownership numbers in the world, and propelling many ordinary people into high asset wealth. My PA in Singapore sold the family home inherited from her parents for over S$6 million, and moved to Australia for a life of comfort in her retirement. In the almost 50 years since its independence Singapore’s economy has grown by an average of 9% annually, improving the lot of its people from an economic, education, healthcare and all quality of life viewpoints, and continues to do so each year. It has now attained a life expectancy that has reached 4th position in the world for males and 2nd position for females. In business, achieving results is critical, but you must look after your people along the way. Rewards and success must be shared throughout the entire team, and not just a few individuals.

Build a solid working environment … Dr. Lee was once questioned about his view of what he considered to be the most important inventions of the 20th Century. He answered that for Singapore, a country with a daily temperature of 34C with 100% humidity, it had been “air conditioning”, as it finally enabled Singapore workers to compete with the west. Dr. Lee established English as the primary language of Singapore, reasoning that if Singapore was to take its place on the world business stage, it needed to be able to speak the business language. It now has 4 official languages being English, Mandarin, Malay and Tamil, but English remains the language of education, business and government. As a manager you must ensure that you build the conditions, and provide the resources that are needed to enable your team to achieve its goals and to be successful.

Author: Paul Robinson; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Paul Robinson; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


Build Talent … After independence, quality education for all was established immediately, and the government also began an accelerated programme of overseas assignments and learning for its best and brightest, ensuring that capable people were exposed to the latest business, scientific and technological thought and innovation which could be re-imported back into Singapore to help accelerate the development of the island state. In too many companies, managers limit training and development for their people based on the fact that if you spend time and money to educate them they may then leave. A significantly worse alternative is that you do not educate them, and they stay. Those managers who feel that education is expensive should consider the cost of ignorance.

Bring in missing skills … From day one, Singapore welcomed skilled, knowledgeable expatriates and mixed them into the local government and business communities to not only use their skills and experience, but also to help “infect” the locals. During my time in Singapore, I spent 2 years as a board member of IDA (Infocomm Development Authority), which had responsibility for helping to establish and develop Singapore’s competitive positioning in Telecoms and Technology. It was an eclectic blend of people from Public and private sector, both Singaporean and Foreign, and unlike some other Government boards that I have served on, was actually listened to, with its recommendations implemented at private sector speeds. In business you need to first look at developing the needed skills and capabilities in your own people, but there are times when you need to go outside for missing skills. It is a sign of strength for managers to know when they need to ask for help.

Author: Zeng Peng (own work); via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Zeng Peng (own work); via Wikimedia Commons


Use story telling … Some foreigners saw Singapore as a repressive and authoritarian environment, driven mainly by the amount of press, mosly in the US, that was accorded to the banning of chewing gum, and the high fines for littering, even for something as small as a cigarette butt, both being initiatives that I fully endorsed. However, I found few restrictions to my quality of life when I lived in a clean, green, beautifully maintained, low crime environment. The reality is that populace behaviour was controlled less by edict and more by fable and storytelling. For example, there was a thriving black market in Viagra in Singapore before the Food and Drug Authority had had a chance to validate its use. One day a story appeared in the Straits Times daily newspaper describing the plight of a man who had used a questionably acquired form of Viagra and as a result had been rendered impotent. The Viagra black market died overnight. Great business leaders can benefit from telling compelling stories and doing so frequently. Stories have a significant impact on our lives. Our memory consists of lots of stories. When we talk about things we remember they are usually in the form of a story. We primarily communicate through stories.

As Lee Kwan Yew said “Mine is a very matter-of-fact approach to the problem. If you can select a population and they’re educated and they’re properly brought up, then you don’t have to use too much of the stick because they would already have been trained.”

LIFE IS NOT ABOUT LEARNING TO WEATHER THE STORM … … LIFE IS ABOUT LEARNING TO DANCE IN THE RAIN

While I am not a big fan of most inspirational quotations, I have always liked these particular few words.

These days a large part of what I see posted on Facebook, rather than being original thoughts from supposedly intelligent people that I have “befriended”, tends to be pithy little sayings that are meant to make us all feel better about ourselves, and which are meant to inspire us to ensure that we understand that our “attitude determines our altitude” and that “life begins at the end of your comfort zone” (see “Les’s Life Laws” posted march 26, 2012).

Author: takomabibelot; CC BY 2.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: takomabibelot; CC BY 2.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


I believe that most of these are just being used to ensure that, through these regular over-postings, we do not forget that these people who keep posting these aphorisms are still alive and needing some attention, rather than any real belief on their part that we are somehow going to be uplifted by reading “Don’t stress the could haves. If it should have, it would have”.

Wow, I feel so much better by just having read and written this down, and my stress levels have dropped so much as a result, that I will now be able to cut my daily valium intake by at least 50%, will immediately start facing life with a totally positive attitude and stop worrying ever again about anything that I shall confront …. NOT !!!

To the contrary, I have actually discovered that worrying does work, as 85% of what I do worry about doesn’t happen !

The reality is that I get significantly more emotional uplift, and much more stress relief, from watching a short video clip, like the one which was posted recently by a friend, of a bunch of cute kittens and puppies jumping into various cartons and paper bags, from a friend’s clever use of language and imagery such as “I gained so much mass in the last 4 days that NASA have registered me as a gravitational anomaly”, or something funny such as “Jokes about German sausage are the wurst” which recently came up in a post on pub signs.

So why is it that I really do like the saying “Life is not about learning to weather the storm … life is about learning to dance in the rain.”?

Author: Tadam; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Tadam; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


I think that the main reason that I like it is that it is not trying to make me suddenly feel uplifted, de-stressed and at peace with the world, but it is trying to make me think about what it implies. When I re-posted this expression recently on Facebook, the responses that I received had a large variety of interpretations, which is as it should be. These varied from “When life gives you lemons make lemonade” to the Monty Pythoneque “Always look on the bright side of life” to “The true meaning of life comes to you when you dance naked in the rain”.

Author: Kriti Deep; CC BY-SA 2.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Kriti Deep; CC BY-SA 2.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


I have always taken it to mean that rather than expending energy and effort in learning how to cope with the negative things that happen in life, that we just accept that “life happens”, and that it is real life whether it is negative, positive, neutral or indifferent.

The way that we interpret an expression like this doesn’t really matter. What matters is that we take the time to interpret it in a way that makes sense to us personally.

An expression which makes us think about life, such as this one about dancing in the rain, has significantly more value than one that professes to supply an answer to life, such as “Your life counts”, when we all know deep down that “Your life counts down”.

I would therefore suggest to all “good news” posters that you should just get off your arse and do something interesting, rather than wasting your time and everyone else’s by trawling through the “Inspirational quotes” sites on Google, looking for something unoriginal to post on Facebook. If this was important to us, we could all do it ourselves.

I know that these are the rants of a grumpy old man, in the twilight of his years, but I have no doubt that you will achieve significantly more in your life by telling someone that you love them, tickling your dog’s tummy, scratching your cat’s head, giving someone a hug, having a really good laugh, helping an old person carry their supermarket shopping bag to their car, listening to a child tell you something that they think is important, looking at a sunset, having a good glass of wine, going for a walk, listening to Felix Mendelssohn’s violin concerto, taking your partner breakfast in bed, planting a tree, reading some Gary Larson or Dilbert, singing in your church choir, letting your partner win an argument, mowing your front lawn or a thousand other things that mean you are actually partaking of life, and then even posting some of these actions on Facebook, rather than believing that you are adding value to your own life, or those around you, by posting a string of other people’s pithy little sayings that seem to have come out of a rah-rah speech to a gathering of insurance salesmen.

Author: Christian Thiergan; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Christian Thiergan; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


I love Facebook and I absolutely love seeing photos of your children going to their first day at school, your animals, your family, your grandchildren playing, your holiday snaps, your bike rides, what you have cooked, your broken nose x-rays, your boat trips, where you are travelling, which mountain you are climbing, what country you are in and even which restaurants you are visiting and what you are having for lunch. I also love to hear about your political and philosophical views on life in your own words, things you found amusing, your views of what is happening in the world, your brushes with government agencies, your wine adventures, the fact that there are over 25,000 castles still standing in Germany today, and even marketing snippets from those of you who feel compelled to let us know what your company is doing.

Author: Taxiarchos228 (own work); Free Art License 1.3 (FAL 1.3)

Author: Taxiarchos228 (own work); Free Art License 1.3 (FAL 1.3)


I love all these and more.

Please just spare me from seeing another version of “When you point your finger at someone, at least three fingers point back to you”. I have seen this one so many times, that I now only point with my elbows.

MANAGEMENT… IS IT AN ART OR A SCIENCE ?

Is good management more of an art or a science ? Or, is this even a valid question ?

From the dictionary, science is defined as “… a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions”.

Author: Halfdan; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Halfdan; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


Art is defined as “… the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination …”

Author: Mlaoxve; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Mlaoxve; via Wikimedia Commons


Most people tend to hedge their bets on this question by declaring that management is both an art and a science, and that they are just the two sides of the same coin. In this respect, one of the better attempts that I have seen that tries to support this belief is from Jesse Brogan, of The Management Engineering Newsletter.

“As a management engineer (technical support for managers), I do have a very specific view. First, we must separate management (gaining performance through those who are managed) from supervision (maintenance of resources).
Supervision has no result, nothing measurable to gain, and accordingly cannot be managed. By definition, management does have something to gain through the efforts of those who are managed; it has a measurable difference between success and failure.
Science is a gathering and organization of knowledge/observation for the purpose of prediction. Where we are addressing a result, there is definitely a science of performance. Industrial engineering provides the principles and approaches that guide managers to application.
Management, in its application, deals with a gathering of individuals for a productive purpose; and people are only predictive in a statistical sense. In all else, they are individuals and working with them to bring people to a common and interactive purpose is a high art form.
Those who work in the productive environment know the ability to apply the basic principles of industrial engineering, and that they do work to effect. There is a science of management.
Any who work in supervision know the art of management, and use it regularly in dealing with people to bring them to common purpose and productive unity, neither of which can be attained in any final level of perfection. The art is both intimate and reactive.
I say management is an artistic application that has a scientific foundation, even if that foundation has been largely ignored by many who work in management.”

However, the question we need to ask is that if management were really a science, why do we struggle with teaching it well ? (see “Why management training rarely works ?” posted July 1, 2013), and the follow-on question being that if management were really a science, why do we not have more success with the results that are achieved by Business Schools ? (see “Business Leadership is not changing quickly enough” posted October 10, 2011).

The issue is that whist I do believe that good management, being mostly about people, relies mainly on considerable artistry supported by some scientific application, I have long believed that for it to be really successful, management needs to be practised mostly as a profession.

I do understand that “management” as such does not meet some of the criteria that currently define a profession, as a profession tends to arise when any trade or occupation transforms itself through “the development of formal qualifications based upon education, apprenticeship, and examinations, the emergence of regulatory bodies with powers to admit and discipline members, and some degree of monopoly rights”.

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons


However, I am talking about “management professionalism” as a vocation, as one of the problems that I see with many European managers is that they see themselves more as vocational specialists with some management responsibility add-on, rather than as professional managers who came from some vocational background.

I believe that management professionalism means that your first and only priority is to deliver the results for which you have been given responsibility, through the team of people that are in your care. At some early point in your management career you have to make the decision that you will let go of some of the need to become an ever more brilliant vocational specialist, and focus on becoming an ever more capable manager. This means that you will have to accept that your prime responsibility is to make your team more vocationally brilliant and capable, rather than yourself.

Being the best software engineer in a global company may get you noticed in the first place, but doesn’t add a lot if you believe that maintaining that position will add significant value to the company as you climb the management ladder. I am not suggesting that you do not stay current with your vocational skills, just that the emphasis needs to be changed to a new set of skills that fit the management responsibilities.

In my earlier years at SAP, when I was President/CEO of South Asia Pacific I reported to one of the SAP Global board members, who happened to be head of a large part of the SAP development organisation, and in 1997 we flew together to India for a regular subsidiary visit and review. When it came time to fill in the Indian government immigration forms, under “Profession” I wrote “Executive”, and my boss wrote “Software Engineer”. This bothered me, as if I saw myself as an executive, I felt that I should at least be reporting to an even more senior executive. Somehow “Software Engineer” didn’t quite get there for me.

Author: Viphotels; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Viphotels; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


I questioned him about this, and he suggested that I was mixing up his job and his profession. He felt that his job was being an SAP Board member, but professionally he was a software engineer.

Author: El lobo; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: El lobo; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


He would not buy my argument that his role, seniority and responsibilities demanded that first and foremost he now had to be a professional manager rather than a software engineer, and we have carried this argument on into both our retirements from full time corporate life.

As so succinctly put by American businessman and president of ITT, Harold S. Geneen (1910-1997) “Management must manage”.

HOW TO SURVIVE IN FRANCE DURING SUMMER VACATIONS

“Babies don’t need a vacation but I still see them at the beach … it pisses me off. I’ll go over to a little baby and say “What are you doing here ? You haven’t worked a day in your life.”
America’s greatest living comedian, Steven Wright.

France is the most visited tourist location in the world, with most visitors coming in the summer months, and particularly in August. As the entire population of 66 million French residents also take their holidays in the month of August, it does result in some challenges for those that are foolhardy enough to join the hordes.

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons


For those who have decided to come here anyway, here are some challenges of which one needs to be aware to survive a summer in France.

Dutch Caravans … Every Dutch person over the age of 14 owns a mobile home or caravan, and in the summer holiday months they all drive south through Belgium to France. When they arrive here they divide their time between sunbathing naked on any piece of vacant, unshaded land, and driving in large convoys seeking out fee-free places to stop for the night. These massive convoys are generally made up of all the residents of an entire Dutch village or of all the dwellers from a suburb of a major city.

Author: France64160; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: France64160; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


Survival tip … if you must drive in France in August, use only the Peages, which are motorways where you actually have to pay to be able to drive on them, as most Dutch prefer not to. If you are on a free Route Nationale and do have the misfortune to come up behind a large Dutch convoy just pull over and take your vacation on that spot, as Dutch caravanners have adopted the slogan made famous at the Battle of Verdun in World War I which is “They shall not pass”.

Parisians … Residents of our capitol city have built a reputation for being a rude and pushy people, second only to New Yorkers. However, a Parisian on summer vacations can make a New Yorker seem like a Quaker at a Buddhist retreat by comparison. You must beware all cars with license plates that have department numbers 75, 92, 93 or 94 as there is a really good chance that they will try to force you off the road just to release all the aggression that they have built up since their last summer break.

Author: Julie Anne Workman; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Julie Anne Workman; CC BY-SA 3.0 license; via Wikimedia Commons


Survival tip … Go to Paris for the summer holidays as it is an even more wonderful city when the Parisians are not there. The few restaurants, museums and art galleries that do stay open are not crowded and are mainly being frequented by foreign tourists who tend to be on their best behaviour, although this is not true if they are backpackers from Australia, NZ or South Africa.

North Africans … On the last weekend of July all North African families who are living in Europe pack up their entire households into large boxes, strap them to the roofs of their cars and head for one of the ports in Italy, France or Spain, where they can catch a car ferry to North Africa to vacation and visit their families. The challenge for them is to squeeze as many people as possible into each car, to get as much baggage on to their car roof as the laws of physics will allow and to try and get from their home to the ferry terminal stopping only for fuel. As many of them are driving to southern Spain from as far away as the Nordic countries, this can involve driving up to 30 hours without sleep.

Survival tip … If you see a car coming towards you that is crammed full of people and which has a load tied to the roof of the car that is larger than the car itself, usually under a blue tarpaulin held in place with some old tyres, you should drive your car into the nearest telegraph pole thus sustaining less damage than the inevitable encounter.

Russian tourists … Russians have discovered the joy of visiting other countries where suitcases full of US Dollars are welcomed, and where there are restaurants other than “Yelke Pelke”. You should however never get between a large Russian and a food buffet. Many Russian tourists feel that they need to make up for having lived through the food shortages after the war, so they will trample anyone that gets in their way when they are barrelling towards a large serving plate of prawns or pickled beetroot. They are recognisable because they only wear globally recognisable fashion items, but always with the designer labels showing. The Russian men all have bushy eyebrows, at least 2 shadowing security guys, gold Rolex watches, and hairy chests covered in gold chains and medallions a la 1960s disco-ites. The women are all small, blonde and beautiful, and are less than half the age of the men they accompany, quite often with an IQ that matches their age.

Author: Benutzer:WALLI1912; GNU FD license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Benutzer:WALLI1912; GNU FD license; via Wikimedia Commons


Survival tip … Under no circumstances should you attempt to eat in any restaurant in any French resort that is frequented by Russian tourists in August, such as Cannes, Nice or St. Tropez. If you must visit these resorts you should stick to only eating room service meals.

Chinese chateaux buyers … Every mainland Chinese resident is in the process of trying to buy a wine chateau in France, and they are continually travelling around the country in Mercedes 4x4s armed with an interpreter and looking out for a bargain. As there are approximately 1.4 billion Chinese and significantly fewer chateaux available for sale, it can make for some frustrations. This “sell the country to the Chinese” strategy is all encouraged by President Hollande’s government, as it may help to solve the dilemma of what to do with the extra 210,000 public sector jobs he has created in the last year, if only they could all speak Mandarin, and knew something about wine.

Author: Ra-smit; GNU FD license; via Wikimedia Commons

Author: Ra-smit; GNU FD license; via Wikimedia Commons


Survival tip … Do not consider buying any of the for-sale chateaux in France, as they have all been designated as being for Chinese buyers only, except for mine which is available to all nationalities, with payment accepted in all currencies.

I hope that I have helped with any plans that you may have to visit France in summer. As English comedienne Jenny Eclair said “The only way to go on holiday is with your expectations at ground level. Convince yourself before you go that the weather’s going to be dreadful, the roads jammed, and that there will be nylon sheets on every bed. You’ll then be pleasantly surprised.” Consider yourself warned !