The chairman goes into hospital but denies it is down to stress
Unusually for August, there doesn't seem to have been a great deal going on in terms of news so I thought I'd ring the chairman of the insignificantly-sized investment company SmallBlue Planet for a comment on the forthcoming name change of one of the group's funds.
You've probably read something about it by now ' how SmallBlue Planet Special Situations is to be renamed SmallBlue Planet Psychopathic in the belief the current name does not accurately reflect what the fund is about and may deter potential investors.
Apparently, the general feeling at SmallBlue is that the description 'Special Situations' might give the impression the portfolio is full of very individual companies with good growth prospects when in fact the selection process involves a copy of the FT, a dartboard and a blindfold.
Every now and again I like to check one of my stories is true so I put through a call to the chairman, only to be told by his secretary Gladys Brickwall that he had been admitted to hospital. Yes, I didn't see that one coming either. As you can imagine, this news was made even worse by my thinking Gladys had said that not only is the chairman ill, he is now playing a harp.
Speeding over immediately to St James's Place Recovery Unit, the blue-chip private hospital favoured by your more discerning financial services patient, I was therefore a little surprised to find the chairman looking a good deal more alive than I had expected.
'Playing a harp?' he exclaimed. 'Not if I have any say in the matter. What Gladys must have been referring to is how I've been trying to work out what to do about my Harp shares. You know, the old How Arbitrageurs Rape & Pillage fund of hedge funds that's biting the bullet despite my own commendably altruistic vote to take a longer-term view.'
'Yes,' I said. 'Those spoilsport arbitrageurs really are wind-up merchants in every sense.'
'And you say my puns are bad,' groaned the chairman. 'Careful or I may have a relapse. You have noticed I'm lying in a hospital bed, haven't you?'
'How could I not?' I replied. 'I don't think I've ever seen a four-poster bed in a hospital before. So they're looking after you OK then?'
'Oh, can't complain, I suppose,' shrugged the chairman before pulling on a bell and asking the attendant who magically appeared to pour him another snifter of 60-year-old Glenpratt.
'Purely for medicinal purposes,' he sighed.
'No doubt,' I said. 'Anyway, you still haven't told me what's wrong with you? You're not suffering from stress, are you?'
'Don't be ridiculous,' snorted the chairman. 'I don't get stress, I give it. Whatever put that idea in your head?'
'Just something I read recently,' I said. 'According to the Health & Safety Executive, who sound as if they should know about this sort of thing, more than 13.4 million days a year are lost due to stress at work. And another survey, this time of 750 managers, apparently shows that 87% found tension among staff members had increased in the past year.
'Even so, we shouldn't worry too much because sensible measures can go a long way towards helping ease the situation. So you have to look after yourself and take time off for holidays because the business will still be there when you get back.'
'I wouldn't bet on it,' sniffed the chairman but I ignored him.
'Set up a water bottle system in your office to help you re-energise,' I pressed on. 'Also, ensure there are ways your staff can let you know if they are experiencing stress ' as an employer, you have to be seen to be making reasonable efforts.
'And you should remember to say 'thank you' regularly as unloved staff are unhappy staff. Help your staff to understand which tasks are more important and allow them to decide how work should be completed as this will give them a sense of having more control over their work activities. I've also got some top tips on managing stress if you'd like.'
'I most certainly would not,' said the chairman. 'I can assure you I'm not suffering from stress ' well, not until you dropped by anyway.'
'Charming,' I replied. 'So what is wrong with you then?'
'I'll tell you next time you visit,' said the chairman visibly brightening as a young lady walked through the door. 'Right now, I believe it is time for my massage.'
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From 1 March