Friday, 26 May 2006

The Story of the Fox

Herry often talks about this beautiful passage from Le Petit Prince as being part of his philosophy of life and of business, but it seems that not everyone knows it . Here it is!

'It was then that the fox appeared.

"Good morning," said the fox.
"Good morning," the little prince responded politely, although when he turned round he saw nothing.
"I am right here", the voice said, "under the apple tree."
"Who are you?" asked the little prince, and added "You are very pretty to look at."
"I am a fox," the fox said.
"Come and play with me" proposed the little prince. "I am so unhappy."
"I cannot play with you" the fox said. "I am not tamed."
"Ah! Please excuse me" said the little prince.
But, after some thought he added: "What does that mean, 'tame'?"
"You do not live here" said the fox. "What is it that you are looking for?"
"I am looking for men" said the little prince. "What does that mean,'tame'?"

"Men" said the fox. "They have guns, and they hunt. It is very disturbing.They also raise chickens. These are their only interests. Are you looking for chickens?"
"No" said the little prince. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean, 'tame'?"
"It is an act too often neglected" said the fox. "It means to form a bond."
"To form a bond?"
"Just that" said the fox. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you, I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other . To me, you will be unique in all the you, I shall be unique in all the world..."
"I am beginning to understand" said the little prince. "There is a flower...I think she has tamed me..."
"It is possible" said the fox. "On earth, one sees all sorts of things."
"Oh, but this is not on the Earth!" said the little prince.
The fox seemed perplexed, and very curious.
"On another planet?"
"Are there hunters on that planet?"
"Ah, that is interesting! Are there chickens?"
"Nothing is perfect," sighed the fox. But he came back to his idea.
"My life is very monotonous" he said, "I hunt chickens; men hunt me. All the chickens are just alike, and all the men are just alike. And, in consequence, I am a little bored. But if you tame me, it will be as if the sun came to shine on my life. I shall know the sound of a step that will be different from all the others. Other steps send me hurrying back underneath the ground. Yours will call me, like music, out of my burrow. And then look: you see the grain fields down yonder? I do not eat bread. Wheat is of no use to me. The wheat fields have nothing to say to me. And that is sad. But you have hair that is the colour of gold. Think how wonderful that will be when you have tamed me! The grain, which is also golden, will bring me back the thought of you. And I shall love to listen to the wind in the wheat..."

The fox gazed at the little prince for a long time. "Please, tame me!" he said.
"I want to, very much" the little prince replied. "But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand."
"One only understands the things one tames" said the fox. "Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready-made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where you can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me."
"What must I do, to tame you?" asked the little prince.
"You must be very patient" replied the fox. "First, you will sit down at a little distance from me - like that - in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstanding. But you will sit a little closer to me every day..."

The next day the little prince came back. "It would have been better to come back at the same hour" said the fox. "If, for example, you came at four o'clock in the afternoon, then at three o'clock I shall begin to to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o'clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you... one must observe the proper rites...."
"What is a rite?" asked the little prince.
"Those are also actions too often neglected" said the fox. "They are what makes one day different from other days, one hour from another hour. There is a rite, for example, among my hunters. Every Thursday they dance with the village girls. So Thursday is a wonderful day for me. I can take a walk as far as the vineyards. But if the hunters danced at any time, every day would be like any other day, and I should never have any peace at all."

So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near: "Ah," said the fox "I shall cry."
"It's your own fault" said the little prince. "I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you..."
"Yes, that is so" said the fox.
"But now you are going to cry," said the little prince.
"Yes, that is so" said the fox.
"Then it has done you no good at all!"
"It has done me good" said the fox, "because of the colour of the wheat fields." And then he added: "Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you the present of a secret."

The little prince went away, to look again at the roses. "You are not at all like my rose" he said. "As yet you are nothing. No one has tamed you, and you have tamed no one. You are like my fox when I first knew him. He was only a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But I have made him my friend, and now he is unique in all the world." And the roses were very embarassed.
"You are beautiful, but you are empty" he went on. "One could not die for you. To be sure, an ordinary passer-by would think that my rose looked just like you - the rose that belongs to me. But in herself alone she is more important than all the hundreds of you other roses; because it is she that I have watered; because it is she that I have put under the glass globe; because it is for her that I have killed the caterpillers (except the ones that we saved to become butterflies); because it is she that I have sheltered from the wind; because it is she that I have listened to when she grumbled, or boasted, or even sometimes when she said nothing. Because she is my rose."

And he went back to meet the fox. "Goodbye" he said.
"Goodbye" said the fox.
"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see clearly; what is essential is invisible to the eye."
"What is essential is invisible to the eye" the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.
"It is the time that you have spent for your rose that makes your rose so important."
"It is the time I have spent for my rose" said the little prince, so that he would be sure to remember.
"Men have forgotten this truth" said the fox. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. You are responsible for your rose..."
"I am responsible for my rose..."the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.'

Le Petit Prince
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Herry's Office Retirement Photos

Colin Lewin, Tony Payne, Peregrine Massey, Hugo Wynn-Williams, Herry, Stephen James, Mark Holford, Luke Readman, Charles Fenton, Graham Daines. Absent: Nigel Carden, Francis Frost.

A retirement lunch at Millers with some of his colleagues. Herry had 13 retirement events in various cities around the world including

London (Office)
London (Trinity House)

Herry's Office Retirement Speech

Herry at his desk for the last time
One should never follow a Stephen James’s speech as he is one of the masters of the art. And I have had more than my fair share of speech making myself over the past two months, starting with a farewell party in Hong Kong in March, so I have used up my entire miserable stock of jokes. And I can asssure you I’m not going to repeat the speech that I made at Trinity House in April, which was far too serious for this company.

I shall miss so many things about Millers. I thought I might just take you through a typical day both to remind you and to fix in my memory what a remarkable place this is and how many remarkable people it contains.

Some of you know I always come into the office fairly early and park my car downstairs. It slots into a space that was bequeathed to me more than 20 years ago by John Henderson, who was Stephen’s predecessor as the UK Club’s underwriter. The only difference was that his car was a Roller – and they didn’t even have the Thomas Miller Share Incentive scheme in those days!....

I invariably find Tim Penn already there, washing down his fine motorbike, which although it’s nearly as old as my car, he keeps like new. I have to pass the room used by the cyclists and motor cyclists to change. I’m pretty sure that it’s the only room in the entire building that I have never ever been into. I don’t know why. I think it is something to do with all that lycra and leather. There is also this wonderful smell of aftershave that comes wafting out of it which makes me feel rather inadequate.

Going upstairs, I try and see if Steve Britt-Hazard is behind his desk - or whether he isn’t! It’s sometimes very difficult to know. I come upstairs to the Blue Lagoon and plonk down my laptop and switch it on and see what’s happened since I last looked at it. I hesitate to tell you when that was but I’m pretty sure to find something from Paul Sessions on it! As you all know, I have been addicted to email for years now, although I think I’m the only person in the Blue and Grey Lagoons who doesn’t use a BlackBerry – so you can conclude that my addiction is “mainline” and I will never be satisfied with “email lite”.

I then go down to see if I’ve beaten Ron into the postroom for the newspaper. I must say he has been jolly good recently. He leaves them unwrapped ready for me to grab as I go out to breakfast at the little cafĂ©, the Village, under our building. I’ve been going there ever since it was a very greasy spoon – for almost 30 years.

As I pass the car park I invariably bump into Kim Vernau who used to come in in the most marvellous racy Beamer but recently has unaccountably swapped it for a very PC Prius. I have forborne to ask her whether she thinks that was a good deal. And on the subject of Kim, how many of you know that when she was the internal auditor she was always in here before 7.00 am – and would feel comfortable about it if you did! At least you now know why I’ve always got in so early.

Another early arrival in the car park is Brooksey, who for some reason swapped his rather smart Golf a couple of years ago for a much more humble machine, I think under the misguided impression that it would get the Miller Remuneration Committee to treat him more sympathetically! Bad luck Brooksey!

Sitting in the Village, where my age shows as the waitresses seem to get prettier by the day, I can see certain of my colleagues who come past displaying various levels of enthusiasm on their way to the office. Andrew Jamieson always looks as though he has just caught another shipbroker up to something particularly nefarious. David Perks breezes along. Mark Hodson looks as though he has got the whole of the Iraqi debt in dinars tucked into his briefcase. And our beloved COO swings past, grinning happily at the thought of some new committee that he has thought up overnight and which will be known by an acronym pronouncable only if you speak Tamil!

Returning to the office after breakfast, I come back to the Blue Lagoon to enjoy that blissful peace that is only known to man when Hugo is not around. In fact, I know if Hugo’s arrived or not if I pass a certain very large black car in the car park. The same one that when it first appeared caused Kirsty Hart to lean out of the window of the Grey Lagoon and exclaim, “Oh – very David Beckham!”

We’re a very strange bunch in Millers - and I think in England generally. In France or Germany when you go into the office in the morning, you go round and shake everyone’s hand and say “Guten morgen, Herr Daines” or something equally appropriate – isn’t that right Katharina? Instead, we drift in like ghosts and you frequently look up from your screen to find everyone has silently arrived and no one has said a word!

There’s a wonderful book that I read last year called “Watching the English” which suggests, quite correctly I think, that the English are one of the most socially inept races on earth and we cover it up by turning almost anything into a joke. Mind you, you’d be pretty unwise – and completely wrong – to suggest that Stephen was socially inept, so it’s not a universal truth.

Now, you realise that its not even 9.00 in the morning and I haven’t yet got out from behind my desk to see who is nipping along to the staff canteen to grab a quick toasted bacon sandwich - and hoping that no one knows that they have already had breakfast. If I went that way, I would have to pass Terri Lewis, who seems unaccountably concerned that I’m going to reveal secrets that only those who work close together in an open plan environment can possibly know about each other, and Jill McGrath is even more concerned that I’m going to tell you all the whereabouts of the inexhaustible box of HR chocolates!

So, I’m going to stop there and instead leave ‘Not the Miller News’ to carry on poking gentle fun at our many foibles, as it has so brilliantly over the last many years under its various secretive editors.

For myself, I’d love to continue walking the corridors with my mental camera, as well as my real one, recalling the weeks, months and years that I have been happy and proud to work amongst you all.

Herry Lawford
18 May 2006

Tokyo Retirement Speech
Beijing Retirement
Trinity House Retirement Speech

Thursday, 11 May 2006

Freya Stark - The Lycian Shore

As I came down from the causeway through the theatre, a black snake like a shy god slid into the laurel thicket; I stepped over the stones rattled by earthquakes on their foundations, and climbed from terrace to terrace of corn where peasants built shallow walls round the pockets of ancient houses. The full ears, ready for harvest, beat their slight weight against my passing hand, as if they to would spend their weak resistance for the headland's warm and living peace. So remote, so undisturbed was the great hollow, that its own particular divinity seemed to fill it - complete in being as a cup is filled to the brim. There was no judgement here but only the consequence of actions; the good corn filled itself out in deeper places and the bad dwindled among stones, and all things were a part of each other in a soil that someone's building two thousand or more years ago had flattened or spoiled. A fair-haired woman, still beautiful, with green eyes, was reaping. I asked if I might photograph, and she called her husband, who came climbing up and stood beside her, and glanced at her and smiled when I said that she was like the English to look at: they were both pleased by her fairness, and there was a happy friendliness between them. He had the oval face of the Mediterranean, and she the straight northern brows: and the history of the world had washed over Cnidus to produce them both, from the days when their ancestors, in the oldest city of the peninsular, joined in building the Hellenium in Egypt, or sent the first caryatid to Delphi".
Freya Stark-- The Lycian Shore

Wednesday, 10 May 2006

Tokyo Retirement Speech

Herry, Luke Readman and Moto Sugiura at The UK Club Directors' Party
at the Palace Hotel in Tokyo. Herry and Stephen James retired at the party
and Herry made a farewell speech which is set out here.
Minasama, konbanwa!

I have been honoured to work amongst you for almost 30 years, without any doubt the most satisfying and fascinating aspect of my career. I first visited Japan in 1978, and soon fell in love with all things Japanese. I was immediately struck by the very tangible sense of harmony that exists in this great city and all over Japan and which derives from individuals living not just for themselves but also for their fellow man – and for Japanese society. I was astonished at the care which Japanese take over details that elsewhere would be ignored or taken for granted - shown particularly in the exquisite craftsmanship that goes into even quite humble things. And the way in which in Japan high quality has never been confused, as it is in Europe and America – with luxury. So quality as an ideal can be pursued without detractors, to the great advantage of Japanese businesses whose reputation for quality is now unmatched.

I also found over time, loyalty and trustworthiness from everybody that I encountered. Even those businesses which for a time struggled to survive, took great pains to settle their debts in an honourable way. There was also a strong sense of continuity. I met and was made to feel welcome by those who my predecessors, particularly Sidney Fowler and Terence Coghlin, had themselves dealt with. Of course following those substantial figures was not so easy, but you never made me feel anything other than appreciated and respected.

Of course P&I is a form of mutual self-help that blends well with Japanese thinking, which takes a long-term view of business and business relationships. It is insurance, but insurance built not just on the exchange of premiums for claims, but on a deeply shared understanding of the risks faced by shipowners every day - from the awful power of the unforgiving oceans to the rapacious attentions of corrupt or incompetent officials to the simple errors that accompany any human endeavour - but which at sea can prove devastating. As such it is really a contract based on trust: trust that when things go wrong – as sadly and inevitably they will in even the best-run companies – the Club will be beside you seeking every means to solve the problem and settle whatever costs – even totally unexpected ones – may arise.

I can see friends here too numerous to mention by name, some who have themselves already retired. In that respect, our business is doubly satisfying. The build up of trust engenders friendship and one of the many great advantages of our world is that our friendships can extend to every continent and we can travel to cement them far more regularly than most people are ever able to do.

It is impossible for me to say farewell without making reference to my colleagues that I have worked with in Japan over the years. Luke Readman, now chairman of Thomas Miller P&I, spent a great deal of time here in the '80s, and was instrumental in setting up the Club’s Japan Branch office in 1989. Luke is particularly remembered for his work on pollution issues, especially OPA 90, as well as the early LNG contracts with Indonesia. Nigel Carden, who now takes responsibility for Japan amongst the managers, joined me here from the early '90s onwards, and is also known for his expertise in environmental issues as well as LNG, and has also handled many of the most difficult and expensive claims that have occurred in recent years. He is now very well known to you all and I have not the least doubt that you will give him all the support and friendship that you have given me over the years.

Great tribute must also be paid to my Japanese colleagues, particularly Moto Sugiura, who as you can see is destined to outlast us all. Not only is he still winning any long driver contest that he cares to enter, but he has already won the long service contest, having started with Dodwell as long ago as 1964, and is still the lynch-pin around which the Club functions in Japan.

It is very difficult to say goodbye to somewhere that has become something of a second home to me over the years. I suspect, however, that my farewell will be short-lived and I will continue to invent many reasons for continuing to visit my friends and the lovely places that abound in Japan, for many years to come.

Domo arigato gozaimashita

Herry Lawford
8th May 2006

A Japanese translation of this speech can be found here