The tour’s been disrupted

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I suggested last week that I was starting what seemed like a mini-tour over the next few weeks. Well, not everything goes to plan. My father died on Saturday night and suddenly what seemed important last week is less so now.

This is not the place for an eulogy about my father. But amongst the many things I might say about him is one that is relevant to the themes I address here.

My dad was an electrical engineer, and from what I can tell, a very able one. He went to university in WW2 because it was thought that the country needed engineers and his national service was then an engineering apprenticeship because he was a chronic asthmatic throughout his life, which did not stop him reaching 92. Once that apprenticeship was done he joined the then new nationalised Central Electricity Generating Board. Ten years or so later he switched to a regional electricity board, still specialising in power distribution. He felt most comfortable with 440,000 volts. 240 volts always seemed to worry him much more, rather oddly.

But my point is this: he brought me up thinking that working in the public interest was the best thing anyone could do. He actually did not want me to be a private sector accountant because he doubted this was best for the public interest. And when Thatcher came along he was baffled that people suddenly required what he thought to be extraordinary salaries for roles that the very same people had so recently been doing for far less.

I think he was right. And he heavily influenced my thinking. And my belief that money is a very poor indicator of value.

Right at the end of his life - just a few months ago - he said he was proud of what I'd done. He recognised being an accountant could be in the public interest, after all. We made our peace on that one.

We did not always agree, but I'll miss him.

And if moderation gets a bit amiss on occasions in the next week or two, this might also be why. There are other things to think about right now, as well as the tour.