Thursday, April 22, 2010

We were soldiers once ... and young

I read the book by Harold G Moore this year in Peru and it is a sign of how good a book is that in one moment you can be transported back to the vivid horror of the battle of Ia Drang and the bravery of the Americans in the 7th Cavalry Regiment.

There are repeated references to 'garryowen'. The soldiers whould shout 'garryowen' when they charged against the enemy and I only discovered today by chance that Garry Owen is an Irish 'air' and the quickmarch of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR). The song originated with the lager louts of Limerick in the 18th century and I very much doubt that the Viet cong understood what the Americans were shouting at them when they attacked(!).

I found the following video



The lyrics are as follows:

GARRYOWEN

Let Bacchus' sons be not dismayed
But join with me, each jovial blade
Come, drink and sing and lend your aid
To help me with the chorus:

cho: Instead of spa, we'll drink brown ale
And pay the reckoning on the nail;
No man for debt shall go to jail
From Garryowen in glory.

We'll beat the bailiffs out of fun,
We'll make the mayor and sheriffs run
We are the boys no man dares dun
If he regards a whole skin.

Our hearts so stout have got no fame
For soon 'tis known from whence we came
Where'er we go they fear the name
Of Garryowen in glory.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Engels and the conditions of the working class

I am still reading my biography of Engels by Tristram Hunt and he has just arrived in Manchester in the 1840s. I always knew the conditions were bad in that time but they were 'very bad'. In fact even in terms of Europe, Manchester was renowned as being considerably bad and attracted a favela tourism by traveling writers. Alexis de Tocqueville described it as a 'new hades':

"fetid, muddy waters, stained with a thousand colours by the factories they pass' and yet, 'from this fould drain the greatest stream of human industry flows out to fertilize the whole world. From this filthy sewer pure gold flows."

Dr Richard Baron Howard, Assistant Poor Law commissioners describes it as follows:

"whole streets were unpaved and without drains or mini-sewers and were so covered with refuse and excrementitious matter as to be almost impassable from depth of mud, and intolerable from stench."

One of the districts of Manchester decided to name a block of flats after Engels. In November 2007 the Salford Star went to interview the residents of Engels House to ask their thoughts on the man who gave his name to their tower block. Resident Gordon Langlands was having terrible problems with the damp. 'The Council just seem to be deafing me on it, they're just a bunch of commedians. But it's getting beyond a joke now. Someone told me to move out but I've built this place up. This Engels, he would have sorted it.' Salford Star 6/11/07

Organisational Development

I have been reading a book on 'Organisational Development', merely because it is something that I know very little about. I was quite shocked to find that this book was written in 1984 and one of the most basic assumptions and aim that it writes about is still a problem even though it is now 26 years after this book has been written.

There are two basic assumptions that OD makes about individuals:

"The first assumption about people is that most individuals have drives toward personal growth and development if provided an environment that is both supportive and challenging. Most people want to become more of what they are capable of becoming."

I think most people would agree this is still quite difficult to find and I would like to see it framed above the door of every single office and factory in the whole of the UK.

The second basic assumption is even more applicable today and I would think is still attempted but largely ignored I would say by most employers:

"The second basic assumption, related to the first, is that most people desire to make, and are capable of making, a higher level of contribution to the attainment of organisational goals than most organisational environments will permit. A tremendous amount of constructive energy can be tapped if organisations recognise this, for example, by asking for and acting on suggestions to solve problems."

I completely agree and this is why everybody should read about organisational development!