I have always subscribed to the view, even before taking a break became mandatory for corporate governance and insurance purposes - "Ah, yes, if Eldon's away from the office for 15 consecutive days we can find out what malpractice he has been involved with..." - that everyone should take time off. The best sportsmen and women, the best writers all know that you have to re-charge your batteries, and it is no different in business.
Thus I found myself last week in the southern provinces of France in brilliantly clear and blue skies, with a day time temperature of 36° C, actually enjoying big supermarkets where you could both Park and Shop and find a huge array of goods in them, wishing that someone in Hong Kong would find a big piece of land somewhere in the old run down industrial areas in Kowloon and do something similar. But if that was the biggest of my worries last week I think I must have been truly relaxed, although the global headlines were creating enough news to make one sit up and take notice.
The dreadful tragedy of the German concert that saw such an unnecessary loss of life, the remarkable news that Barcelona was to ban bull-fighting (a move I personally applaud), the concerns that America still thinks it has the right to summon whomsoever it wants from another sovereign power to be insulted by a Senate Committee, and from the same country rising concerns that the US growth was shown to have contracted sharply in the second quarter. (I would love to say this should not exactly be a surprise - I have said as much in previous blogs - and people much more erudite and intelligent than me in Asia have had similar views for some time, but the hopeful voices of politicians still want people to believe that all is well). Get real, folks. Be cynical about the numbers - many of which are adjusted (negatively) in the small print the following quarter.
By the way - I do sympathise with those who question the release of Al Megrahi, although if the man had died within the predicted three months there would not be so much fuss today. I have a friend in Hong Kong who was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer some 7 years ago and given less than six months to live. He is still with us! That, in his particular circumstances, is a cause for rejoicing. Al Megrahi should never have been released from prison in my personal opinion - but this "in hindsight" investigation is not going to achieve very much - but is very likely to strain relations that should not otherwise be strained.
But it's now briefly back to London and the summer (which they may actually have had before I got here), we are faced with the news of Mr Li Ka-shing's successful acquisition of a company here, the Mayor of London's "Cycle Through London" scheme (something you can get away with in the British capital because they don't have to contend with Hong Kong minibus drivers), Prime Minister Cameron's "open and frank" condemnations of Israel and Pakistan - which have won him a few new friends but lost him others - and the opening of a new bank!
Given the fact that bankers in Britain still rank in popularity somewhere between theNorth Korean World Cup soccer team in Pyongyang and BP in America, the opening of a brand new bank - the first in London for over 100 years has certainly raised some eyebrows. It may not be exciting, and its business products may not be new and innovative - but it is only going to be closed for four days of the year, will open from 8 a.m to 8 p.m, will print and give you your credit card on the spot, and take only 15 minutes to open an account. In fact, they seem to have adopted a rather unique approach to banking in that they are there to serve the customer. Now, actually, how innovative is that? - Oh, and did I mention the water bowls for dogs?
You know, holidays are a good thing but there is so much going on out there - serious and the not so serious - that you still have to keep one eye on the world!