Serving in public and political life is helped by keeping the mind and body and soul active. Virginia’s advice to aspiring members of parliament is to have good health, thick skin, a sense of humour and an umbrella.
On Tuesday the historian Charles Moore talked about the relationship between Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. She had been prime minister throughout his eight years as president. In one week, she had serious issues to face in Britain before flying to China and Hong Kong, then to the United States with a stop at Honolulu where she insisted on seeing Pearl Harbour.
Charles’s biography and the Margaret Thatcher Foundation library are sources of modern history. Looking back encourages us to question what was and what could have been. It brings to mind the words of Albert Einstein: “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
Like those politics, business leaders must be adaptable to change and constantly anticipating the needs, desires and future interests of the customers they serve.
Some 100 businesses and organisations gathered together for the return of Worthing’s Better Business Show, organised by Worthing and Adur Chamber of Commerce, last Thursday. It was good to see such a wide range of stall holders, from educational establishments to events businesses and HM Government to local charities, waving the flag for businesses of Worthing and Adur. It is a useful event for networking and making connections. Also in attendance were representatives from the Council including Goring Councillor Kevin Jenkins. We congratulate the organisers and all involved.
At the weekend, with councillors and people from a range of local churches, I attended the Worthing Islamic Society’s Open Day at the mosque. We were welcomed by the chair Ali Abdul Rahman and by my friend Idris Nawab. I thank all in the Society for their contributions within our shared community. Any group interested in knowing more is welcome to ask for a friendly meeting.
On Sunday I was able to join the Christ Church congregation for Morning Service across Portland Road from our Worthing home. Over the years, I have admired the activists who make the church a place of religion, music and service to the community, hosting groups of people coming together to rebuild lives.
I remember when the Reverend Garry Guinness achieved the conversion of a building by St Paul’s into specialist accommodation for people who would gain by living close to the town centre. He also used another hall as a ‘wet shelter’ over Christmas for people whose alcohol or drug dependency made it impossible for them to share normal hostel life. I admired him and gave support. That was not universally popular; I judged it was right.
At the memorial service this week for our friend the banker Sir Win Bischoff, we were reminded of how lives had to be rebuilt after war. He had been born in Germany in 1941; when peace came, his parents brought him up in South Africa. English was his third language. In the address by the Reverend Sam Wells of St Martin-in-the-Fields we heard about the basket of currencies: the currency of exchange, of mercy, of generosity and of grace. One point made about banking is that each side should gain in an agreement. The same applies to politics, especially at international level.
Thatcher and Reagan achieved much with Mikhail Gorbachev. The dilemma for democracies is how and when to confront dictators and those intent on world domination. Trade and democracy improved with the collapse of the Soviet Union. That progress has been fundamentally undone with the rise of President Putin, a modern-day dictator, and his efforts to eradicate Ukrainian peace and independence.
My experience, whether trying to aid Archbishop Oscar Romero in Central America or those seeking free votes in southern Africa or Jews trying to leave the old USSR, is that failure is not always followed by success. That is a reason to keep going, not to give up.