Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
A treat for you today – a guest post by Robin Bennett, author of Life’s a Banquet, The Hairy Hand and Space Dragons. It is the third time he’s featured on my blog but the first time he’s written a guest post. Keep reading to discover what he had to say, information about him and ‘Life’s a Banquet’ and links to the two other posts he’s featured in on this blog!
Guest post by Robin Bennett
Shortly after I started school, the head teacher called my mother in to inform her I was hyperactive and therefore required special measures to stop me bouncing off the ceiling if I was asked to sit still and shut up for more than 3 and a half minutes. Drugs were mentioned and, given this was the early 1970’s, we’re probably talking horse tranquilisers as an hors d’oeuvre.
‘Nonsense,’ my mother replied, ‘he’s just very annoying.’
And that was that.
Actually, the blunt prognosis was not only accurate (I was annoying), but effective: I had to learn to calm down without the use of Ketamine or any special attention. Even now.
I don’t miss the 1970’s: not one bit. It was really crap growing up in Reading amongst the strikes, the queues for petrol, piles of rubbish and parents constantly arguing about money (mortgage rates hit nearly 30%).
Being posh in a decidedly not posh area presented its own problems. Nowadays it’s almost seen as OK to be posh: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstal is posh and so is the Queen and we like them: you can be posh unashamedly and even ironically. In 1973 being posh meant you were a bit of an effete dickhead.
I do think the 1970’s were the last time life was really tough as a matter of course for most people regardless of their social class. Having a moderately tricky childhood was the norm and depression, dyslexia, dyspraxia etc were pretty much ignored.
For us X Generationers (people born between about 1965 and 79), we then loafed about in our teens and early 20’s then suddenly became the most successfully entrepreneurial group in the history of the world. Behind all the early sloth there was a fire in our belly born of being the last kids en masse in the UK who knew what it was like to be a bit cold most of the time between October and March and sometimes quite hungry between meals; and an independence of being ‘latchkey kids’ because both our parents worked.
This generation founded more companies than any before, mainly legions of successful small businesses but some breakouts like Google, SPANX. Paypal and Dell. Like being posh, calling yourself an entrepreneur in the 1990’s singled you out for being a self-regarding twat, now it’s an acceptable job description (annoyingly, sometimes, before you’ve even made a penny).
Then Generation Y (the Peter Pans, who were cosseted and loved) came along, and scotched that theory. For they also proved to be quite entrepreneurial in their own way.
This group (AKA Millennials) born between 1980 and 1999 have taken a lot of flak recently: apparently they are entitled, a bit spoiled and impatient. And it’s easy to see why that might seem a fair assessment for a ‘right swipe’ generation.
However their roster of successful start ups have made people realise that having it easy makes for a kinder form of entrepreneurship. They start companies that at least try to be good (or, at least harmless): like Facebook, Snapchat, Quora or make money at sport or pop or having a cool haircut and a moderately entertaining YouTube space. The key difference (for me) between the two were X generation companies still tended to be broadly traditional and obviously practical services or manufacturers: computers, payments, internet search tools and stretchy pants.
But I see the X and Y ‘divide’ as a progression not at odds with each other. Y-ers take an easier route because it’s smarter and they don’t see the need to self flagellate.
I think what is really interesting is where that progression takes us in Generation Z who have been schooled on ethical business from the Millennials but know that the world is not a universally happy place: religious and/or oil wars loom, the ‘wrong’ people get voted in, very small children drown on beaches far from home …
But at the same time we are slowly improving and the Z Generation should feel empowered by that: global population growth is slowing; the divide between rich and poor is blurring; life expectancy is rising; more young women than ever are receiving an education; and the number of people in extreme poverty has fallen by a billion since 1980.
I am really hopeful that they will have the perfect mix of realism and kindness to do something that will eclipse us all.
Here’s more information about Robin and his book ‘Life’s A Banquet’
Life’s a Banquet is the unofficial but essential ‘guide book’ to negotiating your way through life – through education, family life and business, to relationships, marriage, failure and rejection.
Aged 21, Robin Bennett was set to become a cavalry officer and aged 21 and a half, he found himself working as an assistant grave digger in South London – wondering where it had all gone wrong.
Determined to succeed, he went on and founded The Bennett Group, aged 23, and since then has gone on to start and run over a dozen successful businesses in a variety of areas from dog-sitting to cigars, translation to home tuition. In 2003, Robin was recognised in Who’s Who as one of the UK’s most successful business initiators. Catapulting readers through his colourful life and career, Robin Bennett’s memoir is an inspiring tale.
Robin Bennett lives in Henley on Thames, Oxon. He is an author and entrepreneur who has written several books for children and books on the swashbuckling world of business. His documentary, Fantastic Britain, about the British obsession with magic and folklore, won best foreign feature at the Hollywood International Independent Documentary Awards.
Robin says, “When the world seems to be precarious and cruel, remember that the game is to never give up – there’s everything to play for, and it will all be OK.”
For anyone who would like to learn more about Robin and his books, I first encountered his children’s book, ‘The Hairy Hand’ and reviewed it here.
Later, he kindly answered my questions and I shared his answers and my review of his book, ‘Space Dragons’ here.
Follow the tour:
Many thanks to Rachel’s Random Resources for providing materials for this post and organising the tour it is part of and to Robin Bennett for his guest post!