Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

One of our Account Executives, Phoebe, recently went to see The Revlon Girl at The Riverfront Theatre in Newport. Here she shares her thoughts on the play…

the-revlon-girl-cast-photo-2

Though based on the events surrounding the Aberfan disaster, The Revlon Girl is a play that focuses on much more than the tragedy itself. It bravely and triumphantly shines a light on our fragile human condition and innate ability to push through hardship at the toughest of times.

The performance began with sound effects of the tip tumbling down and the slush caving in on the former coal mining village of Aberfan. Immediately drawn to the impact the fall had upon the community, I prepared myself for what I thought was about to be a pretty upsetting play. And it was, at times, but under the guidance of Neil Docking’s script and Maxine Evans’s direction, all four of the superb actresses did a magnificent job at flickering between emotions and transforming the atmosphere of the room from sadness to happiness and tears into laughter. Despite the incredibly tough subject matter, The Revlon Girl must be commended for its success in informing the audience whilst remaining light-hearted and enjoyable.

Whilst sitting in the audience I felt as though I was a part of something, a community, a tight-knit friendship group. The bare and stripped-back stage drew your attention to the actresses themselves which, along with the dim flicker of light, made you feel as though you were a fly on the wall listening to the women inside the confines of their small room. Although it was an intense watch, over the short space of an hour and a half you went on a journey with the characters and felt completely and utterly immersed in their emotions.

I went along to the showing with my grandma, auntie and two of her friends all of whom remember the Aberfan disaster “as if it was yesterday!”. Though we varied in age from 21 to 84, we were all mesmerised from start to finish and thought the play was a fantastic way to commemorate the disaster’s 50th anniversary. The Revlon Girl is a play that entwines together the past and the present, and reminds a modern day audience why we should always reflect upon historical events to unravel and understand different communities.

The Revlon Girl stops touring around Wales on the 22nd October 2016. To find out more information about the play, please go to www.octobersixtysix.com 

I found a recent article by journalist Polly Phillips in last weekend’s Sunday Telegraph absolutely fascinating, and thought it might possibly contain some useful advice for how we in the UK can become a happier nation.

As we say farewell to a typical wet, windy diet-obsessed January, Polly explained how the Danes ignore the annual fasting to create our ‘perfect’ bodies and enjoy living as they have done for centuries. You can see young and IMG_2189old Danes alike plunging naked into the icy seas around the coast in mid winter and enjoying pastries whenever they want to!

A recent study by the University of Zurich sheds some light on the reasons for such a carefree approach to living. Apparently, Danes are conditioned from a young age not to feel shame. A mere 1.62% of the population suffer from gelotophobia (a fear of ridicule), the lowest figure of any country surveyed. Britain topped the charts with 13%! Danish children do not grow up paralysed by the fear of being laughed at as we do. While we might spend hours locked in gyms on treadmills, the Danes spend hours outside, biking, hiking and swimming – often in the nude (no one is at all worried by the sight of naked bodies as we would be in the UK!).

If you look deeper you can see how different Danes are from the reserved American and British citizen. From communal showers and baths to women’s liberation in the 1960s, Danish society really does accept a different way of life, and perhaps starting at a very young age there is an acceptance that if the rules say you go naked into the showers then this is what you do.

It seems to me that this accepted way of life must contribute to the Danes being one of the world’s happiest nations. Acceptance of who we are naked or clothed and following accepted rules made by society is not a bad way to live.

Is there a lesson here for us Brits, who sadly appear much further down in this league of ‘happiest’ nations?

– Rob Petersen.

As we all mourn the passing of Graham Jenkins, the last surviving brother of film star Richard Burton and a great Welshman in his own right, we naturally recount moments when we might have met or been touched by such celebrity.JS78861923

In my case, I met Graham when I was working for an advertising agency, Creighton Griffiths, where as a young Account Handler I was given responsibility to handle the advertising and promotion of the famous Afon Lido, which Graham was then running on behalf of the Local Authority. His warmth to and tolerance of a youngster like me was significant and the long lunches which followed our regular meetings were legendary!

I kept in touch with Graham once he handed over responsibility to another of Port Talbot’s sons Gordon Davies and had the great pleasure of meeting up with him at the BBC Club in London following the editing of a TV commercial for the Wales Tourist Board. As we were about to catch our allocated train back to Cardiff, Graham insisted that we drop by ‘his local’ for another drink on the way to Paddington.

Duly taxis arrived and we followed Graham to ‘his local’, which turned out to be the Dorchester Hotel. We followed Graham into one of the bars where he ordered drinks and began to sing at the piano located there. After an hour or two I suddenly realised that the last train back to Cardiff would be leaving in 20 minutes and approached Graham to settle the bill, to which Graham said: “I thought you might be staying the night so I arranged for you to use Richard’s apartment which he has permanently reserved!”

Sadly I could not take up the offer but Graham insisted that we should not pay anything as it was going on Richard’s tab, which is how by default I had a few drinks on Richard Burton via his beloved brother, Jenks.

R.I.P. Graham, you were a star in your own right.

– Rob Petersen.

We have all been touched and horrified by the hundreds of images shown on broadcast and social media over the last week covering the events in Paris, as well as the frightening verbal accounts of some of the survivors.peace-for-paris-hed-2015

The terrorists who planned, and then implemented the various acts of brutal killings and bomb blasts are obviously well financed and must be part of a strategy by ISIL to deliver terror and fear into, not just French citizens, but all Europeans of whatever country or political leanings.

While retaliation is an understandable and necessary action to halt further atrocities on such a scale, I am concerned that until the young, vulnerable and disenchanted youths of so many counries are reunited with basic human values of what is good, beneficial and constructive in those countries such tragic events will continue.

If these indoctrinated, marginalised  young terrorists find that their actions do not spread chaos, panic and financial disorder as they are designed to do then their current strategy will have failed.

This is why we all as Europeans must show solidarity and support all those affected by last weekend’s horror in Paris, and work together to eliminate both the funders of these terrorists and the terrorist recruitment cells across the world.

Vive la France, Vive la Europe.

Rob Petersen.

As I really begin to look forward to my annual holiday on the glorious island of Ibiza soon, I read with some sadness and concern one poll survey showing that 75% of SME owners sacrificed their holidays to power through and ensure their business runs smoothly. With the technology available today to keep in touch and good planning most of us can take at least a summer holiday to recharge the batteries and reduce stress.

While others may prefer to have active holidays and explore new places, I prefer a destination which I know well and where I will hopefully get some all important vitamin D and serotonin, the ‘happiness hormone’, from the sun. As I get older I think I will become more prone to SAD (seasonal affective disorder) syndrome so my weeks in the summer are important for my health and well-being.

Even though research shows that those living in some colder climates like Denmark, Iceland and Norway are ‘happier’ than UK citizens in terms of social support, life expectancy, generosity etc and not just wealth and economic prosperity, I strongly believe that summer breaks in the sun have huge benefits in the longer term to my overall happiness so need to find it abroadsadly as I would prefer a ‘stay-cation’ ideally!

Blue sky, warm breeze in the evening, healthy eating and a few glasses of rose really will help me recharge for the winter ahead. Of my 20 statutory days of holiday each year at least 10 must be in the sun. Long live the summer break for SMEs and all of us.

-Rob Petersen

The debate over the pros and cons of assisted dying was once again brought to our attention today with the story of Bob Cole, who travelled to Switzerland this afternoon to end his life.

Sean McCabe with new wife Lisa (left) and urging others not to give up hope (right). Picture credit: Wales Online

But as the country argues the ethics of Bob Cole’s decision to end his life, what a truly heart-warming survival story we had in today’s Western Mail.

The Mail reports on the story of cancer sufferer Sean McCabe who, having been given 2 months to live due to an aggressive form of cancer, planned his funeral in his local church.

In an incredible turn of events and after a bone marrow transplant he beat the disease to the astonishment of doctors and cancelled his funeral, planning instead his wedding to his partner Lisa in front of hundreds of guests. As Sean says, every day to him is a miracle and he is now 18 months in remission.

As someone who has also suffered from a cancer scare, having had a tumour removed from my left lung 2 years ago, I believe survivors like Sean and myself do tend to have a more positive view on life and try to persuade others to enjoy the moment every day as sadly lives can be turned around in an instant by this dreaded disease amongst many others.

So live every day as best you can with a smile on your face!

-Rob Petersen.

While we have had many good news stories recently, very often it’s the bad news which makes the front pages of our regional press. However, in today’s South Wales Echo all bad news is banished to the inside pages!

The reason for this is the truly remarkable story of five year old Cian Morris who was born without fully formed fingers on his right hand but has now had a prosthetic hand made using revolutionary 3D printing technology and that cost just £60 to make.

Developed by researchers from the FabLab team at Cardiff Metropolitan University, this innovative device which is operated by Cian using just his wrist could be the salvation for many children and presumably adults suffering from similar problems.

Once again, this is proof that we have some of the very best researchers and scientists working and living in our capital city. Let’s celebrate this wonderful news for Cian and his family with the rest of the world. Cardiff really is in the news recently for some very positive reasons. Well done FabLab manager Martijn Gommeren and your team, we are proud of you all.

How often are we given frightening statistics about our growing obesity problem in Wales, effecting our younger generation as well as older citizens? Awareness of the issue is at an all-time high and programmes are being put in place to help educate our fellow citizens as to the correct way to live our lives, but it appears that despite these efforts obesity rates are not falling quickly enough.

However, it seems now that America, the ‘supersized’ nation of the world is at last slimming down. According to research, the average American has shed 190 calories from their daily diet over the last 10 years, the first sustained drop for 40 years! How has this happened? It appears as though talking about the problem has been a major factor, hence this blog to encourage more debate and action on it.

We have heard talk of a government fat tax and Tesco removing some sugary drinks from their shelves, so action is taking place but too slowly. With the highest obesity rate of any West European country save Iceland and Malta, with 67% of males, 57% of females and more than 25% of children, we must take action in Wales now!

Can we not take some direction from the successful anti-smoking campaign? Let’s keep talking about it, let’s educate our children and adults with the simple message that you can have a super healthy life if you eat well and exercise. This is what our friends in America are doing with great success.

queen's speechAs we all digest the elements of the UK government’s plan for the next 5 years as delivered by Her Majesty to Parliament, it appears to me that Wales has plenty to cheer about.

As mentioned in today’s Western Mail, the Institute of Directors (IOD) Director for Wales, Robert Lloyd Griffiths, makes a few key points about yesterday’s announcement. Firstly, in welcoming the reduction of red tape for SME’s in Wales who represent such a vitally important sector for future job growth in Wales – although we have yet to see where the Government will find £10 billion worth of cuts regulation!

Secondly, the absolute priority to negotiate the terms for the UK’s continuing membership of the EU – a membership which I believe is crucial for the continued growth of both Wales and the UK economy. Our biggest market is Europe and therefore we must remain part of it.

Thirdly, new powers for the Welsh Government were announced. This is to be welcomed, as the Welsh Government should become more accountable and of significantly more importance to the growth of Wales in the future than it is currently.

The list of changes and challenges laid out in the Queen’s Speech are significant but if addressed without delay, there is every chance that Wales and the rest of the UK will see further positive signs of growth, bringing more prosperity to our citizens, young and old over the years ahead.

family-bikingAs the latest figures show, more than a quarter of Welsh school leavers are overweight or obese, as reported in today’s Western Mail. However, it is most concerning to see that these figures when further broken down illustrate a disparity between affluent and deprived areas of Wales. For example, fewer than 9% of children in the Vale of Glamorgan were obese, while 17% of 4/5 year olds in Merthyr Tydfil were obese.

As mentioned in the comment section of the Western Mail today, unless these problems are faced by families, retailers, Health Authorities, local and central government, the situation will only get worse. Healthy eating, together with modest exercise can have a significant effect on individuals was well as the wider community in which we live.

A solution might be for all parties to be represented in a summit style meeting hosted by the Welsh Government to agree a strategy and timetable for action, otherwise the problem will get worse and the implication for future generations extremely worrying.