MD turned cabbie: the swansong of British manufacturing

Walking my bicycle back home with a puncture this afternoon I had a fascinating conversation with the father of a friend of my daughter's.  Busy making garage doors by hand – his house has been a series of projects for as long as I have known him. He is full of enthusiasm for his new job as a London cabbie. Hoddesdon is packed with black cab drivers. You can work as much or as little as you please and the money is excellent. Life has never been so good.

Not so unusual a conversation except that he is a former managing director of Parker Knoll and used to run a £50 million business. We talked about what is happening to British manufacturing. It was the same old story about lack of long term investment – executive in short job turnarounds who would never be there to see the effect of long term decision making so opted instead to sell off bits of the business and contract services out to make the dividends look good.

His parting shot was 'If I chose to work 10 hours a day 5 days a week as a cabbie (and I don't intend to put those hours in) I would take home more money than I did then. And when I get home I have no reports to write, no phone calls to make. I have my life back'. And he turned back to his garage doors. 

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