Ramblers anonymous

A poor post yesterday, I think largely failing to appreciate quite how desperate the ground was at Ascot.  The main thing that’s absent from my analysis at the moment is quality research, largely because I don’t have the time to do it.  Anyway onward and upward – a day off racing as Wolver didn’t inspire me today and I suspect I won’t be looking at the papers until my next runner comes out.  I’ve got a bit of time on my hands, so it’s a long rambling blog today.

My house move is getting nearer.  The builders have been in for a couple of months now and the place is looking fairly spruce – we’ll move in in mid Feb.  There will still be an enormous amount of work to be done – it’s a 330 acre farm that I’m planning to turn into a stud, and it’s a long way off what it needs to be at the moment.  We need to build a substantial stable block and houses for the stud groom and other workers.  We need to improve the pasture we have and break it up into paddocks.  We have a lot of work to do on the house and surrounding barns, and a lot of trees to plant.  We can’t do anything until we have planning, and since the farm is locally listed and on the green belt it may prove tough.  It’s a challenge though which is really what I want right now – it would be nice to think I could take it easy and enjoy the simple pleasures of life for a while, but I know myself well enough to know that I just get miserable when I haven’t got much on.  I need a lot to do and in particular a lot to think about.

I was reading about Leslie Ash in the papers yesterday – £5 million from the National Health for contracting MRSA at the Chelsea and Westminster.  It brings back memories – my father died of MRSA in 1999 which he picked up at Kingston Hospital.  He was 65, fit and healthy – he went down with Pancreatitis (a very nasty condition) and was soon in intensive care.  About a week later they told us he had got MRSA.  A week after that, with my father sedated round the clock, I took matters into my own hands – I made some calls and arranged for him to be transferred to St. Thomas’s in central London.  I told the head nurse at the Kingston ITU – she gave me a filthy look, turned round, walked into her office and slammed the door.

A day later, after a frantic charge across London in an ambulance, he was in the ITU at St. Thomas’s.  It was just after the Soho bomb blast and there were some horribly maimed people in the ward.  We kept a vigil – after a lot of discussion the doctors decided the way to go was to operate.  He survived the operation but a few days later the MRSA got into his lungs and the writing was on the wall.  I’ll never forget sitting next to him just watching his vital signs and heart monitor winding down and eventually grinding to a halt.

I was devastated – he was my hero for so many reasons.  I spent the next three days just sitting in a chair staring out of the window and getting my thoughts together.  I wrote a speech for his funeral.  He was popular – it was a big church but it was packed with a lot standing at the back, but when I went up to give my speech there was total and almost eerie silence.  I opened my mouth to speak and the back of my throat was suddenly bone dry and I was choking.  I got through the speech and the reception later, and went back to my chair.

My father was a quiet man, always cheerful and positive and very clever – he’d come top in the country when he metriculated in maths and I used to marvel at the speed at which he’d knock off complex maths problems.  He was very shy, but he’d been bold in his business life and had pulled off a couple of really remarkable ventures – I think I admired him more for this than anything else.  A few weeks before he’d been taken ill I’d shown him the betting exchange prototype that I’d been building in my spare time.  His advice had been simple – give up work and give it a go.  I hadn’t been sure at the time and I was chewing on it – it was easily the best piece of work I’d ever done and I felt I’d had some genuine inspiration along the way, but life was comfortable as it was and I’d be jacking in the best paid job I’d ever had.  After he died there was nothing more to think about – I handed it my notice straight away and got cracking.

When I had picked up his death certificate I noted it listed cause of death as “multi organ failure following pancreatitis” or some such similar wording.  It should have just said “MRSA” – the cynic in me wondered if the MRSA was being covered up to protect the stats.  It occurred to me that there was a case for the family to seek compensation from the NHS, but I had no great will to go there.

Leslie Ash has taken more off the NHS than the combined total of all their MRSA payouts over the previous 4 years.  I’m not sure how I feel – I have massive sympathy for anyone with MRSA, but a £5m payout is out of kilter with normal NHS policy and this is a dangerous precedent.

The other story I read today was about hedge fund managers and the vast amounts of money they made last year.  Several made in excess of £1 billion – for them £5m is just a day and a half’s work.  That’s scary stuff – with numbers like those I think something has to give at some point, I’m just not sure what, where and how.

I have a small fry history in hedge funds, and I hadn’t been sure for a while whether I wanted to build a betting exchange or start a hedge fund.  I decided that the way to go would be to do the betting exchange thing first and the hedge fund thing later – unfortunately the world has moved on and my hedge fund ideas are rather old hat now.  I used to punt stocks and shares a lot, but I hardly ever do so now as I find it such a distraction.

All of this said I now have my position in Silverjet, and I’m still researching it.  I’ve had a couple of interesting emails in response to the blog, one positive one negative.  Hopefully I’ll find time to do a bit more research this week.