Just back from a quick trip to Bratislava in Slovakia, dear reader, (colder than here, but mercifully drier). The reason for my trip was mainly business: I have a little apartment there and was renegotiating the contract with my tenant.
My tenant, Petr, a stout Czech chap who works in financial services (lucky him!) agreed to the contractual revisions but mentioned that he thought there might be a problem with the electricity.
Surprised, I told him that I'd go and talk to the lecky company and see if there was indeed an issue. When I got there, I sat down, and a kind looking youth punched in my account details to his computer.
The screen that greeted us both brought incredulity to yer man, and even I knew something was amiss. You see, he'd requested a statement of my payments and, to the left of each line of data, there was a traffic light - green for paid, red for unpaid. I had fully two screens of red lights!
It transpired that the standing order had been set up with a limit below the amount the electric guys were trying to debit, and so they'd been refused. Every month. Since March 2006!!!
Apparently, my account had been closed but - bizarrely - the apartment still had light and heat. I can't see ManWeb or Swalec allowing such defaults!
I explained (as best I could) that it was all a misunderstanding and, a large cash payment later, all was resolved.
In those two and a half years, I've never once received any form of communication from the company regarding the situation. Bless them, they really are still learning about business...!
In case you thought the tipping game was easy, a lesson from today's City AM (a free paper in London focused on business issues).
It transpires that a survey by DigitalLook.com has uncovered an alarming statistic. If you'd followed brokers' "strong buy" recommendations over the last twelve months, you'd have lost 44.9% of your investment.
Perversely, if you'd bought brokers' "strong sell" choices, you'd have only lost 35.9% of your initial outlay. Compare this to the market performance overall - down 37.8% - and you can see that the brokers tips to sell actually outperformed the market. Pretty shocking boys - time to sort yourselves out.
Luckily for us, TTS doesn't suffer from stock market turbulence, and is plodding along merrily through the mud, a nice 50 points up on the season to date. A frustrating day today, with three runners and three runners up positions (at 4/6, 13/2 and 7/1).
You can still sign up for TTS here if you'd like your investments to be equine, and to beat the market.
It's the first big race of the season on Saturday, the Paddy Power Gold Cup. And the annual Martin Pipe benefit may not be so easily solved now that Junior is running the Pipe show.
His old man won the race a ridiculous six times in the last ten years. In two attempts so far, his boy has made the frame but not hit the mark yet.
The trends are pretty solid for the race, as follows:
- Winning Cheltenham form is key. 9 of the last 10, and all bar two since 1990, had won here already. It's good night to Silverburn, the ante post favourite, at the first fence.
- The race is a young man's game, with lightly raced horses (whose true handicap mark has yet to manifest itself) taking pre-eminence. Anything older than 9 quite simply has no chance. If you liked Ashley Brook or Mister McGoldrick, change your mind.
- 6/10 were seasonal debutantes and the other four had just one run prior to the race. This does for Ouzbeck and Piraya near the top of the market, both of whom have had two or more runs this season.
- Aside from Celestial Gold in 2004 and The Outback Way back in 1999, all other winners lugged at least 10-13 to victory. It's going to be tough in the ground tomorrow, but I think we'll stick with the stat. Scratch anything from Moon Over Miami down in the weights. We've now got just a couple left in.
- No Irish winner since 1980. I like Sky's The Limit but I don't feel this will be his day.
This leaves Don't Push It. The market has also been a powerful indicator in recent seasons, with 7 from the last ten winners starting in the first three in the betting. Don't Push It may go off only 4th favourite, but he has course form, McCoy on his back, and a touch of class. It will be no shock if he comes home in front.
Finally, as Thursday Fun this week, perhaps you'll enjoy me in a rare tongue-tied moment, trying to put together a spot of video for the Great Horse Racing Giveaway (which is now closed - thanks for reading this if you found my blog as a result of that offer!).
I didn't actually go with the offer in the video in the end, as I'm still trialling this myself, but it makes me whince with excruciating self-consciousness when I watch this desperate recording. Anchor men and women the world over, you have my respect!