Advertise with MyTradeTV! Promote your content! Please contact us on 01924 918171

NPG P1155; Alistair Cooke by Bernard Lee ('Bern') Schwartz

Don’t forget the History Men

We are fast entering the second quarter of the year and so far the indications have been more encouraging than for quite a while. In fact, we could be getting to that stage of loosening those crossed fingers just in case there had been something nasty round the corner.   A few times now in this Comment, I have urged some caution and a reminder that history can teach us a few important lessons we ignore at our peril. A recent visit to the BBC website unearthed one jewel of radio; namely, Alistair Cooke. His Letter from America spanned decades and as I grew up, I was fascinated by how he could give the most entertaining and informed history lesson before showing its relevance to what had happened that week. It’s quite easy to forget that this broadcaster was born in Salford, England but had made his home in the USA and gained a magnificent grasp of the country’s history, dynamism and failings.   When I first joined this industry, I was introduced to a very native American in the shape of Jay Webb. A fenestration surveyor, Jay had written initially for Glass & Glazing Products (when I joined), switched to Fenestra Journal (with a little persuasion from me) and after that title had closed, went back to GGP.   I make no bones about it – Jay was a nightmare to try and sub and other editors had to deal with his wrath when changes were made to his copy, for whatever reason. To his critics, he rambled and ranted. To his advocates, he brought a breath of fresh air to what he saw as the often awful P.R. claptrap some felt had to be run to keep advertisers happy. Despite spending a whole morning handling Jay’s work, I was definitely in the second camp.   For him, the greatest compliment came when one well known figure in the industry likened him to his hero, Alistair Cooke. Maybe it was going a step too far but the person who made it had a point that at least in the pages of this trade press, there was a voice that was never afraid to say something was lamentable, mere tittle tattle, or the inarticulate drivel of ego trippers. It could be a failing exhibition, absurd sales pitches, or trade associations that were protecting themselves, rather than the end user.   But in his Terminus article, Jay would remind readers that we had often travelled down the same road before and somehow ignored the sudden twists and potholes there. He hated those who railed against phoenix crooks – those who often deliberately collapsed their businesses and set themselves up in the same premises with suppliers that rushed in to get a slice of the action. One of Jay’s best articles was dealing with one fraudster in the Coventry area who had done this two or three times but could always find someone to get his eye; often one who had bragged in the trade press that his company was against this very practice.   In my many conversations with Jay, usually after the exhibition had closed, and the sales director of a company (that was going to ‘revolutionise’ the world with its ‘innovative solution’), had gone, we discussed matters over a pint. Apart from the relief of a day of pressing the hand and feigning the smile, we knew that we had heard so much that was not new. The trouble was we believed so many who had stood before us, earnestly giving their views, didn’t realise there had been similar claims made before them.   Alas, we no longer have Alistair Cookes or Jay Webbs with their perceptive warnings to remind us that history can repeat itself, unless we learn those lessons. (How ironic that we had an Englishman who settled and became such a keen observer of things American and in his own way, a Yank who made Old Blighty his adoptive home.) But history these days, unless it can prove to be ‘entertaining’ on television with a presenter who never seems to be out of shot, can and is, ignored.   Perhaps the inherent problem is that, having gone through such a desperate period, we want to believe there are those sunny climes in the distance that are not shimmering mirages. So, yes the sun is shining and those order books may be lengthening, but if you are long enough in the tooth and the little grey cells are in enough numbers, remember where you were in 2007; or how about 1989? Maybe your pint is always half full, yet you won’t mind if you see a rather bent figure here in another 10 years, trying not to smirk, when you state you wondered where the market went wrong as he replies: “I told you so.”

Leave A Comment

5 × three =

  • Access Control
  • Advice
  • Advice & Tips
  • Air Conditioning
  • ALEX Expo
  • Aluminium
  • Aluminium Windows
  • Appointments
  • Appointments
  • Appointments
  • Architects & Specifiers
  • Architecture
  • Associations & Regulators
  • Auto Locksmith
  • Auto Locksmith Tools
  • Auto Locksmith Tools
  • Auto Locksmith Training
  • Awards
  • Awards
  • Awards
  • Blinds
  • Blinds
  • Boilers (Service & Repair)
  • Building
  • Carousel 1 Category
  • Case Studies
  • Casement Windows
  • CCTV
  • CE Marking
  • Certification
  • Charity
  • Colour Coating
  • Colour Coating & Foiling
  • Competitions
  • Composite Doors
  • Conservatories
  • Conservatories & Orangeries
  • Conservatory Roofs
  • Construction Consumer Advice
  • Consumables
  • Consumer News Glazing
  • Cylinders
  • Decorative Glass
  • Decorative Glass
  • Demolition
  • DGCOS News
  • Diagnostics
  • Digital locks
  • Door Hardware
  • Door Hardware
  • Doors
  • Drainage
  • Editor's Corner
  • Energy Efficient Windows
  • Energy Saving
  • Events-Exhibitions & Associations
  • Exhibitions
  • Exhibitions & Associations
  • Fabricators
  • Featured
  • Fensa News
  • Fensterbau 2014
  • Fire Proof Glass
  • FIT Show 2016
  • Foiling
  • Folding/Sliding Doors
  • Furniture
  • G13 Awards
  • G14 Awards
  • Gas
  • Genaeral
  • General
  • General
  • General Locksmith Tools
  • General News
  • General News
  • General news
  • General news
  • GGF
  • GGF News
  • Glass
  • Glazing
  • glazing
  • Glazing Consumer Advice
  • GQA Qualifications
  • Green Deal
  • Guest Blogs
  • Hardware
  • Hardware
  • Hardware
  • Health & Safety
  • Health & Safety
  • Health & Safety
  • Health & Safety
  • Health & Safety
  • Heating Spares & Controls
  • Helen Duval
  • Home Improvement
  • IGU Manufacturing
  • Installers
  • Insulation
  • Interactive magazines
  • Interactive magazines
  • Interactive Magazines
  • Interactive News/Mags
  • Key Cutting
  • Key Cutting Machinery
  • Key Cutting Machines
  • Keys/Fobs & programming
  • Kitchens & Bathrooms
  • Lead Generation
  • Lock Cases
  • Lock Expo 2015
  • Lock Expo 2015
  • Lock Safes
  • Locksmith
  • Locksmith Consumer Advice
  • Locksmith Profiles
  • Locksmith Tools
  • Machinery
  • Marketing
  • Marketing – Installers
  • Marketing – Manufacturing
  • Mechanical Access
  • MLA Expo 2015
  • MLA Expo 2015
  • Mortice
  • MyTradeTV Blogs
  • Newsletter Left
  • Newsletter Right
  • Newsletters
  • NFA Awards
  • NFA Awards 2014
  • NFA Awards 2015
  • Online Ordering
  • Online ordering
  • Orangeries
  • Padlock
  • Panel
  • PHEX – Alexandra Palace
  • PIGS
  • Piping
  • Plumbing
  • Plumbing & Heating
  • Podcasts
  • Profiles
  • Pumps & Filters
  • PVCu
  • Safes
  • Safety Glass
  • Sash Windows
  • Solar
  • Solar Controlled Glass
  • Sound Reduction Glass
  • spacer/warmedge
  • Spares & Repairs
  • Spares & Repairs
  • Speciality Glass
  • Sustainable Building
  • Talking Points
  • Team Blogs
  • Testing
  • TGQ
  • The Fit Show 2014
  • Timber
  • Timber Windows
  • Tools
  • Tools
  • Tools & Power Tools
  • Tools & Power Tools
  • Tools & Power Tools
  • Toughened Glass
  • Trade Association News
  • Trade Associations
  • Trade Counters
  • Trade Info
  • Training Centres
  • Transport
  • Transport
  • Transport
  • Transport
  • Triple Glazing News
  • UAP/Tradelocks
  • UAP/Tradelocks.
  • UK Construction Week
  • Uncategorized
  • UPVC Windows
  • Van Security
  • Van Security
  • Ventilation
  • Video News
  • Videos
  • Water Treatment/Waste Management
  • Web Design
  • Web Design & SEO
  • Web Design & SEO
  • Window Hardware
  • Window Hardware
  • Windows
  • Channel Selector
    Your default channel is: Glazing
    Tune in to Other Channels:
    Glazing
    Locksmith
    Plumbing & Heating
    Kitchens & Bathrooms