Don't Panic! Drink Tea ...
How to make decisions calmly ...
POSTED BY DAVID PIBWORTH ON 08/12/2015 @ 8:00AM
I was woken this morning by a call at 06.35 from an actor, Mark, who is doing a job for my company. His brief is to be a customer for a well known car company who we have a contract with for their training programme ...
copyright: adam121 / 123rf stock photo
He had left at 05.45 to get to Twickenham to arrive at 08.30 to start the first training course at 09.00. However there was a 3 car accident and a fire between J13 and J14 of the motorway, so he's stuck and going no-where.
Now then, this is a big contract for David Pibworth Productions with a goodish amount of work coming from them, so what do we do?
"Mark can't do anything. He's stuck
I had a number of options, but they all involve one rule and that is: 'Don't Panic!' If I've learnt one thing in life it is that panic produces absolutely nothing. I've seen it at work and it's a negative force usually practised by fairly feeble people.
I served in the Army for some years in a previous life, and if there was one thing that got you into problems it was panic. In fact, I learned two major things there and they were 1) It's pretty easy to start a war, but almost impossible to end it and 2) If you panic, everything is much more likely to go tits up.
In fact I did learn a great deal more, but it mainly consisted of how 'not' to treat people. There's a great deal of shouting in the Army. As the great bard himself said "Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing".
I had a friend called Harry Scrowsten in the Army and he was a remarkable man in many ways although I don't think the Army appreciated him, as he didn't shout. He was a small wiry Yorkshireman, some 10 years older than me and we formed a good friendship. We both liked horses, card schools and terrible jokes.
Whenever there was a problem, Harry would appear with a mug of tea - goodness knows where he got it from sometimes - but he did. He would then mull over the problem and the tea seemed to help.
He was also well prepared and seemed to carry everything about with him on manoeuvres. I well remember being in an almost impossible position with him once, when we were trying to get through some particularly difficult bush and undergrowth. He poked down into his bergan and fished out a small chain saw, did the business and then disappeared, reappearing some minutes later with mugs of tea saying "Now, we'll have a quick brew and think about our next move".
He truly believed everything could be sorted out over a cup of tea. And it always was. However I'll save all those stories for the book that I won't write.
Back to my immediate problem. Communication is the key here, so I emailed and texted the company and told them exactly what was happening and then put the kettle on and made a mug of tea. I checked the travel and indeed it was still pretty bad.
I then got out my London actor contact book and glanced through the names who could possibly cover the event with no training or real brief. That would prove tricky as they do have to know what they're doing and could do more harm than good for our contract. I then looked at a way for me to get to Twickenham, but again it would be most unlikely that I could get there any quicker than Mark. It's not an easy train journey in the rush hour.
"I drank my tea and realised that my only option was just to keep the company informed on precisely where we stood."
My actors are very loyal and keep me abreast of exactly what is going on and all I can do is to pass on the information in this case. I texted my contact again and explained and she got back and was very understanding. Mark then contacted me, telling me that he had passed the accident and his ETA would be 10.00. So he will be one hour late which in the scale of things is pretty good.
My check list really consists of firstly making sure everyone is safe. I told Mark not to worry and not to rush, just get there safely. If you don't do that, then the rest is irrelevant.
And do you know what? At 09.53, I got a text from Mark telling me he was there, so we came in just under the ETA and this is what I call loyal teamwork. No shouting, no bossing around by anyone trying to prove themselves.
"We all proved ourselves, Mark stayed calm, the company stayed calm, I stayed calm and it worked."
I haven't seen Harry for 30 years, and the last I heard he was a farrier at Ripon racecourse. This morning, at 09.54, I raised my mug of tea and drank a toast to Harry Scrowsten.
It worked again old pal. Thanks Harry, wherever you are.
Until next time ...
More about David Pibworth ...
David is the owner of David Pibworth Productions who provides entertainment for theatre and corporate events. This ties in very well with The Arches Theatre, an outside venue that David owns underneath a disused railway line, equidistant from Bedford, Northampton and Milton Keynes. This was one of the few venues that could operate with social distancing in place during the summer of 2020 and where they ran everything from Shakespeare to Richard Digance through the summer months.
David has been involved in light entertainment for many years, even going back as far as working on a production with Norman Wisdom in London. He has a knack of keeping in touch with everyone he's worked with and would bring such people as Chas and Dave, Kenny Ball and Acker Bilk round to play locally when the chance arose.
His company also represent the stage rights for Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, the writers of Steptoe and Son and Hancock's Half Hour. He has recently negotiated permission with Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais to produce Porridge on stage although this is all hampered by the current situation and the availability of theatres.
Next year, at the Arches Theatre, he will produce Ripping Yarns, written by Michael Palin and Terry Jones. This will be an interesting production as not only does one episode involve playing a football match, but also with the agreement of Michael Palin and the wife of the late Terry Jones, it has been decided that all the profits on this production will go to a dementia charity as Terry Jones died as a result of dementia, as did David's father and uncle.