Teachers of entrepreneurs! Read a book, done a course. What a joke!

“See, when you come to Bangalore, and stop at the traffic light, some boy will run up to your car and knock on your window, while holding up a bootlegged copy of an American business book, wrapped carefully in Cellophane and with a title like:  

Ten Secrets of Business Success!




Become an Entrepreneur in Seven Easy Days!



Don`t waste your money on these American books. They are so yesterday.

In terms of formal education, I may be somewhat lacking. I never finished school, to put it bluntly. Who cares! I haven`t read many books, but I`ve read all the ones that count. I know by heart the works of the four greatest poets of all time – Rumi, Iqbal, Mirza Ghalib, and a fourth fellow whose name I forget. I am a self-taught entrepreneur.
That`s the best kind there is, trust me.”

From “The White Tiger” by Aravind Adiga, winner of the Man Booker Prize 2008….its about India but you can learn a lot about Poland if you read it and all those 20 somethings who have read a book, done a course and are now teaching others to become entrepreneurs.
Stop fraud in education now!!

The flag comes down in Warsaw

Whether Ambassador Todd ran up the Rainbow flag as he did last year and ran the risk of Charles Crawford`s ire, the Union Jack itself is set to run down for ever on the British Ambassador`s residence.

On command of the never clear thinking property department of the Foreign Office, the house is on the market.

An end to the best grass tennis court in Warsaw? Probably. An end to a British presence in central Warsaw? Yes: the new pill box of an embassy down by the river is too far off the beaten track to notice (and no bad thing for the sensitive….why couldn`t they have built something decent like the Dutch?)

Least hard to bear for the rest of us is the fact that the British representative in Warsaw (why we need one is another question) will be reduced to life in the sort of house in which any old ambassador from any old  banana republic has to make shift to live.

Worst of all for the rest of us, the Queen`s Birthday Party, if it is allowed to continue, will probably take place in one of the anonimous corporate hotels shared by almost all the lesser nations.

The end of Empire? It was over long ago.

British banking

Two and a half years ago, in his opening speech to the British Polish Chamber of Commerce`s annual conference, the British Ambassador in Warsaw Mr. Ric (sic) Todd encouraged Poles to use (and trust) British banks. This was the week after the failure of Northern Rock and just a few months before the collapse of the British banking system.

The moment the Ambassador had finished speaking I asked for the microphone. I said that in my opinion the advice just proffered was the most irresponsible imaginable given what had happened to Northern Rock and especially given that Poles were used to a more straightforward banking model. Alas, the Ambassador had already left the room so he had no opportunity to explain himself. However, when I wrote to him after the crash to challenge him, he remained unrepentant, loyal servant of the Crown that he is.

When the collapse finally happened, someone who had been at the meeting asked me how I knew it was going to happen. A good question. Surely, it was what we had all been anticipating for years, the question was when.

A young Polish friend of mine has written to me from London saying that Lloyds Bank are wooing him to relieve him of his hard earned savings. My advice is, don`t trust the buggers. Keep your money under the bed. The crash is coming.

Bristol screwed?


Dear Mr……,


Thank you for your prompt reply.


Bed screws!  What an extraordinary reason. However, I am glad to know that your clients will no longer be troubled by sleep-disturbing beds.


The information you have given me regarding the Bristol is of great interest. As you know, the Bristol is one of Warsaw`s landmarks and was until fairly recently a hotel of great renown. Today, you would be very hard pressed to find many people who are used to 5 star hotels who would say much in its favour. It has a run-down feel to it. It feels that it is simply being used as a cashcow by a profit-driven foreign corporation.


It is simply not acceptable that such a distingushed building is being treated to such indignity. I should be happy to expand on this if you would like me to.


My information was that Accor intends to off-load the Bristol before long. With respect, this seems like a good idea if you dont intend to make a better show of your guardianship of a national heirloom.


Yours sincerely,


Richard Berkeley

Bed screws!

Dear Mr. Berkeley,

Thank you for your comments regarding Orbis Zamojski Hotel. We would like to apologize for any inconvenience and discomfort caused by the quality of the bed. During your stay the hotel was due to change the screws of beds in some rooms – this process is now finished and it should be more comfortable to sleep there.

Regarding your second point – the plot and building of Bristol Hotel in Warsaw are owned by Orbis which is a company listed on Warsaw Stock Exchange. Accor is the strategic shareholder of Orbis, having 50% +1 of its shares. The hotel is leased to Royal Starman Bristol sp. z o.o. which hired Le Meridien (Starwood) to operate the hotel.

Should you have any further questions regarding Orbis operations, please don’t hesitate to approach us.

Yours sincerely…….


ul. Bracka 16

00-028 Warszawa, Polska





I had a meeting with a culture minister last week…..my second in as many months. The new thinking about “culture” is that we must invest in it to develop and promote human capital!  Gosh! 

They are off to a good start  at the Ministry rewriting the national programme on culture which was, itself, only written four or so years ago. This did not leave much time, if any, for implementation.

Anyway, the Minister invited me to contribute to the new document, which made me feel very proud.

On reflection, do you think there will be any money in it or whether I shall live to see any of my ideas implemented before they are revised? Either way, worth a try, I suppose. 

What I was really wondering is what they mean by “culture”. I must remember to ask next time.


Keeping up facades


Just round the corner from me is a pre-war block of flats. The facade has some Art-Deco characteristics. The owners have just completed a renovation of the facade. Gold paint now delineates the architectural features that once were obscured by standard grey. The stucco, a rich white. Great. More please.

Last night I came home from meeting my 32 year old Polish nephew for the first time (and my father`s first love, a girl, now in her 80s whom he met in a concentration camp for Polish military.) Half of the stucco from the facade of my block was lying on the pavement where I usually park my car. There was no sign of blood, so I imagine our idiot administration will, as usual, get away with their negligence unrebuked.  An injury might get them out of their SUVs to do some proper work…the directors have put on a great deal of weight since they took over from the city.

This morning I skipped church to prune the trees in our shared garden…something else the administration (or anyone else) seems unable to do though might benefit from. Now for the gym.