Valentine’s Day gone. Red Roses wilting depressingly in the vase perched on the window sill. Champagne cork stuck behind the book on the top shelf where it landed and will remain, probably till we move house.
Promises made in the heat of the night, vaguely remembered. Including the one about agreeing to do whatever it takes to get that leaking shower unit fixed (bet you were not expecting such a pedestrian promise) before our extended families descend on us for Easter, aquaplaning as it approaches in the outside lane.
The trouble with acting in the spur of the moment may very well come to bite you hard in the cold light of the day, as our very own David Cameron, the British Prime Minister may find to his cost.
The British are wet. Something that many of our overseas friends have suspected for some considerable time.
But this time I mean literally, not figuratively. As I sit in my office all I can hear above the sound of the pounding rain is the howling of the wind as gales harangue and torment the few trees that remain standing in my garden. Half the country appears to be under water as the rivers burst their bulging banks, and the water table has risen 20 meters in some highly populated parts of the country. Blooming miserable.
The Prime Minister, under considerable and mounting public pressure said money would be no object as flood relief efforts continue across swathes of the UK.
"Whatever money is needed, we will spend it."
I was interested to hear this particularly against the back drop of another news item this week from the Environment Agency saying that limited spend had to be prioritised. Indeed they had set a guiding principle that any spend on flood defenses had to demonstrate an eight fold return on investment. They claimed this as one of the reasons why activity in the densely populated regions around London was so intense when compared with some of the more remote areas in Somerset.
It will be very difficult (Cameron was already backtracking on the news the day after his rash promise) for both the Government and the Environmental agency to operate that guiding principle when set against the Prime Minister’s far more extravagant claims. And there is the rub. I am not suggesting that major incidents or disasters should be ignored in favour of high ideals, but I am saying that acting in the moment may have social, political and indeed financial implications. Operating within strict guidelines and highlighting those occasions when we are prepared to operate outside them for a limited and specific time will need to be clear and spelled out.
Guiding principles in negotiation should do just that; they should guide our actions when facing “normal” circumstances. They act as very useful barometers by which to measure what we do. But recognise that they may be tested in extremis.
For me and my leaky shower, I am now trying to retro fit how my principles of not doing any DIY or spending excessively in the first quarter of any calendar year may get me out of a hole.
I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.
Don’t hold out much hope, and rightly so.