Category Archives: Events

Thought I’d ask the world

imageThe weather in the heart of London has been weird today. I noticed as I took a stroll at lunchtime in Westminster, the seat of government for the UK from eons past where I work. I don’t work for the Government; just located within the immediate audio radius of the chimes of Big Ben.

There was a glowering, shifting, heavily overcast sky, the distinct ‘ting’ of water droplets in the air on my face yet no sense of impending deluge, a restless breeze at the same time slightly chill and slightly humid but all the time unpredictable and uneasy. A typical British Summer in some ways or my day oddly reflecting my inner turmoil at a time of great need in my country?

Tomorrow the UK votes on whether or not to remain in the EU and I am required to fulfill my duty to vote. At this point in time just hours before the polls open I remain torn and undecided. I have devoured miles of column inches in press reporting, analysis, opinion. I have listened to hours upon hours of high brow radio and watched TV reporting from across the globe. I remain undecided as I write.

On the train home tonight, some teenagers in school uniform walked through our walk through train. “I’m voting to stay in the EU”, said the first, an Asian young guy. “I’m for the EU”, said the next Asian guy. “I don’t give a fuck if I’m in the EU or not”, said the black girl who tailed them.

People are talking about what we are about to decide on both at home and abroad so I decided to reach out to the world as far as I can by the means I have – in his case social media – and find out via Periscope what people around the world were thinking about it all.

If you aren’t familiar with Periscope, it’s a video interactive, live broadcast social media where you can engage with hundreds of thousands of ordinary people broadcasting in real-time from their devices either scenes or events they are witnessing or turning the camera on themselves and inviting you to interact with them through texts which they read and respond to live verbally. Here are just five of those who gave me their thoughts.

FitBusinessman: New York, USA

This guy never reveals his real name but he is a Forex stock market trader on Wall Street. He has a large and regular following on Periscope and Twitter and he ‘scopes’ (ie broadcasts) regularly on his take on the financial markets. He normally interacts with other financial peeps but will take questions from all comers. I asked him if he thought the UK would Brexit. His emphatic answer was yes. At the time I talked to him it was a Sunday. He said his entire bank of colleagues were in work that day purely and only to discuss and prepare for the possibility of a UK exit from the EU. I’d say he was resigned to the fact but unimpressed and nonplussed.

Kristian: Copenhagen, Denmark

Not sure what Kristian does for a living. An ordinary Danish bloke living in Copenhagen who loves to show people around his lovely city, which I have had the pleasure to visit for real, via his live scopes on a daily basis. Kristian’s view was one of goodwill to the UK but that he thought we would be making a big mistake to leave and he sees only bad this ahead for us.

Stephanie: Nice, France

Stephanie is a teacher of French as a foreign language and regularly scopes at several points of the day from her beloved Nice, one of my favourite cities of all. You’ll catch her at sunrise on the Cote d’Azur as she shows you her city and teaches you French along the way. Stephanie is charming and polite and won’t express a political opinion in her scopes but she fully supports the right of the British people to make their choice.

Liora: Netanya, Israel

Not sure what Liora does for a living but she loves to sing and show you her country and she will actually sing to you live in Hebrew and English in her scopes and she’s not bad…at least kind of in tune. Brexit is not such a high news topic in Israel but Liora is aware of it. She believes the UK should stay as part of the EU because many are stronger together than one alone.

CrazyRussian: Sunderland, UK

True name unknown or what he does for a living and why he is here. He’s a fitness freak who swears he found the secret to weight loss by eating omelettes cooked Russian style between 0900 and Noon and after 1800 hours with nothing outside those times. Even watched a whole live scope of him cooking this magic omelette, which looked a complete disaster and nothing the French and Spanish haven’t already discovered. Crazy thinks the whole EU vote is irrelevant because the next world war will be a cyber war and first one on the trigger wins.

Karen: Boston, USA

Finally to sweet and lovely Karen who has a very large Periscope following and who, like Liora and Kristian, just loves to show you around her native city and in her case Boston, MA, which I love and have visited, via her live roaming scopes. Karen has heard of the U.K. but not Brexit but she hopes we can find a way to all be one nation again. Not as ignorant as that may sound.

So it looks like from my asking of just five random fellow Periscopers, the overwhelming majority are in favour of the status quo that Britain should remain in the EU.

As I write, storm clouds are gathering overhead and I’ve just seen the first lightning flash. They warned us that the storms would arrive this evening coming in from the Continent to the south and how fittingly they reflect my inner thoughts. Uncertainty, turmoil and unknowing as to how or if I will do my duty and the simplest of things in placing my ‘X’ as my answer to just one of two straight questions: do we stay or do we go?

The captain vanishes: who sunk the Estonia?

imageDo you remember the sinking of the cruise ferry Estonia in September 1994 or have heard of it? This disaster in the midnight hours of a stormy Autumn morning in ice cold waters grabbed global headlines. We in the UK and other countries remember it for being a very sudden dark-of-night disaster with echoes of Titanic yet ultimately we were told it was down to a mix of mechanical and human error once the final investigative reports were published. For many in the Nordic countries intimately involved however, there was more to this than met the eye, especially when 12 known crew member survivors, including a senior Captain on the Bridge at the time…disappeared without a trace in the aftermath and still no-one knows what happened to them to this day.

I remember this disaster being reported. I even had nightmares about it afterwards but I never knew the conspiracy theories that emerged afterwards among the grieving and angry people of Scandinavia in the immediate aftermath that continue to this day.

The Estonia was the pride of the civilian merchant fleet of the newly independent former Russian-ruled state of the same name. Estonians have always been westward-leaning toward Europe and more particularly toward Scandinavia of which they consider themselves to be first cousins if not quite blood brothers. The Estonia played a key role in re-establishing trade and cultural links with Finland and Sweden in particular following release from the Russian harness after the Soviet collapse.

imageOn 28 September 1994, Estonia was en-route linking the Estonian capital Tallinn with its Swedish counterpart, Stockholm. 803 passengers boarded the ship, mostly Swedish nationals, attended to by a primarily Estonian crew of 186. Estonia was a RO-RO (roll-on, roll-off) ferry with opening bow and aft to enable road vehicles quick and easy boarding and departure. The ship left Tallinn at 19.00 and was leaning slightly to port due to poor cargo distribution, or so it was reported. It was an overnight crossing and the ship was not due into Stockholm until around 09.30 the next day. By the time disaster struck at around 01.00, most of the passengers who had paid for sleeper cabins had retired for the night. A loud bang was heard, later understood to be the bow visor opening and being ripped off leaving the ship open to the icy Baltic Sea, which duly flooded in causing the Estonia to list severely. By 01.30, the ship had rolled over by 90 degrees causing the cars and lorries on the vehicle deck to tumble to the port side and thereby sealing the fate of the vessel. By 01.50 the Estonia had sunk without a trace in under an hour with the loss of 852 of the 989 souls on board. Such was the speed and severity of the disaster that only the fittest and luckiest managed to make it out, often by having to climb like gymnasts through the inverting ship. Most of the women, children and elderly on board perished.

imageOfficially, the disaster was attributed to the failure of the bow door against treacherous sea conditions and that the ship was built for coastal waters and so should not have been operating in open sea. The crew were also blamed for running the vessel too fast in deadly conditions. Estonia’s sister ship, also a RO-RO, suffered a similar incident with her bow door, though in much calmer sea conditions. Sweden had suffered the most out of the disaster with 501 fatalities while Estonia, also grieving 285 losses, faced wounded national pride at the sinking of its flagship and symbol of newly found independence from Russia. In all, 17 countries lost citizens to the Baltic Sea that night. It was in Germany, however, that the conspiracy theories first started to emerge soon after the disaster that quickly took root right across the Nordic and Baltic states. Germany became involved in the post-disaster investigation as the country which had built the Estonia and it was a German magazine, the New Statesman, which was the first to publish an article claiming that laboratory tests undertaken in Germany indicated evidence of a deliberate explosion on board. The article also implicated the Swedish, British and Russian governments in a conspiracy to cover up the ‘truth’ that there was an intelligence operation active that night to smuggle Russian military hardware out via Estonia to Sweden and then the UK on board. No statements were ever made by the three incriminated governments to confirm or deny the rumours and the German Federal Institute for Materials Research and Testing refuted the New Statesman’s claim entirely.

imageAs with all conspiracy theories, once they take root they tend to stay and grow. In 2004, ten years after the disaster, a former Swedish customs officer went on Swedish national TV to claim that he knew the Estonia had been used to transport military equipment. Amid public outrage in both Sweden and Estonia, the Swedish government was eventually forced to confirm that the Estonia had indeed been used on two occasions that same month, September 1994, to transport non-explosive military hardware but not on the night of the tragedy. This only served to harden the resolve of the conspiracy theorists and deepened doubt among the general population where speculation as to whether dangerous material was on board which may have caused the disaster was rife. In Estonia, however, a far more sinister theory began to capture public imagination: was the sinking of the Estonia a deliberate act by Russia’s KGB to thwart an Anglo-Swedish intelligence operation and exact retribution on Estonia for its treachury in leaving the Soviet Union?

Prior to the revelations of clandestine shipments of military equipment on the Estonia, the Swedish government had already enraged its population and those of other affected nations by blocking all attempts to mount a salvage operation or to recover the entombed bodies of the dead. They spurned all international offers for assistance in this and instead hired a Dutch company to encase the wreck in concrete as they had declared it a national cemetery.

imageIf there was anyone who could cast light on the truth of the conspiracy theories of that night it would be anyone who was on the ship’s Bridge and one such man is reported to have survived: Captain Avo Piht. Captain Piht was not in command of the ship on the night she sank but was travelling to Sweden as a guest crew member to sit an exam that would enable him to steer the Estonia into Stockholm harbour on future voyages without taking on board a local harbour pilot. He was a senior captain of the Estline Marine Company and was licenced to take command of the Estonia. He would have had access to the Bridge as guest of the Captain and would have been the second most senior seaman on the Estonia that night: Captain-in-Charge, Arvo Andresson, went down with his ship.

The 138 survivors were transported to hospitals in Sweden and Finland. Captain Piht was cared for in Finland’s 2nd city, Turku. Several survivors attested to having seen the captain as did Bengt-Erik Stenmark, security chief of the Swedish Maritime Administration who, it was reported by Reuters, told them that Captain Piht had been interviewed by the international investigation committee. The German TV channel ZDF also broadcast a video clip purporting to show Captain Piht and other Estonian crew members arriving in Turku. According to the New Statesman, German Intelligence officers confiscated the video shortly after broadcast. Waiting for news of her husband back in Tallinn, Mrs Piht was told that her husband had survived, was in Finland and would be home with her soon. He never arrived and she has never seen him again to this day but The Independent reported in the immediate aftermath that Mrs Piht also recognised her husband in televised video clips of survivors arriving in Turku. Captain Piht, the Chief Engineer and 10 other surviving crew members were reported never to have been seen or heard from again.

So that’s the story and the theories. As I searched around the web for any credible news brand with an authoritative take on this I couldn’t find any. If you Google around this topic you will be soon drawn to a plethora citizen blogs that claim and speculate and create a ‘what if’ cloud you can’t possibly see through. I buy the faulty bow visor on the Estonia as a major cause of the disaster. Do I buy the Anglo-Swedish military intel op? Well, while Sweden is not yet a NATO member, it has always co-operated with the Western alliance and Estonia was an aspiring member and former Soviet puppet. Their intel on Russian military technology still on Estonian soil will have been of immense interest to western defence chiefs and our own SIS (formerly MI6).

The disappearances of the 12 Estonian surviving crew and Captain Avo Piht…if true…is most intriguing of all. Do such things happen? Apparently so. Go Google ‘extraordinary rendition’ Sweden is known to have used this measure when dealing with suspect terrorists. Would they use it on a new, pro-Western ally such as Estonia? If so…what did they have to hide? Authorities have poo-pooed the video footage that claimed to show Captain Piht alive and well in Finland as mistaken identity and that he drowned that night in September. Could his wife have mistaken footage of her own husband?

Whatever the truth, the Estonia conspiracy theories will continue to rumble on along with those of 9/11, MH370, Diana and JFK. We may never know for sure what truly happened that fateful night.

Dawsons Field: Part 1

EL ALThe Pilot suddenly plunged the airliner into a steep nosedive throwing the two hijackers off their feet. Back in the passenger cabin, Flight Attendants grappled with the female on the floor. Also thrown, the male in desperation hurled his hand grenade down the aisle. By some miracle it failed to explode. As he pulled his gun and shot and wounded a Cabin Steward, he was hit over the head with a whisky bottle by a passenger. The last thing he heard was the bullet from the gun of the Sky Marshall that brought the heist to and end. With all passengers shaken but safe, the airliner made an emergency landing at London Heathrow and the hijack was over.

No, not snippet from a thriller novel or my first attempt at a short story but what really happened on EL AL Israel Airlines flight 219 from Tel Aviv to New York via Amsterdam with 148 on board in September 1970. If you have forgotten or are too young to know, 9/11 was not the world’s first spectacular multiple hijacking. Why September seems to be the optimum month for such events I do not know and how much a part the events of 1970 had to play on the timing and style of 9/11 can only be guessed at. As events unfolded, they threw the world at the time into chaos causing acrimony between the UK and the USA, leading an Arab state to implore Israel to strike other Arab states on its behalf, almost bringing the entire Middle East to war, superpowers to loggerheads and shaping the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it stands today.

imageEL AL 219 was one of three international flights originally targeted for hijack along with TWA 741 from Frankfurt to New York with 155 on and Swissair 100 also with 155 on heading from Zürich to New York. What is it about New York and hijacks? The Israeli plane was seized shortly after leaving Amsterdam and due the swift actions of the Flight and Cabin crews the male hijacker was killed in the air and the female, a Leila Khaled, was overcome and handed to the UK authorities where she was interned. What no-one knew, and again in a chilling similarity with 9/11, was that not all the hijackers had made it on board. Two were left at the gate in Amsterdam. Not to be thwarted, these two bought tickets to board Pan American 93 heading from Amsterdam to New York with 162 on board. Seems like hijacking planes was as easy as stealing cars in those days.

Dawsons field

Dawsons Field

With the EL AL jet safe on the ground in London, the TWA and Swissair flights headed to a little known former Royal Air Force Base in Jordan known then as Dawsons Field (Zarka today). The Pan American flight, a Boeing 747 and the largest of the 3 airliners captured, needed a longer runway to land on than Dawsons Field offered. The flight touched down in Beirut to pick up additional hijackers and explosives, and then headed for Cairo. All in a 1970’s hijackerman’s normal working day really.

The last and unexpected piece of the puzzle was the taking of British flight BOAC 775 heading to London from Bahrain with 114 on board. 775 joined the party with the Swiss and American flights at Dawsons Field while Pan Am 93 sat on its lonesome in Cairo.

And so the eyes of the world focused on the remote and little known former RAF base in the deserts of Jordan known as Dawsons Field from where ripples would spiral bringing superpowers and global allies to logger heads and the armies of the Middle East mobilising for war.

(to be continued…)

London 2012 cauldron

Caliban’s Dream

One of the most talked about and admired parts of the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympics was the whole sequence leading up to the lighting of the giant Cauldron in the center of the Stadium.   Billions of viewers watched British record Olympian, Sir Steve Redgrave, bring what we thought was the lastTorch into the arena that would ignite the great cauldron.   But the ceremony had one final gasp-inducing twist no-one was expecting…the handing of the flame to a group of 7 unknown young athletes and potential future Olympians.

In the background, while the young 7 athletes  were running with the flame on a lap of the stadium toward its final destination, viewers heard a beautiful and haunting anthem sung by the electronic group ‘Underworld‘ accompanied by a choir of London’s children.    So haunting was the whole scene that it sparked thousands of global internet searches as people tried to find out where they could buy the song or read its lyrics.

Sir Steve Redgrave hands the last Torch to the athletes of the future

The complete musical score for the Opening Ceremony has now been released on CD and for download.   I bought it today just to hear this one track and I have played it over and over many times since.   The song is called ‘Caliban’s Dream’, written by Rick Smith from Underworld.  As the ‘Isles of Wonder’ pageant drew to its climax with this scene and its haunting melody, many may not have known that it was actually a throw back to the opening scenes nearly 3 hours previous.   British actor, Sir Kenneth Branagh, had taken to the ‘stage’ to read these lines from William Shakespeare’s great work ‘The Tempest’:

Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again. (Act 3, scene 2)

The words are attributed to the unsavoury and villainous character of ‘Caliban’ and speak of his dreams of glory and riches that remain ever out of reach and yet his fitful dreams persist to torment him.

The lyrics of the song we all heard as the young runners ran and the children’s choir sang take take the form of a prayer, though not in the Christian sense. They speak of hope and aspiration of rising to good from darkness, something that remains elusive to the mal-intent of the hapless Caliban:
And the rain toss about us;
In the garden of the world
But a flame arrives to guide us;
Past the gold between the anvils of the stars
Watching over all the children in the rain;
 And the streets where I remember
Where the fire that lights a candle soars again;
 A flaring flame
Hear it call;
Through the darkness, hear it call to us all
And start again; It’s beating heart comes again
And the light drive out our fears;
And the joy drive out our pain
And the nations come to greet us;
 waving open arms of waves of golden corn
Ever hear us; Oh the spirit of the world; May your light be ever near us
Always lead us from the dark
Though we may fall; We will fly
And with love; Hear the call
If you missed the Opening, here’s a link to the final sequences in the Olympic Stadium.  The flame follows the raising of the Olympic flag or if the video has been taken down by the time you read this, then Google around ‘London, 2012, Opening, cauldron’ and you should, find some reference.
The complete soundtrack of the music from the ceremony is available on an album called ‘Isles of Wonder’ and is available on Spotify, iTunes and Amazon (£10).


Rgent Street, London

London on the eve. There’s something in the air tonight…

As I write, the BBC News Channel is buzzing with live coverage of the Olympic Torch Relay as it has at last entered central London heading down Regent Street beneath the flags of all nations on its way to Buckingham Palace.  I was right there barely 2 hours ago as they were delivering the barricades under clear blue skies and scorching heat. The flame that was lit months ago in Olympia, southern Greece is at last nearing its final destination.

I was at a meeting with clients on Oxford Street and had I waited just an hour after my meeting I would have been part of the quite amazing scenes currently playing out on the TV.  It would have been my second encounter with the Torch in as many days. 

Yesterday, I took a day off work…to watch a man carry a glorified golden candle through my home town of Harrow on the north-western edge of this great city.   Had I waited until the flame got to Regent Street to attempt to see it, I guess I would not have seen much being a mere 5ft 5inches tall.  Yesterday on my home soil, I got within striking distance of the flame with an unfettered view.  As I came away from the short experience my first reaction…and that of many people around me I could hear…was that I was involved now. I’m part of the greatest show on Earth.    I have lived in Harrow nearly all my life. I cannot remember ever seeing so many fellow inhabitants flock to the route of the Torch as it passed through from all races, creeds and colours – seriously I have not.  I was completely dumbfounded by how many people turned out on a Wednesday morning to take those photos that have all now winged their way to who knows how many destinations via email and social media.  I was so proud at the same time.  I’m not a fan of where I live precisely because the UK’s foolish embrace of multiculturalism is, for me, directly responsible for the breakdown of a cohesive society. Yet, yesterday I was very moved to see so many turn out from all across the borough to celebrate a common cause and wave our national flag.

I guess we in London have watched the Torch Relay at a bemused distance since it arrived in our south-westerly most county of Cornwall from Greece and started its mammoth journey nearly 70 days ago. During that time, 8,000 Torch Bearers will have carried the flame to within an hour’s reach of 95% of the people of these isles. It’s estimated at this point of writing that over 12 million have turned out to see it.  This from a haughty island people struggling through an ailing economy with in-built British reserve.

I was in the Northern Irish capital Belfast a couple of months back just a couple of days before the Torch Relay was to arrive there.  Belfast City hall was decked in giant Olympic rings and there was a giant TV in its grounds following live the progress of the relay.  There was no sense then that the locals were remotely bothered by an event focussed on London across the Irish Sea many miles away. Yet when the people of Wales handed the Torch over to this island of Ireland thousands turned out to greet the relay in both Belfast and the Irish capital Dublin days after I was there. I watched the arrival of the Torch in Belfast on the news in bemusement at why people who lived so far from where the action will be would bother to turn out in such great numbers to see the flame.

This has been a recurring theme in all the reports I have seen of the relay all the way  through. The people of Cornwall first set the pace. Small towns and communities at the periphery of the UK turned out in force to greet the relay, something that was to be repeated in towns, villages and cities across the length and breadth of Great Britain ever after. Now the embrace of the Cornish people has magnified like ripples on water to the crescendo that is playing out on my TV screen with unprecedented scenes in London right now.  The last time I saw our streets filled like this was for the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales…only now for a much happier reason.

There is something in the air in London tonight. Something I can’t explain. It’s all the more baffling that London of all cities should feel this way. You see as far as we are concerned half the world already lives here. 300+ languages are spoken in London and just this month we were told that Europe’s largest city has now topped 8.1 million inhabitants. I travel the Tube (Subway) each day and listen to the recorded messages warning us locals that a million more people are expected to use our already crowded transport system every day.   If anyone is going to be nonplussed by the Olympics and the global eye on our city it will we who live in it.   Yet here we are with the flame heading into the heart of the metropolis and these unprecedented scenes on our streets no doubt attracting many tourists but also vastly more locals.

When I walked down Oxford Street to catch the Tube home before the melee currently being beamed around the world, I heard so many languages, saw people wearing t-shirts representing dozens of nations I realised that the world is here in greater numbers now and from tomorrow night it will be focussing its gaze on our nation and its capital city. 

I must admit that I have been in dread of what concoction we would spill out at the Opening Ceremony the greatest televised show on the planet by sheer audience numbers.  If you remember back to the stunning show Beijing put on in 2008, we always knew we had a mountain to climb whatever we did.  My fears are greatly relieved now that I have heard from 4 friends who have witnessed one of the two dress rehearsals of the gig who have all reported more than positively on what they saw yet are still sworn to secrecy and can’t say or share their photos. I came home tonight having experienced a very palpable buzz taking place in our city this evening.  In this most cosmopolitan of cities and a seat of global influence….even here there is a growing sense among the people who live here that something big and special is taking place we’ve not really allowed ourselves to engage with until now, at least the majority of us.

As I’m writing, the flame has just arrived at Buckingham Palace. Wills, Kate and Harry are out there to greet.  I was thinking about how to wrap up this post and I remembered a comment a friend posted on my Facebook wall recently perplexed at why so many people in our once sane country were flocking to see a flame on a piece of metal.   I thought about this but really I already knew the answer because I have heard it expressed from so many people all through the Torch Relay.  When just ordinary folk from across the country have been interviewed and asked ‘why did you’…volunteer…nominate…turn up to see the Torch the most common answer I’ve heard has been “I just wanted to be a part of history”.  That’s the reason I’m engaged too.  I’m a History Graduate. The history I studied was all from records and museums and dried up dead stuff.  But if I learnt anything from that experience it was to try to recognise history while it is present and before it becomes the past. You cannot become a part of something when it is past, only when it is present. London is the first city to host the Games 3 times and that amid fierce competition in the modern age where there are mega cities that dwarf our own 8.1 million. I can’t see another city matching this. London beat New York, Moscow, Madrid and arch-rival Paris to win these Games. No mean feat.

I am excited about the Opening of the Games tomorrow night, I freely admit.  I haven’t been until only just these last few days and thanks to our sour, depressive, navel-gazing and sensationalist media I might never have been.  I work in media, but I’m glad and a little proud to say that I don’t think we have joined the ‘dissing’ herd.

I think we all know that once the Olympic euphoria has melted away, we are all going to wake up with a big hang-over. The anticipation of the Opening is at present injecting an anaesthetic into our media coverage of global events. Syria is now in all-out civil war. The Eurozone crisis takes steeper spirals into chaos, our own economy is plunging, wars in South Sudan, sectarian violence threatening to rip Nigeria apart, strengthening Chinese global ambitions….on and on.

My prayer (first) and hope (second) is for peace and safety over our city, our guests and all who live in it. May these Games pass by leaving us some inspiration and not despair. In the great scheme of things are the Games important? No, not at all.  Do they mean something? By the reactions of the people of the UK so far…evidently yes.   Whatever we feel about them, they are here and we have no power to change that. 

In the olden days during the WW2 and after, Brits used to pep each other up to get on with things with the line ‘best foot forward’. I’ve never been quite sure what that meant but I get the gist.

Best foot forward, guys….