Haggie Partners

A View from Retroland: On Teetotalitarianism

By Michael Mattinson @HaggiePartners

With uproar in the market over Lloyd’s zero tolerance, I’m reminded of Herodotus and his inquiry into the Persian approach to drinking and decision making.

“If an important decision is to be made, they discuss the question when they are drunk, and the following day the master of the house where the discussion was held submits their decision for reconsideration when they are sober. If they still approve, it is adopted; if not, it is abandoned. Conversely, any decision they make when they are sober, is reconsidered afterwards when they are drunk.”

2,500 years ago the Persians understood something that eludes the team at Lloyd’s; we make sensible decisions when we’re sober but inspired decisions when we’re a bit tipsy. It’s the balance that’s important.

Some sourpuss at Lloyd’s believes “a zero tolerance approach makes it easy for everyone to understand what is expected of them”. That a venerable institution, built on trust, should display such little trust in its own people leaves me dispirited.

If Lloyd’s wants an army of sober, obedient automatons, it’s going the right way about it. If, however, it wants to attract real people – who think for themselves, take responsibility for their own actions and, yes, make a few mistakes along the way – Lloyd’s needs to reconsider. Perhaps over a swift half.

To paraphrase Baudelaire: “‘I will drop to the depths of your breast like an organic elixir. Our intimate commingling will create poetry.’ That is what wine sings in its mysterious language. Woe betide the man whose selfish heart, closed to the sorrows of his brothers, has never heard this song!”.

For a slightly less precious take on drinking whilst thinking, we must turn to Monty Python.

Aristotle, Aristotle was a bugger for the bottle
Hobbes was fond of his dram
And Rene Descartes was a drunken fart
“I drink, therefore I am”

The views expressed in this blog do not necessarily correspond with those of Haggie Partners LLP and almost certainly not with those of Mr Haggie himself.



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