Charlotte Street Partners



When autumn leaves start to fall

Written by David Gaffney, partner
24 October 2020

Wanting to go, 
all the leaves want to go 
though they have achieved 
their kingly robes.

Weary of colours, 
they think of black earth, 
they think of 
white snow.

Stealthily, delicately 
as a safebreaker 
they unlock themselves 
from branches. 

And from their royal towers
they sift silently down 
to become part of 
the proletariat of mud. 

 ‘Autumn’ by Norman MacCaig

Autumn always feels like a particularly reflective season. The calendar year is starting to draw to a close, leaves change and fall as described so eloquently by Norman MacCaig above, and many of us take advantage of half-term holidays to spend some much needed time away from work; walking, thinking, reading, baking perhaps (see below), and preparing ourselves for the winter to come. 

Regardless of what the weather brings, this winter will be harder than most for all of us, and significantly harder for some people than others. We hope this week’s selection complements your own autumnal meditations and that those of you enjoying a break this month have found time and space to focus on yourself and those closest to you.  

Have a great weekend.  

  1. What I wish I’d known at the start of the pandemic

“From very early on, the best decision we made… was to focus on the health and wellbeing of our employees. It’s the same notion of putting your oxygen mask on first on a plane, before helping others.”

I was struck by the wisdom – and the smart simile – in this quote from Cal Henderson which features in a short collection of reflections by business leaders on the lessons they learned during the early days of the Covid pandemic.

Read in: Financial Times 

2. Fall through the lens

Attempting to do justice to the colours, scents and sounds of autumn through words on a page is a losing game, especially so when juxtaposed with the poetry of Norman MacCaig, with whom – to my mind at least – very few writers can compete. So, instead, I’ll stop typing and let this stunning collection of autumnal photos speak for themselves. 

Seen in: The Atlantic 

3. Does your dog bite?

Dog-owners, did you know that rather than paying someone to exercise your beloved pooch when you are otherwise occupied, you can now charge people for the privilege of ‘borrowing’ said canine for an hour or so? As tail-waggingly bonkers as that idea seemed to me when I read about it this week, on further reflection I confess that I can see the appeal. Most tantalisingly of all, it raises the prospect of this scene from The Pink Panther Strikes Again being recreated in parks up and down the country.

Read in: The Times 

4. What are forests for?

For Estonians, the forest represents an active presence, a sacred site that people do not create but rather “get out of the way of.” A paper published in June, though, found that the country had one of the highest rates of forest loss in the continent, begging the crucial question: who will make way – harvesters or local communities?

Read in: National Geographic  

5. Go bananas for baking

During the first pandemic lockdowns in the spring, social media was flooded with pictures of homemade banana bread and sourdough loaves as people turned to baking in lieu of socialising. With many places now reimposing a second wave of restrictions as COVID-19 case numbers rise once more, a psychologist reveals why we’re probably not done with the home baking just yet.

Read in: The Conversation 

And finally: lessons in resilience

A couple of weeks ago, I was privileged to chair the latest in a series of virtual Charlotte Street Partners events, a Zoom conversation with former Royal Marine, Richard Sharp, who is chief executive of the disaster response charity RE:ACT. Richard spoke very powerfully about his experiences on the front-line – both literally and metaphorically – of responses to the most challenging circumstances. In this blog, he shares some of his reflections on resilience and the crucial role it plays in helping us navigate this volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world.

Read on: RE:ACT 

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