Personal and undiluted views
Hampstead Heath

1435 days ago

One of life's little treats, a spectator sport for we on the right: Trans vs radfem

Generally, as I hear the latest pronouncements on transgender issues or radical feminism, I just turn away in despair at how far and fast our society is sinking. What? Do I hear you all saying #Metoo? 

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3014 days ago

Pond Life: noticing the equinox – a bullish macro view

My old colleague and fellow t1ps emigre, Robert Sutherland Smith writes from the Hampstead Ponds...

The arrival of the autumn equinox probably went unnoticed by the majority of the fully clad population, enclosed as it is, in heated office home, car and train. But not amongst the minority of open water swimmers who are in true tactile touch with the outside world of the weather with myself at the Hampstead Ponds every morning.


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3044 days ago

Robert Sutherland Smith's September Pond Life

From our man on Hampstead Heath...Swimming in the now cooling waters of the pond - as summer recedes and energy bills rise - somehow prolongs those salad days of life; the water being as crisp as a lettuce and the swimmer growing as cool as a cucumber. These days when the wind scuds across the surface water, raising small droplets that splash over your head, are a particular pleasure to inland pond swimmers; it is like swimming at sea but without the salt. 

Only a week or two ago in heat wave weather, the pond was more like the African Impop; now, it is a little closer to swimming in Dover Harbour Pond swimming, like markets, is often surprising in its sudden changes of mood - or is it my mood?  

Dear old ‘Athenean’ George Osborne, Blighty’s Chancellor is probably - to steal the imagery of Andrew Neil - celebrating his ‘winning the economic argument’ down at Anabel’s. I am sure it was him I saw in a darkened corner? In any event,

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3106 days ago

July Pond Life on Hampstead Heath

My old pal Robert Sutherland Smith, now aged 167, is off on a summer break for a few days. Before departing he offered up his thoughts on life from Hampstead Heath. He has also served up two articles today (on G4S and Tesco) on www.shareprophets.com  Over to RSS.

Now that the great heat has come, the ponds more closely resemble the Ganges with seemingly half the population of London seeking its cool liquidity, except that the water no longer has that cool crispness which bites back in less sunny days. 

Crowds as we know are prone to madness

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3151 days ago

Pond Life (May) – The Thoughts of Robert Sutherland Smith

As I swim through the still bracing cool waters of the pond up at Hampstead Heath, a duck makes passage across my bows, or to be lucidly un-metaphorical, my nose! There is something comforting about ducks; reliable creatures bobbing along in an unreliable world, asking only the companionship of other ducks and some weed to eat. 

In my mind I hum the tune of that old Roy Rogers (the elegantly attired, spotlessly laundered, white hated singing Hollywood cowboy of my childhood) song about his horse, the reliable and faithful  “Trigger”, “… that four footed friend …he’ll never let you down …….etc” and add my own words:  “That web footed friend, that web footed friend…….etc. It is a wonderful therapy doing something physical and boring enough to make your mind a vacuum into which such abominating thoughts pass through unbidden. Then, come thoughts of the market. As I make my turn by a weed covered buoy – I spot another approaching duck as my thoughts meander across the exceptional May market… Have we all been misguided? 

For most of the month it has disobeyed the old market dictum about selling and going away until St. Leger’s Day. I wonder who St. Leger was and vow to look him up on Google! 

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3183 days ago

April Pond Life by Robert Sutherland Smith

At 8 degrees - the swimming temperature is chalked on a board each day – these intoxicating waters, sparkling and dancing in the early morning sun of an early May morning have the coolness and body of champagne; perhaps a Dom Perignon 55 in deference to Ian Fleming, who once lived nearby and who may have had a swim or two here in his days living on the edge of Hampstead Heath. All Etonians are taught to swim after all. The idea of 007 swimming in champagne seems perfectly normal. The water clinches you in a thrillingly cool embrace that would have pleased Her Majesty’s secret agent, as it does me. Did not 007 seduce some gorgeous foreign agent by a river whilst sipping the classic vintage? I trust the lady was stirred but not shaken. 

Pond swimming prompts the imagination. I consider the policies of our Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne - wondering if he could in fact be a vampire

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3216 days ago

Pond life March 2013

The thoughts of my old friend the one and only and truly great Robert Sutherland Smith…

I stand on the jetty gazing onto the cold grey waters of the ponds on Hampstead Heath, a stiff breeze blowing against, around and seemingly through me, directly from somewhere deep in the Russian Arctic region  - surely more than a marketing exercise by Gaszprom  in promotion of the gas they sell us for warmth, at economically indefensible prices? My darting, uncomforted gaze fails to be met by that of any bobbing coot or duck. They have wisely gone elsewhere; or simply not bothered to turn up. 

The place is empty and silent. I stand there a swimming trunk clad standard bearer for the a dead nineteenth century English public school tradition of privation, physical self denial and cold showers - not that I attended any such establishment myself - knowing that the late Dr. Arnold of Rugby School, no doubt now sitting on the right hand of the Creator Himself, would be proud of me! Flashman, I conjecture, now reincarnated as a minister of the Crown, will probably be turning over in a warm bed somewhere, sleeping off too much champagne from the night before and in his case, no doubt, after a sound flogging by some dominatrix in a steel lined corset. 

It is strange what thoughts visit your imagination, when swimming here? March they say, comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb. Not this March I venture! If it makes any concession at all, it will to be to go out as a polar bear. It is April that is described as the cruelest month. But (I hear Dr. Arnold sigh as I wilfully commit the impropriety of starting a written sentence with a co-ordinating conjunction) in 2013 AD April can scarcely prove crueller than this raw and bitter March. 

As I prepare to push off for a rapid dash through fowl abandoned waters, I luridly think that this forlorn scene reminds me of the Chancellor’s March ‘Autumn’ budget. If he wishes to put himself in contention as the worst Chancellor of the Exchequer of the past century, he has made a powerful case for himself.

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3247 days ago

Pond Life with Robert Sutherland Smith (February Edition)

My old ( very old) friend from t1ps.com Robert Sutherland Smith continues his monthly column dreamt up while taking an early morning swim on Hampstead Heath… Pond Life.

There is nothing better at about 7am on a raw February morning, when flurries of snow in the air are driven hither and thither by a hectoring easterly wind coming across the North Sea from somewhere south of the Ural Mountains, than to make your way to the ponds for a winter dip. Thankfully, it is not that cold this morning; only three degrees above freezing. Almost sub tropical compared with some days. You enter the enclosed compound to find that a few other sturdy fellows are already undressing; hanging their winter cloths on cold metal hooks. They stand there in the poor light of an early winter dawn, white as flour; more like spirits from another plane or dimension than living, breathing beings from north London before the working day.

What is this urge to plunge into forbidding steel grey waters on such a day – or indeed almost any day in an English winter?

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3281 days ago

Guest post Greggs: a sausage role and food for thought, says Robert Sutherland Smith

My old pal, from my 12 years at t1ps.com, Robert Sutherland Smith is a cheery old fellow (he is 157) with a dry sense of humour. A noted enthusiast for early morning swimming on Hampstead Heath I imagine that he has a few spare hours on his hands right now. Surely he cannot be swimming at present? We will all find out shortly as he starts his new monthly “Pond Life” column here on www.TomWinnifrith.com

So bored as he is he sent me a few of his thoughts on Greggs (LSE:GRG). We both like food and I am a major bear of this stock

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3285 days ago

Guest Post: Robert Sutherland Smith on Tesco

Robert Sutherland Smith started his City career the year before I was born. He is, I think, 157 years old. He and I have worked together for almost eight years. at t1ps. He is my friend and he is a very funny and intelligent chap. He is now branching out to celebrate his 158th by doing some freelance writing over at TradingResearchPoint on FTSE 350 Income stocks. He is a great one for focussing on yield. He is also going to do a monthly column for me on this blog on the subject that really interests him, life on Hampstead Heath. I am sure we all look forward to “Pond Life” – I wonder if he will be swimming this weekend? RSS today looks at Tesco. Neigh… Yes he does.

Tesco (TSCO) remains Britain’s favoured food retailer. But, at least in stockmarket terms, it has for some time been suffering the outrageous fortune epitomised by the Bard himself in his phrase about troubles when they come, coming not as single spies but in battalions. Just as we were adjusting ourselves to the company overcoming the problems of Christmas past (I refer to the trouncing they took at the hands of Sainsbury and Morrison’s in the trading period Christmas 2011) Tesco is hit by a horse burger scandal. I love the brutal market joke about what do you put on your Tesco burger? Answer; £5 each way!

Very clearly, given the importance attached to own brand retailing, the discovery that Tesco’s ‘everyday value’ beef burger was 29% horse and some pig – not Lord Emsworth’s ‘Empress’ I hope – is not without market significance

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3287 days ago

Guest Post: Robert Sutherland Smith on HSBC

Robert Sutherland Smith started his City career the year before I was born. He is, I think, 157 years old. He and I have worked together for almost eight years. at t1ps. He is my friend and he is a very funny and intelligent chap. He is now branching out to celebrate his 158th by doing some freelance writing over at TradingResearchPoint on FTSE 350 Income stocks. He is a great one for focussing on yield. He is also going to do a monthly column for me on this blog on the subject that really interests him, life on Hampstead Heath. I am sure we all look forward to “Pond Life.” RSS today looks at HSBC.

see reports that US Mega bank JP Morgan has this week been taken to task by regulators for its lax internal controls. For those of us who remember when banks used to be in institutions that lent money and were considered safe and dull this serves as yet another reminder that those banks with a real advantage in the new regulatory world are those with a culture for what used to be called ‘probity’; the principal stock in trade of London’s ‘joint stock’ clearing banks for much of the last century.

Barclays, under its new management, in a neo-Darwinian instinct for adaptation to the new conditions

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3292 days ago

Guest Post: Robert Sutherland Smith on GlaxoSmithKline

Robert Sutherland Smith started his City career the year before I was born. He is, I think, 157 years old. He and I have worked together for almost eight years. at t1ps. He is my friend and he is a very funny and intelligent chap. He is now branching out to celebrate his 158th by doing some freelance writing over at TradingResearchPoint on FTSE 350 Income stocks. He is a great one for focussing on yield. He is also going to do a monthly column for me on this blog on the subject that really interests him, life on Hampstead Heath. I am sure we all look forward to “Pond Life.” RSS today looks at GlaxoSmithKline and starts with a touch of comedy. He is a funny chap RSS.

Medical matters are on my mind as I have the Norovirus. But it takes more than that to stop me writing about companies but naturally my mind turns to drugs. Well I was a young man in the sixties – the 1960s not the 1860s before you ask. Talking of ancient history, the market long ago abandoned the assumption that GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) would automatically build a pathway for shareholders to a starlight future of endless profits and earnings growth, by simply spending 15% of its sales revenue on R&D, and turning that into an approved blockbuster therapy every few years. In truth, costs rose and progress became more difficult – the return on R&D capital was not acceptable.

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3295 days ago

Guest Post: Robert Sutherland Smith on BP

Robert Sutherland Smith started his City career the year before I was born. He is, I think, 157 years old. He and I have worked together for almost eight years. at t1ps He is my friend and he is a very funny and intelligent chap. He is now branching out to celebrate his 158th by doing some freelance writing over at TradingResearchPoint on FTSE 350 Income stocks. He is a great one for focussing on yield. He is also going to do a monthly column for me on this blog on the subject that really interests him, life on Hampstead Heath. I am sure we all look forward to “Pond Life.” RSS today looks at BP. I cannot say that I disagree with his analysis.

One should always have some oil exposure in your portfolio. Those of us old enough ( and I certainly qualify on that count) can remember at least three oil shocks when events in the Middle East have sent the crude price soaring. While the rest of one’s portfolio tends to take a bit of a hit on such occasions, your oil stocks prosper. You need that hedge. And, although no expert on regional geo-politics, it strikes me that the Middle East is, as a region, rather more “combustible” today than it has been for many a year. Sooner or later it will go up in flames, the oil price will spike and shares in large scale oil producers will be re-rated rapidly and brutally. Until then the issue is what oil stock to hold and that brings me to BP (BP.). Is the yield on offer sufficient to both offset business risks and also give me a reasonable return until the oil price spikes as it will inevitably do at some stage?

However, I start not in the Orient but in the United States.

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