MacPhail: celebrating an enduring partnership

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Partnerships in life and in business are fraught with pitfalls and problems and over time many succumb to the inevitable results of individual human differences.

There are some, however, that endure. I am lucky that so far my near 20-year partnership with Andrew Stevenson has survived many of the usual ups and downs and personality clashes that end most such joint endeavours.

As most businesses do at points, we have also had some difficult times when, with the wrong partner, keeping our heads above water would not have been possible.

The roof being blown off the Ceilidh House in December 2011 and long-running subsequent issues borne from that were the cause of a number of these instances when, by taking the wrong action or by following the wrong advice, we would not have survived as a business.

As was the subject of last week’s article, that business will soon no longer be part of what we do and it feels like an appropriate time to nod my appreciation to Andrew as, without his tenacity and determination through the very complex battles we found ourselves in a few years ago, the all-round positive outcome achieved by the sale of that business – for our staff, our landlords, our customers, the new company taking over and for ourselves – would never have been reached.

The following is a short poem I wrote for Andrew a number of years ago when we were at a very low point and taking blows from many different angles. On top of the direct battles, there were many less than straight tactics that were attempted against us. In the words of the Canadian songwriter Stan Rogers: ‘Smiling b******s lying to you everywhere you go.’

However, with Andrew’s absolute refusal to give in on any front, we managed not to succumb to the considerable forces against us, we kept our heads down, soldiered on, and I am grateful to him that we came out the other side.

A Fighter

Any fool or bragging clown can glow when all is well,

But watch and pay attention and cracks will often tell.

When things become not quite so good, and start to fall apart

Then you’ll know who you can trust and has the fighting heart.

By nature, blowhard, boastful types are heroes to themselves.

Their bank is full, they’ve shiny cars and trophies on their shelves;

But be wary of the boasting fish, who in lofty waters swim

Often they are only there because the tide came in.

Watch a man react and move when clouds are all he sees,

When taking blows and losing ground and falling to his knees.

Most go down and kiss the ground without the grit to try.

They pull the plug and give a shrug and crawl away to die.

Give me the man upon my side who’ll fight when falling back,

Who cannot win but won’t give in and blindly shows attack.

One of him when things are grim is worth a thousand men

And that’s the man who’ll live to stand and prosper once again.

Once you’ve been down in the mud with someone by your side

You know they’ll never panic with a sudden turn of tide.

A fortress with foundations built on hard and rocky ground

Will stand when cities built on sand collapse with trumpet sound.

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