So - who do we trust anyway?

South Wales Evening Post - 1 July 2014 

There used to be a sign in my auntie’s shop in Briton Ferry which read: “In God we Trust. Everyone else pays cash”. They may have been more trusting times, according to popular belief, but people still had a healthy respect for human nature.

Sometimes it’s hard for me to tell if we’ve grown more cynical or more naive since then.

I read an article a little while back where the author complained that all her reference points had shifted. Famous icons and celebrities who she’d trusted as a child suddenly had a dark, deceitful look about them.

Can we trust that our calls are private? 

This erosion of trust in our ‘betters’ is nothing new, of course. Over the years we’ve gradually lost faith in a number of institutions and for good reason.

Generations were once conned into believing the advice that smoking was good for the lungs and that close proximity to nuclear explosions was fine as long as you turned away at the right time. Our belief in scientists in gleaming white coats evaporated as quickly as you could say ‘vivisectionist’.

These days, when such things are readily quantified, a Welsh Satisfaction Survey registered  the police as meriting a 6.5 out of a possible 10 for trustworthiness. The overall legal system got 5.7 while the political step-up achieved a 4.3 rating.

I should emphasise that this was a survey of public life but I’m betting bankers, journalists and estate agents would have come out little better, if not worse.

Let’s be frank. The financial world is still struggling to explain how the fiddling of interest rates went unchecked for so long. Meanwhile the rest of us look on in disbelief as obscene bonuses are paid out as what seems to be a reward for screwing the nation.

It feels like you can't turn your back on anyone


These payments were roundly condemned in the Sunday newspapers who pilloried the financial sector for their appalling moral standards. As it turned out however, those same newspapers were paying private investigators to hack the phones of murder victims.

The UK government’s response to that was the Leveson Inquiry. Some of the proceedings are unfinished business but minsters insist they are determined to protect us from press intrusion. Ironically, it is the same government who recently admitted using a loophole to monitor our Facebook and Google searches because the online accounts are based outside Britain. 

The good news is that while we may have serious trust issues with the people in charge, we still have a good opinion of each other. Over three-quarters said they trusted their neighbours and an encouraging 70% felt that people in their local area treated each other with respect and consideration.

What stands out for me though is how instant fame has allowed people and trends to be quickly put on a pedestal just before someone kicks it away. Maybe it’s our expectations that need some work.

Otherwise, my sense is that we’re not all that different from my auntie’s day. But I guess you’ll have to trust me on that one. 

Castle Hotel - impressive venue

Hospitality making its mark

The networking side of my business means that I attend a number of events (keep those invitations coming in). Besides the obvious benefits, it also gives me an opportunity to get around various parts of the Evening Post circulation area. My take is that the region is well up to the mark in offering good quality venues.

The other evening I went along to hear Peter Hain speak on what he thinks needs to be done to support small businesses. The location was the Castle Hotel, which like many parts of Neath has undergone a quiet but considerable transformation.

I later spoke to proprietor Sally Ann Rowlands who returned to Wales a short while ago. She has set about focussing the hotel on hospitality and accommodation linked to activities like cycling and golf. Both pastimes are growing in popularity and the market is expanding.

The Castle is worth checking out in my opinion, and if you do happen to pay them a visit then take my advice; definitely try the quiche.

A little recognition goes a long way

We all welcome a bit of recognition. It’s always a boost and sometimes it’s the only reward an individual needs. I’ve always been keen to promote awards evenings wherever I’ve worked.

In a few months time we have the Swansea Bay Awards which recognises the valuable work of volunteers in the community. It’s an event I’ve been happy to help sponsor over the past few years.

Last week though I mingled with the city’s glitterati at the Swansea Lifestyle Awards held at Fulton House. It was a glamorous occasion resplendent with stylish chic and bouffant hair - and that was just Kev Johns.

Swansea Life Magazine and Swansea Sound/TheWave organised a full-on celebration of what is good about the region and its people. The evening also provided a marvellous showcase for some amazing musical talent.

Finally, a thank you to the award winning young ladies who kindly suggested I visit their hair salon. Apparently my barnet looked “a bit of a challenge”. It’s recognition of a kind, I suppose.

Lifestyle Awards - A showcase evening