Regular readers will recall that we lost our family cat after 16 happy years in July but Puddlecote Inc has also been through a torrid time with a serious cash flow crisis which threatened to knock us over in the early part of the year. In February we were on the edge of the precipice unless we could raise around £50k in 21 days and the same again by August. We managed to scramble £45k of it to stave off the immediate threat and re-financed the rest more leisurely for the summer. It's a tough ask when banks are fearful of lending since the bail-outs though, believe me! OK, we ended the year in rude health with only natural wastage savings on staff costs, but it's been emotional and drained our profits for the year to shore things up.
That, of course, meant that we were counting on minimal staff sickness but suffered a sustained bout of long-term absences from the summer months right up to the Christmas break. No, 2014 was a bit of a bitch so good riddance.
On the plus side, it has meant my being back on the road regularly myself which has been an eye-opener in many ways, and future staffing looks easier now there are drivers aplenty on the market after a certain courier company went bust (no names, no pack drill).
As for public health in 2014, Snowdon has posted a helpful rundown of their increasing hysterics, which came to a crescendo with a sustained assault on personal choice over the festive period. It's not hard to work out why. 'Public health' fears and despises Christmas more than the Dickensian Scrooge because it's a time when they are painted quite rightly as killjoys. They are terrified that we'll enjoy ourselves so much that we might "honour Christmas in [our hearts], and try to keep it all the year" which would render them irrelevant and politically toxic.
We can but hope this will eventually happen and there are the occasional encouraging signs. We are seeing more articles in the popular press recognising the incessant miserable nature of 'public health' doomsayers and the public seem to be working out that even anti-smoking nags are just getting tiresome now - see the highest rated comments at this BBC piece for an example. They might like to pretend responses to a 'public' consultation are not representative of a general mood, but it's hard to argue the same of commenters under a a BBC web news story.
Meanwhile, as I have long predicted, e-cigs are continuing to gnaw away at the credibility of the one-trick pony, pharma-enthralled, debate-silencing prohibitionists in the tobacco control industry and I can only see the dinosaur denialists in their ranks appearing even more absurd in 2015.
And to top it all off, even the pub industry has decided to finally stand up to the temperance bullies with a new campaign. After a couple of years of state-funded sock-puppets - and mega rich businesses posing as charities - encouraging people to abandon pub core products for 1/12th of the year, the industry's prime press has thrown its weight behind #TryJanuary.
Try January, the campaign that calls on pubs and bars to reclaim January and challenge people to try new drinks and dishes and make the month more inspiring and experimental, has gathered further momentum with more operators, including Punch Taverns, adopting the intiative to boost trade.
The positive push for the trade will coincide with Alcohol Concern's Dry January abstinence campaign and is pioneered by cocktail bar group Be At One's plan to encourage guests to try new cocktails in its bars using a feature on their smartphone app called 'Be Appventurous'
|That's the spirit!|
What with a formerly-cowed giant like the pub industry showing signs of stirring and reports that a large majority of the public are sick to the back teeth of the nanny state, this could be an interesting twelve months to come.
Happy New Year to all of us on the side of the angels, let's make a resolution to redouble our grass roots efforts and put as many spokes in the bandwagon wheels of moral panickers and lifestyle engineers as possible in 2015.