Strategically strategising a strategy on The Apprentice

Strategy…strategy, strategy, strategy…strategy, strategy….

Strategic thinking, that was so painfully missing from last night’s edition of The Apprentice.

Azhar clearly had a cunning plan after last week’s pep talk from his little lordship – stop being The Quiet One and start living up to his self-imposed title of The Master Puppeteer…or is it The Killer Whale? Whichever, he knew he had to act positively.

Alas, he may understand the meaning of the word strategy, but he doesn’t seem to grasp what being positive actually means.

Azhar left before we really discovered whether he is a Master Puppeteer, a Killer Whale, or just ever so slightly deluded.

Having spent so long annoying his team-mates with his meandering and meaningless waffle about location, location, location (which they clearly got wrong anyway), he then tried manfully to bleat on about strategy, strategy, strategy. But by that point, everyone was sick of hearing him talk.

He probably did have valid, strategic points worth making. But having inflicted a series of mind-numbing lectures on the rest of the team, everything he said was translated into: “Blah, blah, blah…” by the project manager Jade and most of the team.

Jade was lucky to escape the firing finger of Lord Sugar after singularly failing to display any leadership qualities…or, indeed, strategy. She was also lucky that Tom, him with the cold unblinking stare, didn’t go after her too forcefully when she stupidly brought him into the boardroom.

Instead, it was Azhar who got fired. Quite rightly too. Unless he was a victim of judicious editing, the over-riding impression he gave off was a negative one. He too often fell into the sneering “I’m better than the rest of you put together” trap, without actually delivering anything worthwhile himself.

While Jade managed to drag her team down with her, we had a truly shocking performance from the other team led by Nick Nice but a Bit Dim.

Shocking in that, for the second week running, the winning team actually listened to his little lordship, kept to his brief, devised a clear strategy, bought good stock, sold well and…blimey…only went and won the task!

We are truly living in strange times when a team on The Apprentice does everything right and wins.

I won’t go as far as suggesting it is a sign of the end of days, but if we get three consecutive displays of this sort of behaviour then the unthinkable will happen – I might have to start taking some of these people seriously.

Luckily, there will always be Adam, Ricky and Stephen to bring a sense of normality to The Apprentice.

Some of The Apprentice puppets have come to life in the last couple of weeks. They’re not quite ready to cut the strings yet though.

Adam Syndrome wasn’t quite as evident last night, but it was still bubbling away under the surface – Adam himself sold well, but still looks woefully out of his depth. Meanwhile Ricky and Stephen developed a hilarious (sic) and profitable (sic) double act, convincing themselves they were ace salesman but generally setting themselves up as figures of ridicule.

And when it was suggested they might take a quick sales lesson from Jenna on getting rid of the self-tan stock, the gormless duo quickly reverted to type and scoffed at the suggestion. Although it has to be said, Jenna didn’t actually need any help in selling the self-tan.

Of course, it could all come crashing down in true Apprentice style next week.

But let’s enjoy the rare spectacle of an Apprentice team performing well for the next few days at least.

School assembly time on The Apprentice

“Goooooood mooooornnning Lord Sugaaaarrr.”

It is sounding more like a primary school assembly or when the head teacher enters your classroom on The Apprentice with each passing episode.

The Apprentice candidates stare amazed at the funny little man...while the bloke in the cartoon costume talks to them.

Last night’s escapades kicked off with the remaining candidates playing games in the living room of their London swank-pad. A knock on the door and Azhar – probably because he’s quite tall and looks one of the oldest – was dispatched to see which grown-up was spoiling their fun.

Of course it was the head teacher himself, Lord Sugar. Not that Azhar announced his arrival when he meekly walked back into the living room.

He did that self-conscious gesture in his little lordship’s vague direction, so familiar of kids suddenly thrust into acting the grown-up. “Now Azhar, say hello and shake Lord Sugar’s hand….go on…go on!”

The rest of the kindergarten merely froze on the spot and smiled vacantly until Lord Sugar suggested they assemble around the table. Once the formalities were out of the way - “Goooooood mooooornnning Lord Sugaaaarrr” – he outlined this week’s task.

To be honest, I’ve not got much to say about the teams’ efforts to create trendy gourmet street food for the unsuspecting residents and tourists of Edinburgh. It was yet another triumph of luck over judgement – although Jenna’s Scot Pot was a worthy winner as, amazingly, a project manager stuck firmly to the brief and didn’t get penalised in any way.

Jenna’s was a “high risk” strategy, according to his lordship. No it wasn’t, it was exactly the brief you gave the teams.

Adam Syndrome came up with the risky strategy – attempting to provide gourmet food with cheap as chips ingredients…and then trying to sell it at inflated prices to football fans.

There were so many wrong things about Adam’s leadership and his team’s efforts that, frankly, I don’t know where to begin. So I won’t even try.

Goodbye Katie.

He can count himself lucky, however, that he chose to take the self-styled blonde assassin Katie into the boardroom with him. She was almost sent packing in episode one, so making her third appearance in front of Lord Sugar saved Adam’s bacon (not the good quality cut of bacon, obviously, rather the cheap fatty bits).

Apparently, Katie can count herself unlucky as she at least tried to come up with ideas and make her presence felt during tasks – unfortunately, all her ideas were crap and her main contribution seemed to be flicking her long blonde hair about and smiling smugly.

The boardroom bickering is akin to playground chit-chat too. Name calling, threats to “tell on” each other for wrong-doings, wild and unsubstantiated boasts – it is enough to make the average primary school kid to declare: “Oh, just grow up will you!” whenever the Apprentice candidates start to kick off.

Generally, Sir didn’t seem impressed with this latest task. And he’s marked the card of a few naughty boys – Adam and Azhar in particular.

But, you boy…yes you, Stephen…wipe that supercilious smile off your face because you’ve got absolutely nothing to be proud of young man.

Feeling the burn with The Apprentice

He’s Ricky Martin. He is The Fitness.

He is also a very lucky young man as his second in command in last night’s challenge on The Apprentice, Duane, effectively sealed his own fate with his: “Ooooh, oooh, pick me! Pick me!” performance when in the firing line in the boardroom.

Quite why Duane – a favourite to win in many eyes but a bit of an arrogant know-it-all in mine – was so keen to admit he was responsible for the failure of his team is anyone’s guess.

Duane "Pick me! Pick me! Pick me!" Bryan

I’d suggest it might have something to do with Adam Syndrome – lay claim to everything, whether it is good or bad. Duane clearly felt he knew best and even when it was made abundantly clear that the video he directed and edited was rubbish and cost his team victory, he was happy to smile, hold up his hand and, without a hint of shame or modesty, say: “I did that! It was me! Me! Me! Me!”

It made Lord Sugar’s choice quite simple. And gave Ricky a lifeline, for although he pitched well and secured two orders out of three he didn’t keep sufficient control of his team throughout the task.

Whilst Duane was doing his impression of a particularly eager lemming, throwing himself into the void with a whole load of gusto, the likes of Gabrielle and Nick went missing and could easily have been fired instead. Nick’s only contribution was an admirable, if a little pitiful, attempt at a bit of UN-style peacekeeping as Duane and Laura went for each other’s throats.

But, as lucky as Ricky “They call me The Fitness” Martin was, even luckier was Stephen. The fitness industry expert led the other team to an unlikely and undeserved victory.

Despite being a national sales manager for a fitness company, Stephen failed miserably when it came to some of the basics of his business plan. It was a reasonable concept and a superbly cheesy video accompanied the hapless pitches, but Stephen’s team won more by default than thanks to his shrewd leadership or a clear strategy.

Stephen suffers from Adam Syndrome, there appears to be no cure.

He actually owes his win to the foresight of one of the companies he pitched to, who could actually see the potential in the concept that had clearly eluded Stephen. And luckily for him they also seemed to overlook his wild promises regarding the cost of equipment needed for the 80′s-themed fitness routine.

Not that the project manager would let such piffling little things like that get in the way of his moment of triumph.

As he made clear, they won because of his industry insight and his perceptive leadership.

Yes, OK Stephen, you keep thinking that and we’ll add you to the growing list of those suffering with Adam Syndrome.

There appears to be no known cure for this particularly irritating affliction, as Adam himself once more proved in this challenge.

He was as loud, deluded, opinionated and as wrong as ever. And his desire to make everyone notice him saw him make an utter tit of himself ain the boardroom once again by trying to claim responsibility for something…anything.

It can’t be too long before either Nick or Karren says: “Shhhhh now, Adam, there’s a good lad. The grown-ups are talking.”

Adam Syndrome can afflict any Apprentice candidate at any time. We’ve seen it many times before and we’ll see it plenty more times before this current series draws to a close.

What is clear is that even after several weeks of settling in and weeding out the lightweights, no clear favourite is emerging…sorry, Adam, put your hand down. You can’t claim to the winner of The Apprentice yet.

Adam impresses some of The Apprentice girls with his fitness moves...oh, no, your mistake Adam, that isn't actually you.

Covent Garden of the Midlands

I have no idea what Covent Garden of the Midlands actually means?

But it is, apparently, one of the ideas put forward in Lichfield’s bid for £2m in funding and to become one of the 24 Portas Pilot towns. I can hazard a guess about what the thinking behind the Covent Garden reference refers to, but I’d rather not.

I am delighted that the city has put forward a seemingly strong bid for the funding.

Not Lichfield

And yet I can’t help but get a little worried when comparisons are made with other cities and towns. Surely Lichfield deserves to be recognised in its own right, rather than “The New…” or, indeed “The Poor Man’s…”.

The whole idea of the Portas Review, the pilot towns and the funding pot is to enable our towns and cities to regain their identity and wrestle back what sets them apart from the plethora of identikit and cloned High Streets that now infest the UK.

So creating a Covent Garden in miniature does not make a whole load of sense.

But creating a city centre that builds on the rich heritage of Lichfield, the development and regeneration opportunities, the wide catchment area, the good transport links and the numerous other plus points, would strengthen the case for a share of the funding and secure a brighter future.

The Covent Garden of the Midlands is a typical piece of spin that we see on a depressingly frequent basis these days, but it might not do us too many favours when measuring the bid against the criteria. Surely Lichfield would benefit from a far more pragmatic approach, one based firmly in reality?

Lichfield has enough character and potential to assert its own identity, with a push in the right direction from Portas. It doesn’t need the spin.

Shooting fish in a barrel on The Apprentice

I thought it was completely unfair of The Daily Telegraph to produce a picture-led special this week on the 12 biggest idiots to appear on The Apprentice.

My initial thought was, why stop at 12?

But then I mellowed a little and wondered why the newspaper had chosen to single out this dirty dozen. Admittedly, they’ve picked out some corkers and choosing Stuart “The Brand” Baggs certainly endeared me to the article.

Fish

Yet I can’t help thinking writing such an article is akin to shooting fish in a barrel. Even the winners have their shameful moments so when you look to pick the most idiotic candidates aren’t you really pointing a finger at them all?

Barrel

Point to the full list of candidates and you’ll always pick a prize pillock out, someone who has uttered a completely nonsensical sentence or made a totally crass decision.

Gun

Even the great and the good of the series – Lord Sugar and his helpers – have suffered their own bouts of stupidity over the course of the series.

Which brings us neatly to the latest candidates for the ultimate idiot crown.

And we have a few early contenders. This week’s Herculean task was to amass a lot of second-hand stuff and sell it on at a profit.

The two teams set up in junk shops located in London’s trendy East End (sic) and we were reliably informed the area is “home to a thriving market in retro and refurbished household goods”. Always a sure sign that we’re about to witness abject failure.

From sourcing productsat auctions, through to the desperate attempts to sell on to members of the public who clearly were amused and bemused by the shoal of idiots flitting around them – “Come on, £1! For a chair! Buy it!” – The Apprentice wannabes lived up to the idiocy benchmark set by countless candidates who went before them.

Adam is loud, very loud...alas that seems to be his only contribution so far.

Chief idiot amongst the latest crowd is possibly the very loud Adam, a market trader who loves the sound of his own voice and is not afraid to express an opinion – no matter how wide of the mark it is.

What really irritated last night (and in a couple of previous episodes) was his continuous sniping that the project manager had got the strategy all wrong. Basically, no-one has got a clue what they are doing and he’s the one who inevitably steps in to save the day…in his own mind, obviously, as we’ve seen precious little evidence of what his strengths actually are so far.

Last night he was shaking his head at every decision project manager Tom made and was quick to voice his opinion that the team was doomed to failure because the strategy was all wrong. And yet, Adam was the first with the celebratory high fives once it became clear the doomed strategy had netted a £1,000 profit and a comfortable victory.

Credit where it is due, Tom led his team well last night. But he did seemed doubtful of his own ideas at times and once more a project manager was grateful that the opposing team was slightly more crap.

Adam’s constant sniping during a task, followed by misplaced triumphalism, is nothing new on The Apprentice. But he has managed to take it to a new, obnoxious level by his sheer gobbyness – all mouth and trousers, some might say.

This week we waved goodbye to company director Jane, who scared the living daylights out of those walking along Brick Lane – which is no mean feat – and only managed to sell £10 worth of goods. Lord Sugar seemingly can forgive many things, but poor sales technique and returns are major failings.

Not that Jane seemed that bothered and she made it clear she would return to the hugely successful business she has built up with her husband with her head held high.

So another business owner departs to return to being the big fish in their own little pond – is there a trend developing here?

One final note – how odd does Gabrielle look when walking with the rest of the group across that bridge in the opening titles? With her head up, a purposeful-stride and arms behind her back she looks pretty daft.

Not that such things matter on a show where business acumen is all important, obviously.

Boys will be boys on The Apprentice

It was the lads’ turn to shine on The Apprentice last night and they didn’t disappoint.

Now, when I say “shine” I’m obviously referring to the fact it was their turn to grab the lion’s share of the spotlight and prove that this week they were slightly more crap than the opposing team.

Apprentice Men...in just about every respect

We had it all from Team Phoenix last night – the patronising simpleton (Adam), the weasel (Tom), the clueless loudmouth (Ricky), the freaky looking sales machine (Stephen) and the invisible man (Michael). Throw in the crap hair (Nick), the walking talking cliché (Azhar) and the lucky winner (Duane, who triumphed by leading the ladies team to a win) and the boys eclipsed their female opponents in just about every way.

Of course, the women were bound to win this particular task as it was all about creating food and kitchen-type stuff – at least, that’s probably what Adam was thinking. As it was he was actually quite worried that Katie would be leading his team of men, on the grounds that it was a highly complex task and…no, on the grounds that he’s a sexist idiot.

From the patronising hand on his team leader’s shoulder to his wildly misguided boasts in the boardroom, the only reasonable response to Adam’s performance in this task was: “Eh, is he having a laugh?”

Adam doesn’t deserve to be singled out, however, as Ricky was equally boorish, clueless and deserving of being booted off the programme.

But, as ever, Lord Sugar picked on the quiet one instead. Despite singling out Ricky as the major cause of his team’s failure to produce enough product, his little lordship decided Michael had failed to stand up and shout enough meaningless drivel to be taken seriously as a businessman – as is so often the case on The Apprentice. Although it should be pointed out that Michael was responsible for the classic “I’m better than unique” line in the run-up to this series.

So Ricky escaped, as did Adam and Katie, and Michael probably got off lightly and can go back to running his own successful business without having to deal with the rest of the numpties any longer.

Some conjermants

But neither team really excelled in last night’s task to create a new type of conjermant.

To be honest what they produced looked more like condiments to me, but Lord Sugar kept mentioning conjermants and as he’s the boss we’ll just agree with him.

The boys went for a foul looking sauce destined for the mass market until Ricky cocked up production so it became a niche product instead. The girls went for an odd-sounding chutney that was, by general consensus of those who tasted both, slightly less appalling than the boys’ sauce.

And despite a terrible name (inFusion), failing to get a sample sorted in time for the hapless team dispatched to sell to the trade on day one, a fair amount of pointless bickering and thanks to a large helping of luck over judgement, the ladies won and proved that for this week at least they weren’t as crap as the boys.

One thing that is starting to annoy me about The Apprentice is the length of time now devoted to the shouty and irritating boardroom battles.

Like so many other programmes, The Apprentice now favours carefully engineered conflict and it is starting to get too familiar and boring.

Surely the real comedy gold still lies in watching these candidates play at being proper businessmen and women and failing miserably in each and every task?

I’d rather watch a few more minutes of footage explaining just why the winning team is slightly less crap than the other lot rather than the same old shouting contests we now get served up in the boardroom.

A drop in the ocean to save ye olde city

I am old enough to remember when £100,000 seemed like a lot of money.

These days it is just about enough to pay the weekly wages of a Premiership footballer.

But is it enough to kick-start a retail revival in places like Lichfield?

The £100,000 coming Lichfield’s way is the result of the Government’s response to the Portas Review of our ailing High Streets. Lichfield was one of the shopping destinations chosen to receive a share of the investment fund with the focus on bringing empty shops back to life.

Lichfield undoubtedly needs help. The city centre is overdue some TLC and redevelopment, although the jury remains out as far as some are concerned that the planned Friarsgate scheme will address the issues that Lichfield is facing.

Depending on which publication you read, the wider £10m investment fund and plans put forward by the Government are either a bold step forward in rejuvenating our High Street or a wasted opportunity.

It does remain to be seen whether these plans and the investment have the desired effect, or represent a drop in the ocean in the fight to reverse years of under-investment and stagnation on our High Streets.

The main recommendations of the Portas Review would all benefit Lichfield and other towns and cities across the UK.

Improved management of High Streets with new “town teams”, affordable central car parking, a “Town centre first” approach in planning, disincentives for landlords who leave shops empty and greater inclusion of the main retail provision in neighbourhood planning are all common sense solutions. Lichfield needs to prove it is open for business, for local residents, for those working in the city and those visiting.

In that respect, Friarsgate represents just one element of Lichfield’s revival – albeit one with a multi-million pound price tag.

Compared to the investment in Friarsgate, £1000,000 represents loose change.

And yet it could well have a much more profound and long-lasting impact on Lichfield.

I see dumb people

Whatever happened to common sense?

When did it go out of fashion?

I’m sure it existed at some point over the last 40-odd years, with the odd hic-cup along the way.

But in more recent years, it seems common sense has simply disappeared from our collective approach and attitude to life. It is dumbing down on a national scale and I’d dearly love to pin the blame solely on reality TV, talent shows and Jamie Oliver, but these are simply component parts of a much bigger problem.

We have come to accept crass stupidity and blind ignorance from our political leaders. But I never thought we’d follow their lead quite so willingly.

The panic buying caused by a non-existent strike by tanker delivery drivers, exacerbated by ridiculous advice (sic) from senior government ministers and the Prime Minister himself, truly does beggar belief.

Some claim the panic buying is simply human nature at play. Is it?

I tend to think it has nothing to do with human nature and everything to do with the creeping malaise of ignorance, mixed with a large dose of arrogance, that make people think they know what is best without trying to discover the full facts for themselves. In the information age, they rely on word of mouth and that bloke out walking his dog they passed in the street earlier rather than taking the time to find out the true story.

Word of mouth is so dangerous because, all things considered, people is stupid.

When they do choose to listen, they follow the advice given by the likes of Francis Maude, a politician who consistently proves himself to be woefully out of touch with reality and lacking in common sense.

All this is played out against the backdrop of pasty-gate – the silly season does seem to be gripping us earlier and earlier with every passing year.

The sight of senior political leaders trying to prove they love pasties and sausage rolls more than their opponents says everything we need to know about the state of British politics at the moment.

And also, possibly, about the state of large sections of the British media. Rather than highlight such nonsense, the media is far too quick to indulge it.

Panic buying, petrol, pasties…we’re turning into a nation of pillocks.

Bigmouth strikes again on The Apprentice

I decided to wait until week two of The Apprentice before wading into the latest gaggle of hapless wannabes.

It seemed only fair as previous series has shown the opening episode does not always provide a fair and accurate picture of the series ahead.

You get those who simply try to hard to make a good first impression and come over as bombastic and clueless, while others perfect the rabbit in the headlights look from the opening sequence. You can see it in their eyes, the “what the hell am I doing here with these people” look is very familiar.

So I decided to give them a week to settle in and settle down…who am I kidding? No, I didn’t decide to wait.

The Apprentice mob don’t deserve any gentle coaxing or a week’s grace.

I was working away for the opening episode, so I didn’t actually get to watch it until a few days after it aired and it didn’t seem a good idea to write about it after such a delay.

Not that it matters. Many of the themes I could have identified in episode one were once more on show this week. The curse of the big mouth will always strike on The Apprentice, whatever episode is being aired someone will make a ridiculous claim or not realise the time to shut up had long since been and gone.

The curse of the big mouth afflicted Bilyana in episode one

In episode one the big mouths were out in force and not just the ladies’ project manager Gabrielle and her luscious, Jolie-esque lips. She survived despite her woeful leadership and her team’s shamefully poor performance – and despite the way she turned from smiling, gracious lady to bile-spitting harpee in the boardroom.

The ladies generally were an over-excited gaggle, typified by the not-so-unusual-for-The-Apprentice berating they gave one bemused shopkeeper (what was unusual was the fact that they were quickly collared by the shop’s owner who left them under no illusion that their behaviour was unacceptable – shame that Lord Sugar and his two helpers are not so quick to stamp out such brattish behaviour).

The biggest mouth in the first episode was also the first to be fired – Bilyana digging herself into a deep, dark hole as she refused to shut up in the boardroom when surely the self-styled blonde assassin Katie was a shoe-in for the big heave-ho.

So were lessons learned by episode two….ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha…I know, I know, I couldn’t resist it. Of course they weren’t, this is The Apprentice after all.

Inevitably, we were served up more of the same in week two.

Both teams adopted the he/she who shouts loudest wins the argument tactic we’ve seen so many times before. In the case of The Apprentice, the argument usually boils down “No, I’m slightly less clueless than you are! So there!”

Maria - equally loud, equally ineffective and equally fired.

And the challenges, as ever, boil down to which team is slightly less crap than the other. In both episodes so far, the boys have proved slightly less crap than the girls.

So the girls are down by two members – although it could so easily have been more if Lord Sugar had grown a pair and got rid of all three who made it into the boardroom.

It was Maria who got fired this week. The youngest candidate ever, if she wasn’t talking loudly and aggressively then she was falling asleep on the job – although, to be fair, if I had been stuck in a car listening to the endless, pointless wittering of Jane and Jenna, I would have nodded off too…or thrown myself out of the vehicle.

Maria was doomed from the start. She simply would never conform to the bland, corporate drone image that successful Apprentice candidates inevitably represent.

Lord Sugar would never get cosy with someone so gobby, especially someone so young and so gobby. That’s not a criticism of Maria, more a dig at the self-made millionaire’s penchant for always playing it ultra-safe.

So it wasn’t Maria’s inexperience that counted against her, it wasn’t her unwillingness to settle for second best as her team-mates were so willing to do, it wasn’t even napping in the car that did for her.

It was her big mouth.

The secret to winning The Apprentice is clearly knowing when to keep your big mouth shout. Or, being made to keep your mouth shut.

Surely that makes the perfect candidate none other than…

Zippy - the perfect candidate for The Apprentice

Come to Lichfield-Not-By-Sea, the water’s lovely.

The tide never goes out in Lichfield.

That is one of the benefits of living in a landlocked seaside resort.

The others are highlighted in a feature in The Economist looking at retirement patterns.

It appears that Lichfield and a few other in-land cathedral towns and cities are taking over the mantle of God’s waiting rooms from the traditional seaside resorts that have for so long proved a magnet for people of a certain age.

As Lichfield – aka Lichvegas, Ye Olde City, or “Where?” if you’re a not-so-smooth talking PR person – grows older, so the demands on the city change. An ageing population needs to be accommodated…and not just in purpose-built retirement villages.

The only thing missing from Lichfield's waterfront is a beach...but, then again, sand does get everywhere.

Everything needs to be looked at, from healthcare to education (the University of the Third Age is very active in Lichfield), from transport to green spaces and parks, from the retail and leisure provision to the nightlife. A balance needs to be struck between the needs and the demands of the increasingly ageing and seemingly economically important population and those of us under-60s still swanning around like we own the place without any care or consideration for others.

In all seriousness, it is a challenge that Lichfield District Council faces and I don’t envy them it.

And it is a challenge that is evident in the waiting game being played out regarding the city centre’s redevelopment. I hesitate to call it the Friarsgate “discussion”, as there seems to be precious little local debate beyond the by-the-numbers consultation exercise that all similar schemes undergo and Lichfield Live’s attempts to get people talking about the development.

The danger is that Lichfield becomes a clone city centre by default because that is what best suits the different demands of the different population groups. The easily accessible (for those living in or close to the city centre) Friarsgate, with its safe selection of shops and places to eat, could well represent the perfect development for Lichfield-Not-By-Sea.

Whether that fits in with the city’s heritage, cathedral status, or the rest of us who live and work here, might not enter into the equation any longer. Lichfield is suffering from severe growing pains, not bad for a city that left its teenage years behind many, many years ago.

The Economist articles concludes: “The greatest and most subtle challenge for a place like Lichfield is the preservation of niceness.”

Friarsgate is many things. But it certainly isn’t nice.