The Emperor’s New Clothes


Every now and again you have one of those moments where you look at something which has been taken for granted as being the norm and question your own sanity when you realise it doesn’t seem to make sense.

Welcome to Right to Buy (RTB). Until quite recently it felt like the Emperor’s New Clothes equivalent in the housing world. Everyone seems to think it is right as everyone else is saying the same. However an increasing number of people are now starting to think what they don’t feel they can say publicly.

RTB isn’t right and we need to start making the case for the policy to be changed or scrapped.

RTB pic

I’m not the first to have said this. David Orr recently published a blog that nailed a number of the key issues.


As in a number of other policy areas, Scotland is way ahead of England on this too. Not only have they signalled their intent to scrap the policy but they are now looking to accelerate this.

So what’s the problem with giving people the opportunity to access a heavily discounted property? Well there are five.

We-have-always-done-it-this-way         5reasons-blogimage-transformers

Firstly is the principle of just because we have always done something it must be right. RTB was developed in the early 1980s to enable people to access low cost home ownership. At this time it was a new concept as there were very few other options to enable people to own their own home.


Fast forward 30+ years and we are living in a very different world. There are numerous low cost home ownership alternatives out there, which are designed to work within the wider housing market. In fact it is hard to name all the different schemes that do exist!

The second argument is that RTB leads to mixed communities. It does, but so does the considerable amount of newbuild that housing associations have undertaken in the same period. This is underpinned by in some areas the majority of homes in an area now being owner occupied or privately rented after the original beneficiaries of the RTB discount have moved on.

When I spend time in our neighbourhoods it is all too often the owner occupied properties that are dragging down the standards of the wider neighbourhood. This reflects that in many cases people have pursued the RTB of their home without really thinking through the longer term maintenance obligations or their financial circumstances have changed, which has resulted in them no longer being able to maintain their home to a good standard.

This is further compounded by the level of investment many housing associations have made into their neighbourhoods over the last 10 years, which starkly brings into focus the difference in standards.

Thirdly there is the wholly inaccurate assumption of one for one replacement. This is just completely untrue as a recent analysis by Pete Apps has demonstrated. If these homes were being replaced on a 1:1 basis then there would be less of a problem with RTB. Although it is still right to question the level of discount and extent to which public subsidy is helping a relatively small number of people buy their own homes.

Indeed for organisations like Halton Housing Trust, for every house built we have to sell seven homes under RTB. In the last five years we have lost £2.35 million in RTB discounts on 83 homes. Here are some basic maths to understand the reality:


• £80,000 valuation – 60% discount (£48,000) = £32,000 receipt. Then deduct RTB Sharing Agreement with Council (50%) and this then leaves just £16,000.

• The average build cost (including land purchase etc.) is just short of £100,000, hence why it takes just under seven RTB sales to fund one new home.
• Even if you allow for HCA grant this still reduces the ratio to 5:1.

We have a shortage of affordable housing in this country. Even the range of current measures can’t plug the gap between demand and the right properties in the right place. So why are we compounding the problem with RTB, which merely serves to reduce the number of affordable homes? The Government’s own figures highlight that the number of RTBs have doubled in the last 12 months. This is probably linked to the further discounts applied since 2012.

The fourth issue is to look at who is buying homes under RTB. You might reasonably assume that this is the current occupier. Well this is increasingly no longer the case.

Our recent analysis of sales at Halton over the last five years has shown that of 83 homes sold, 18 were made to occupants who were in receipt of Housing Benefit at the time of completion. In other words the property is being purchased by someone else (usually a family member) on their behalf who is then either renting it back to them or have bought as part of an agreement that they will benefit from a future sale when the current occupant moves out for whatever reason.


So the main beneficiary from RTB in 1 in 5 sales isn’t actually the person who is living at the property paying rent. This surely is an abuse of the basis upon which affordable housing has been built using public money in the form of grant to enable the rents to be charged at around 60% of market levels.

Furthermore these homes were built with the purpose and Business Plan financial assumptions of being low cost rented homes and not as a low cost home ownership product. Consequently RTB sales have an adverse impact upon Business Plans and by default our ability to use our assets to build more affordable homes.

It begs the question of who is social housing there for and how is it to be funded to remain ‘affordable’?  And how does RTB sit with the wider VFM and ‘sweating assets’ debate?


Then there is the fifth reason. Looking to the future, it is quite feasible that we are sleepwalking into a much bigger problem. Fast forward to 2017 and imagine a world where Universal Credit has now been fully rolled out.

In this post Welfare Reform landscape people will have a ‘guaranteed’ income of between £1,300 and £2,000 (depending upon their household size) every four weeks. For mortgage providers, offering a relatively low mortgage to a household with a guaranteed income from the state borrowed against equity in the home of up to 75% could be very attractive.

Like many others, here at Halton we have also been working with Experian to use our customers rent accounts to increase their credit rating score, but this could also be used to help them secure a mortgage against a heavily discounted home.


For the individual this could also be an attractive alternative to renting and a potential way to reduce their monthly outgoings. This is a real potential ticking time bomb.

So what’s the answer? Well the problem is not so much the RTB Policy itself but the levels of discount being offered. The alternative could be to offer Right to Acquire discounts across all tenures. Or why not widen previous ‘staircasing’ schemes that enable people to buy the home they are living in but for a sensible price, that enables a replacement home to be built in its place.


The impact of RTB needs to be properly examined and debated. The Trust like many others, supports measures that help people into home ownership.  But this shouldn’t be done at the expense of housing associations businesses or affordable housing supply.  There are better ways of achieving this.

This is not about taking something away. But it is about ensuring we have a supply of affordable, high quality homes for future generations. The time has come for us to be brave and start telling the Emperor to put some clothes back on.


So following the successful @24housing #powerplayers list, it’s great to see Paul Taylor respond again to this with his own listing

Hats off to @24housing for supporting and agreeing to publish the results in their June edition too.

I’ve deliberately held off submitting my nominations as I wanted to ensure I reflected those who impact and so have been keeping a list as and when this has happened over the last week or so. Thanks too for those people who have very generously nominated me. But rest assured this hasn’t influenced my nominees!

I have also been mindful of the comments by @ThomBartley in his recent top blog on the submissions received so far!

So here goes, with a brief explanation of why I have chosen each person. Apologies if you’re not on here. It’s not that I don’t value your contributions. However I have interpreted the term #powerplayers to be those people that regularly make me sit up and listen.

Paul Taylor @PaulBromford not because his hosting this list but because his tweets and blogs make me think. So much so his tweets are amongst a very select few that have a text alert attached to them so I don’t miss any gems!

Adrian Capon @AdeCapon The architect of #housingday who thinks cross sector for ideas and solutions. Someone who does indeed join up the proverbial dots.

Thom Bartley @ThomBartley Well what can I say about Thom!? He is the Marmite of the housing world but is exactly what #ukhousing needs right now. A real agitator/ disruptor, but in a positive way.

Lisa Pickard @lyha_LisaP and Andy Williams @AndyWilliamsLHT for their work on the thought changing @RealLifeReform study. If you read these reports and aren’t moved then you aren’t human.

Asif Choudry @AsifChoudry This guy offers a master class on how to understand a new market/ sector and engage in a way like very few others – putting the relationship first and then if business opportunities flow from this great. But equally fine if not.

William Shortall @MerseyNorthBM I’m on a crusade about the lack of visibility of Board Members (with the exception of my own Chair @ingrid.fife_hht of course)! How many Chairs of housing associations can you name? William offers insightful thoughts and perspective on a number of debates

Jules Birch @jules_birch, Colin Wiles @colinwiles and David Orr @natfedDavid The first two as they are the top #ukhousing bloggers on a whole range of subjects. The latter not because he is the CE of the NHF but because his blogs make you think and reflect. His Twitter descriptor refers to this as ‘asker of awkward questions’

Michelle Reid @MichReid2014 and Michala Rudman @MichalaRudman for their fantastic response to some of the negative portrayal of social housing through their #CouncilHomes Chat Campaign. Michala also takes the biscuit for some of the funniest Conference tweets!

John Popham @johnpopham the man who knows how to tell a story and has made me and others completely rethink how we get our message heard.

Helen Reynolds @HelReynolds One of the real mindset changers and certainly has completely changed my views on a whole series of subjects. She is also one of the personable people I know and shows how to put a human face to an organisation

Matt Leach @matt_leach He is one of those people whose blogs, tweets and in person chats just make your head hurt with the ideas he stimulates. A real force for positive change.

Anne McCrossan @Annemcx as the architect of the Connected Housing a Index she had brought a fresh dimension and challenge to how #ukhousing connects and the learning that could be applied from other sectors

Brett Sadler @brettsadler77 whose digital service thoughts and ideas, coupled with his insightful blogs, stimulate thought and debate both inside and outside Wales.

Caroline King @CKingAtHelena the undisputed queen of the flipchart and Sharpie pen who shows how you mix business and the lighter side of life with tweets covering an eclectic range of subjects!

Chris Bolton @whatsthepont A cross section of tweets and blogs that are interesting, light hearted and offer a different perspective on a whole range of issues.

@comms2point0 Their relaxed and friendly style coupled with a whole host of interesting content make their daily morning ‘coffee break updates’ a must read

Boris Worral @BorisOrbitGroup He is leading the housing digital charge and thinking with some bold and ambitious plans to shift the Orbit service offer to a new model

Shirley Ayres @shirleyayres Simply put Shirley always tells it as it is and occasionally provides that dig in the ribs we all need to enable us to think more laterally. Her health and social care perspective helps to highlight the gaps #ukhousing could useful fill in its attempts to join up with health

Grant Leboff @grantleboff He is responsible for me first waking up to the potential opportunities offered by social media. Every time I hear him speak it is like someone switches on a light bulb in my head! Looking forward to receiving further enlightenment from him next week.

So that’s it! Really sorry if you’re not on my list but I’d again say these are the people whose contributions make me sit up and listen.

Looking forward to seeing the final results in June!

Another Year Over………


So as Christmas fast approaches and another year draws to a close it’s always worthwhile using the lyrics from one of those Christmas songs you hear everywhere you go to stop for a few moments to reflect on the world around us.

For Halton Housing Trust it has been one of our best years since we were launched in December 2005.  Many of the highlights I covered in my earlier blog to coincide with our 8th birthday earlier this month.

I am continually surprised and impressed by how my colleagues are responding to the rapidly changing environment in which we operate. Our Board have also faced up to these challenges by embedding the principles outlined in Our Direction.

Our longer term plans are now underpinned through the delivery of our new £130m funding facility. This will see further investment in addition to the £115m already invested to date as well as an additional 800 much needed homes being added to our portfolio.

At a national level the economic signs are now looking more positive.  However there remain several areas where close attention still needs to be paid due to the fragility of the economic recovery. There are concerns that a housing bubble is forming in some areas of the country. This could be compounded as interest rates are predicted to increase in the New Year.

Everything in the housing garden isn’t rosy.  This has been brought into sharp focus in recent weeks through the publication of three reports.  All of these highlight the growing gap between the haves and the have nots in the UK.


First came the JRF New Policy Institute Report  that shattered the illusion that poverty was only linked to those receiving welfare benefits. The report highlights that more than half of the 13 million people living in poverty in the UK in 2011/12 were in a working family.


Then hot on the heels came the Second Report from the Real Life Reform Study.  I remember tweeting when the first Study was launched that if you aren’t moved by reading this report then call an ambulance as you have no heart. The second report makes for even more hard hitting reading. It is like being slapped in the face with a brick as the comments from real people trying to make the best of their lives in increasingly difficult circumstances really does hit home.  How many of us could live on a food budget of just £2.10 per day?


Shortly afterwards the NHF published its Home Truths Report. This highlights how the headline messages on the health of the UK economy are masking a much more complex set of underlying issues. Each day an extra 310 working people are having to resort to applying for housing benefit.  Rising rents in growth areas such as London are pushing more and more working people over the edge, forcing one working person every five minutes to turn to the Government for housing benefit to keep the roof over their heads.


Then earlier this month there was the W&P Select Committee hearing. Looking to the future PlaceShapers alongside other witnesses from the housing world made four key points:

  1. The under-occupation deduction should be based upon a ‘common sense’ bedroom standard, which allows households an additional bedroom above the standard adopted by the Government for the purposes of calculating housing benefit.
  2. All households entitled to disability benefits should be exempt from the impact of the under-occupation deduction, bringing it into line with the operation of the overall benefit cap.
  3. There needs to be a major rethink about the way direct payments of housing costs to claimants works under Universal Credit (UC).
  4. Any realistic approach to developing a workable Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA) mechanism for vulnerable tenants under Universal Credit, should be founded on the principle of two way data sharing between DWP and landlords


If that isn’t enough evidence then also reflect on the concept of food banks. Five years ago if you had said to me I would be supporting organisations without whom people living in the UK in the 21st century would go hungry I would have laughed at you. But that is the stark reality for a rapidly increasing minority in the UK this Christmas. Food bank usage in the Liverpool City Region has increased by 50% in just the last three months.


So what does 2014 hold in store for us? Well I’m no futurologist. However it is a fab career choice as whoever goes back to prove what you predicted 20 years ago to have been wrong?

However what is clear is that the importance of housing associations and what we do each and every day will increase still further as for many people in the communities in which we work we are now the last organisation standing. Without our help and support how many of our customers would fall through the net and their lives become even harder?


So the housing world has changed more in the last 18 months than probably at any point in the preceding 40 years. We have been given the flexibility and freedom to do much more than we have ever been able to do before and take charge of our own destiny. We have the tools and the resources. The explosion of social media and the wider digital platforms also means we now have a much louder voice. The challenge for us all is to use all these ingredients wisely and where they produce the most impact.

8 Years On……


So eight years ago today on 5th December 2005 Halton Housing Trust was formed.  Consequently I’ve taken a few moments to reflect on the journey so far.  As we approach the end of another year I’m also starting to think about what the next eight years may bring.

When asked I always describe my eight years at Halton as being in three phases.


The first of these can only be described as turnaround. The services, culture and performance were all in need of a drastic shake up. As with any turnaround type role there was sometimes a daily feeling of everything you picked up being like the proverbial can of worms.


Then came the second phase which was where we worked to deliver consistently good outcomes for our customers across all service areas.  This ran in tandem with enhancing our employee offer which ensured we were able to recruit and retain the very best people.

We have now reached the third phase which is where we are driving through innovation and playing our part in shaping what our future and service offer will look like.  This includes working with a number of organisations outside the housing world.  This is both exciting but also slightly unnerving as you move out of your traditional comfort zone to find solutions to some longstanding challenges.  This is within a landscape where we arguably have more control over what we do and how we do it than at any other previous time.


So how would I sum up the last eight years in one phrase? It’s been a real rollercoaster ride.  Like all good rollercoasters it has had some amazing and exhilarating high points. Some of the more recent ones have included achieving Investors in People Gold Standard and the Health and Wellbeing Award, being described as “a world class employer across all sectors.”

There have also been a few lower points where it was scary and full of uncertainty what would happen next! It certainly tested one of our behaviours: ‘Adapt to Change.’

The one constant is change. No longer can you stand still and assume that what we were doing just a few years ago will be right for where we are now or indeed where we are heading. That’s why we’ve previously reconfigured our customer offer in accordance with what our customers actually told us they wanted rather than what we assumed based upon some outdated assumptions.

It’s also why we are making some radical changes to our Customer Involvement Team.  This builds upon the progress we’ve made in embedding our customer focus across all aspects of how we work and our people taking ownership. It also ensures we are able to fully apply our two guiding principles set out in Our Direction  of ‘Choice’ and ‘Responsibility’.

This will continue the shift we have already started to provide differential services to our customers.  For the “can’t dos”we will offer increased levels of support.  For the “won’t dos” we are adopting a much firmer approach.


Looking ahead the Digital First changes we are piloting will ensure we’re able to take full account of customer feedback on this significant next stage shift in how we deliver our services prior to full rollout. The formation of our Digital First Team demonstrates our commitment to this ‘channel shift’ and will underpin the delivery of this Project.

It’s not just front line services that need to meet the changing needs of our business model.  At last month’s Northern Housing Consortium’s Northern Summit there was a clear message to be bold, make decisions and take more risks if you want to flourish. In response that’s why today we are announcing changes to our Finance and Performance, Business Improvement and QL Teams  that will ensure we have the right support networks in place to support our business transition.

So what may be ahead?


Whatever is ahead of us we can now face with a renewed confidence and optimism.  Last week saw the completion of our new £130 million funding (£70m bank facility and £60 private placement) from start to finish within just three months.  This now takes our Business Plan to 2020, delivering just under 1,000 new homes as well as continued investment in our existing homes and neighbourhoods.


As the generational mix of our customer and employee base really starts to change with the rise of Generation Y and Z, coupled with the impacts of welfare reform really starting to take hold, we need to adapt what we do and how we do it.  This is what some refer to as channel shift, which we refer to as Digital First.

This Programme is one of the most important strategic projects we need to deliver over the next 18 months.  This will develop our services to ensure they are accessible to all customers online.  It also aims to encourage as many customers as possible to access services this way.  This will also free up capacity and enable us to use this more effectively.

For the Trust this means we will be able to focus activity on rental income collection, providing financial advice and much more intensive tenancy support to those who really need this in response to the ongoing Welfare Reforms. This meets one of our strategic aims of protecting current income.  For our colleagues this will offer some an opportunity to develop their career into other business areas as well as ensuring they continue to enjoy their job and the difference they make.

The future will also see the shift from reactive to proactive/ preventative services as we focus our resources and services to deploy these much more intelligently. One of the keys to unlock this transition is undoubtedly the better use and interpretation of ‘big data.’  More to come on this in the New Year so watch this space!

Working with others we are looking at some ground breaking initiatives that will significantly reduce the costs our customers face to heat their homes. This could lead to an exciting application of technology that intelligently controls the way heating systems are used.  If successful this could dramatically reduce their fuel bills.

With the increasing pressures on finances and focus on value for money, we also need to focus on reducing costs and improving the effectiveness of what we do.  Our focus on replacing internal email by the end of 2014 with a more proportionate and appropriate communications channel is one of several mechanisms we have in progress to help us achieve this and has certainly tested our mantra of ‘challenge how we do things.’

 Purple Seasell Wedding Cake On site 1200

So it’s been a fantastic journey to date which has been a real privilege to be part of. If the next eight years are anything like the last eight have been then in the words of all good rollercoasters…. “hold on tight”!


To send or not to send, that is the question


Nearly 12 months on from when Halton Housing Trust first announced our intention to switch off internal email how are things shaping up?

The first thing that has become clear is that many of us are addicted to using email, regardless of whether it is the right medium.  

The response has also reinforced this. The entire concept has been met with a heavy dose of scepticism.  Interestingly some of the most vocal resistance to change has been external rather than internal, despite the evidence rather than emotion supporting the business case for change.

So what has changed? 

The big headline message is that the number of internal emails has plummeted by over 40% in just 12 months. This is a staggering 30,000 fewer emails now being sent. The time saved is huge, both in time to type as well as read all these messages.

How has this change been achieved? 

An email charter which sets out 10 basic do’s and don’ts for email use.  This was subsequently had two other rules addedImage

ImagePublication of a monthly league table of the top 10 email senders and recipients. Noone wants to be on this!  It has also led to a couple of ‘interesting discussions’ with individuals who you would not expect to be on there when considering their role.

An in depth survey with a cross section of colleagues on how and why they use email. 

A clear shift in culture and leaders ‘typing the talk’ on email usage.  This includes my use of the following out of office message, as well as having the self-discipline to follow the words with actions:

Hi and thanks for your email.

As part of our approach to working efficiently and as a non urgent form of communication I am only checking emails early morning, lunchtime and at the end of each day.

Please be assured that I will respond to your email at these times.  However there may be a delay in responding.

For any urgent matters please contact me direct either by text, Twitter or phone.  

But it’s hard to resist dipping in. Why not try it for a a few days?


So what have found out in the last year?  

  • The average employee spends 40% of their working week dealing with internal email that adds no value to the business
  • Staff spend between 2-5 hours handling emails each day 
  • Generation Y have all but ditched email, with only 11% using it out of choice.  The majority of Gen Y colleagues only ever use email when they start work because their employer requires them to 
  • Social networking is now more popular than email. 

Within the Trust our colleagues have told us:

  • 62% said emails were the least effective form of communication
  • 47% said they would look at a text and 35% would listen to a voicemail before any other form of message   
  • 57% of maintenance technicians said mobile phones are the most effective form of communication 
  • Email usage outside work is mainly for notifications and receipts rather than communication
  • Email is still the preferred option for communication within work.  However the main reasons cited for its use were for record keeping and ‘back covering’
  • Some emails are sent because they can’t get hold of people on the phone.  Others are sending emails to confirm they have sent a message via our housing IT systems whilst even more bizarrely some send an email to confirm they have left a voicemail!

What are the behavioural findings that need to be tackled?

Well these are a selection of what our research revealed


 Where are we up to?

We are now looking at a range of collaborative working and communication options. These include using the new functionality in our existing SharePoint software as well as linking this with other software such as Yammer and Slack. 

We’re also identifying the requirements and what tools are needed for going forward and reviewing these against systems we already have.  Rather than adopting a broad brush approach we are looking at all of this against the specific requirements for each individual role, tailoring the tools to what people actually need.

What’s next?

By early 2014 we will have agreed our preferred options against the requirements we have.  We will then be rolling out our new approach from April 2014 as part of a pilot.  The pilot will be assessed in late June 2014 with a complete rollout of the solutions including the requirements for mobile working  by October 2014.


This will enable us to then look at a switch off of internal email by the end of the year.  The only exceptions to this may be calendar invites and system generated notifications.

What have we learnt?

Hardly a shock but the biggest challenge is changing an engrained culture that has become embedded from 20+ years of people relying upon email in the workplace. Don’t underestimate the addiction we all have to email – breaking the habit and going cold turkey is much harder than you may at first imagine.  But the evidence of the over reliance upon email including how and why email is used and the benefits realised from changing its use are worth the pain. 


There are some further thoughts on this as well as some challenges on going paperless on one of my latest Prezi’s: 

Why Is #HousingDay On 13.11.13 Important To Me?

housinday screenshot

How many times have you struggled to explain to friends and family about what you do: working in housing?  Even worse, how often do you have to dispel some of the inaccurate myths pedalled via the mainstream media about our customers? And will the issues affecting our customers’ everyday lives be ever given balanced coverage?

We have to do something. Social housing accounts for one in six of all UK homes. Despite this, many of the fab things our front line teams do each and every day go mostly unnoticed. Most housing people will tell you that we haven’t been great at highlighting the impact our work has had upon people’s lives.

I always imagine people’s opinions are based upon photographs in their minds, usually of the last experience they have seen or heard. What #HousingDay offers is a real opportunity to update that photo and image for many people outside looking in.

This is why for me the #HousingDay concept is a ‘must do.’ We need to change the perceptions that exist.  It provides the opportunity to open the door to the fantastic work our people do and the big issues affecting our customers’ lives. And why working in #ukhousing is such a great career choice.

With just 549 days to the next General Election we need to chip away and build upon previous campaigns to make the case for housing. We can have a huge impact upon the health, wealth and wellbeing of the country.

#HousingDay on 13th November will offer a snapshot of the difference housing makes, through the shop window to the world social media now provides. We can learn and build upon the success of other similar days, the Local Government Association’s annual #Ourday tweetathon being the most noteworthy.

So come on #ukhousing rather than sitting back and telling everyone how no one understands us, let’s show the world what an impact we make each and every day.

Want to know more about how this came about or share what you’re doing? Then Adrian Capon at Yorkshire Housing is your person!

Diving In

So here it is……my first venture into the weird world of blogging.

I’ve listened and learnt from some others I admire who are seasoned pros: Paul TaylorJules Birch and Colin Wiles all spring to mind.

So what’s stopped me from taking the plunge?


Well after months of arguing with myself I’ve finally got past the “who would be interested in what I have to say” and the “what if they don’t agree with me” phase.  Especially from those people whose views I really respect or more frustratingly those who hide behind some obscure anonymous Gravatar (a subject of a future possible blog).

Like the boy on the diving board I’ve decided to take my own advice that I give to others: “just be brave and take the plunge”.


So what can you expect to see me talking about? Well inevitably my love of housing does mean this will feature strongly. However I’m also hoping to combine this with what have been described as my “uber tech geek” tendencies to offer some views on where housing could move to.


Some of the topics on my initial ‘blogs to write’ list include:

  1. Email Is Dead: a subject many people know is close to my heart from previous articles and Prezis as well as some of the mixed coverage this has received
  2. Why have Tesco developed a £10,000 flat pack house?
  3. Anonymous commentators – lacking the courage of their convictions?
  4. The business case for a ‘Digital First‘ service offer
  5. The rise of Big Data in Housing: building upon the fab post by Matt Leach

So here I go. About to press the dreaded big red publish button.


Any tips, tricks or feedback are genuinely welcomed. And remember to please go easy on me………..