This Time Next Year...
...we’ll be millionaires!
You know the quote, right? It’s from one of the best, most ground-breaking television shows ever made: the BBC's Only Fools and Horses. Its ebullient star, David Jason (basically the David Attenborough of the comedy world), plays Del Trotter, a loveable chancer in a dilapidated Peckham high-rise whose harebrained schemes to make it rich and live a successful life never really amount to anything.
He's always borrowing money from friends and family to buy things “off the back of a lorry” and the flog them down the market, each time thinking this will be the job that gets him out of debt and into the big bucks. And he famously brings in others to invest, selling them the dream his is so fond of himself.
All he wants is to live the high life, but he’s thwarted at every turn: his blow-up dolls deflate, his hooky TV sets blow up, and chandeliers crash into smithereens around him. He is desperate to be rid of his sad 3-wheel Robin Reliant for something showy with a personalised number plate. He adores golf and wants to be a Yuppie (a dated reference, we know, but bear with us), but even a trip to a Yuppie-favoured wine bar ends in disaster when he nonchalantly leans back onto the bar and falls through the serving hatch. And each episode, his long-suffering family members and friends are there to pick up the pieces.
Season after season (there are seven in all, with 16 sparkling Christmas specials), Del Boy tries and fails, but what is the one thing that keeps him going? The idea that gets him out of bed every morning? It’s the mantra: This time next year we’ll be millionaires! He lives on the promise that things will get better if he just keeps on going down the same old road, investing more and more time and energy as he does it.
Of course, the big joke is that Del is focusing on all the wrong things. His big dreams, schemes and scams, will always amount to nothing.
And all the while, he’s missing out on real life happening all around him.
In the end, of course, the writers of Only Fools give poor maligned Del Boy a happy ending. The stakes are high: Del and his family only have two weeks to pay the Inland Revenue their dues when they discover an old pocket watch Del has long had in his possession is worth millions. Reading between the lines: Del always had what he needed all along. He didn’t need a harebrained scheme to be a success.
You see where we’re going with this, right?
Sometimes, even with the very best intentions, one’s plans can go awry. In which case, it might be good for an individual – or an organisation – to look back through the past few months and think: what have we actually achieved?
What big plans or projects did we get off the ground?
And if we’re measuring success in our personal lives, what’s happened there? Are we in good communication with those we love? Is our living situation safe and secure? Are we in debt? Are we happy?
If you’re reaching back more than a few months for something good, and into the years, and even decades, we might humbly suggest you could be on a better path.
Perhaps your organisation had planned a big launch: a publication, perhaps, or a series of earth-shattering lectures? Maybe a new site was about to go live, or a big event planned? But, for some reason, whatever it was just didn't happen.
There was a delay, a problem; leaves on the line. Perhaps, even with the best will and effort of its dedicated and hopeful members, you're part of an organisation that has struggled to ever achieve... anything?
Maybe you've been told you just need to invest a little more – just another £20K or so, or give more of your time and talent via weeks of lectures and hourly mantras – to get it over the line? (And no, you don’t need a receipt or an invoice or anything – we’re mates, aren’t we?)
Perhaps you have someone telling you that this time next year you’ll be a millionaire?
But, unless you have a £4M pocket watch in a shoebox somewhere, we suggest you write your own happy ending. Don't let a plonker like Del (as charming as he is) write it for you.
Until next time!
PS. please, please call your families.