I started this blog back in July 2011, so this is sort of my bloggiversary – and to celebrate, I can report that this very morning I had my 10,000th hit on the blog. That’s more exciting for me than for you, as for the past fortnight I have been watching the hit counter (at the foot of the blog itself, for those of you reading this as an email) creep upwards – not constantly, of course, as those Jaffa Cakes don’t walk from the kitchen on their own, you know. I am delighted that so many people enjoy reading my AML cogitations, and that so many of them return and leave comments and get involved in discussion and debates – thank you all.
As this milestone has put me in a very good mood, I shall write today about the tremendous value of laughter in training. Just because our subject is serious, it does not mean that the training has to be – and indeed, the contrast between dark and light, between terrible crimes and a good laugh, makes the training both more human and enjoyable, and more memorable. So when I do any sort of AML quiz, I always include some fun “factoids” – that John Gotti, a ruthless Mafia capo, was known as the Teflon Don because no convictions would ever stick to him, or that Al Capone worked in the laundry at Alcatraz. My prizes, although always on the theme of money, can be humorous – chocolate coins, money boxes in the shape of the pound symbol, toilet rolls printed with euros.
And above all I make sure that I am always prepared to laugh at myself. I am a natural klutz. Although extremely tidy and organised, I will always drop my keys down a grate, snag my tights on a chair leg, and drop my lunch down my front – usually all on the same day. It used to embarrass me, when I was a self-conscious young trainer. But then I was cured. I was speaking to a group of about 400 estate agents in a large conference room. I was up on the stage, and in order to indicate something on one of my slides I walked backwards while looking up at the screen. You’re ahead of me here. I fell off the stage in dramatic fashion, and displayed my undergarments to several dozen people. And said a naughty word into the lapel mike. Horrified silence all round, until I started laughing – what else to do? I laughed, they laughed, I climbed back onto the stage, and we continued. And you know what? The atmosphere was a thousand times better in that room after that. I’m not recommending slapstick training techniques, but laughter? Go for it every time.