Who are we?

Keith Hann was born in Newcastle upon Tyne in June 1954 and educated at the city’s Royal Grammar School and St John’s College, Cambridge, where he spent six years obtaining precisely one degree.

He also won a number of academic awards despite failing to attend lectures, rarely meeting essay deadlines and spending most of his time in pubs and / or asleep. Following a period of postgraduate research in British Imperial history, conducted mainly in the Coach & Horses on Kew Green – chosen for its plausible proximity to the Public Record Office – he decided to seek his fortune in the City. He is still looking for it.

After five years on the comprehensive graduate trainee programme at stockbrokers Capel-Cure Myers, during which he never advanced beyond his initial placement in the research department, Keith moved to Edinburgh for 36 hours with brokers Wood Mackenzie in 1983. Having successfully reminded himself what he liked about Scotland, he returned to London and entered the glamorous world of financial PR with the then market leader Streets Financial. He worked on some of the most successful flotations of the mid-1980s and rapidly became the lead account handler for many major UK plcs.

Keith finally got round to taking his gap year in 1986-87. After a thorough cost-benefit analysis, he decided to abandon his initial idea of a global tour majoring on drink, drugs and casual sex, in favour of living in a remote cottage in Northumberland and writing the definitive, unpublished comic novel about the pre-Big Bang City. He does not rank this among his better decisions.

Rejoining some former Streets colleagues in late 1987, Keith spent 16 years, 3 months and 9 days with the leading consultancy Hudson Sandler, where he was – among other things – a notably uninspiring managing director and a predictably pointless deputy chairman. The rare high points of these years included his involvement with the successful Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries bid for Marstons (including defence against Pacman counterbid) and the subsequent, epic 12 month defence against Robert Breare and Pubmaster. His key achievement, however, was at no point being sued for sexual harassment.

Keith returned to Northumberland to set up keithhann.com early in 2004, and spent the next four years systematically disposing of his few remaining clients so that he could devote all his time to writing a big, tragicomic novel about a Northern retail entrepreneur who floats his business on the stock market and then tries to buy it back. As part of the displacement activities on which he inevitably embarked to avoid actually writing the novel, he took up a new career as a hobby journalist and devised this website. Which, among its many client-deterring jokes, included a spoof advertisement for a wife, girlfriend or carer.

Things went horribly wrong when one of Keith’s few remaining clients liked one of the pieces of hobby journalism so much that he posted it on his own corporate website. As a result, on or around April Fool’s Day 2008 Keith received an e-mail from an evidently deranged total stranger, containing an application to fill the vacant post of wife (admittedly on behalf of someone else).

Reader, he married her. And, at the age of 55, became a father for the first time. This rather put a damper on his plans for a leisurely retirement.

IMG_1092.JPGFaced with the onerous responsibility of providing for first one and then two sons, Keith manfully decided to cling to the wreckage of the few remaining clients he had helped to float on the stock market in the 1980s. Latterly his principal client has been Iceland Foods, which he has surprisingly retained to date despite his starring role in the 2013 BBC2 TV series, Life In The Freezer Cabinet. In a belated attempt to find out what he actually did in their offices all day, the company rashly appointed him Director of Corporate Affairs in September 2017.

Bearing in mind that he can never afford to retire, Keith remains very open to offers to undertake additional paid work including (but not restricted to) corporate and historical writing, speechwriting, ghosting, journalism, public speaking and comically inappropriate TV appearances.

Star sign: Gemini
Key words: frank, penetrating, cynical, attentive to detail

Maral Hann was born in Manchester in February 1971 and brought up in Iran (or, as she prefers, Persia) until the outbreak of war with Iraq made even Buckley in North Wales seem like a more appealing option. After completing her education at Salford University and qualifying as a Chartered Management Accountant, Maral worked in industry in North West England before joining the Iceland Group at its then foodservice subsidiary, Woodwards.

She subsequently enjoyed a long and successful career at the head office of Iceland Foods, until she made the fatal mistake of reading a newspaper column that had been posted on the company website by her CEO, and subsequently contacting its author.

Since leaving Iceland in October 2015 she has been Chief Financial Officer of keithhann.com with responsibility for the overall financial strategy of the business, but mainly for invoicing, chasing debts and completing VAT returns.

Star sign: Aquarius
Key words: long-suffering, numerate, sociable (by comparison with her colleagues)

Charles Hann was born in Chester on 18 June 2009. A meteoric rise through the ranks of keithhann.com, based entirely on merit and completely unrelated to nepotism, saw him appointed Deputy Chief Executive of the business in 2012.

Charlie quickly developed a remarkably extensive vocabulary, including several words that no well brought up individual of any age should know at all, yet has seemingly never been able to grasp the meaning of “Deputy”.

He is happy to advise clients on a wide range of issues including driving, parking, domestic management, garden design, food quality and safety, and electronic gaming. In his limited spare time he enjoys travel, issuing instructions to his parents and slyly tormenting his younger brother.

 

Star sign: Gemini
Key words: argumentative, insubordinate, bossy

p1000277James Hann was born in Chester on 14 February 2012, after his mother unwillingly accepted the need for a Caesarean delivery and opted for a day when she could be guaranteed the undivided attention of the hospital’s entire obstetrics team. Strangely enough, everyone else with any choice in the matter apparently hoped to keep the date free for a lifetime of romantic Valentine’s dinners instead of children’s parties.

After a meteoric rise through nursery and pre-school Jamie has embraced full-time education with characteristic cheerfulness and enthusiasm, and is happy to share his already encyclopaedic knowledge of dinosaurs, animals and sea creatures with clients, whether they are interested or not. No one has yet summarized his character better than his 91-year-old great aunt: “Behind that sweet smile, you know that he is silently plotting your downfall”.

 

Star sign: Aquarius
Key words: smiley, cheerful, devious

Craster Hann was born in Rochester, Northumberland on 7 September 2001, and named after the fishing village renowned for producing world class kippers. Predictably enough, he initially turned out to be hyperactive and uncontrollable, though like many of us he calmed down progressively with advancing age. It used to be said that his perennial cheerful inquisitiveness made him the perfect foil to his colleagues; latterly he mainly just lay around sleeping, breaking wind and scratching himself, like the rest of the team.

Increasing blindness and deafness sadly put an end to his former favourite pursuits of chasing other animals, destroying expensive canine toys, singing in harmony with a grandfather clock, and taking long walks. Leaving only eating. Until that too ended with his sad death on Black Friday, 24 November 2017.

Star sign: Virgo
Key words: drowsy, somnolent

009-1Dunstan Hann was born in Otterburn, Northumberland on 5 November 2012, and joined the family business as a trainee in January 2013. He was named after the hamlet near Craster. Naming him after the nearby and better known castle of Dunstanburgh would have avoided potential confusion with part of the Borough of Gateshead, but seemed a bit of a mouthful for yelling purposes when his master thought ahead to that happy day when he started chasing his first flock of sheep.

In sharp contrast to his CEO, Dunstan is relentlessly cheerful and affectionate; on the minus side, his utility as a guard dog is sharply reduced by his insistence on spending approximately 22 hours per day fast asleep on his owners’ bed.

 

Star sign: Scorpio
Key words: cute, friendly, idle

Arthur Boardman-Hann was born in Rochester, Northumberland on 17 March 1991, which made him about 115 in dog years at the time of his sad death on 14 September 2007. Unfortunately his idea of saving had been burying old bones at the bottom of the garden rather than investing sensibly with Equitable Life, so he was never able to afford to retire, putting him in very much the same position as the CEO of keithhann.com today. He was proud to the end of his formal police caution for biting a postman’s testicles. In his final years Arthur became increasingly deaf, blind and bad-tempered, confirming that dogs really do take after their masters. His principal interests were sleeping, eating and taking very short walks. But mainly sleeping.

Star sign: Pisces
Key words: dead to the world

Could your face have fitted here? On its establishment in early 2004, keithhann.com used this page to advertise vacancies for a girlfriend/wife, housekeeper/carer and a trainee Border terrier. We specified that applicants should be moderately attractive, exceptionally thick-skinned and, ideally, fully housetrained (though training could be provided for otherwise suitable applicants). We further guarded against the risk that anyone might actually reply by requiring applicants to ask their counsellor, therapist, social worker, probation officer or breeder to prepare a short resumé of their career to date, including a full list of their convictions, and send it along with a recent photograph to yesIamthatdesperate@keithhann.com .

In the first four years this duly attracted just one expression of interest, from a sweet old lady living in sheltered accommodation in Rothbury, who mistakenly believed herself to be a Border terrier.

Then in 2008 came a flood of applications. Well, two at any rate. With our usual rigour we pursued the first, which came from a young lady in Cheshire writing on behalf of a less fussy friend who was interested in the position of girlfriend/wife. Then things somehow all went horribly wrong, and the would-be intermediary duly became Mrs Keith Hann on 28 February 2009. If you really have nothing better to do, you may read the unfolding saga day by day at www.blokeinthenorth.com

Clients we have worked for since February 2004 include (all right, are):

The 600 Group plc
Alkane Energy plc
Arla Foods UK plc
Black Diamond Investments LP
Croda International Plc
DFS Furniture Company plc
eaga plc
Greggs plc
Iceland Foods Limited
Individual Restaurant Company plc
Johnson Service Group plc
Northern Foods plc
Northern Recruitment Group plc
The Peacock Group plc
Produce Investments PLC
Rensburg Sheppards
Speedy Hire plc
Westbury plc

And you?