14 December 2005
12 December 2005
11 December 2005
Of course he’s quite right, only the best singers are in the choir and these two gentlemen have received a compliment of high esteem from my young son. Keep it up chaps ;-)
05 December 2005
Unfortunately, I think that management consultants sometimes have a reputation for telling you what you already know about your company, but at great cost. This has given 'consultants' a bad image on both sides of the Atlantic, you only have to look at some of the Dilbert cartoons top see this (note the level of my references). The difference between the Brits and the Americans is possibly a level of cynicism and a desire to not be seen to have been 'caught out' or look a fool. This is why the Brits tend to be very suspicious of anybody with the title 'consultant'. Rather than been caught out by a consultant and losing lots of money, we'd rather not use them at all, or at least test them first – this gives us the appearance of being very cautious and reserved. Americans seem to be more willing to give anything a go; they wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity.
So when we see our friends over the Atlantic trying absolutely anything (including consultants) and then failing we have a good laugh because they look foolish but alas, they probably don't understand what we're laughing at. The Americans are more willing to give it a go and see this as preferable to indecision or a fear of failure. The Americans come across more positive, open and decisive; and us Brits seem more negative, suspicious and indecisive. But once us Brits have made a decision we have to ensure that we don’t look the fool so we need to succeed. We become terriers and quite determined, perhaps more so than the Americans, and all because we don’t want to look the fool!
I think that if we are honest, both sides of the Atlantic both respect, admire and are equally frustrated and irritated by the way each of us do business. No matter what we say, the UK and USA are friends and perhaps the ideal is somewhere in between.
This sort of relationship exists between us Brits and countries in the Far East. Here we see the British often frustrated when dealing with businesses in countries such as Japan, Korea and China. Endless meetings that reach no conclusions that ultimately revolve around the need to 'not lose face' (i.e. not look a fool). But when they make a decision they certainly make sure they get the job done.
Of course, another downside of not wanting to look the fool is that we don’t like to admit we are wrong. Again, the degree of not wanting to look the fool is almost a linear scale from west to east. Conversely, an upside is the need to test to make sure it’s right. I feel the Americans aren’t always as good as us and possibly the Far East is better? But then they won’t want to admit they are wrong as quickly as we British do and the Americans can’t understand why we just don’t drop the project and start again … and so we can go backwards and forwards.
This is probably one of the best arguments for a global economy – the diversity of approaches is healthy. It is the same argument for opening our doors to other cultures within our own borders, the diversity helps our own economies, helps us to work in different ways. Indeed, it would be a shame to lose these differences and hopefully the cultural identities will be retained.
It is often the complaint that cultures are being Americanised, I’m not so sure that this is the case. It might be that American cultural influence is more discernable as it is more open and less subtle. Perhaps, deep below the surface of the American culture is the Far Eastern cultural influence and maybe nearer the surface is the British culture etcetera, etcetera. Isn’t it an interesting world we live in?
But coming back to being a consultant, and I’ve really gone off track this time, there is an answer – don’t call yourself a ‘consultant’. Incidentally, it’s a bad idea to call yourself ‘expert’ too!
02 December 2005
You see, I'm not sure that I have enough confidence in the rank and file to choose the right leader. I really believe that if they want a decent chance of winning the next election then they should vote in David Davis but I don't think they will. It's about time that Labour told the Tories that you just can't depend on democratic means to choose leaders! What is the world coming to ;-)
30 November 2005
I just wanted to clear this up before it was too late.
And the fact that I am saying this has no significance! <- and neither does that.
It might be that males are being scared off by the subject of flowers and the word 'romantic' in the same posting.
It could be of course, the sight of flowers - makes my blog look a bit like an advert for a funeral parlour. Then again, it could just be that I have a deadly boring blog!
Needless to say, I will still continue to suffer the blogosphere with my postings.
28 November 2005
'Ahhhhh, now I knew that', many men will say but do women feel the same way? Does this mean that 'being romantic' has nothing to do with romantic love? So ladies, why the big problem with flowers? Surely the cessation of flowers coincides with the cessation of NGF - explained! It's not the fault of men, it's this protein thingy - it runs out, you see. Brothers, we have been absolved.
Alas, I fear not. I'm not sure that line of defense will work. Something tells me there is more to this, far more. Those flowers have a greater meaning. However, I will work it out one day, I will, I will ... But until then, better to play on the safe side and buy the flowers - oh dear, I haven't bought any recently!! Better pop out before my dear wife reads this ...
... phew! My wife notes that it appears be men that have conducted the research - did nobody ever point out to them that they would never win the argument?!?
26 November 2005
25 November 2005
The other day (night actually) we were shopping at Tescos and he thought he'd figured out a few numbers of my pin, so he started shouting them out. This was pretty terrifying as it was quite late and they were filling the shelves (I know we should not have been finishing our shopping at 11pm at night with an eight year old in tow but sometimes ...), and you must know the kind of people that shop at 11pm at night ... (besides me, of course).
Now I know I should have got cross but if you could have seen his face you would realise that he really could not control his curiosity. So now I pretty much hug the keypad which probably makes everybody else in the queue feel rather uncomfortable. So if you are in a queue behind a parent with a sub 10 year old and he's hugging the keypad as he punches his pin in then you can probably relax - he/she doesn't think you look suspicious, unless you're shopping in Tescos at 11pm. By the way, he doesn't actually know my pin yet - I'm winning, yes!
11 November 2005
It's not panto but it's not Les Miserables either. All my family enjoyed it. My youngest son is just about to turn eight and he came out the theatre and announced loudly:
That was brilliant! Much better than 'Chitty Chitty Bang Bang'.I think that says it all.
This is a production to take your children to and it really can not go wrong because it based on a timeless story with a timeless message. So if you have children between 8 and 13 as I do, then I don't think you'll be disappointed. If you're looking for something more intellectually challenging then why on earth would you want to see a musical?
In fact it can't be that bad as on the first night (when the majority of the critics went along to the show) the show received a standing ovation from about 80% of the audience. I noticed that even Andrew Lloyd Webber was standing but I suppose he might have some vested interests. Although I did think that the standing ovation might not go down too well with the critics - probably the other 20% of the audience! They probably felt like they should have stood but couldn't and that would have made them feel all the more bitter and irritated - we English are so strange. Having said that, I'm not sure the production quite deserved a standing ovation but who cares ... only critics.
I suppose I should give you links to the critics but I don't think it is worth the bother - with this particular production they serve little purpose as they failed to see what 'Scrooge' is. I think it best to end by saying that my family enjoyed it and as Charles Dickens said of his story, 'A Christmas Carol':
I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly, and no one wish to lay it.
Their faithful Friend and Servant,
May the ghost of Charles Dickens haunt all those sad critics this Christmas ...
04 November 2005
He would be up against Gordon Brown and it would look like a contest between Gordon Brown and Tony Blair - we've have that one already.
David Davis is a fresh alternative. Last night he seemed calm and confident. His answers to questions were both considered and knowledgeable, and he seemed very calm and composed without being arrogant. I partly agree with Clive Davis when he says:
More to the point, they both came across as human beings, which is a rare feat for Tory politicians.
I think that Cameron was too Blair-like. Don't get me wrong, I'm not that against Blair but in this time of fashionable politics I'd say that Cameron is 'so last year'. With Davis leading the Conservatives I 'might' even be tempted to vote for them ... but not if they are going to waste more time on discussing hunting, but that is another topic for another day - perhaps.
Davis might not only win the Conservatives the next election, he might win a few people back to politics. I think a Brown/Davis clash would be good for politics - they both seem to have an honesty that would be truly refreshing.
14 October 2005
So here is a thought for you. It is quite possible that we or our children might live a significantly longer than say our grandparents did. In the near future we might well have therapies that not only halt or slow down ageing but could possibly even reverse ageing. This together with the ability to grow body parts that have been damaged might mean that we live to ages of 150, 200 or more.
I personally do not doubt this will happen but only highlight the science as this generates some very interesting questions.
If you were told tomorrow that you might be nowhere near your deathbed and that any ageing or damage could be reversed in the next ten years what would you change in your life?
Would you start a second career?
Go to university?
Would you want to travel and see more and more of the world?
I personally couldn’t do this – my experience is that after about four weeks I’ve had enough of sightseeing, I don’t think I’m much of a spectator.
What would you want to do differently?
Even if we are not presented with these questions in our lifetime, the process of considering them I found quite enlightening. I found myself considering if I was doing with my life all that I wanted or hoped to do. Had I subconsciously planned out my life to fit into the three score and ten years that we purportedly have been allotted? Interestingly, I think I had!
I don’t want to give you the idea that these questions arose out of some middle aged fear of death – it really didn’t. I’m very happy with my life to date and have few regrets – even some of the regrets were kind of fun at the time. No, this chain of thought arose from a number of articles I’ve read recently that seem to indicate that living passed a hundred is a very serious possibility. Of course many issues are raised: over-population; economics; retirement; social effects of a youth that is a significant minority of the population; families; housing etcetera, etcetera. All are important issues but I think that would need a book ...
Well, there you have it, a sort of serious blog post that was not actually one of the titles in my draft folder. Oh well, maybe another day.
06 October 2005
So when I receive literature from banks and credit card companies telling me to 'Chip and Pin' it has a bit of a negative response. Needless to say they keep repeating the words 'Chip and Pin' again and again - 'Chip and Pin' this, 'Chip and Pin' that. I even start feeling obliged to hide the literature from my children! Is it just me?
I'm not particularly against the Chip and Pin concept (no offence intended) but I do find myself sometimes glancing over my shoulder to see if the character behind me seems suspicious, and then quickly pretending I was looking for somebody else by glancing over their shoulder.
Unlike when using an ATM to draw out money where people tend to keep a respectful distance, shops often have tightly spaced queues. I think us Brits tend to keep queues tightly spaced to ensure that everybody understands that not only is there a queue but that 'I' am in it and ‘I’ am in this precise position and if you don't understand or respect queues (i.e. you're probably a foreigner) then I am removing any spaces for you to push in and don't you dare try it on, right (glare) ... phew!
With that in mind how long before we hear of Chip and Pin rage. Have you seen the older among us stagger back when presented with the keypad, glasses go up, then down, the head moves forwards, backwards trying to focus on this keypad and a frown takes shape on the brow. There is a tangible increase in pressure as you see them not only trying to work out how to use the keypad but also panic as they desperately try to remember the right pin for the right card. Then just as they are about to press the keys they pause and look around suspiciously forgetting the frown still pinned on their forehead. Then they hit the keys as if touching teeth on a rabid dog - the hand flicks back each time and they keep checking if the keypad is still 'calm'. Can't you just see a frustrated shopper in a hurry losing their rag? Maybe 'Chip and Pin' should become a swear word after all.
07 September 2005
I realised when I'd said it. Oh dear! Stunned silence. Then laughter. Yes I did feel a bit silly - maybe it's age. I don't think my seven year old quite got it - my 12 year old son did though!
It was also one of those moments when my eldest sons glinting eyes spoke of the young man he was becoming and the little lapse was indicative of the forty-something that I am. It was good to see my eldest son growing up but it was also good to see my youngest was innocent enough to not get the joke - I still felt a bit silly, that never feels very good!
06 September 2005
He is probably right. But it made me think that an 'ego' always seems to be a male sort of thing - so do women have a female equivalent for 'ego'? Do women have egos? Dangerous territory - answers in an email.
Now what I fear is that us Brits have sadly lost our sense of adventure. Alas, the vast majority of Brits seemed to be found roasting around water - any water - pools, sea, ponds, lakes. As long as us Brits are within 100 feet of water we are happy.
The beach would be full of bodies but go inland and it was empty. The main tourists we came across were German.
And another thing, I was given the impression that Germans grabbed the sunbeds. Not where we were. We stayed in a quiet apartment overlooking a marina with probably equal numbers of German and British tourists. The pool was never crowded and a lot of the time we had it to ourselves. But there were some sunbeds that had towels draped over them from early in the morning to late at night - yes, they were Brits!
Oh yes, and why are we so obsessed at throwing money into pools, puddles, ponds, wells and fountains? Do people really think it brings luck?
Oh dear, I'm in a real grumpy mood - I must be getting old.
20 July 2005
I think that teenagers get a really bad press. Child curfew zones are an example of society’s paranoia with groups of teenagers. I can assure you that people have been feeling intimidated by groups of teenagers for years but should that mean that we place a curfew on them. We could place curfews on village pubs because strangers might feel intimidated and we might save some fights. We can also prevent over zealous fans for any sport, political party, share holders, rights group or religion from congregating - I’m sure we would cut crime. In fact why not just have a police state, crime would be low.
No, let’s just pick on the youngsters because we feel ‘intimidated’ by them. And we all know that teenagers are violent and out to get us! I’m sorry but my experience from Scouts is that teenagers are pretty much the same as when I was young, and I was pretty much the same as my Dad’s era and so on and so on. So was it better in ‘our day’ or do we suffer from bad memories – and do our young people suffer from bad media coverage. Well do
15 July 2005
There were two other visitors and one of them was me :-)
12 July 2005
At first I sent a few people my Blog's URL but now I think I shall just leave it here for people to find. Am I addicted?
I have quite a few draft titles that I have not published but I'm a bit too busy at the moment.
10 July 2005
I am the Group Scout Leader in our local Scout Group and I often have to tell young people that they need to wear a helmet to, from and during any Scouting event whilst cycling. This is one of the rules in Scouting in the UK and as a young person is covered by Scouting insurance from the time they leave home to the time they arrive back home then they must wear a cycle helmet when cycling.
But, of course, everybody knows that adults heads are much stronger that children’s heads! That an adults head is made of much, much stronger bone and their brains will just bounce back :-) Unfortunately, I ended up with a head a bit like a child's so I wear a helmet.
I never wore a helmet when I was a child but then nobody wore helmets. You never meet any adults who fell off and hurt their heads when they were children but sadly that is because those that did...
But I shall climb down off my soapbox.
09 July 2005
Well today at breakfast I started dancing near my youngest son who is 7.
"Stop it Dad"
"I'm just dancing", I said as I made what I thought was a particularly good move to a change in tempo that took me in front of the window.
A look of grave concern came over my 7 year old's face and he pointed to the window and said, "People walk passed our house you know .... they might see you!"
Oh well, I shall just have to dance privately - have you ever tried dancing when you're taking the dishes out of the dishwasher? Try it some time - just keep away from windows!
08 July 2005
07 July 2005
Well, that is the problem. We can't honestly appease them even if we wanted to. So I can't really see how John Derbyshire's comments can be remotely true.
But perhaps I'm just being ignorant - so can anybody tell me what the members of Al-Qaeda really want? What do I tell my 7 year old son? And just what do the members of Al-Qaeda say to their 7 year old sons?
Everybody is grateful to all the emergency services. The real sense of calmness that exists at this time is a reflection of the professionalism and preparedness of our emergency services, and the good planning by our leaders - I think sometimes we forget to say thank you to leaders when they get it right.
My thoughts and prayers, like many others, are with those families who have been affected by these atrocities.
For more up to date information see BBC News.
Anyway, I saw Clive this morning and I told him that I hadn't tried links in blogs so I thought I'd give it a go - here is a link to my Blog Dad, Clive - without him this blog wouldn't be here!
Thanks Dad :o)
Please understand that I agree in principle with controlled debt cancellation, fair trade laws and increased aid - I just don't think that Live 8 has quite worked how I hoped it might. What we really needed was to capture the hearts and minds of everyday people as happened after the tsunami disaster. Then it was celebrities that were running to catch up with the immense generosity expressed by the public. Looking back at the tsunami appeal there seems to be no individual that stands out that we the public rallied around, perhaps no individual could keep up or perhaps no individual can ever wear the shoes.
So where does this leave the Live 8 crew? I see no point in doubting the sincerity of the celebrities involved with Live 8 - what does it achieve? Sincerity can not be proved and we are in danger of damning our celebrities if they do and damning them if they don't!
"He's rich and famous why doesn't he help? "
"He's only helping because he's so rich and wants to boost his ego /career."
I'd rather be seeing the rich and famous helping and I honestly applaud the Live 8 crew. I believe they are doing all that they can but this is not enough.
So what is different between the Tsunami Appeal and Live 8. Well, the name for a start. Live 8 is a mix of the names G8 and Live Aid. But why mix those two names up when the real catch phrase is 'Make Poverty History'? The algebra doesn't quite work:
G8 + Live Aid = Live 8 = Make Poverty History
Trying to add 'Live Aid' into the title of this event is unnecessary when most people are familiar with 'Make Poverty History'.
I'm not really into marketing but surely there was a better way of mixing 'G8' and 'Make Poverty History'? Because that is the message – the men in suits at the G8 have the power to help make poverty history. Or do they?
I think they can play a major part but it is really only the public that can make it happen. But to achieve this we need to harness that public flow of generosity and compassion for those that are in more pain than we are in this world.
The Tsumani Appeal worked and I think it worked because we saw the pain from many angles and it was obvious what we had to do so we responded. The media reported the tsunami disaster honestly and nobody could dispute what we needed to do. Making poverty history is a little more complicated and here lies the problem – on a large scale we do not fully understand or agree as to what we need to do to achieve and sustain ‘no poverty’.
Many people fear that cancelling debt and increasing aid will only make corrupt leaders wealthier. But then making sovereign states jump though hoops seems patronising. I’m not saying this is not a solution but it is a solution that seems a little complicated, and that normally says to me that it is less likely to work.
So what if a micro model was used instead or together with debt cancellation etc. A micro model whereby impoverished communities were linked with wealthier communities – the twinning concept. Surely as individuals identified with another community then generosity would follow. The main issue with twinning is that it needs an effective mechanism that sets up the communication and helps each community understand its twin.
I’m not saying this is the solution but I do think we need to think of a believable and effective model that the majority of the public will buy into. Perhaps a little more imagination might give us the formula that will truly make poverty history.
But in the short term, on the eve of the G8 let’s not get caught up with the rights and wrongs of Live 8 but …
Back debt cancellation
Create fair trade laws
and freeze the assets of leaders that squander and plunder.
If we lose some money along the way then it is better than doing nothing at all.
What do you think?
06 July 2005
blug - an advert on a blog (i.e. a plug).
So what would those in adverting be called I wonder?
Not that I have anything against advertising, just a bit of fun.
I suppose I should say 'not that I will ever have anything to do with advertising' as I have such a sorry number of hits. The blogness persists ...
Writing a blog that nobody reads is like streaking through an empty stadium.
I do hope the blogness will one day turn into blogdom. You see, from depression arises creativity – two new words.
blogness – when you get no hits on your blog, blog hit nothingness.
blogdom – when your blog becomes famous, blog stardom.
or what about
blogathy - when you visit a blog to help lift the blog from blogness by increasing the number of hits.
Blog world, please show some blogathy.
So parents worry that one school has 0.7 of a child more per class than another, this school does more homework, that school is a Beacon school for maths and another is for languages, and another builds robots and yet another has a headmaster that smiles nicely.
Of course, when you stand back you realise that it doesn’t actually matter. No matter what choice the parents make, they’ve made the right one because the school is ultimately a good school. So what is the Jenks method of choice (particularly relevant for secondary schools)?
1) Is the school close and your child get there without a parent? If ‘no’ then forget it – you will harm the environment, your sanity, your time, your health, your wealth and your child. Children need independence and so do parents.
2) Has the school got a good name, and I mean ‘name’. You want a name that looks good on a CV.
3) Does the school look good?
And that’s it – forget everything else. One or two extra kids in a class really does not matter. Any homework is always too much homework for a teenager. Beacon schools always worry me as I’m always a bit concerned about the other subjects. The school that builds robots will probably loose interest and switch to needle work. And the headmaster that smiles nicely is probably leaving the school anyway.
No, just follow the Jenks method. Whatever you do, do not ask your child – rather present the evidence in a way that guides your child to the right choice ;-)
So choosing schools is like choosing Olympic Games venues and I expect confused IOC members are already using the Jenks method and will no doubt arrive at the only correct answer – London :-)
(for non Brits: Secondary Schools = High Schools)
05 July 2005
Well we can and we want to, but so does everybody else. So why choose London over anybody else?
I suppose our bid is a bit more interesting because we seem to be planning to build a lot more than the others. That’s got to be a good reason – far better than building more supermarkets, furniture and DIY stores.
And if we don’t build it soon it’s quite likely we won’t have the space for it in the future.
I wonder if that is in the bid proposal – Britain is so over crowded and such a magnet to people that if we don’t carve up a bit of the East End soon it will be gone forever. I’m rather amazed that there is an area big enough in London that does not contain a conserved building, is part of National Trust (or any other trust for that matter) or is a part of or expected to be a part of an airport. We Brits love to slap conservation orders on any building that’s old, a ruin, very pretty, amazingly ugly or just a bit odd – perhaps this is the recipe for quaintness.
I’m not criticising building conservation or the National Trust it’s just that given the time to put another bid together we might well find that the proposed chunks of land will have conserved chunks of building on it … or trees.
It’s more likely though that we’ll get a supermarket, shopping centre and DIY store or another airport – that has got to be the best reason for giving us the Olympics.