Wednesday, 23 December 2009

No.207 Of Lost in Translation in Ballymena

My heads spinning today. Not only do I have strangers from Germany texting me in the middle of the night who appear the next day on Twitter I now have a Jack Starnes comment (at length) on my blog in Chinese. Is it at all surprising that I feel a little bit disorientated nowadays?

Today I'm shooting off to see a fancy new electronic whiteboard demonstrated in Ballymena. Apparently it can do everything bar cook Christmas dinner for you. I wonder if it can translate Chinese into English?

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

No.206 Of Strange Texts @Nite

Boy there's some rubbish on the T.V at the moment. Last night it was the turn of numerous C list celebrities to big up Victoria Woods and tell us how close she is to being superwoman. Sycophantic baloney if you ask me.

I've just finished reading Twitterville by Shel Israel. It's a great read and well researched. Yes I share his views on the benefits of Twitter but I wonder if the book explains well enough just how useful the networking function of Twitter can be.

Last night probably at about 3.30a.m. I was woken up by a text message from "Brands4shanghai". All it said was "Thank you". I then spent half an hour trying to get back to sleep wondering who I knew in Shanghai. The answer I was convinced is no-one. Today I boot up and find out that Brands4shanghai is following me on Twitter and belongs to a bloke called Frank Hellweg. Any clearer? Nope me neither.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

No.205 Of Sticky Situations

I've just finished sending the last of the Christmas cards. Yes I know it's late but better late than never as they say and often for me it's never. I've never licked the seals on envelopes since I visited a prison in Glasgow many years ago and saw a huge vat of glue the prisoners were preparing which they explained was used as sealant for envelopes. It looked disgusting. No doubt I look disgusted when they told me what else they put in it when the "Screws" weren't watching. May be I was being gullible but I've never licked envelopes since just in case I wasn't.

Loads of networking to do this week plus two interviews. Golly I can't bear doing interviews....

No.204 Of Blonde Snow

Wow! Snow and loads of it too. The dog doesn't quite get it. You chuck a snowball at her and she tries to grab it and bring it back to you. Wrong game I keep trying to explain. She's so blonde at times..

Boy there's some rubbish T.V on at the moment.. Makes me want to give the idea of T.V up for next year but then there's really unmissable stuff on occasionally too. If I did that's when I'd have to blag my way into the neighbour's house to watch a Newsnight special or Celebrity Wifeswap (!). Dilemmas hey?

Saturday, 19 December 2009

No.203 Of Dark Wood All Around

I've just booked another weekend in London. Airline expenses Belfast - London it's like a tax on the bored. Currently I'm trying to book a wacky unusual restaurant but without much success as they all seemed to be closed on Sundays. Dans Le Noir, it seems, is a restaurant where you eat in the pitch black. The idea is that it heightens the remaining senses including taste. According to the reviews however it may just be a cheap attempt not to let the customers see the food before they try it.

I've spent three hours tidying my desk today. Finally, I can see wood.

Nightmare on the Channel Tunnel says the online headlines at the moment. A whole 6 hours stuck on a train in the dark. Nightmare? Wow we're a spoilt lot nowadays...

Thursday, 17 December 2009

No.208 Of Goals Galore

It's crawling to the end of the year and not far off the time when you are supposed to reflect on the 12 months that's been and I guess, whether you've achieved the goals/objectives you set out to bag at the beginning of the year. I'm forever early wherever I go and whatever I do so why not with the review too?

My goals were b/logged earlier this year as follows :

* Eat better - yes I think I've achieved this. Although my foray into cooking was barely successful and very short lived.

* Read more - yes I've done this. I've read some really great books this year including Jonathan Dimbleby's "Russia", Derren Brown's "Tricks of the Mind" and Chekov's Short Plays. Gary Kasporov's "How Chess Imitates Life" is also a formidable read.

* Watch less T.V - yes I've achieved this but I still watch too much. I would like to give up T.V altogether but then if I had I would have missed classic T.V moments like Susan Boyle's Xfactor audition not to mention some great interviews on Newsnight with Jeremy Paxman sitting with a meat hook ready to have a go at another politician.

* Surround myself by positive people not negative ones and where possible by people who inspire and motivate you - yes I've done this and it's made a huge difference to the year. This year I've met people professional and socially who I've really grown to respect.

* Exercise more - yes I've done this and managed (just) to keep manboobs at bay for another year. It's been much harder though than ever before involving 40 lengths of the Antrim pool 3 times a week. I've earned that flat chest.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

No.202 Of Chocolate? Maltesers...

I enjoyed enjoyed Cat on a Hot Tin Roof last night at the Novello Theatre. I would have really enjoyed it had it not been for two things. First the lady sat directly in front of me intent on starting and finishing off all by herself a family sized box of maltesers. The wrapper coming off, the rattle of chocolate ball bearings in a box followed by the munch & the crunch whilst youre trying to get your ears accustomed to missippi accents was infuriating. Why doesn't the theatre just sell bars of chocolate which dont make so much noise? A box of maltesers? You might just as well sell marackers. Second the guy sat two seats along from me didnt help. He chuckled and cheered and clapped his way through the performance. Yes it was funny at times and yes the acting was in the case of the lead exceptional but hey Mr you need to get out more and hey next time Blackpool is looking for a laughing clown send them your CV.


Im typing this at a free Internet station at Heathrow Airport courtesy of Zurich Insurance the Free Risk Management Service provided by Zurich. I know this because their rep has said it next to me countless times as I've banged away at the keyboards. The trouble is he says it with so little conviction or sincereity that you can tell he believes its all pretty pointless. What is interesting is that the commercial Internet stations (you know the ones that charge you 1 pound for 20 minutes 15 of which are spent trying to get the thing to work properly) are all busy whilst the free ones next door at Zurich are almost empty. What does this tell us about customer buying habits and how difficult they are to predict?

When back in the office later today I shall exmaine a CV just in from a Internetter who has seen mention of a vacancy in our marketing department. He has begun well by referring to my blog as having "cult status". 12 followers please heed...

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

No.201 Of Ballet and Bag Pipes

Wow! London! Last night I went to the Royal Opera House to see a ballet based on the stories of Beatrix Potter. It was spectacular and frightfully English as ballerinas dressed as mice, little pigs and rabbits lept about the stage to glorious music before a packed audience.

I met an old friend today for the first time in almost a decade. I've known him from my University days. He was always destined to succeed in life so it was no surprise to me to learn that he now heads the legal team at LLoyds Bank in charge of over 150 legal staff.

He's always got a great yearn to tell about a family incident and his one today was hilarious. Somehow he had been invited to play the bag pipes at a reception party in which Princess Anne was invited. The pipes he assures me are hard work to play and by the time she arrived he had already been going for an hour. When he asked the Royal scout how much longer he had to do when Her Royal Highness was in ear shot of the pipes he was assured that she'd stay for just a few minutes. It seems she stayed for almost 40 by which time he had blown himself blue and was one deep breath away from passing out and disppearing into the bushes behind him when she finally made her way out.

I'm off to see Cat on a Hot Tin Roof tonight. It should be good although the reviews have been mixed apparently.

Monday, 14 December 2009

No.200 Of Strange Rules & Contradictions

My 200th blog. Goodness me. 200 pieces of inconsequential nonsense delivered to the faithful, the unknowing and the damn right careless 24/7!

I'm currently staying in a most bizarre hotel in Earls Court. It's a place of contradictions. You arrive and there's no-one to greet you. Just three machines in which you must check in, pay in advance and generate your own key card. Then you have to negotiate a series of corridors, sharp corners, stairs a foot bridge over to the hotel annex, a lift, more corners and corridors, two doors and finally your room.

Breakfast is a wholly different experience. The food is good. The porridge (specially ordered) arrives in super quick time and tastes better than anything I've tried anywhere (including my place). For the hostess service to be any better she'd need to sit down and personally feed you (a service I may well avail of in 40 years times if I'm spared that long). All the staff at the hotel including the cleaners greet you with a cheery hello and a smile as soon as you're on their radar.

I'm off to meet a banker friend for lunch in Mayfair today. Apparently, I have to wear a tie otherwise I wont get in. I forgot to bring my "statement" tie with me. It's yellow with black spots and very loud. I'm sure he'll be thankful.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

No.199 Of Letter Writing Old Style

Well that's the Christmas Party over. For my Secret Santa I was given a couple of DVDs of Ricky Gervais's "The Office". Our Finance guy was given a box of balloons to make inflatable animals. What does this say about me and my company I wonder?

Things are definitely winding down here but they shouldn't be. We've still lots of things to do and achieve before the year's out. I wonder if any companies have a strategy of trying to go full out during December to achieve competitive advantage. It's a hard one to push though.

Currently I'm writing a few thank you letters to various contacts, clients and customers. I've forgotten just how bad my writing is. I wonder if the recipients will open the letter and think it's from Gordon Brown...My spelling is up the left too. How did I ever manage without a spell checker at school? I suppose the honest answer is that I had one. Her name was Sister Claudia and wow if I spelt something wrong I should have got right first time did she let me know about it?

Ho hum more paperwork to do before leaving the office this morning.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

No.198 Of Tricks of The Mind

I performed a card trick on a friend yesterday evening. It was one I had learnt from Derren Brown's book Tricks of the Mind. It went well. In fact so well that said friend was looking behind her and above her for mirrors, cameras or anything else that might give her a clue as to how the trick was done. When she started checking to make sure the cards weren't marked I asked her if she had a trust problem and low opinion of men. She replied "No just a low opinion of you Mr P!". Ho Hum.

I have to confess that the trick when surprising well and I was just as gob smacked as she was. Well done Mr Brown! That's not an expression you hear very often right now.

No.197 Of Forgetting Secret Santa

Emmm so here's the end of another week. Well almost. Tomorrow doesn't really count because we have the Christmas Party and you can always wipe off that day - at least in terms of work.

We're doing the Secret Santa thing again this year. In all other years it's been rigged and I've no reason to doubt that this one is any different. The rules are quite clear however. You spend up to £5 and you don't tell anyone else who you have. In days gone by names have been drawn out to gasps and looks of horror and then all sorts of wheeling and dealing, bribery and blackmail took place to ensure that one person didn't have to buy for another or indeed did have to buy for A. Nother.

Naturally being a fine upstanding member of this organisation I have made no attempt to swap my name for anyone elses. Although I have to confess that this has largely been due to the fact that for a good while for the life of me I couldn't remember whose name I had pulled out of the hat all those weeks' ago. I think I've got it right. If I haven't some lucky critta will get two presents from Santa at Legal-Island and one poor sod will get none at all and it will all be my fault. Ah bah humbag hey?

Merry Christmas everyone....

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

No.196 Of Cycles....

Yesterday I spent all day in Dublin. I've still to try one of those rent a bike schemes where you can hire a bike for a few hours and return it to any one of a number of auto stations around the city. What keeps putting me off is the weather and the traffic in Dublin. You'll either get soaked or killed - a fairly good disincentive I suppose.

I met a lady called Krishna De in Dublin. She's in the top ten of Twitterers in Dublin. I liked her a lot and I expect we might do a bit of biz together at some stage. I met her on Twitter btw.

Loads happening today with meetings in Moira and Belfast not to mention catching up after yesterday's networking, designing a job spec for our Marketing post and a few Christmas letters out to those who have really helped or inspired us this year. It's amazing how quickly Christmas comes round.

Ho Hum Onwards...

Monday, 7 December 2009

No.195 Standing Up For Tony

Wow! What a weekend. On Saturday night a group of us went to the Laughter Lounge in Belfast. We sat preciously close to the stage but alas were spared a grilling from any of the acts. The comedians and compare were great. It's a superb skill Stand Up and it must be one of the hardest professions going.


I'm currently reading a book by Tony Robbins. I'm on a role at the moment. I've not read a bad book in a long time and here's hoping that this one is worth the time it'll take to get through 400 odd pages. Almost every trainer I've met in the last few months either knows Tony Robbins or more likely really raves about the bloke. He's not even 30 yet and never went to university. Emmmm


I've loads on for this week including some important meetings tomorrow and Wednesday. Should be fun. Hold tight. Here we go....

Friday, 4 December 2009

No.194 From Advanced to Zen

Ok that's it. No more jumping straight into a frozen car in the morning and trying to see through a tiny gap in the windscreen as I drive impatiently to work. Definitely not safe. As Jim Royale would say "Advanced Driver my Ass".

We're busy reviewing procedures today. A day likely to be heavy going on the brain but productive nonetheless.

A different weekend beckons involving entertaining friends, attending a wedding, a comedy club, Zen and who knows what else..... Isn't that what a good weekend should be about?

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

No.193 Of Work & Planning

It's plan, plan, plan at the moment as we try and straighten things out for next year. We're fortunate in so far as we have many options open to us and it's a case of working out which to select and act on. They're diverse too which is great. The more in the mix the better say I.

It's been an interesting year on the Island here with loads of development. One of our staff is returning to us later this month after 6 months away and I'm wondering if she'll recognise us. We've had a few personnel changes, a new training centre built and quite a lot of cosmetic work done too ("work done" as the euphemism goes nowadays). We now have a plaque on the wall as you walk in that says "Recognised by Investors in People" and great facilities which will hopefully attract new great staff as we continue to grow.

On the subject of which I'm busy at the moment drafting two job descriptions for marketing posts as our M&S team go on maternity leave early next year. Know anybody?

No.192 Of Mindmappers & Tricks of the Mind

Hah! We have Ann Forsyth, a Mindmapper, in today. She's probably going to tell us that everything we've learnt about how to learn since the first day of school is wrong. Lets see.


I'm busy drafting two new marketing posts for appointment next year.


I was reading Derren Brown's Tricks of the Mind last night. This is fast developing into one of the best works of non fiction I have ever read. It's the kind of book that makes you want to rush home get something to eat and jump on the sofa and start reading. How often does that happen?

Monday, 30 November 2009

No.191 Of Dancing Dramas

Oh bum! I've lost my pool routine. I climbed out my pit this morning at 6.30a.m. to get to the pool for 7.15a.m. only to be informed that it is closed until next year for essential maintenance. Does this mean I have an extra hour in bed each day or that I should replace 40 lengths in the morning with a steady jog to work or something?

I watched the docudrama last night on Margot Fonteyne and Rudolf Nureyev followed by a documentary which showed them performing together. Their dancing together was one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen. It was one of those moments when you actually regret not being much older so that you might have had a chance to have been there to experience it in person. A bit like the last Beatles concert at Candlestick Park, San Francisco. Margot danced until she was in her 60s and died in 1991 in poverty looking after her dirty rat of a husband, Tito. That bit the docudrama never seemed to explain. But then life is full of unexplained complexities I suppose.

No.190 of Sir Reg

Well it was a mad week last week but a great one. We had the last of our Annual Reviews - this time at the Ramada and it was a rip roaring success.

We also skipped along to Hillsborough Castle to pick up our Investors in People award. Yours truly should pick up an award himself for best faux pas of the year. I thanked the Minister Sir Reg personally for the support he has given Legal-Island and for speaking at one of our events. I wanted him to know how much his support meant to us. It was only when back in the office that staff reminded me that he's never actually spoken for us and that he pulled out of an Annual Review because he was unwell. Poor guy probably thought I was a sarcastic b.......d.

Loads on this week including inhouse trianing on Mindmapping - should be interesting.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

No.189 Sitting in the Dock of a Bay

It's been a manic day today. It started at 5a.m. with breakfast and a shower then into work for 6a.m. I spent an hour on the laptop prepping a breakfast seminar duly delivered at 8.40a.m. at the Ramada, Belfast. I then raced down the motorway for a meeting at 11.30,a.m. a second at 12.15p.m. a third at 2p.m., a fourth at 3p.m. a fifth at 4.30p.m. with the sixth and last due for 7p.m. in half an hour's time

As I bang this into the blog I'm sitting in the Burlington with my laptop docked into the corner of the Foyer people watching and tonight the "game" is plentiful. There's air stewardesses from Eithad airlines coming in from a flight with most likely their relief crew just checking out. They look rather fine in their blue grey uniform, but rather silly in their head scarves that drape down one side of their face only which looks mildly irritating to me. Also mildly irritating is the airline captain who leads the stewardesses around. They follow dutifully like ducklings behind daddy mallard. Unfortunately said captain is the spitting image of Leslie Neilson who once played the hapless captain in Airplane. I wonder if his ducklings realise this and are too polite to tell him. He takes himself very seriously.

Taking themselves seriously too are the bouncers mulling about trying hard without much success to melt unnoticed into the scenery. Others (not bouncers) dart about in fine dress on their way to what appears to be a rather well-to-do ball in the main suite of the hotel later this evening. There's an air of confidence about these people which they seem to have gained from this dressing up experience the same sort of confidence that I saw today at the Four Courts as I watched barristers parade up and down like peacocks in their wigs and gowns. Strange what costume or fine dress does to the psyche innit?

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

No.188 Of Sir Reg & Awards

So there we have it. Legal-Island is now officially recognised as a holder of the Investors in People award. Said award was presented to us by Sir Reg Empey himself at a ceremony at Hillsborough Castle. This is a castle worth visiting if only for its toilets for they are quite special. Of course they're not signed toilets but cloakrooms at the castle.

Sat there waiting to be called for the photo I wondered just how many speeches that poor man has to do every week and whether he really wanted to be there. I say poor man but we shouldn't forget he volunteered for public service and the eminent post he now holds.

So where too now for the company and its people management? There are three more levels it seems bronze, silver and gold. I once got a bronze swimming award for jumping in a pool in my pyjamas and retrieving a brick from the bottom of the pool. I'm guessing Sir Reg's bronze award involves something a bit different.

Monday, 23 November 2009

No.187 London? What's Wrong with Antrim?

Wow! A weekend away in London. Friday night the English National Opera House and Bluebeard. Saturday night Royal Opera House and Sleeping Beauty. Throw in the rugby on a huge screen jaunts round Covent Garden Tafalgar Square and Camden Market and I'm left feeling do weekends come any better than this? Answers on the modern day equivalent of a postcard please...

Back to porridge this morning with one big event tomorrow and an even bigger one Thursday. Roll on Christmas or at least 7 days of doing not very much.

Friday, 20 November 2009

No.186 Oh No I'm a Celebrity

Oh No! I'm a Celebrity is back on and Oh No I've started watching it! I hate myself for this more than I hate the British obsession with celebrity. So why do I do it? Picture someone headbutting a wall if you will...

I'm finishing at 12noon today in advance of a long weekend in London. This means I have loads to do today and have to start deciding what's only urgent what's urgent/important and what can be left until Monday. Next week will be huge. Two Annual Reviews in one week and big meetings in Dublin Thursday and Friday.

Onwards!

Thursday, 19 November 2009

No.185 Of Front Crawling to the Weekend

The problem with having a big conference on midweek is that the following day you feel it's the end of the week and you're crawling to get to the weekend.

On the subject of crawl it was front crawl today 40 lengths this morning beginning at 7.15a.m.. A speaker from yesterday claimed she does 64 lengths every day and I believe her. In a spare moment I worked out that in the past 10 years she has swam 3,840 km. that's the equivalent of almost ten swims to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg if you could swim all the way. Mighty if you ask me. I bet she doesn't flag by Thursday.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

No.184 Of Big Days & Big Weather

Its another big day for us. Annual Review event No.3 out of 5. Today we're at the Radisson Dublin Airport - a great hotel with fine service. The speaker line up is great but lacks Marguertie Bolger SC who is court up in litigation. In for her is Claire Bruton not an easy space to fill but I'm sure she'll do well.

The weather outside is howling. I wonder if this will affect the mode of delegates. It sometimes does. I must ask the Chair to start with some gags just to lighten the mood. Rather him than me.

Onwards!

No.183 Of Naked Flames & Howling Gales

Dublin again. This time at the Radisson airport Hotel. They have a naked flame burning in the foyer here. It's the sort of thing you want to try and blow out when the staff are not watching or hang around to see if anyone catches fire who themselves are not watching and expecting a naked flame to be right where you queue to check out. I wonder how much they paid an interiour designer to come up with that idea.

I'm in a room which is really nice. There's a problem however. There's a howling gale blowing outside and somehow it's whistle is going right through my bedroom. This may be because I'm right by the lift and the wind is coming up the shaft. The only way to stop the noise for some reason it seems is to open the bedroom door a tad. This can be done without compromising the room's security by putting the chain across the door whilst ajar. But I'm not sure how advisable it is to allow all those coming out the lift on the second floor and turning right full view of his Lordship in his jammies.

There's loads happening at work at the moment. During the past few weeks I've had lots of people come at me with ideas. I've gone at lots of people with my own ideas too. Now I have to start working out which of them all makes sense, which don't and which are damn right foolish. But how and using what? Aristotle, Pythagoras, bar charts, Venn diagrams, the toss of a coin or Ib dib dob dib?

Monday, 16 November 2009

No.182 Of White Dogs and a Caine

Yesterday was a great day. I went hiking up the Sperrins with some friends and a dog (a white lab) which was to become more useful than I had first expected. The hillside was remarkably boggie and after a good deal of rain it was difficult to be sure that you were not about to disappear into a bog similar to the one that starred in Hound of the Baskervilles and accounted for at least one baddie if I remember rightly. Hence said dog was brought forward and ordered to lead the way as we duly marched behind watching carefully to see if four legs disappeared and become one head at any point. It didn't in case a member of the RSPCA is reading this.

Last night I went to the flicks and saw Harry Brown - Michael Caine's latest film. It was good. He was even better but the plot is a bit predictable and I've seen it in at least two films before.

I think I can now lay claim to be a regular 40 a day man having swam 40 lengths four times in succession. I believe I've conquered the sheer bordeom of it all by running through in mind the forthcoming day's diary. Yes I know not very exciting but marginally better than concentrating on the bottom of the pool for one direction then the other 20 times.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

No.181 Of YoYo Shopping Weekends

Yesterday was a shopping day and one of extremes with the worst shopping experience in my life ever immediately followed by one of the best.

It started out at the Outlet Centre near Banbridge. I had been wanting to go to this for a while to compare it with J1. I couldn't see much difference between the two. The lay out is more or less the same. The type of shops are much the same too.

First stop was for a suit so I ventured into a shop called Savoy Taylors Guild about halfway along the horseshoe curve of shops on the lefthandside. Within a few seconds a lady shop assistant approached to ask me if I needed any help. I said no thank you but I'd let her know if I did. A couple of minutes later she asked again and I said No thank you. Then her male colleague who has also been watching me asked and I said no thank you avoiding any eye contact. Then a third shop assistant (possibly the manager) walked onto the floor from another room and asked me if I needed assistance. Please don't explode and be rude to this woman I said to myself when I heard with relief the words coming out "Thank you but no I'm okay". Two minutes later the male colleague tried again and I barked "No I'm okay". Five minutes later and the first assistant asked "Do you need help with sizes?". I can't remember if I bought something or whether shoppers outside saw the Incredible Hulk burst out through the shop window of Savoy Taylors Guild covered in glass, rage and a whole lot of gear I was about to try on.

Less than half an hour later I was in a shop called Collar and Tie in Lisburn. This is not a shop I would normally have ventured into but for a recommendation from a friend. From the outside it doesn't really appeal and draw you in. Inside I was treated to a cheery good afternoon from a gentlemen called Ray who I assumed to be the owner. I told him I was looking for a jacket and matching trousers. He politely suggested that I wasn't and that to attempt a match was a mistake. Instead, he showed me how to "pair" a shirt and trousers. He showed me German trousers and how they compared to French and advised me that in his view I could get away with wearing quite a strong coloured shirt. He guessed my waist size perfectly and some great patter later he led me to the till and announced to the cashier "this gentlemen is first time in with us if we don't look after him he wont come back throw in 20% discount".

Ray, it's great to see someone so passionate and good at what you do and I salute you.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

No.180 Of Calm Storms and Comfy Sofas

Well it's nail ya kids to the floorboards weather in the South-West of England at the moment apparently but not at all windy here yet for some reason. May be the calm before the storm.

Last night I went to a dinner party and promptly fell asleep on the sofa - not sure if I'll make the cut again after that performance. Was a comfy photo though so they had it coming.

Today, I'm off shopping again to the outlet centre near Banbridge. It's one of these places I have always passed but never gone in to. Likewise the Bronte Centre, a sign for which I always see on the Belfast to Dublin road. This intrigues me. I always thought the Brontes lived in Yorkshire. I'll see if I can throw in a visit to this too just to check that Wuthering Heights was indeed set on the Yorkshire Moors and not in the Sperrins afterall.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Networking Tips

I've spent the last 6 weeks networking quite intensively. To do this I've used conventional means such as attending events organized by networking groups in NI. I've worked through referrals but I've also met quite a few people via social media and Twitter in particular. During this period I've met people who have delivered a masterclass in how to network and others who have demonstrated just how not to.

I thought I'd knock up my top tips on how to network well based on my experiences over the past 6 weeks. They're meant for discussion as much as anything else so if you think I've missed something please let me know.

TIPS - MY TOP 12

1. Preparation is important - make sure you have the venue right, you know where it is and you have the person's mobile number in case of problems on the day.

2. It's an obvious thing to say but don't be late. If you expect to be, contact the person you are meeting to let them know. Lateness makes a statement that your time is more important than theirs and is an awful start to a meeting

3. Once in the meeting switch you mobile to silent. If you expect to have to take a call during the meeting tell them in advance that there's a really important call coming in which you simply must take.

4. Make sure you have some knowledge of what it is the person you are meeting does and their business. There's nothing worse than asking the question "So how do you think we might be able to do something together?" to get the reply "Well to be honest I don't really know what you do"!

5. Don't talk at the person or over them but listen to what they have to say. Ask lots of questions & probe around before you get as far as even a tentative proposal on something.

6. By all means talk about yourself but mix it. Ask questions about the other person, their business and what they do. Never ever just talk about yourself and leave a meeting thinking it was productive.

7. Practice your active listening skills by summarizing back to the person you're meeting key points

8. Ask yourself how the person might be able to help you but ask them how they think you can help them.

9. Try and remember something about them or their business so that next time you meet you return to a matter that you discussed.

10. Avoid negative remarks about competitors or anyone you might have a common interest in. What goes around comes around.

11. At the meeting summarise what it is you've each agreed do. This will help clarify all matters and make you look like you plan to carry out what is agreed.

12. Next day email the person with the summary of agreed points and any contact details necessary.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

No.178 Of Twittering Neighbours

I've finally met my match. Someone who can out talk me on Twitter. I met him at Shel Israel's presentation last night entitled "Twitterville". Top bloke and wow does he like to parlez Twitter.

Shel's presentation was great. He was very self deprecating and he gave it plenty of wellie which I always like to see.

Yikes! Someone has just Twittered to say how much I resemble Karl Kennedy from Neighbours. Wasn't he an inveterate womaniser? He was when I last watched the show about 15 years ago. He might have calmed down a bit since then.

Finally another day of no meetings except one with a blonde : my hairdresser. Wonder if she thinks I look like Karl Kennedy...

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

No.177 Of Chips & Good Cheer

Last night I took a notion as they say in Northern Ireland. Took a notion that is, for a bag of chips. Only here I'm not too well versed in chip shop terminology and I wasn't sure whether I should be asking for a portion of chips (sounds a bit posh to me) a bag of chips or just chips. So I hedged my bets and said "a load of chips please" quickly and a tad slurred in case it sounded a bit out of place. The woman on the till promptly and loudly converted the request into something the fryers behind her would understand and they and everyone else in the chippy knew what I really meant which was "single chip". Single chip by the way is £2.10. They don't make it sound like you get a lot for your money that's for sure.


This morning I got up to 40 lengths in the pool. Hurrah someting to cheer about with my new fitness regime. I'm hoping that if nothing else when I do only 30 tomorrow it will make me feel like I've had an easy swim rather than a hard one.

No meetings today just a seminar this evening by Shel Israel author of a book on Twitter. Time to finish this blog, Tweet and then do some proper work.

Monday, 9 November 2009

No.176 Of Red Cows & Orange Faces

We finished last week exhausted but on a high. The feedback from delegates who attended the first of our Annual Reviews of Employment Law at the Red Cow was astonishing. Everything averaged well over 4 out of 5 with hosting weighing in so far with a 4.97! The overall results are here. Rock on Legal-Island.

Saturday I spent shopping. Yuk! Belfast was mobbed as was Boots. There must have been an explosion in the cosmetics department of Boots shortly before I walked in because all the assistants were covered in orange face paint. Handy if there's a black out I suppose - just look for the glows behind the tills. I was in there for 10 minutes but I'm not sure if I could have done another 5 without exploding myself. Why is it that people at the top of a queue can't understand the words "Who's Next Please?" or are too busy chatting to each other to hear "Cashier No.6 please?" Then when you try to assist by telling them there's a cashier free they look at you like you're some kind of Morron. Rant over.

Sunday I spent with friends on the North Antrim coast. I don't think there's anywhere more beautiful when the weather's good at this time of year. Driving back from the coast through Bushmills I got caught right in the middle of the Rememberance Parade. There was some war vets, followed by some marching members of the girls brigade then me in the MG. I wondered if onlookers thought the MG had played it's part in the war or something.

Friday, 6 November 2009

No.175 Of the Big Five

Yesterday we hosted the first of our Big Five. "Annual Review of Employment Law 2009" started this year at the Red Cow Hotel, Dublin and what an opener it proved to be. The Hotel was in top shape and really looked after us as we looked after our delegates. The notes were first class and the programme, (though devised almost six months ago) was right on the money.

The day however belonged to the speakers who were on blistering form and one in particular, Marguerite Bolger S.C who took the second session on equality issues. When eavesdropping at the first coffee break the talk was all about Marguerite's presentation. When I asked delegates over lunch what they had enjoyed most that far they answered Marguerite's presentation. When I checked the scores today from the delegate evaluation forms it was Marguerite's name topping the list. When I asked the hosters who they enjoyed most they replied Marguerite. The only person not to answer Marguerite was our sound engineer Arnold. He answered "I can't remember her name but she did the second session".

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

No.174 Of Big Gaffs and Big Days

I've been out networking this week. I had a meeting with someone who was keen to supply us with a service. All was going well until he said "Who is it you work for again, The Law Society?" There's nothing like holding a grenade in one hand and pulling the pin out with the other.


The big day looms. Today I predict furious activity as we gather all the gear for tomorrow's conference stuff it in two vans and head for Dublin. We've done this event many times but each time we try something new so it's never boring. Tomorrow for the first time we have a mindmapper working with the audience, presentations that are recorded for one-to-one feedback from a presentations coach as well as workplace psychologists mulling around. Bring it on!

Monday, 2 November 2009

No.173 Of Ten Green Bottles

I'm always forgetting my shower gel when I go swimming. Usually I leave it in the shower at the swimming baths. Occasionally I forget to take it altogether. Today was one of those days.

This is serious matter when a shower after a swim without any means of scrubbing off the chemicals leaves you itching all day. I asked the lady at the counter if by any chance they sold soap. She said she didn't but went to a lost and found cabinet to reveal about 10 bottles of shower gel others had left behind - 3 of which I immediately recognised as my own. "I'll have the green re-energise gel" I said. She seemed surprised that I could read the label from such a distance.

It's a big week this week here on the Island with the first of our Annual Review Conferences in Dublin where everything will be discussed from redundancies right through to discrimination and equality issues. It's a sell out so it's in at the deep end stuff. Hold tight everyone here we go....

Friday, 30 October 2009

No.172 Of the Serious Business of Bingo

I went to a bingo night last night. I know, not something you'd expect someone to boast about in a blog but last night we thought it would be different. Different because it was held in the Belfast Spiel tent during the arts festival that is running this month. Billed as Eileen Bowe's night of bingo and fun we expected a mixture of bingo and craic or number calling interdispersed with other types of alternative entertainment. But no, for Mrs Bowes, bingo was clearly a serious business and there was work to be done. Immediately after introducing herself we were informed it was eyes down and that we were playing for a packet of biscuits for one line. There was no time for humour or rapport this was bingo at its most serious.

Mrs Bowe must be pushing 80 but there was no sign of her slowing up because the numbers came at us fast and furious and there was time only to whizz up and down and across four books to tick your way to a prize. One table of guests walked out in protest at her speed (all the fours they're making for the doors Mrs Bowes) which seemed to bother her not in the least.

After the last game she thanked everyone in her North Yorkshire drawl for making her so welcome and promptly walked off stage.

I walked out with four cans of soup for a full line. All the eights not a moment too late Mrs Bowes. A bizarre night indeed.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

No.171 Of Normal Folk and a Steady Stroke

Wow a whole day clear in the diary! Here's the challenge can I go from 9a.m. this morning full steam with no interruptions and leave at 5p.m. like normal folk?

Today is the third day this week that I've swam 30 lengths of the Antrim pool before coming in to work. I've finally worked out why it is that less fit looking swimmers still manage to pass me whilst going up and down. It's nothing to do with leg kick or how the arms enter the water. Nor is in the pull of the hands under the water. It's a simple thing called stroke rate. You can't go somewhere 12 km away in 60 minutes if you're only walking 8km an hour.

9a.m. approaches. Time to Twitter, sort the diary and work on a steady stroke rate til 5p.m..

Monday, 26 October 2009

No.170 Of Onwards & Accompanying Plans

Now that was a great weekend. Loads of good food, great company and a whole lot done too.

The builder arrived last night to show me his plans for the renovation work. There's something about plans. I just can't get them. I need models built or lots of people standing around pretending to be walls to help me visualise things. He's taken his second holiday in as many months so he can't be doing too badly.

Looking forward to a belter of a week before a belter of a month next month. Onwards.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

No.169 Of The Art of Zen and a Different Night Out

Zen, Belfast. I came. I saw, I ate and as always, I really enjoyed. What a great restaurant. Doesn't matter when you go, what you order - it's always good.


Last night the company was great too. The two Legal-Island Directors took out a handful of lawyers from O'Reilly Stewart Solicitors. I like these guys. There's a great atmosphere between them and best of all they're a self deprecating lot that don't take themselves too seriously.

Presently I'm working on a different Saturday night out. This is not an easy thing to plan in Belfast. Currently it has a theme : a challenge to the eyes, the ears and the taste buds. Here's hoping my friends will see it the same way.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

No.168 Of Weekly Scores on the doors

So its BBC 1 BNP 0.

Nick Griffith you made a terrible fool of yourself last night and was wonderfully exposed by British democracy working at its very best. May your ugly horrible racist views RIP.

I was dining at the new Ramada Encore Hotel last night - or at least I should have been. I was presented with a menu featuring 11 dishes but not one vegetarian. When I mentioned this to the waiter he explained to me that the chef would do penne pasta for me. This really sounded the alarm bells. For it is this dish that really indicates the chef has given no serious thought to his menu and even less to the opportunity to shine by doing a really imaginative and creative vegetarian dish. I skipped over to Nick's warehouse and enjoyed great food. That's Nick's Warehouse 1 Ramda 0.

Today was my fourth time in the pool since Monday. That's almost 1.5 mile I've clocked up this week. I bought myself a new pair of goggles this morning for the other pair are scratched and misty inside. This was not a good move for I can now see the bottom of the pool clearly and just how dirty it is. That's Antrim Pool 0 Everyone Else 0.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

No.167 Of Earlybirds and Teletubby

30 lengths of the pool this morning. Not a bad start to the day. I wonder if one day anyone will write a book called "Earlybirds" based on the life stories of those who regularly swim up and down a cold pool when they really ought to be in bed like the rest of the nation. "Earlybirds" wherever you go are a motley crew. There are those that are retired but for some reason still feel the need to belt out of bed and begin their day socialising waist deep in water. There's the driven crowd that need to fire up and down the pool to get themselves pumped up for the day ignoring everyone else unless they dare to go faster them. There's the injured group who are convalescing from an accident or illness and probably find that part of the day the easiest to wake their body into some sort shape. And there's the grumpy fighting-the-flap-brigade (of which I number) who grumbles his way into the pool three times a week and with every turn of every length wonders what he is doing and whether it's worth the cold, the getting wet, the getting dry and the loss of a good hour's sleep.

I suppose the answer is that it is worth it or at least I have to do it otherwise I wont be able to enjoy the networking I have to do. Tonight I'm at "Made in Belfast". Tomorrow I'm at the Merchant and Friday night Zen. Earlybird or Teletubby the choice, I guess, is mine.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

No 166

I was dining with a friend last night who showed me his Twitter Iphone folder. I saw that he's following just 2 people : me and Stephen Fry. Yikes no pressure then?

Big week this week. We have 20 sessions on one day (including a Twitter session) - something never yet attempted here on the Island. One day we'll all do "normal" here and stop pushing ourselves but not this year....

Monday, 19 October 2009

No.165 Of Extraordinary Things

I watched "Last Chance to See" last night. I'm a great fan of Stephen Fry but I have to say I found his constant declarations that everything was "Extraordinary" rather irritating. The shot of him with tears welling up as he watches a video of a whale being hunted and killed smacked of hypocrisy to me. The creatures on this earth that are also fluffy toys and stars or disney films like whales and dolphins we all look out for and get terribly emotional about. The ugly rest get abused with impunity.

Loads on this week including a fun day of seminars all day Thursday featuring some twenty masterclass CPD sessions. Extraordinary.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

No.164 Of Big Decisions and Little Ones

Lovely day today - for work! It's grey. It's miserable and there's rain in the air. I cycled in quickly this morning and will have to do it twice as quick on the return leg lest I get completely soaked.

I watched the DVD last night "Touching the Void". This is one of the most extraordinary stories of survival and determination you're ever likely to see. The film recounts the adventures of two climbers from Britain who attempted to scale a previously unclimbed mountain peak in Peru. They managed to do this but on the way down one of them broke his leg. The other controversially cut the climbing rope which held him and his mate together as the latter with his fractured limb dangled over a cravass. Left for dead he managed to crawl back to base camp - a journey that took four days.

There's loads to be had from the film. One of the most important points is that the disabled climber managed psychologically to do what he did by breaking his epic escape journey into segments. Had he thought about the trek back in terms of the miles ahead he might well have given up. Insteady, he broke it down often into journeys of more than 100 metres and once there repeated the process again and again. Instead of climbing out of the cravass (which was a physical impossibility) he decided to lower himself further into it in the vain hope there was a way out at the bottom. What he said was "I had to take a decision - even a bad decision was better than no decision at all which would undoubtedly kill me".

Decision for today. To get on my bike and get home.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

No.163 Of Early Birds & Late Arrivals

The early birds saga continues. I was in at 7.15a.m. on the dot of opening time today and there were EBs legging it up the stairs to the pool to be first in and get a lane all to themselves. Give them their due they're a socialable lot full of smiles and friendly hellos. I'm afraid they don't get much warmth from me - they probably think I'm a grumpy git. But hey it's early. It's 7a.m. ish how can they expect anything else at such an ungodly hour?

We have our second seminar today in our new training suite. The big question is how many people will find us? We've upgraded our directions, sent out links to new online maps and short of floating a hot air balloon above our offices I'm not sure how much more we can do. It's 8.37a.m. and I don't see much sign of life in the car park. Guess the seminar will start late. I think we need a hot air balloon.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

No.162 Of Missing News & Professionals

There's almost no news about at the moment. Last night on News at Ten we heard about expenses repayments, the taped confession of a sex fiend (why did we need to hear this?) and a letter from 40 years ago from Eric Morecombe indicating he wanted to split up from Ernie Wise. Surely there must be something going on in some small part of the huge globe that we live in that can beat this? How does the Delimitri song go again "And nothing ever happens nothing happens at all the needle returns to the start of the song and we all carry on as before..."

Here's some news. I'm still trying to contact a barrister who despite 3 texts 2 emails and 3 phone calls hasn't got in touch. I'll give him 24 hours and then phone the police with a missing persons request.

Loads happening today including meetings with educationalists. I like educationalists they always seem passionate about what they do. Best of all when you contact them asking them to return your call they do.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

No.161 Of Northern Ireland at its Natural Best

If anyone this morning asks me if I had a good weeknd I can in trusth say I did. Possibly a classic.

Saturday morning I jogged to work and did loads. The same evening I went to see I friend in a play in Moy, Martin O'Brien. Martin is a barrister and part-time judge and wasted at both I realise. He was superb on the boards and had everyone in stitches laughing.

Yesterday was spent hiking across the Glens to the castle there which is also a hotel in glorious weather. This morning I cycled into work shooting past the early morning mist coming off the river and the herons busy out fishing. Nature rather than the weather in Northern Ireland can be relied upon to stir the spirits. Onwards with the week...

Friday, 9 October 2009

No.160 Of Dames, Barristers & Priests

I've driving around in a borrowed car at the moment. This is a story for another blog. Turning on the music system as I drove to the pool this morning my lug holes were treated to the very best of Vera Lynn's war time songs. People complain today that video games and Internet relationships cause us to lose sight of reality. It's occurred to me that Dame Vera was propagating much the same over 50 years ago by belting out songs in the early 40s which would have you convinced that tomorrow you'll by on a beautiful tropical beach in the arms of the one you kissed last night at the end of the last waltz at the Hackney Empire.

It's been a strange week with loads happening but nothing much achieved or at least that feeling that lurks like the black dog that follows those who constantly feel themselves to be at the centre of chaos, disorder and mayhem.

I'm off to see an old friend in a local play tonight. He's a barrister but I always felt he was meant for the church. He's playing a priest and all he's got to do is act naturally...

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

No.159 Of Disbelief & Diversification

Boy the heavens opened yesterday as I chased around Dublin from meeting to meeting. In fact I think I had 7 meetings in one day yesterday which must be something of a PB. I stopped half way through to have lunch (and another meeting) with Hannah Carney a performance coach. We sat out in the yard under a huge umbrella pretending the weather was fine (whilst keeping a close eye on the dripping water to make sure it kept well away from coats and brief cases) as everyone inside the restaurant looked out in disbelief.

In the afternoon one of my meetings was with a guy in a very striped shirt who took me to a bright room with strip lighting dazzling blinds and stripey wallpaper. I felt for a moment like Derren Brown was going to make an appearance and lead me away to a dark room and tell me exactly what was in my mind during the earlier part of the disorientation process.

My last meeting was with a guy also in the event management industry. He explained how things had not been going great for him so he'd decided to diversify. He said so far he's produced a critique of a piece of employment legislation, a film script, a pocket book for the police to carry around on criminal law and is ready to print handbooks for a particular market in Libya. That's diversification alright- fair play to you sir.

Monday, 5 October 2009

No.158 Of Hanging Around & Dashing About

I spent a good part of yesterday erecting blinds I had purchased from IKEA. The instructions came in five languages none of which included English. If the Swedes had overlooked Ulster Scots or Irish I would have understood it but the most commonly spoken language in the world emmm bit of a slip up there I think. Anyway along came Radek my Polish friend who kindly translated one of the five for me. He said that the instructions simply explained why no screws are provided with the blinds and advised that you should consult someone who knows about DIY before attempting to hang them. No such person was around but this morning the blinds were still hanging which suggests that they'd met their match in me.

I'm busy this morning preparing for a full day of networking tomorrow in Dublin. The hardest part of these types of days is hoofing round Dublin on foot getting to the next meeting without being late or at least looking presentable and not covered in sweat. One of these days may be I'll be so important that they'll all come to me but I doubt it.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

No.157 Of Factoring in a bit of Cynisism into the XFactor

Right that's it. No more XFactor. Last night was just ridiculous. They flew the contestants all over the globe to sing one shortened song and after 1.5 hours of viewing we still hadn't been told who was through and who was going home. This was despite the fact that at the beginning of the show we saw clips of the judges delivering the bad news. Not only that but they immerse these poor souls in utter decadence and celebrity and ask them all the same banal question "How much do you want this?".

I wonder if it is also fair to say that the XFactor producers could be just a little bit more green than they are. Last night's episode alone must have accounted for at least 5 unnecessary long distance flights when I'm sure the short listing would have worked equally well in London. And why the judges can't arrive for the auditions at least in the same limo rather than one each is beyond me. Come on guys why take yourself so seriously share a taxi or take a bike in.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

No.155 Of Chairs Floors & Unpainted Doors

I went to IKEA yesterday for the first time for to buy a set of blinds and came away with a trolley load of gear and a good £200 light. It's an enormous place with maps all over the place with big arrows saying "You are here". Makes a nice change going somewhere and feeling completely overwhelmed.

Less overwhleming is the task ahead today of errecting another 6 chairs for the new conference suite painting a couple of windows and shoving up a couple of blinds. Just when you think the job's been done you step back from it all take a few days off and realise that it's not as finished as you first thought. Thought there was just one door remaining to paint until I tried the new loos and discovered another.

Must get a jog in too and choose the direction carefully. The wind today is mighty - real nail your kids to the floorboards stuff.

Friday, 2 October 2009

No.154 Of Being Healthy & High

Yes! Result. First 10 pages of War and Peace digested last night (just 1,290 pages to go..) followed by 20 lengths of the pool this morning porridge and bananna for breakfast along with hot water with the juice of a lemon. This is what I call ending the week on a healthy high.

Energy/enthusiasm levels may take a hit however as I prepare for a whole morning of accounts - roll on the weekend.

I had the builder round to the house last night to talk about renovations/extensions. It's easy to get carried away. Before he left I had already got him building a jetty into the river and a jacuzzi tree house. The poor man left in a hurry shouting over his shoulder that he may be back.

I wonder if War and Peace might be any easier to read high up in a jacuzzi?

Thursday, 1 October 2009

No.153 Of Open Declarations of War

Ok so its war on War and Peace. Finally, last night I plucked up the courage to start this monster of a novel - or perhaps more accurately to "assess the job" before starting this evening.

There are it seems 27 main characters in W n P (incidentally in Russia it is called Peace and War did you know?). Apparently in Russia you can refer to someone in three different ways; by using their first name, their patriarcname or their informal/nickname and a lot of this goes on in the book. So my guess is that the reader has to wrestle not with 27 names but as many as 80+. My preference in the past has been for books with no more than 3 characters thereafter I struggle or end up flipping to the front all the time to the List of Characters to remind myself who is who. I feel a battle if not a war coming on already.

There's 1,300 in my copy of P n W. I've worked it out that if I read an average of 10 pages every day that's 130 days of my reading life accounted for or if you like now until Christmas and beyond.

Anyway onwards! Into battle.......!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

No 152 Of Twitterers & Hoodless Spoofers

Today started early for me at 5.30a.m. as I got suited and booted (and of course showered beforehand) in readiness for a breakfast seminar on Twitter to be delivered at 8a.m..

I fired into Belfast in the convertible an hour later from Antrim with the hood down in the hope that air blasting at me 60 miles an hour for 20 minutes would have me fully woken up and ready to go by 8a.m.. It worked and was much needed. It turned out that the Hotel Internet connection wasn't working, then there were problems with the laptop and an awful amount of spoofing on the hoof was to follow.

I'm not sure whether an ability to spoof on the hoof its a good quality or not - pity they don't give olympic medals out for it tho.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

No.151 Of Rosina & Snowy

The early birds are getting earlier. I was in the pool by 7.30a.m. today and it was packed. I must set the alarm for 6.30a.m. in future. Beaten to the poolside twenty times over at the start of the week is not a good start to the week say I.

Last Thursday a friend (Kd) & I saw a lovely picture in the local charity shop whilst out cycling late in the evening. It was by Rosina Wachmeister, who it turns out Googles impressively.

I said the picture would look great on my lounge wall and declared an intention to buy it the following lunchtime. Anyway by 12.30p.m. the following day I was staring at a blank wall through the window where the picture used to hang. Knowing Kd's sense of humour I suspected she'd already gone in and nabbed it. So I went in and inquired about the picture and its purchaser "Oh a lovely gentlemen who gave me twice the asking price bought it" I was assured by the attendant. Something didn't feel quite right. For some reason the episode reminded me of one of Tintin's adventure - "Red Rackham's Treasure" (or it may have been "The Crab with the Golden Claws") when he goes into a shop and asks about an antique model sailing boat which is gone when he comes back for it the following day. The surly description of the man given to Tintin who bought the ship tells you that there's trouble ahead that might even require the intervention of Snowy the dog.

Anyway later that evening when I called round to Kd's to see Kd's very own Snowy there was the picture hanging on the wall and Kd sporting a grin just as wide. The games people play....


No.150 Of Those With the X Factor - Naturally

I've realised I'm made a terrible mistake feeding the office plants these bionic grow pellets you can get nowadays. Those at the entrance to Island House have grown so much they're beginning to look like two large guards on duty with tentacles that might end up round your throat in a kind of triffids sort of way. Emm must go out the back on my way out tonight.

I went for lunch at the Antrim Park today with the Lady Captain. As always, she was on great form as she tucked into her roast beef Sunday dinner and me my veggie equivalent. She's great craic and so natural with it...must find her a bloke....

I watched the X Factor last night and felt for those whose dreams were shattered as they nearly made the final 24 but didn't. But then I thought I'm not so sure that I should feel for them at all. Aren't most just clammering for fame and that awful glitzy celebrity status that the British revere and crave so much nowadays and seem increasingly hollow because of it?

Ho Hum. Time to evade some triffids, if not celebrities, as I make my way home.

Saturday, 26 September 2009

No.149 Of TV and Whats PC

I attended the Belfast artist festival last night. I'm loathe to say I didn't enjoy the Zimbabwe band playing at the John Hewitt because every time you say this about an ethnic band you feel you'll be branded a racist. But I thought they were monotonous and a steal drum sounds great for the first two numbers but after that I want a bit my variety and a whole lot more boogey please.


I'm contemplating giving up TV for a year. This would involve loaning my big screen to someone and putting the other 3 portables that I have somehow accumulated over the years beyond reach in the attic. Such a sacrifice would mean giving up The Apprentice, the chance of a Susan Boyle moment, Gareth Malone and Paxman on Newsnight. Emmm a thought that needs more work methinks.


Oh heavens a text has just come in. Mother has finally learnt to text!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

No.148 Of Inflated Prices & Inflected Voices

I was at the auctions again last night. It's a strange place but with some interesting characters - many of them traders looking for bargains and quick resales. I've decided I don't like traders they know what they're doing and they usually pump up the prices.


For some reason I always thought the job of an auctioneer was quite glamourous but as I watched two of them work last night taking it in turns to sell car after car I wondered if it is actually more monotonous than anything else. Between them the pair sounded like they were at a cattle auction throwing out the ever increasing figures in a fast monotonal drawl that would suddenly become inflected like the voice had just hit a farmer's stone wall and fallen over the otherside. Bizarre. I wondered whether they talked to each other in a similar fashion afterwards or got home and reported to their other halves that "YES (inflection) they had a good day at work and No (inflection) they hadn't made their bonus that month.


I bought a dozen chairs for the new training centre. And Yes I did outbid the traders and No they weren't as cheap as they should have been.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

No.147 Of 1,2,3 at Full Pace

Wow! I seem to be starting many of my blogs off like this nowadays. So much is happening and at such a pace too. Last night we opened our new training centre which looked highly presentable after everyone had chipped in at least an hour of their time to help out moving furniture, hoovering the carpets or running rubbish to the tip. I guess about 40 people must have showed up at some point last night. The evening seemed to flow well with lots of people circulating, and networking with no-one that I could see stuck on their own trying to look occupied by studying the newly painted walls.

So that's task No 1 of 3 successfully completed for this month. No. 2 is also this week (our first Education Conference on Thursday) with No.3 (Twitter seminar) coming up next week. Onwards at full pelt!

Friday, 18 September 2009

No.144 Of Good Service & Iron Will

Wow! The service at Antrim's HomeBase is good. I went in last night looking for a loo seat and a grass strimmer (an odd combination granted). The first assistant approached me and offered help. She talked me through the various loo seats available - the pros and cons of each and how they are fitted. When I asked her what she knew about strimmers she conceded it was time to pass me on to a colleague and led me downstairs and introduced me to assistant No.2 who was equally as helpful. Antrim Homebase I salute you!

I'm testing myself today to see how disciplined I am. I'm in my office all day. Behind me are a crew of about five workers all beavering away trying to finish the training suite for Monday. My challenge is not to lapse into temptation and pick up a paint brush to help out. Instead I must apply myself to office work which though not urgent is important and needs to be done soon. If not Iron discipline then at least light sheet metal. Was it Angela Rippon the newsreader who was once called Iron Ange when her ear ring fell off while reading the news and she resisted the temptation to pick it up. She said afterwards "what was I expected to do tell everyone to wait while I grovelled around on the floor looking for my jewelery. I don't think so."

Time to pracitce discipline, stop blogging and get on with some work.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

No.143 Of Opening Times

Today, I was in the pool at 7.30a.m..That was still 15 minutes later than all the other early birds who now (due to earlier opening times), tip themselves into the water like sacks of falling potatoes at crazy times of the morning.

The extension to our premises is a hive of activity at the moment as we head towards its official opening next Monday. We have painters, staff drafted in sporting the finest bin liners as temporary footwear, signwriters scribbling furiourly away and carpeteers arriving today to see to the floor. The gardener it seems wont be making an appearance - the grass we are told is too long to cut. Where are 20 sheep when you need them?

A big month ahead follows with a presentations seminar to deliver tomorrow, one of our most important conferences for a long time next week and a Twitter seminar the week after. Never a dull or quiet moment on the Island. I wonder how that translates into Latin? We could do with another motto in the company...

Monday, 14 September 2009

No.142 Of Clocking the Miles & The Years


Wow! Torr Head to Malin Head to Fanad Head in the MG in two glorious days of sunshine. I'm not sure if life gets much better than this.

I've discoverd that it doesn't matter how much you cover up when driving a convertible the sun or the wind will get you somehow. Presently my nose is as pink as the shirt I was wearing for the East to West leg of the journey.

When I was first in Donegal about 12 years ago I happened across a lovely couple Martha & Tom Kilbane who ran a guest house just over the border in Fahan. It was superb Irish hospitality at it's very best. They took it upon themselves to look after this rare man who suddenly appeared one day to look for somewhere to live before he started work over the border in a few weeks' time. On Saturday I tracked them down. Now living in Buncrana and well into their 70s they would hardly let me go - not that I wanted to - a more wonderful couple you're unlikely ever to find.

Today is different. We're working flat out to finish our training centre and it's meeting after meeting to get ready for season 2 which starts on Thursday as well as year 2010 which starts all too soon. If only we could work by the Donegal clock things would be so much easier....


Saturday, 12 September 2009

No.141 Of Trusting Illusionists & Weather Forecasts

So Brown let us down last night and didn't afterall tell us how he predicted the numbers. Mr B I really admire what you do and your skill but I think there are trust and confidence issues kicking around here which you ignore at your peril.


I'm here looking incredulously at the weather forecast : three days of full sunshine - all of which I plan to make the very most of. Already on my itinary is three laps of Donegal, including twice round the Atlantic Drive and twice round the Innishowen 100 with stops for dips in the Atlantic. Throw in 20 Mr Whippy ice creams, 4 picnics, a day surfing and 30 prize winning sandcastles and I might just feel I've had a summer by Monday.

Friday, 11 September 2009

No.140 Of Life's a Lottery

All this talk about the lottery and Derren Brown prompted me earlier today to think about lotteries, gambling and the fact that when I was about 8 I was given a pile of Premium Bond Numbers as a birthday present. Knowing that I've moved around so much since I was 8 (in fact 26 times to be exact) I thought there was a good chance that I may have won a load and have never known and there's a pile off wonga waiting for me to collect. Alas a search on their site where you can find out if this is the case by entering your numbers informs me otherwise. That's 36 x 12 x 100 and at least 42,3oo draws I have been in without winning a penny! Clearly the luck of the Irish is not rubbing off on me and I need to watch Mr Brown this eveing to see what I can learn.


It's a glorious day outside with a forecast of 2 more to come. All well made plans are being abandoned on behalf of a trip to Donegal this weekend in the MG...

Thursday, 10 September 2009

No.139 Of Brown & Blackberries

Yes! Started today with a bowl of porridge with fruit (courtesy of Legal-Island's very own "wild" blackberry bush) followed by 20 lengths of the Antrim pool. Question is will I be flagging by lunchtime and think by then that such activity so soon after a lazy holiday was actually a very silly thing to do?

Derren Brown you are a Master Self-Marketeer. I've no idea how you did what you did last night but everyone is talking about it. Its hot in Twitter, on the web and the radio. As I drove to the pool Cool FM was talking about it. When I drove back half an hour later they were talking about it. My guess is that there's a technical explanation here - perhaps numbers on the balls can be changed remotely.

There's loads happening this month at Legal-Island. Twitter seminars, the opening of new facilities here, an Education Law Conference - the first of it's kind and an MG this Saturday if I can find out where by then. Onwards in fourth gear with the override button on.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

No.138 Of Powerful Salutes

Wow! What a way to finish off a day. Gareth Malone in "The Unsung Choir - South Oxley" - if there's a bit of better tele on at the moment that I'd like to know. He's modest, understated, highly motivating and clearly deeply passionate about what he does without edging towards evangelism. Yes I've no doubt the programmes are edited to carry a pre-determined message and I suppose he does play to the camera but it no less powerful because of it. Gareth I salute you.



I finished last night by reading Jonathan Dimbleby's "Russia". This is a book that offers the reader what can only be described as alost perfect articulation. It's well reasearched brutally honest, observant and his ability to describe what he notices is masterful. Jonathan I Russian salute you.

No.137 Tuning In and Out

I attended a half day seminar this morning in Belfast. It consisted of about 30 people representing about as many organisations all with a common interest : innovation.

I decided right at the start I would volunteer for every job going. If we were asked for questions I'd fire one in and possibly more. If they required a volunteer to facilitate a breakaway session and report back to a plenary group that would be me. I find it's the only way I can engage nowadays and be sure that I'll stay tuned in to these types of events. Is this a reflection on the quality of seminars nowadays or is the explanation more simple and personal than that I wonder? I fear the latter.

Presently I'm busy preparing a presentation for a company strategy update tomorrow. It's very hard to resist the temptation to play around with the knobs and whistles that come with Power Point 2007 thinking that it will significantly improve what I want to get over.

Monday, 7 September 2009

No.136 Of Unplugging

Wow! Two weeks away from the Internet on holiday and not once did I miss it. No cravings. No trembles. No irrate moods - not cold Turkey related at least. What message should I take from this? That life unplugged is possible. Enjoyable even?

Today, however, was payback time. As I tried to juggle 26 balls in the air at once more staff appeared with yet more balls and so the day continued.

Last night I wrote down a few personal objectives for the next three months on the Island. The first is to lose weight. The second is to spend less time (and preferably no time) watching rubbish T.V.. Last night I was watching that stupid "Guest for dinner show" on C4. I was fuming with myself by the end of the programme that I had wasted a whole 30 minutes of my life on it. So why didn't I just switch off my tele and do something less boring instead? (Wasn't that the name of a kids T.V programme in the 80s? I think it was). The third PO is to read more. I'm currently reading Jonathan Dimbleby's "Russia" and it is just wonderful. He's so articulate and his vocabulary so strong that he has me dashing for the online dictionary at the turn of every page. See, I knew life without the Internet wasn't so easy afterall....

















Saturday, 22 August 2009

No.144 Of Minutes in the Day

I worked it out this morning that I can save a full minute each time I fill up at a Tesco petrol station by selecting pay with card rather than Pay at Kiosk. Why has it taken me so long to suss this one out? Best of all I don't have to risk poor service either at a time of day that very often tips me into a bad mood if I experience it. So what to do with this full spare 3 minutes each week?

The new training centre is moving preciously close to completion though I feel a furious Sunday coming on adjusting, de-snagging and making last minute changes - an exercise destined to take a tad longer than 3 minutes I summise...

Friday, 21 August 2009

No.135 Of White Lines and Wonky Work Men


Today the men came to do the whitelines in the car park. This was a very nostalgic moment for me for painting white lines on roads was my first well paid job as a teenager. £2.50/hr if I remember rightly. I was 18 at the time had never been so rich and driving my mum's Fiat 126 I thought I was the dogs b****ks.

Painting lines on roads is fun for the first 10 minutes. Thereafter it loses its appeal and as you burn round corners streaming white or yellow lines behind you you begin to dream of other professions to be in or at least other places.

One such place I remember visiting whilst On the Lines was a pub as we waited for the car park to clear once closing time had come and gone. One drink led to another and we ambled out with far too much confidence than was good for us to start and finsih the job. The wonky white lines all over that pub car park somewhere near Bishop's Stortford apparently are something of a cause celebre. I must go and see if they're still there one day.

No.135 Of Say Who You Are Saturday

Well. It was Follow Friday in the world of Twitterdom yesterday. I wonder if I could invent my own type of day for the blogging world : Say Who you are Saturday. This is the day when all those following others on blogs that may not be known to them reveal themselves and say a little bit about who they are. You see I have 12 followers just now (note no biblical analogies called into play here). Come to think of it, if Jesus was on Twitter how many Followers would he have? Only 8 of those following are at all known to me. The four others are complete strangers as far as I am aware. Now don't get me wrong all are welcome. Stats online are what life is all about nowadays to many it seems but I am curious about my unknown guests. The four are (with my best guesses along side) :

* Rob Bryce - clean bowled no idea
* D@ve - no idea but looks a little bit like a Solicitor friend of mine in the NorthWest
* Diane Court - Court the married name of Diane Burrows someone I used to play kiss chase with in the playground aged 8?
* David McCavery - don't know except when taking my car into Antrim Motors last month I noticed a certificate on the wall of Mechanical Competence in favour of David McCavery...

Oh the mystery of it all. It really is Professor Plum in the Library with the Candlestick kinda stuff...

Thursday, 20 August 2009

No.134 Of Reviews, Plans & Pushes

I'm guest writing the weekly review of employment law this week. A duty bestowed on me due to the absence of a colleage and a task last performed a good few years ago. The trouble is I have no idea what's been happening in the world of work this week being too busy creating plans for Legal-Island.

Yesterday I had a great meeting with our friends at the Belfast Telegraph. We discussed plans for Twitter seminars both online and on the ground in Belfast and the NorthWest. The marketing strategy is to harnish the power of Twitter, Email, Blog and traditional media to push what we plan to do. A large part of it is trackable so it will be interesting to see what works best.

Away to find out what's been happening in the world of work and report on same...

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

No.133 Of Dingins & Driving Rain

"Dya wanna Dingin" the farmer demanded to know late last night through the window of my car. I wasn't quite sure what the word "Dingin" meant but I was fairly sure that the answer was No. "Whar are yee for" he asked. "I'm for An'rim" I replied. "Well you'd better get ya car back up this lane before these cows get the better of ya car". I duly obliged and watched the best part of 200 hundred cows file past in the pitch black and the pouring rain. A friend (a farmer's daughter) told me afterwards that it's illegal to move cows at night. Had I had known this I wouldn't have pointed it out to my friend for he was bigger me and why risk to dingins in one night?

I had been returning from Doagh and some dog walking duties which had been performed in the driving rain. This morning I woke to driving rain and drove to work through driving rain. As I type I spy driving rain through my office window. I never used to notice the weather much before I moved to NI now it's all I can do not to be obsessed by it.

Monday, 17 August 2009

No.132 Of Loos Records and Pogo Sticks

I keep picking up War and Peace only to put it down again. I'm determined to read this thing but I'm frightened to start. Once I do I've promised myself I have to see it through to the bitter end and that could be a whole year of my life accounted for. May be I just need to work out how I can save 5 minutes everyday by time managing better and devote the extra to the book. Or should I just do what everyone else does and read whilst on the loo? Such a disrespectful thing to do that I've always felt.

I caught the plasterer today hoping around on his spring loaded stilts doing the ceiling of our new training room. It looked loads of fun but he seemed bored like he'd been doing it for far too long. It remind me of a pogo stick I once had. I could hop on it non-stop for 2 hours. That must have been a world record I always thought or at least a Devon County one. County records are always easy to have in a place like Devon where there are few people anyway and fewer still pogo sticks.

Friday, 14 August 2009

No.131 Of Being Left Alone to Your Flu

Ehhh I have a temperature. I have a runny nose and its pouring with rain outside.

Things that annoy me - and they are many of these when feeling run down. They include people who use the expression "I'll take a rain check on that one". People who log into Twitter first thing and say "Good Morning Everyone". What's the point? People who phone you in the car on a hands free because they think it's good time management to do two things at once when you, on the other end, can only hear the occasional word, loads of crackling and know the business call will get no further than arranging a date to meet face-to-face when they will have to call you back anyway because they can't check their diary when driving.

On a more upbeat note I discovered Twitteranalyzer.com last night. I'm impressed by this but I'm also a little scarred by it too. You investigate its potential and keep expressing involuntary profanities so astonishing is its capability & reach. I'm scared because tools like this are going to completely revolutionise the way we do marketing and much as though I'm fascinated by all this digital media stuff just occasionally I wish, like the flu, it would leave me alone to get on with my life. Oh the drama....time for another lemsip.

No.130 Of Inspiring People & Lesser Mortals

I've met some really inspiring people this week. So why do I feel so run down? Something to do with fatigue, the awful weather and a dose of the flu perhaps.

This week I've met people at the twilight of their careers who still seem incredibly motivated and enthusiastic about what they do which is inspiring and also quite beautiful to see. I've met others part way through their careers who still believe they can change the world for the better. Of course, they're wrong. They can't, not completely. But they will change it in some positive way - so good for them. I've also met others who have shown me a remarkable ability to find something positive and even humourous in the darkest of situations that would have completely crushed lesser mortals.

To all these people I salute you.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

No.129 Of Strange People Doing Strange things

Last night I scaled Slemish with some friends to watch the meteor shower we had been assured was going to happen. As they quaffed a bottle of white I scanned the sky for meteorites. We saw two between us all in three hours.

What we also spotted from high above was some rather curious activity going on in the car park well below. People get up to strange things nowadays making those who climb mountains at midnight in the pitch dark weighed down with booze look really quite normal.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

No.128 Of Pleasant & Scary Encounters



By popular request I've uploaded a photo taken on my mobile from Scott's wedding reception. Both Mrs Alexander and Mr looked great though apparently the latter fluffed his lines at the big moment. Unusual for someone not unaccustomed to being on stage you might think. Still there's big moments and big moments..

I've had strange networking experiences this week being treated to master classes in both how to do it and how not to do it. In the former category fall firmly Brian and Rita O'Kane from Oaktree Press. I nicer pair of people you're unlikely to find and they always deliver on the golden rule of networking : above all make it a pleasant encounter.

Monday, 10 August 2009

No.127 Of Rising and Falling Stars

I picked up a link on Twitter this morning to a web site where you can check your ranking according to where you live. It had been sent by someone who is currently 44th highest ranked Twitterer in Dublin. Curious I typed in Belfast to check my own ranking but couldn't find my listing anywhere. Remembering that I actually live in Antrim I tried that and there I was third! Oh the sense of pride.

Apparently we're all going to be treated to meteor showers on Wednesday night so I'm organising a midnight party atop of Slemish for to watch the spectacle whilst quaffing a bottle of red. I wonder how many volunteers I'll find....

No.126 Of Punishing Schedules

Wow what a day. It started at 7.30a.m. with a dip in the pool and 30 lengths. This consisted of the standard 20 plus 10 as punishment for doing no exercise at all over the weekend.

It's 20.38p.m. and I'm still at work sending increasingly impatient emails to barristers requesting replies to emails sent weeks ago. Why are they as a creed so difficult to communicate with when they are meant to be master communicators?

We heard today that we have been shortlisted for the National Training Awards and should expect a visit at some stage this month or early next. Yet another reason to tidy my desk.

I'm meeting Eddie McArdle tomorrow of the General Teachers' Union which should be interesting. This will be my second of three visits to Belfast this week. If I could have stuffed all meetings in one day I calculate I could have saved something like 4 hours working time this week. But it wasn't possible - or at least that's what I'm trying to convince myself lest I have to punish myself for sloppy diary management by doing another 10 lengths of the pool early tomorrow.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

No.125 Of Happy Families & Hard Times

Wow! What a great night last night turned out to be. I joined friends near Doagh and picnicked on top of a hill with a gorgeous view of the countryside as far it goes before stopping at Newtwownabbey/Belfast. Their 3 year old son was huge fun and there's no dog more cuddly than their black lab Elsa (particularly when she's on the hoke for some of your cheese sandwich).

Later we adjourned to their front garden and quaffed a bottle of red while we talked about anything and nothing into the small hours. There's something about great company from lovely people that you so get on which just makes an evening so relaxing.

I jumped into the MG and made my way home under the stars and a full moon thinking life is pretty good just now and I woke to find the feeling still hadn't worn off this morning.

Life is also pretty hard at the moment too for many. There's a guy who has been working on my friend's house extension. He's been clearing bolders for the builder and other stuff to take to the tip (a distance of at least 3 miles). He's made five trips already and has charged just £45.

Friday, 7 August 2009

No.124 Of Singing the Blues

Last night Youngen and I went to see Lee Rodgers play at the John Hewitt in Belfast. I'm not sure if live blues music gets any better than this. It was raw understated passionate music straight to you in the audience. I've never seen my nephew so animated about anything in a long while.

How come you get quality musicians like this hidden away in bars frequented by so few people and an awful lot of rubbish making a mint out of 12 months of fame?

Loads of work to do today including a performance review this morning and meetings this afternoon.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

No.123 Of Demanding Weather & Garage Door Engineers

Yesterday was a day of furious networking. 6 meetings in one day. That has to be a PB for Dublin at least.

Youngen and I flew up the motoroway with the lid down in glorious sunshine until we got to the border when the heavens opened. Youngen's hair (already quite full on) looked like he was a white Rasta who'd just put his hand in an electrical socket by the time we got to Dundalk.

Emptying the warehouse today before flying up to the Giant's Causeway for what must be my 20th visit by now. I never get borded of the place though. It looks different everytime.

I understand the man who fixed my garage door last week is after me for an unpaid bill. I must get him some cash (a cheque it seems wont do) before Shylock demands his pound of flesh.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

No122 Of Sinking Pints and Sinking Ships

Yesterday "Youngen" and I set off in the inflatable Kyak from Templepatrick to canoe the 5 miles or so into Lough Neagh. Within half a mile the boat was taking in water badly. The fishermen eitherside of the bank must have thought they were witnessing two men floating by in a paddling pool. Within a mile I had given the order to abandon ship as we sank fortuitously right by Ellie Mays public house establishment where we drank guiness in our rubber gear as we waited for a neighbour to take back home what was left of the expedition.

By 9p.m. last night we were sitting in Templebar Dublin eating & drinking. If there was a recession on you would never know because the restaurants were packed. The food in the burger bar we went to was plain and tasteless. The service was exceptional however. Both waitresses gave a great warmn welcome loads of smiles and eye contact and a bit of patter to finish. I wanted to leave a heavy tip (which I did) in accordance with my tipping policy (tip heavily when the service is exceptional don't when it's not - see earlier blog) whilst youngen wanted to leave his phone number (which he did not).

Networking today with 6 meetings in as many hours.

Monday, 3 August 2009

No121 Of Mildrew & Marmite

I swam 30 lengths this morning. Yes you read it right 30 lengths. Three at speed as well racing a bloke in the lane next to me. I don't think he realised I was racing him which may be why I won by half a length. Oddly he's the spitting image of Victor Mildrew. I wonder if when the dreaded log made it's terrible appearance last week he declared "I don't believe it!"


I seem to have developed a craving for marmite sandwiches at the moment. Not any type of marmite sandwiches but Barry specials which are just the business. Try this. White bread not brown (that's the first naughty bit) covered by a thick film of organic slightly salted butter (that's the next naughty bit) topped by a very thin but equally spread smear of marmite. Crusts off either end and its yours to savour! Ah delightful! Better than any pleasure known to man...


Nephew arrives today for a week which means a week of work interspersed with canoe expeditions, trips to Dublin and Donegal and a few pints too. A few pints with my nephew. Wow that will make me feel old. It seems like only yesterday I was picking him up from the creche.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

No.120 Of Kieran & Mikes


I went to see Kieran Goss last night. The fact that I am typing this listening to one of his CDs must tell you that I enjoyed his concert.


He's a funny looking bloke,. He can't be much more than 5ft but packs a great voice at that and is a master entertainer. He really knows how to work a crowd and keep them entertained. You might say he's the stage anti-thesis of Van Morrison because he gives you the impression that he's really grateful you came to see him.


He was on stage with two other musicians. One played the double bass. The other was a backing singer. She seemed to do nothing except sip tea on stage and occasionally put her mouth to the microphone but to little effect. Most in my party were querying whether her mike was on at all. I may be old fashioned but if you're good enough to be on stage you're good enough to give whatever you're up there for plenty of wellie. She was only a wee figure but then so was Janis Joplin and so is Shirley Bassey and Christine Collister but you always knew when their mikes were on.


Thursday, 30 July 2009

No.119 Of Visting Pubs and Visting Dignatories

I went for a long jog last night after a long day working on strategy. Wow did I need it. I got little more than halfway round my circuit and had to walk though. Sadly the circuit includes the Talk of the Town pub so me and my jogging coach ended up in there for a while sampling their fare.

I feel like I'm being crushed at the moment from the amount of work I've to do over the next month. I plan a new strategy here. I'm going to map out the next three weeks in detail and watch the tasks tumble as I head towards my break. I don't think Legal-Island has ever partnered up with so many businesses and people before and been in front of so many great opportunities. Exciting stuff indeed - never a dull moment on the Island as we say here at Island House.

I'm meeting John Brolly of the Irish News who is visiting us today. He's a top bloke. We've shined our Irish News trophies which are waiting to welcome him in the foyer.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

No.118 Of Peter Purrs & Passion

Last night I picked up Peter McBride an old mucker in the MG and we sped along to the Stormont for dinner. As we pulled into a bay in the car park I left the engine running for us to listen to its purrrrrrr. Was he bored? Nope. Instead, he asked to see under the bonnet whereupon he promptly named every engine part going and what it did. Recently he purchased a Porsche 911 but I saw envy twinkling in his eye. My Haines MGB manual arrived from Ebay yesterday and I've never looked forward this much to reading a book in my life.

Money can't buy you happiness but it can buy you an MG.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

No.117 Of The Numbers Game Here & Abroad

Everyone seems to be away at the moment. I phone friends and catch them on a beach in Majorca, Ibiza, or Tuscany and it costs me a good £10 to listen to them explain how hot the weather is how good the food is and how agreeable the company is too. I thank them for sharing. I wish them an enjoyable relxaing break and then return to preparing for more Performance Reviews at work.

I had my first request yesterday to tweet a job vancany from a recruitment company. I wonder if this is an important major first of any sort - probably not but it's an interesting development in the world of Twitterdom.

I note there was an article in the Belfast Telegraph yesterday featuring one of Northern Ireland's earliest and foremost Twitterers who has some 8,000 followers. I fear this numbers game is going to go the same way as stats counters & hits in early web sites, the number of friends you have on Facebook and possibly the number of cards you get at Christmas. In other words many people becoming obsessed with high figures that actually count for very little.

Monday, 27 July 2009

No.116 Of Don't Worry be Happy & Be an Optimist

Hey how good am I? I started off today with a bowl of porridge and blueberries together with a cup of hot water and the juice of half a lemon to give me a bit of zip for the day.Ok I did slip in there a chocolate biscuit but only because there was a packet on the kitchen table already open demanding my attention and hey you have to keep a balance don't you?

I'm currently reviewing a book called "How to be Happy at Work" by an Irish Workplace Pyschologist called Sophie Rowan. It's a great read and I'm learning loads. Last night I learnt that I'm an optimist by nature - something quite different apparently to a naturally postive person. Optimism is good she argues for optimists are happier by nature, live more healthy lives and live longer. Lets hope she's right on all fronts.

Loads to do today including prep for a finance meeting and a performance review tomorrow. Roll on the holidays.

No.115 Of Fix-It Fever & Other Stories

Unaccountably I seemed to have developed a kind of fix it fettish at the moment. I'm just in a fix it mode or should that be mood. In the last three days I've fixed the garden (if weeding qualifies as "fixing") my MG (if getting the mechanics out to it qualifies as me fixing it). I've fixed the puncture in the back wheel of my bike and in the front wheel of my spare bike (if taking aforementioned gear to the bike shop in Randalstown allows me to claim this too). I've arranged for someone to fix my garage door on Wednesday that is broken and jammed half open and I've fixed something on my mobile that never worked but now does (something too small to mention and possibly embarrassing to share). I'm pleased I'm in this kind of mood because being from the "I'll get round to it another time" school it happens rarely. But hey make hay when the sunshines?

The sun is not shining right now. This morning I refused to wear a jacket out of the house thinking it is summer and to do so will only invite bad weather. Now I can't get out the office because it's lashing down and I'll get soaked in just a shirt above the waistline. Boy how decisions can go badly wrong on you hey? No coat, no umbrella - which I could fix that..