Thursday, 30 April 2009

No.47 Malawi Moments Part 2

Day 5

Day 5 and we've travelled a lot already having bagged Monkey Bay, Llongwe, Mvuu national game reserve and today a gorgeous place by the western edge of Lake Malawi. It was here that David and I gratefully slept overnight under two huge mosquito nets barely 50 metres from the water's edge and who knows how many crocs and hippos hungry for their tea.

We're coming to the end of week 1 which is the holiday part. Week 2 is when we get to do a bit of work. We're both conscious it will be very different to what we've experienced so far and probably like nothing else we've ever experienced before. Bring it on Malawi. What a great country!

Day 6

We finally arrived at the house of Deb's parents in Northern Malawi, Helen & Robin. They're lovely people. Early the following morning we went out to see a lady who been to Helen for help. Her husband had taken a second wife which sometimes means in Malwai abuse for the first one. She had left him and was living in a hut with no roof. Littered around were lots of children one as young as a few months others 5 or 6, 8 or 9 may be older still. The mother was a proud and friendly lady. Her own mum was there too joking that she was too old to be of use to anyone now (the "old and past it" humour I thought seems universal). No-one was wearing any shoes but many had ragged clothes and a few what appeared to be clubbed feet. The all greeted us warmly. Helen talk about the logistics of getting her a steel roof. When she asked what they were going to have to eat the mother looked around and said "Today we will have nothing".

Next we visited another hamlet barely a minute's drive away. An elderly lady came out to greet us and dropped to one knew as she shook my hand and looked me warmly in the eyes. She showed us around and to where she slept which was just on a plastic sack in the corner of a tiny mudded hut. In another hut a few strides away lay her son aged in about his early 40s I guessed. He's epileptic. A condition he's had since birth. He was there on the floor with no light no medication and nothing to do except no doubt wait for his next fit - the one that may kill or certainly the one that will dame his brain just a little more.

Outside young children watched us strange white folk closely. Some smiled. Some posed for photos and waited eagerly to see the results on Deb's digital camera. All waved as we disappeared in our fancy clothes with our watches, our cameras, our phones our landrover and hurried back for a big breakfast.

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

No 46 30 April Malawi Moments Part 1

Whilst emptying my suitcase the other night in readiness for another great travel adventure I came across a notebook which I had used as a diary whilst in Malawi last Christmas. This is a book destined to be lost so I've decided to commit some of the more intelligible entries to this blog. Bear with me. A lot happened. What follows below relates to the first two days. The rest is to follow no doubt over time as I find the time to type it all up. Golly I wish my writing was easier to decipher...

Day One Thursday 18 December 08

We arrived in Malawi after a long flight from Heathrow via Kenya. The via Kenya bit should have taken us just two hours. Instead, it involved a cancelled flight, an awful lot of queuing and an overnight in Nirobi. That’s queuing to find out first what had happened to our flight. Then queuing to find out what Air Kenyan proposed to offer us. Then queuing to get through passport control. Then queuing in front of a sign marked "Hotel Accommodation" before shooting off in a rickety old bus for just five hours sleep to do a lot of the same again only in reverse. It was the first test of "Team Malawi" and we passed it with flying colours thanks in large part to a very cool team leader.

At Llongwe airport, Richard the terribly nice man from the car rental company tried to fob us off with a terribly crap 4 by 4 but our terribly nice team leader proved far too sharp for him. By the time we'd driven the vehicle to the hotel in Llongwe another was on order. This time without an ominous rattle and hundreds of thousands of miles on the clock.

Day Two

Today we hoofed it to the local souvenir market. Nephew David tried his hand at negotiating his way to a few bargains. His efforts for a few bracelets left traders with plenty of unexpected early morning happiness and David light of a good few hundred Kwocha. Go on Davs yaboyee..

His Uncle Baggie was taken aback by the goings on in the market. In the space of just a few minutes it had produced a blind man, a frail woman with a baby and a disabled boy in a chair all with their hands out. What was interesting was that they were all effectively in competition with each other but each allows the other a fair go at the wealthy visitor. When the blind man, for example, received a polite no from me he was soon led away to be replaced by someone else ready to try his luck.

Driving in Malawi is quite like nothing else I've ever experienced behind the wheel. As a general rule with minor exceptions the main artery roads appear very good. As a general rule with probably no exceptions all other roads appear to be dreadful with massive potholes that shouldn't be attempted except by the hardiest of 4 by 4s. Running from side to side across every road is the most extraordinary collection of animals you'll find anywhere. There's goats, there's guinea fowl, hens, dogs and cattle, all of which the motorist is expected to pay for if you in the 4 x 4 and any one of the aforementioned should collide.

Along either side of the road runs a conveyor belt of cyclists. Men, women, boys, girls, all going somewhere often with cargo on the back. This may be a chicken, a goat, a drum of water, sticks for the fire, mum or dad, baby brother or a combination of many of these. If you toot about 20 metres before passing they gently glide off to the left and out of your way before returning to the same part of the road a few minutes later. It's all very orderly in this disorderly motoring mayhem.

Alongside the main highways are paths which convey some of the most elegant and graceful women I have ever seen in my life. I'm guessing but I'm guessing that I'm guessing right that these women walk miles upon miles every day. On their heads they carry an astonishing array of items. Huge water containers, sticks, umbrellas, boxes of mangoes and all with such ease. They clock each mile slowly, and gently with arms floating down by their sides but so upright and with such style that it could be a cat walk they're on not a muddy path roadside - something easy enough to imagine as they glide by in gorgeous, brightly coloured dresses and wrap arounds.

There's something rather special about every Malawian. They're gentle folk. The children all volunteer smiles and little waves as we hurtle by. The adults are passive, unassuming people that you can't help but warm to. Even the street traders whose next dinner may depend on a sale from you appear at least, to treat you with respect and enjoy the contact with the strange looking whiteman. We're white!! And every -so strange did you know?

No 45 - Of Me & Muckers in the Mournes

Over the weekend whilst hiking with muckers in the Mournes an interesting revelation was made apparent to me.

One of the aforementioned muckers pointed out that I seem to get a kick out of abstinenace and indeed, quite possibly enjoy the pain of it all. A bit like ya man in the Da Vinchi Code who belonged to that funny group of people that is Opus Dei. He used to wear a steel garter round his thigh which he would tighten periodically for extra pain and punishment.

Between them they calculated I had given up butter, coffee, tea, alcohol (if you don't count the odd glass of red which I don't) cigars, chips and of course meat and fish.

Emm it did leave me thinking for a while what this is all about as we trecked back towards civilisation in search of a coffee and me a green tea....

No 44 28 April 09 A Fake Dolly & A Very Real Dad

Yes! Result! 30 lengths of the pool by 8.45a.m. in just as many minutes. The trick is, I've discovered, to get there early and get on a line and not in a lane. If you're lucky this means you can concentrate on swimming directly above the line on the bottom of the pool (and therefore be assured you're taking the shortest distance between both ends) and you don't have to worry about navigating and who might bump into you.

I called my Dad last night to wish him well before his holiday and make sure he was still alive because he didn't blog yesterday. He explained he had been too busy packing and was beginning to question the whole point of the exercise anyway as no-one reads his blogs and he has none of those things called "Followers". I heard his wife immedatiely chirp up in the background "Yes you have Robbie. You have one! I checked today. It's Dolly Parton!" Dad declared somewhat irritated "What the hell is Dolly Parton doing reading my blog? Why does she want to know about a man walking his dog in Anglesea? This Internet thing is a gross invasion of a person's privacy!"

Enjoy your very private cruise down the Nile Da and don't forget to blog each day so we know you're having a good time..."Dolly" an' all

Monday, 27 April 2009

Day No.43 27 April 09 Mourning Maths

I hit Monday on the back of a great weekend. The Charity Dinner at the Wellie Park on Friday was a huge success. The Legal-Island staff in attendance scrubbed up beautifully and were on top form sporting lovely hairdos, gorgeous dresses and by the end of the evening (one at least) fine "Sauvignon blanc" smiles.

Saturday and I headed with the Lady Captain to the Mournes. En route we must have sounded like we were auditioning for entry into the local old peoples' home. Part of the conversation went like this :

" Barry that's Murlough Bay over there which is really lovely"
" Oh yes someone was telling me about that a couple of weeks back. That wasn't you by any chance was it?"
" Don't know it may have been I remember telling someone about it about two weeks ago but I can't remember if it was you or not.."

Oh how we chuckled....

Sunday was spent at work trying to get my head around Twitter. It finished with a very poor Secret Millionaire trying to connect with disinterested school children by teaching mathematical theories to a kid who was having difficulties adding 8 & 5. This man made millions. There's hope for us all.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Rashmakan Popat - That's P O P A T

I'm at the Wellington Park Hotel waiting for the Charity Dinner guests to arrive. As usual I'm early. In fact over an hour early (this is also common).

I went to the cigar machine but it was empty but for 3 10pence pieces in the change compartment that someone had forgotten to uplift. For some reason this caused a flashback for me to my school days and a character who was Northampton School for Boy's finest entrepreneur. His name was Rashmakhan Popat. "That's P O P A T" he used to spell out to anyone he had just introduced himself to through his lovely white eyes and his disarming smile.

Rashmakan was a Ugandan Asian thrown out of his country of birth thanks to Idi Amin. He arrived in England knowing very little English but already, just two years on in our school, was making his way up the streamed classes in all the core subjects.

He was a great wheeler dealer. He was always in the schoolyard selling pencils 3 for 20p which he had bought no doubt for a lot less at his uncle's corner shop. Sometimes he'd be running a raffle of dubious legality, dubious prizes and even more dubious winners. "1 ticket for 10p or you can have a strip for just 30p" he'd say. "Just 3 10ps that's all" was his closing pitch.

There was something about Rashmakan that you instinctively knew he was destined to be successful and make it rich. Most likely very rich and have the last laugh on us all. But he had one drawback in most peoples' eyes. He was a "Paki". It made no difference when he explained that he was born in Uganda a place about as far away from Pakistan as England was. He looked different and sounded it too and that made everyone feel uncomfortable and that meant he received all sorts of shameful racist abuse.

There was just one other Ugandan Asian in the school called Narendeh Savjani. The two had been good friends but fallen out and never spoke to each other which struck me as a pity. Despite whatever it was that had driven them apart they still kept their integrity which always impressed me. Each would simply say of the other "I've fallen out with him and we don't speak anymore". Nothing more.

One winter's day Rashmakhan tripped and fell into a puddle in the schoolyard where a drain had blocked. It wasn't large and probably no deeper than 10cm. He had fallen in face down and was clearly concussed because he didn't move. No bastard would pluck him out either. He said afterwards that he nearly drowned. And he was right.

But where are you now Rashmakhan Popat (that's P O P A T) and how loud are you laughing?

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Day 41 24 April 09 Twitter, Blogger, Hiker

An interesting weekend beckons. Charity dinner tonight at the Wellie Park, Belfast. Tomorrow I hike up and hopefully down Slieve Donard. Sunday has already been designated "Twitterday" when I sit down and study this damned thing and work out how best to use it for social and business purposes. It's not really what I would like to be doing at the weekend but so far I've every reason to be optimistic that it will happen. I've had no invites from friends with other ideas, the weatherforecast is bad so I'll not be tempted to go surfing and the long grass at the front of my house can wait a week longer.

I might also throw onto my to-do list for Sunday "Blogging Strategy". I've yet to crack this. It'll be great for Google purposes if some of this blog was sucked onto the Home Page of the Legal-Island web site. But who visting wants to read about my trips up and down a swimming pool and hikes up and down a mountain? Oh the things that torture my mind...

Day 40 23 April 09

There was mayhem in the Antrim swimming pool at 7.45a.m.. There were 7 early birds all keen and ready to go up and down and up and down. However, we weren't allowed in because although there were two attendants it wasn't enough apparently to watch the magnificent seven so we waited for employee number 3 to show.

Trying to get my head around Twitter at the moment and how best to use it for business purposes.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Day 39 22 April

At a conference in Dublin enjoying the throws of Investigations. Hoping to head home early so as to be ready for The Apprentice. Come on Ben!

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Day 38 21 April 09 - Spending habits in Tesco & Africa

I'm still holding out. I still have no Tesco club card. I plan to be the only one left on the planet that the huge TESCO PC can't find to make its data perfect. But it's getting harder. This morning it went like this "Do you have a Tesco Club card?" - "No I'dont". "Would you like one?" - "No, thank you". "You might as well..." "No thank you I have enough cards as it is". "Here I'll give you a form anyway".

I wonder how much time over a whole year I might save if I do complete and return the form? May be a full half day or just enough time everyday to write a marginally longer blog about nothing in particular. Makes you think doesn't it?

Finished reading "The State of Africa" last night. A mammoth book of over 1,000 pages. I started it last December lest you think I'm a fast reader. It recounts some of the most disgraceful practices of mankind I've ever read. Aside from all the dreadful slaughter of millions in countries such as Rwanda it describes how many politicians came to power in African countries mainly after the second world war on anti-corruption tickets. Almost all of them without exception then went on to plunder the wealth of the country for their own gain. While thousands lived on nothing and often starved many leaders lived lifestyles that would have made even Russian billionaires of today look like they had conversative spending habits. Disgusting, obscene, gross, pornographic. What other words will do?

Monday, 20 April 2009

Day 37 20 April 09

Wow! Those Praziquantel drugs are sensational. I've no idea if they prevent whatever it is that lurks in Lake Malawi but the dreams that go with them are something else. It was like 54inch flat screen high definition stuff all last night amid more colours than on a Dulux information sheet.

Last night was a strange cultural mix. First Carmen the Opera in Belfast. Magical. Then it was Louis Theroux's excursion round a sex offenders rehab centre in America. Disturbing.

Big week ahead must attend to it...

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Day 36 18 April 09

I'm finding life a little disorientating at the moment. I've landed firmly in the word of Twitterdom with emails coming in from strangers declaring that they're delighted to be following me and with Tweets coming at me from all angles, or so it feels. Four pages this morning on top of seven unchecked hanging over from last week. Add to this the fact that sometimes I'll say something to someone and it's clear that what I'm telling them is already old news. I don't know whether this is because I'm getting old and have forgotten what I've told someone barely two hours before or due to the fact they've read my blog.

Praziquantel is the name of a drug that prevents a rather horrid infection manifesting itself in all those that have swam in Lake Malawi. This includes me last December. Wikipaedia says of it "Praziquantel is not licensed for use in humans in the UK; it is, however, available as a veterinary anthelminthic".

You have to take Praziquantel some four months after your last dip in the lake and that for me is now. The pills were purchased in Malwai and came with no instructions at all. I think I remember being told you had to take them all at once (all five of them and sizeable at that). If I've got this right from lunch time today I should be immune from the worst this lake can throw at you or, if I haven't, thank you for reading my last blog.

I say the worst this lake can throw at you but I guess that's not entirely true. It's full of crocs and some rather unfriendly hippos not that they troubled someone who rarely swam further than the safety of 3 meters from the shoreline. I'm of the Jaws film generation afterall when me and all my classmates kept out of the waters off the Devon coastline for a good part of the late 70s after seeing that terrifying film.

Friday, 17 April 2009

Day 35 17 April 09

Stopped this morning at our local centra for to buy loads of lemons for my "juice of half a lemon" drink as recommended by Mens Health magazine supplement. They had none. Looked for the manager Rob but unable to find him.

Over the past few months we've been trying to get Rob over to the office as part of our meet local business people campaign because you never know what they might bring to the party. I think Rob is convinced we're trying to sell him some training so he's yet to take us up on the offer of a walk up the road, a visit and a cup of tea (not juice of half a lemon). Now staff are on the case and am looking out for him too. I wonder if the poor guy thinks that I've issued some sort of "Fu Manchu" style diktat leaning foward on my throne over long nails declaring "bring me the boy who calls himself Rob from Centra".

Can't decide whether to climb Slemish tonight or go to the dog racing or indeed just stay in and chill with Chekov. Twittering is going well but I've still to work out a sensible strategy for all this Tweeting I am doing.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Day 34 - 16 April 09 Ben Clarke & 1 Hairy Biker

Go Ben. Go! Go on my son all the way. Mighty impressive performance last night in the Boardroom. We all know Sir Alan wants you Mr Ben Clarke Ok you did leave with something of a final verbal warning from the big man last night but we know he didn't really mean it.
Paula said she couldn't "shit" on her friends in the business world. Paula wake up and smell the coffee. You're not in the business world. You're in a game show - or at least you were.

I woke up this morning and sniffed Fennel Tea over porridge and bananas whilst listening to the BBC World Service. It seems two big things have happened already in the world today. First, the French fisherman have been offered €5 million Euro effectively as a reward for blocking ferry passengers. They're angry at EU fishing quotas which are affecting their living standards. Secondly, 100 Hells Angels have been arrested in Quebec for among other things murder and peddling drugs. Apparently there are for some reason 101 of them in that city which means one poor old chap is left to tour and scare the life out of the neighbourhood all on his own. Not even enough of them left to shoot their own "Hairy Biker" series.

Working on a new strategy plan for this year. Seeing Joanna from Cherry PR for lunch then off for a game of tennis after work.

Day 33 15 April 09

Skipped out of a swim today on grounds that I had arrived too early anticipating at 7.45a.m. rather than 8.15a.m. opening and that wasting 30 minutes was not good time management.

I promptly fired over to the office and wasted more than 30 minutes checking my Twitter account. I now have so many followers that it takes an awful long time to shoot through the messages on my TweetDeck. Most of them I have never heard of and am never likely to meet but I guess that's the whole point of Twitter...

Full compliment of staff back in today so looking forward to a real day's work packed full of meetings and business coffees and lunches.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Day 31 - 14 April 09 - Late last night

Yes! Veggie hotpot was a huge success. All in attendance remarked (and genuinely I think) what a damned good job the whole affair was whilst I did my best to wear a face of complacency to suggest that this was one of a repertoire of many rather than raw beginners luck.

Went to the cinema last night and saw "Let the right one in". This is a Swedish vampire-horror-drama-coming-of-age type film so great if you're looking for something a little unusual. The 12 year old actors were superb but I can't make out if the film was rubbish or a masterpiece.

On the subject of masterpieces hows this from Chekov's "On the Road" last night:

"There was a storm raging outside. Something furious and ill-tempered, but deeply unhappy, was tearing round the inn with the frenzy of a wild animal, trying to break in. Banging the doors, knocking on the windows and the roof, and scratching at the walls, it by turns threatened, cajoled, and subsided briefly, only to throw itself down the chimney the next moment with a joyful, treacherous whoop; but the logs in the stove were blazing, and the fire confronted its enemy with the ferocity of a chained dog - a fight began, then after it came sobbing, screaming, and an angry growl. You could also hear in all this a resentful sorrow, an unsated hatred, and the wounded powerlessness of one formerly used to victory..."

Late last night I finished Daniel Goleman's "Working with Emotional Intelligence". He makes the case well as to why most of the training in companies is a waste of time. He puts a strong case too as to the importance of Emotional Intelligence but never really draws the threads together to provide anything close to an action plan for companies. Or may be he does but you have to read the whole book thoroughly and carefully to be able to grasp it. May be I want it in short Twitter like summaries over every few pages or so and judge his omissions accordingly.

Monday, 13 April 2009

Day 30 - 13 April 09

A really poor Secret Millionaire last night. Just didn't press any buttons for me I'm afraid.

Thursday night I took the Lady Captain of the Hilton Templepatrick Golf Club to the Bingo. We were on our way to see Grand Torino at Yorkgate but muggins got the time wrong by a good hour. Rather than return to the Pizza Hut we piled into the Bingo Hall next to the cinema found out what to do at the reception paid our £10, was assured we wouldn't win and took our seats.

Apparently you don't shout "Bingo" anymore if you do win but "Jack". It's all changed since gran dragged me along to her MCN bingo opening nite to claim free rashers of bacon zonks ago. The caller doesn't shout two fat ladies 88 anymore. This might be because there's an awful lot of them in the audience nowadays. I've never seen so many rotund people in the same place in my life. The two sat at the table to our right told us they come twice a week spend an estimated £30 and never win!

We left with the guy on reception glancing us a "I told you so" smile and watched Gran Torino. This is a good movie with a great actor (Clint Eastwood) on superb form. Problem is surround a man giving a masterclass and all else look very ordinary and occasionally inept. I wonder if he ever thought during the movie he'd have to play it down or spoil his own film.

I spent much of the weekend cycling with neighbours to various parts of the Antrim globe. Currently reading a selection of Chekov short plays - another master of his profession.

About to race home now to master the kitchen and a good veggie bake.

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Day 29 9 April 09

It's 7.30a.m. and it's still dark and miserable. It's raining again. It was a really poor Apprentice last night and my mobile phone broke for the third time in about 6 months. Apart from all of the above the signs for the Easter weekend are good.

Even Sir Alan looked bored last night ditching one of the candidates merely on the grounds that he hadn't made enough mistakes. I thought Ben Clarke played a blinder last night and is my hot favourite to win.

Off to the flicks tonight but can't find a film I really want to go and see. Why isn't the Sound of Music still showing anywhere?

Day 28 8 April 09

Just met John Brolly of the Irish News for breakfast. He's busy working on the Irish Workplace Awards. Now I have a few hours to flitter before my next meeting at lunch with Colin Lauder of Parity. Tried to get into the IOD HQ to do said flittering (even threw a tie on so as not to get ejected unlike first attempt of two years ago) but alas no-one was on the otherend of their intercom system. So now flittering and twittering at Internet cafe by the Europa Bus Station.

Took a quick look around the new Fitzwilliam Hotel in Belfast. It's impressive but tries too hard for me. It's array of low hanging lights and lampshades just look daft and pointless. Meeting rooms are nice however and the delux bedrooms with huge windows overlooking the city will no doubt entertain many a courting couple.

Trying to finishfinish "Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace" by Daniel Goleman. It's loaded with good stuff but somehow I just don't feel I'm getting lots from it. May be the last chapter which is soon approaching will convince me otherwise.

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Day 27 - 7 April 09

Finished "Pay it Forward" last night. Yet another book that started well and finished terribly. When I say terribly I mean as terribly as any Hollywood production company would require a good story to end.

I think I must take more care reading book reviews before I just jump in and read something recommended by one person (in this case a presenter at a networking seminar).

I now have three copies of War and Peace on my bookshelves at home given to me over the years by friends who no doubt have enjoyed the thought of my being stuck in a novel for half a decade. I'm sorely tempted to give it a go but keep bottling out by reading light stuff like "Pay it Forward". What makes me nervous is that usually if a novel has more than 4 characters I get horribly lost. War and Peace I'm told has over 120.

Ho Hum. Off to read the Irish Independent....

Monday, 6 April 2009

Day 26 - 6 April 09

Cracked the swimming dilemma this morning. Get up and 6a.m. beat the early birds at their own game and get a lane all to yourself.

Feeling good. There was no rain last night which means the emulsion paint applied to the exterior of Island House remains in place. Just one more lap and we'll have cracked it.

Secret millionaire was good last night but somehow I couldn't quite take to the main character. She did unearth some pretty deserving causes however.

Finished work on new email service pages. Looking much better now.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Day 25 4 April 09

In the old days of computer use it used to take ages before you could finally get started on some work when you first jumped in front of the PC. It still does. Years ago the delay was due to a very slow processor taking ages to boot the machine. Now it's because you have to do all the pre-flight checks before you get down to some real work. This morning mine went something like this :

* Twitter - check
* Facebook - check
* Google analytics - check
* Dad's blog - check
* BBC web site - check

Ready! (Only I'm not because I'm blogging again)

This morning I'm working on two things. The first is our new Email Service pages. This is coming on but needs more work. The second is our bio page. So many have said that they think it's unprofessional that we need to do something about it!

Rotten weather. I think the tennis is off.

Friday, 3 April 2009

Day 24 3 April 09 - Of Horrid Comments & Holy Quotes

I must learn the times of trains round here. Everytime I pop in the car to go somewhere I seem to get caught at the level crossing. Didn't Joe90 have a button on his car that he would press and simply complete the remainder of the journey by air? Must get one of those buttons.

20 lengths only today up and down the pool before boredom plucked me out stuck me in the shower and I hurtled back to work. "Swim Mornings" are always such a rush. Up at 6.30a.m. out by 6.45a.m. then breakfast at work by 7a.m.. Then an hour's work before diving in a pool for half an hour racing out for quick shower to get back to my desk for 9a.m.. There has to be an easier way to stay fit.

There is! I'm playing tennis at 5p.m. with the company performance coach. I've beaten him on the last two encounters so I think he's out for revenge. Off to Muckamore tennis club for first time tomorrow. It's also a cricket club but I can't bowl a ball to save my life.

Thinking about a fightback on the rotten customer service round here. I wonder if I dropped a card to the relevant person each time I was served well or badly which linked to a customer service blog rating their performance.

We're currently hunting for quotes to go on our office walls. Oddly one that has just come in today is as follows :

“New technology has human effects. Is electronic communication making us forgetful of the value of human contact? “Facebook” leaving us unable to recognise the expressions on real faces and smile at them? “Twitter” making us all twitterers - unwilling to listen? “

The author is a local priest.

I say oddly because this is the week in which Legal-Island has begun to experiment with the web and what it can offer the company and with impressive results.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Day 23 2 April 2009 - Whos the Twit on Twitter?

I woke up this morning to a beautiful day. Cycled in to work along the river and via the park. Magic!

Logged on to find that Barack Obama is now following me on Twitter. If I had known this 24 hours earlier I could have asked him to pass on my regards to Liz before he met her for dinner last night. Apparently according to the gushing reports of their meeting in the Press today they got on "like old friends".

The feeling of deep flattery that the President of the most powerful country in the world is following humble me soon flittered away when I saw that he follows over 570,000 on the Net no doubt with the help of a very large computer and campaign team.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Day 22 1 April 09

Phoned my sister last night. She was on a high just back from a holiday in South America on a cruiseship and a budget it seems. The cost for 2 weeks inclusive of flights was just £995! In this small and budget conscious vessel they crossed the atlantic apparently and finished the holiday in the Canaries...

Getting really fed up with the ignorant customer service round our office. At the Tesco garage this morning the lady on the counter didn't greet me, didn't look at me and said only "put your card in" and "receipt".Promised myself I will complain nex time.

Did just 20 lengths this morning of the pool. Too much traffic about for my liking. Having to keep the engine going is one thing but to have to navigate lanes too is just a job too much at 8a.m.

Meeting Jane from vital nutrition today. Currently wondering where I can get good food and customer service nearby and indeed whether both are possible.

Trying to decide on a new quote to go up on the wall. Shortlisted candidates are :

" You may have a fresh start any moment you choose, for this thing that we call "failure" is not the falling down, but the staying down. (Mary Pickford)

Second Place:
Work is either fun or drudgery. It depends on your attitude. I like fun. (Colleen C. Barrett)

Third Place:
We don't accomplish anything in this world alone ... and whatever happens is the result of the whole tapestry of one's life and all the weavings of individual threads from one to another that creates something. (Sandra Day O’Connor)