Monday, 29 June 2009

No.94 Of 17, 30,31 & 90

Last night the inaugural Greenmills summer barbecue took place which boasted a great turn out. No 17 provided the spread and it was mighty. No 30 provided the craic and it was 90. No. 31 brought us the guitar music which was sublime. No 8 brought self reflection and No.9 the wit and amusing stories. Here's hoping for many more such evenings....

Sunday, 28 June 2009

No.93 Of Ballyrobin & BBQs

Cycled last night to the Ballyrobin on account of the evening being so lovely.
There was nothing on the menu maincourse for veggies apart from the standard sentence "Vegetarian option available on request" so I sulked and had a soup and nothing else. My company then felt guilty and had a starter only and the restaurant lost out by about £20.

Biking back I ended up going via, The Shanogue. It's just about the only pub in NI I know that has anything approaching a beer garden and happens to be my local. It turned out it also had a disco bar at the back which was really popular even by 10p.m.. For a moment I thought I could have been in a shoot for ITV's "Benidorm". Mobiles, fags and tattoos everywhere together with an awful lot of drinks beginning to glow in the night time.

Barbque tonight alongside the river with neighbours. There's actually quite a few attending and I'm looking forward to meeting those from "up the other end".

Saturday, 27 June 2009

No.92 Of Sheer Joy & Jawbone

Wow! Took the MG last night to Torr Head and onto to Ballycastle along the coast road. What a drive and what a way to travel. Hood down, engine purring, sun dipping over the horizon great vistas everywhere. Life's great. And let nobody tell you any different ok?

I'm test driving a new Jawbone ear piece which bluetooths to my mobile today. It's an astonishing bit of kit. "Jawbone" is actually very misleading. It's simply an ear piece that has a sensor touching the skin. Because of this it cuts out background noise completely. Doubting this greatly I hopped in the MG and whilst firing round the block called Radek our ITC technician who reported perfect sound. He would have had no idea I was in the car unless I had told him. We wondered as a result of this new invention how many guys might call their girlfriends claiming to be tucked up in bed whilst actually out at a nightclub on the prowl. Now its seems guys have ITC to blame when they go astray..

Why is it that most videos posted on UTube just don't work but then everynow and again something comes along ala Susan Boyle style and just provides nothing but sheer joy? Take a look here and see what I mean.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

No.91 Of Monica & Mountains

Emmm that's the employment law seminar finished and the Twitter seminar done too. Both seemed to go well but you can never tell until the feedback comes in or perhaps in the case of the latter until and unless my number of followers spikes this week.

The talk this morning was about Monica Leech who received libel damages yesterday in Dublin of almost €2million. I wish someone would libel me. May be they are online and my google alerts need refining. Emmm I feel another seminar coming on...

Meeting Hannah Carney this afternoon to talk about possibly working on a seminar together. There's no point trying to beat the traffic out of Dublin this afternoon so I expect a late return up North. Hope the great weather holds so I can at least have the hood down as I burn past the Mountains of Mourne.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

No.90 Of Grafting and Grafton Street

I had a great day networking today. I met just a few people but I get the sense that big things could come of these meetings if I put enough graft into it.

One of the meetings involved a visit to a top ten law firm in Ireland. My contact there said she had had to negotiate hard to get the croissants which were now considered a luxury item. Sign of the times we both agreed. Another solicitor later that day kept on talking of the "carnege out there" the "absolute bloody carnege". I was beginning to feel like I was in a horror movie.

Grafton Street did feel like if not a horror movie then someting of a nightmare. It was packed full of tourists looking left or right at shops but not straightahead where they're walking and about to walk into you. I was accosted by two young females one at the bottom of the street the other at the top both trying to sell something but unusally not decked out in either a bright "World Concern" bib or a prominent charity ID card. Neither seemed bothered or deterred by my frown as they approached (my scariness is wearing off I thought) and the fact that I had doubled my speed to indicate as politely as I could that I was in a hurry, late for a meeting and not wanting to stop and chat. The girl at the top even offered to walk at speed with me to wherever I was going so I increased my pace even more. At this rate I'll be sprinting up Grafton Street next I thought.

I'm currently on a break and heading back in a moment for another bit of prep for tomorrow's seminar on how to use Twitter for business purposes. I'm really intrigued to know how it's going to go down.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

No.89 Of Murray & Mints

Murray at Wimbledon. I really despised his opponent today for no other discernible reason than because he wears his cap round the wrong way. If you're going to go to the bother of getting a cap then have it facing the right way round at least. Otherwsie what's the point? Crickey I'm growing increasingly intolerant nowadays....

I had a great day networking today and yesterday. Six meetings so far whilst here in Dublin and another three tomorrow and two seminars to deliver before heading back North.

I'm staying at the Skylone Hotel which at €48 a night has to be bargain hotel of the city. It's well done out, with really good staff and lovely rooms. Opposite are some fabulous restaurants including one I patronised earlier, the award winning "Three Cheeses". By the end of the meal I was in something of a dilemma whether or not to leave a tip for the waitress who was really good. I promised myself earlier this year after really ropey service at the local Tescos that I would complain whenever served badly but tip when served well at restaurants. However, tonight I experienced both at the same time. Really great service by one waitress and really awful service by her colleague who threw into her repertoire of rudeness pretending not to hear my request for another drink most likely because it just wasn't convenient to deal with me just then. Selective deafness hey? Very handy. I left them both my mints feeling one had been underappreciated and the other grossly over compensated.

Have started reading Fergal Keen's Trip through Rwanda. It promises to be a great if disturbing read.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

No.88 Of Awards and Rewards

Pictured in the photos above is Heath Stewart, Assistant Conference Manager at Legal-Island collecting the Innovative Employer Award and Jayne Finlay, Events Director at Legal-Island collecting the Award for Best Place to Work 2009.

Friday, 19 June 2009

No.87 Of the Return to the Irish News Awards

Wow! What a evening! Last night half way through the IrishNews Workplace Awards Ceremony for 2009 Legal-Island scooped the Best Place to Work Award for the second time. We rounded the night off by winning the very last (and dare I say most prestigous award?) which was The Most Innovative Employer Award.

We beat an impressive quality field last night and I felt really proud of my staff as they lined up for the photos. But it was team work that got us there. The team is stronger and better than it's ever been. As they say there is no "I" in Team... but there is in Irish News Awards....

Thursday, 18 June 2009

No.86 Of Mgs & Escorts

Last night I attended an Opera night at the Culloden Hotel as a guest of the Hastings Group. We zipped there in the MG - hood down -lovely weather - way to go - way to arrive.

It was a great night but I'm not sure if Carmen works when done with just five lead players. Isn't Carmen really about a visual feast more than anything which is hard to do without a supporting cast of loads fantastically dressed performers.

I bumped into a guy I've been trying to meet for a long time by sheer chance last night. It's strange how you can spend a long time trying to set up a meeting and then without trying it just happens.

Star performer last night was my company. Fiona is intelligent, attractive, easy going, witty and very funny. Richard, her husband, is a lucky man....

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

No.85 Of Firefighting, Rain & Good Business

Oh the driving rain! It drives you mad. I watched a programme about freak weather last night (if this rain persists we could be on it) which featured a bunch of convicts in California who were serving time as firefighters working mainly on summer bush fires. Towards the end of the programme it showed them lined up outside a lady's house they had protected from one of the worst bushfires in a long time. She was hugging each one of them, thanking them all for saving her home and wishing them well when they're released from prison. Television can be so powerful at times and such a let down at others cf Big Brother...

Yesterday I met Hilary Carmichael in Derry/Londonderry - an impressive lady and I'm sure an impressive lawyer too. We achieved an outcome to our meeting in 10 minutes which may have taken others at least an hour. If everyone was so damned to the point and great at getting straight to business I could do this job part-time and spend lots of time outside on leisure activities - in the pouring rain.

Monday, 15 June 2009

No.84 Of Coming of Age and Sell By Dates

I called my nephew yesterday about his 18th birthday present. I asked him via his Mum whether he wanted to go to Iran instead of Ireland for his once in a lifetime treat. "Ireland" he replied firmly. "Why not Iran?" I asked "Because we'll get kidnapped and Mum will have to pay the ransome and that will be funding terrorism which I don't approve of." Some of us in the family are risk takers, others landed down the creative side, while a few turned out just very logical in their approach to life.

Sell-by dates according to the radio this morning are all a waste of time and lead to millions of pounds worth of food being thrown away every year. Does that mean that staff here should throw nothing out the fridge until the humus is positively sparkling and the cottage in the cottage cheese is, well, all but rubble? Hope not.

Off to see Executive Coach Fiona Keenan this morning for coffee. Loads to ask and indeed tell...

No.83 Of the Irish News Awards & Other Scary Things

I've decided I must be a bit scary. I met two people last week and one yesterday who emmed and ahhed and stuttered their way through meetings with me looking visibly nervous - at least at the beginning. Being able to scare people does have it uses sometimes (unwelcome callers to the door for example) and is a social skill that shouldn't be knocked. But now it seems I may have become naturally good at it...emmmm

It's the Irish News Awards this Thursday. Legal-Island has been short listed in the two categories we entered and I'm already getting nervous. I don't remember being like this waiting for my GCSE results to come through. What's happening to me I wonder?

Today I nipped down the Antrim Road in Belfast to meet Gillian Esquivel and Shane Mackle for lunch at the Belleview Arms. I parked at the side and headed for the front of the pub to find it locked up so I went round the far side to find this locked/boarded up. Then I walked to the back of the premises with much the same results so I continued round almost to where I started and finally entered the building. I was presented with a choice of left or a right corridor. I chose the latter and end up in the Disabled Toilets. Reversing out and going left I asked the barman in the public bar where the restaurant was and I was told to take two more rights and then go upstairs which I duly did. Upstairs (to the left and left again) I found a lovely restaurant. Feeling somewhat disorientated I was glad to sit down and order some food. This duly came in the form of a veggie stir fry.

The three of us chatted about business, veggie food (I was in the company of one of each : a veggie and a carnivore) "The good times" two years ago and what might be ahead for us all in the near future.

Before leaving I demanded to the see the chef about the stir fry and was led into the kitchen by the manager. I said gruffly to him "Are you the guy that cooked the veggie stir fry today?" He looked concerned and meekly admitted he was. "Congratulations" I said as I shook his hand "One of the best veggie meals I've ever had". He smiled looking mightily relieved.

Putting scariness to good use can be fun sometimes.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

No.82 Of Poles Bending it for Barry

I met the Lady Captain yesterday. She took me through her triumphant afterdinner speech sentence by sentence. She's received 20 or more cards congratulating her on her debut at the podium wearing the green jacket which says it all I guess. She's still on a high about the whole thing. Ride it gal you deserve it.

Last night I saw "Looking for Eric" the film in which Eric Cantana plays himself. It's a cracking film. A kind of Kes meets, Billy Elliot meets Bend it with Beckham. What a great film. The lead is played by Steve Evets which it appears to me as I type, to be a name which can be read forwards as well as backwards. These are called Palindromes if I remember apparently.

I had a team of Polish mechanics out to fix the MGB today. All we need it seems is 11cms of fuel hose to bend between two points and we're back in action.

Friday, 12 June 2009

No.81 Of "Oh Ah Cantana" & Other Communiques

In a bored moment yesterday I was trying to work out how many ways I can contact members of staff outside my office door to call them in for a meeting without actually getting up off my chair. Pamela & I reckoned five : phone, text, Skype, email, Twitter. As technology development are we all destined to lose our inter-personal communication skills I wonder and how will we know when this has happened? Perhaps it's when I stop a face-to-face meeting which clearly isn't working and request that we all continue it at our PCs through Skype?

I'm busy divising our training week today. Just when I thought we might struggle to fill four days' of training I'm actually having trouble squeezing it all in. Loads of other things to do today including devising the Annual Review programme for November of this year. It needs to be the best yet.

Off to see Eric Cantana movie tonight. "When the seagulls follow the trawler, it is because they think sardines will be thrown into the sea." Could be a different movie methinks.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

No.80 Of a Hundred Years of Twitter Solitude

Wow! Loads to get excited about at the moment. There's the Irish News Awards next Thursday, Opera at the Culloden next Wednesday and Crimewatch Monday!

Right now I'm working on the "big six" new seminars for second season and a reason not to go for a swim in half an hour. How about it'll be cold and wet and full of people with far too much energy for my liking on a Friday morning. Yes all this will do nicely.

Wondering whether to run an ad in The Writ magazine promoting Twitter to solicitors. Could it be too early for them perhaps - by a hundred years or so?

No.79 Of Narrow Vision and the Big Picture

Survived the Derry/Londonderry experience yesterday. On the way there from Antrim I counted 5 signs showing the distance to the city. On four of these the "London" part of Londonderry had been painted out. This says a lot to me. During the time I lived I never heard one person suggest they change the name completley but loads of arguments (many heated) that it should be one not the other and for a multitude of reasons. Changing the name completely to say, Foyle City, would have shown that the city had vision and was prepared finally to embrace everyone. Instead the debate is stuck where it's been for centuries and everyone has to suffer the dilema of which name to use each time they have to refer to the place. Best not to.

Shot over to Corrs Corner Hotel this morning for a meeting listening to Radio 1. After 15 minutes of nothing but Chris Moyles talking I switched to Radio 2 playing Waterloo Sunset. Bliss! My problem is that I remember the good old days of Radio 1 when DJs were there to play music. Now we have commercial radio peppered with annoying adverts or Radio 1 with egos and mouths to match.

According to the news on Radio 2 the Earth is due to collide with Mars in 6 millions years time. No point tidying my desk then...

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

No.78 Of the Derry Welcome

I'm off to the Maiden City today to meet Jane Corr about a family law seminar. I note on the web today there's a report by Sir Roy McNulty chair of the regeneration body for the city who's stated that "the city's ambience failed to make people feel truly welcome". I wonder if the place has changed since I was last there? Hope so.

No.77 Of Preparation, Preparation, Preparation

Bad start to the day. I did just 10 lengths of the pool and got out. Too many people around and too many looking to chat. I can't bear being among such friendly people so early in the morning!

Last night I heard all about the Lady Captain's triumph speaking at the Annual Golf Dinner. I knew she'd bag it. She followed the three golden rules of how to get ready properly for a speech : preparation, preparation, preparation - others on the night it seems had not. She is a Brown Owl so Be Prepared should have come easy for her I guess.

Loads to do today including preparation for the Irish News Awards on 18th June.

Monday, 8 June 2009

No.76 Surprise Surprise!

Wow! What a weekend. Picked up the MGB on Saturday. She leaks. She rattles. She vibrates. But she also purrs too and I love her. Saturday night driving back from friends the British weather threw everything it had at us both for a good two hours but the partnership held out steadfast, resiliently and to the bitter end. Rule Britannia.

Alan’s right. The car sticks to the road like the proverbial to the soldier’s blanket and with the top down you get a sense of belonging to the road that I’ve not experienced in any other convertible.

With the hood up you get a sense of being in a German wartime bunker for the windscreen is long and very narrow and really concentrates your vision. There’s an override button on the gear knob which when flicked is supposed to give you more acceleration. It doesn’t but it delivers a great noise under the bonnet and makes you feel terribly James Bond as you employ it hurtling into the corners.

The nephew’s 18th birthday was great. He’s actually turned into quite a gentlemen. We were worried for a while when he was young and going through the terrible Twos. In fact I think we were worried for about 10 years come to think of it.

Sunday proved to be a day of surprises for me and for my rels. It started early as I wanted to get on the road as soon as I could and start the journey north. By accident I found the short cut to the motorway I can never find when I try to find it.

After two stops at service stations and an awful lot of wind rain and spray I arrived in Chester unannounced at the house of my aunt and uncle. Aunty ended up in the car navigating me to cousin Jennifers at some speed as time pressures required us to get to her house then to Liverpool inside an hour or so. Aunty Ann should have been a rally driver’s co-pilot. Crickey she was good. “Second left just where that bus is turning right, it’s not too early to indicate and slow down right now.”

Jennifer and her boyfriend were surprised indeed to see me and the former showed me round her new house whist the latter fixed me a cup of tea.

By 6p.m. I was standing at the back of a church in Woolaton, Liverpool expecting to see Father Des a friend I had met whilst working in Romania many years ago. Alas it was my turn to be surprised as I found out that he and other redemptists had headed south on the same motorway on which I had headed north that morning.

Friday, 5 June 2009

No. 75 Of Parties and Presentations

It's my birthday today. I am 44. That's fouty-four. That's half way to 88 by which time I could well be dead. Possibly even long dead. So far I have celebrated by doing a three hour performance review and a two hour round trip to Newry for a one hour business meeting (which featured a painfully boring presentation in place of a birthday cake for me).

Tomorrow is a big day but I am nervous about it for two people. One is a friend. The other is me. Said friend is delivering a speech tomorrow evening written by my goodself. I've assured her she's nothing to worry about and it seems to have worked. She's very cool and checked-in about it. It's me that's stressing for her. I've asked her that if it's a success she pays me the sum of 5p so that I may change my Twitter bio and add "Professional Speech Writer".

I'm also stressing because I have to attend a party tomorrow night in fancy dress. It's a 60s theme and I just can't be bothered with that sort of thing anymore. I'm too old. I'm half way to 88 for heavens sake.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

No.74 Of Networking and Network Rail

I spent another day today networking. Sometimes it doesn't really happen for you and you feel you've wasted an awful lot of time setting up meetings and travelling around and getting nowhere. Occasionally it does work and today was one of those days. I met one person after another who came with some great ideas and an awful lot of willingness to work with L-I and provide good quality serivce. May be its the recession that's forced it on everyone.

There were two highlights today both in the form of solicitors from two of the Big Five law firms in Ireland. Liz Ryan of Mason Hayes Curran and Kerry Hiles of Matheson Ormsby Prentice you are superb ambassadors for your firm, great listeners, so down to earth and a delight to work with. Legal-Island salutes you.

I sat on the train returning home today in a carriage in which you would think there was a competition on to find the most annoying ring tone on a mobile. First, just opposite me was an old fashioned kind of ring that might come from a phone in something like "Dial M for Murder". Wow it was loud. Across from me a mobile sounded with a decidedly Indian theme to it with a guy screaming out a chant of some sort. This was particularly annoying because its owner seemed to let it ring for ages as though to let everyone in the carriage know he'd got a ring tone no-one else possessed (did he ever wonder why?)

The award for most annoying ringtone however went to some guy half way down the carriage who must have had his phone switched from "Normal" to "Pneumatic drill noise" by the sounds of things. Why would anyone want to take that around with them? I imagined what I'd do with his phone if I had a pneumatic drill.

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

No.73 A Short Blog on Shorts

In Dublin today netwoking. First appointment cancelled next one 10.15a.m. . Then trying to arrange another at short notice for lunch before having two more meetings and hoofing it for the train.

Am sporting short sleeves in expectation of the 24 degrees forecast. At this rate I'll be in shorts by the weekend. World you have been warned!