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.......!