Saturday, 29 May 2010

No.313 Of Getting by Defensively

I'm an advanced driver. But I drive like a moron according to my friends. So I think it's time to slow down, use my mirrors much more and watch out for the mistake of others. When I was 17 I started riding motorbikes and survived for four years by watching out for the mistakes of other morons. Defensive driving they used to call it. It was the only way to ride. I would have been killed on three occasions at least if I hadn't.

It's a gloriously horrible day today. Rubbish for motorbike riding but perfect for doing a full day's work.

Friday, 28 May 2010

No.312 Of Hits & Stats

I awoke today to an immediate dilemma : swim, gym or cycle to work this morning? The sunshine blazing through the window answered it for me and an hour later I was astride my "Z4" of a pushbike thundering along the riverbank to work.

It was the right call. Mother nature was a big hit this morning.

On the subject of hits - on this blog they seem to vary considerably. Sometimes, according to Google Analytics there's been just a handful of visitors the day before. But they're always much higher when I mention media companies. My theory is that these organisations have Google alert trackers trawling web sites looking for their names to see what others are saying about them on-line. So what follows is nothing but my vain end of the week attempt to achieve record visitor stats for a Friday.

Hello and welcome to Cool FM, Downtown Radio, Q105, Irish News, The Newsletter, The Belfast Telegraph, The BBC Northern Ireland, Radio 1, Radio 2, Radio 3, Radio 4 and BBC World Service - a good weekend to you all.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

No.311 Of The Irish News Awards

We learnt this morning that we've just been shortlisted for the Irish News Awards 2010 for two categories "Most Innovative Employer" and " Best Place to Work". The awards evening is on 17th June. The main speaker is Mark Pollock a friend of the company and someone who spoke for us a while ago in Dublin.

The awards are always great fun but fives minutes before the announcements are made there's an awful knott in your stomach and you go through all sorts of turmoil and "what ifs" before the lovely Karen Patterson finally puts you out of your misery. What it must be like waiting to know whether you've won on Oscars Nite I dread to think.

17 is a lucky number of mine and June my favourite month. Anything more than that and it feels like anyone's shout. Hey ho. Just got to wait and see like the rest....

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

No.310 Of Plotting and Planning

I was back in the pool with the early birds today after a break of about two weeks. My arms and legs were suffering by the 3rd length but hey isn't that why you're meant to exercise?

I can never work out that place. When its freezing cold and towards the end of the week when you'd think everyone wants to stay in bed the place is packed. This morning, on top of a glorious sunny morning there was almost no-one in.

Today, I have absolutely nothing in my diary. By that I mean zilch, zero, nada, nada "doublee" even. No meetings. No performance reviews. No conference calls booked. A great day therefore to get on with some really useful work and plot and plan the future development of the empire that is, Legal-Island.

But first a cup of herbal tea!

Saturday, 22 May 2010

No.309 Of Dashing Volunteers

I was up early this morning to volunteer my services to the great Six Mile Water River clean up. Only two of us showed up. By lunchtime we were both done in. But we'd picked up 6 bags worth of rubbish from barely 200 metres of river. Some going though I say it myself.

Not only were we a little peeved that it was just us two but when a third body arrived on the scene all he was about was trying to make off with our boat! Glad he tried to talk his way out of it rather than just leg it because I couldn't have made much of an effort "to give chase" in my wet suit and overly large shoes. Funny lot round here.

Friday, 21 May 2010

No.308 Of Friday Belonging to Helen Keller

"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of humankind as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or it is nothing at all"

Helen Keller, (1880 - 1968) American Blind/Deaf Author & Lecturer

Thursday, 20 May 2010

No.307 Of Journeys Past and Very Recent

I'm just back from a four day trip to London. I'm exhausted but I shouldn't be. I guess it's something to do with the fact that courtesy of a volcano with an unpronounceable name the return journey to the big smoke involved a longish car journey, a ferry, a longish train journey, a tube, a taxi, another taxi, another tube, another train, a plane and two taxis, followed by the same longish car journey back. By the end of last night I had tickets, receipts, currency and booking reference Nos streaming out my pockets.

Everything was a mad scrum on the trains and the ferry. It reminded me of the pre-budget airline days, when I was just beginning to travel aged 17 and you queued for everything and if you got a seat you got lucky. Birmingham Bull Ring (a major coach intersection a bit like the Crewe of the railway lines) was always the worst. It was complete pandemonium and a passenger /bus free for all. There were no stands and it was never clear whether your coach had arrived and if it had where it was and usually the driver was so grumpy or irritated by the place that you only ever asked him as a last resort.

I suppose we shouldn't complain too much when the planes are grounded. At least most of the time we get a seat, we are up in the air pretty quick and we arrive more or less stress free and pretty much on time within about an hour. Can't be bad.

Monday, 17 May 2010

No.306 Of Careless Whispers

I've had a miserable morning.

I was warned the seats were precious on the early morning train from Bangor to London particularly with flights grounded so I booked a seat in advance. I reserved a forward facing isle seat in a Quiet carriage by a table for my laptop and three hours of work. Instead, I got a backward facing tableless window seat in a very noisy carriage next to an aspiring George Michael lookalike who was slurping hateful looking protein shakes every hour whilst listening to his Ipod at full volume.

I checked into the hotel but was told to wait as I was too early for my room. I thought I'd play on the Internet for a while but they told me the connection was down. I tried to make a few calls on my mobile but there was no reception. A lady checking out warned me breakfast wasn't much cop either. It was kind of her but she may have wished she had said it a bit quieter for the receptionist gave her a quick glare like it was her who had prepared it herself. May be she did. It should at least taste better than a protein shake. Shouldn't it?

Saturday, 15 May 2010

No 305 Of Slowing Down to Speed Up

I'm all over the place this week. By this I mean I'm in Antrim, Anglesea, London, Dublin & Belfast - partly for pleasure but mostly for work.

I'm going to practice this new slow down to speed up concept and try and get everything right first time and get the very most from every bit of my week. So slowly I have prepared my suitcase and business paperwork, gathered my passport, credit cards, flight checkin print outs, and plastic bags for the creams etc etc. I am if you will and if I may, a walking travelling human Swiss army knife. Show me an obstacle and I have the solution to it or something to fix it with. But I've also prepared for the in-between meetings bit so when I'm in the car I'm listening to audio books. When I'm on the boat I'm tapping into a PC and when I'm on the train I'm listening to my Ipod. Is this slow down to speed up or what they called plugged in or perhaps even just "Wired"?

Thursday, 13 May 2010

No.304 Of Lolly Pops and Laughter

This week in my book belongs to our local lolly pop man. I'm not sure what his name is but he looks like a Fred or a Joe to me. He works a patch just over the railway crossing about 100 metres from Island House. He's busy that's for sure looking after two bits of road intersecting not far from what you might say its the hub of Antrim at least that time of the morning consisting as it does of a very popular Centra, a bus station, a train station and a school not far away..

On Wednesday of this week I sped past said Fred in the convertible with a colleague. The sun was shining, the roof was down and the music up. Our friend the lolly pop man leaned from his post on the edge of the corner of the pavement almost over the windscreen as we threw a sharp left at the junction and spurted out "Couldn't you afford the rest of it then?".

Sir Fred you made us laugh. Thank you.

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

No.303 Of Struggling with the Idea of Colours

I attended a Legal-Island "Colour Me Beautiful" breakfast seminar. I struggled. In fact I think if there had been an exam at the end of it I would have come last with flying colours - beautiful or otherwise. I just can't do this what-goes-with-what thing at all. Throw in the complications about a person's complexion their type of eyes and how they wear their hair and I'm just so lost.

I always used to think that what goes with blue is another blue; that you wear pink if you want to stand out and make a statement and black or grey if you don't. Personally if there was only one colour in the world I wouldn't miss the others and I think we'd be better for it. My vote is for pink!

Monday, 10 May 2010

No 302 Of American Pie

Wow! Things are interesting at the moment aren't they? We don't really have an operational government at the moment and the UK is in a continental commercial club that is hovering on the brink of financial ruin. The US has got involved if only to say that they're worried by developments. I suppose they did help fund the club right at the start after the Second World War so they're allowed to say these sorts of things like its still a piece of their pie. Apart from this we have every reason to be optimistic about the economy and investing big time in your company's development plans.

Oddly, this week is all about company strategy or at least the beginning of refining this for work we need to do next year. My diary says I've only ten meetings this week plus an Black Tie Dinner tomorrow oh and Don McClean of Starrie Starrie Night fame tomorrow. Bring it on....

Saturday, 8 May 2010

No. 301 Of Natures Offerings

I jumped on my bike this morning and rode to work. It was a beautiful day. The early morning sun was pushing its way through the trees dotted alongside the river splashing gorgeous patches of light along the running water. The riverbanks were sprinkled with bluebells and wild garlic giving the fresh air a lovely aroma. The herons were already up and busy patrolling the waters or fishing in the waterfalls for breakfast.

It was one of those mornings that the nature around you makes you feel so upbeat about life that you just can't help but feel good about it and everything it gives you.

So in case I were to observe all this too closely one morning and end up in a fatal accident on my bike in the Salmon Leap water torrents may I put on record that the following makes me feel like a really lucky guy :

* Good health (and may I never take this for granted)
* A good education
* A thriving, buzzing pulsating, business
* A fabulous team of employees who are a delight to work with
* A small but highly treasured set of close friends
* A life full of some really character building experiences with the prospect of many more to come

Friday, 7 May 2010

No.300 Of Bruce and the BNP

Goody! The election has finally finished! Goody too the BNP didn't get one seat. There's sense in us Brits afterall. Goody some more Bruce Forsythe made a real ejeet of himself on TV last night and I missed it.

We're busy here drafting our entries for the Irish News Workplace Awards. We're getting nervous already. Why do we volunteer to do these sorts of things?

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

No.299 Of Spoiling Elections

It's Election Day!

For many a year I didn't vote or even register to do the same thinking it wise to remain under the Poll Tax Radar. Last year I decided to register if only because it seems so much easier to apply for anything big such as a mortgage if you have. However, when I applied to register they weren't satisfied that I was who I claimed to be and denied my request. I let the thing go not really caring either way. But lo.. it seems they do actually believe me to be who I believe myself to be because yesterday a card arrived with my voter's number on it.

To the next dilemma. I happen to like all three leaders Clegg, Brown and Cameron. I think they're all very competent and compared to many politicians in many countries I think we actually come off quite well.

To my final dilemma I can't vote for any of these parties in NI (except the Conservatives and Unionists if you really accept what this is all about) and I really haven't been following NI politics to care that much or indeed cast a responsible vote. May be I should go along and Spoil. At least that way when the results are read out and they announce that 10 votes were spoilt you can at least almost see where your vote ended up.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

No.298 Of Widgets, Gadgets & Shot Guns

I've had my widget and gadget day yesterday and feel so much better because of it. I can now download "From our Own Correspondent" from the BBC World Service onto my Ipod and then beam it through an additional gadget at my car stereo such that Katie Aidie comes out my speakers sounding just as posh as ever as I drive along. It means I can also down load ITunes onto a data stick and play them from my car speakers or for that matter any radio in which I can work out how to get a frequency that no other radio station is currently using. Good stuff.

Spring has definitely arrived. I know this because I have a number of tweeting birds close to my bedroom window blowing their lungs off at 5a.m.. It's lovely to hear but I wish they'd do it an hour or so later when I have to wake up anyway.

My Mum's partner had a novel way of dealing with seagulls that used to wake him early in the morning. It was called a shot gun. "But their protected aren't they Alan?" she would say "That one ain't" came the reply as it tumbled off the roof.

Saturday, 1 May 2010

No.297 Of The Immediacy of Truth

"It is true?" Asked the taxi driver as I got into his cab in O'Connell Street. I asked him if what was true. He said "that Gerry Ryan is dead". Straining to recall who he was exactly I assured him I had no idea. As we pulled away from the taxi rank he called a friend on the hands free set to ask him. He said he didn't know but that his friend is a reporter and he'd find out. A minute later another friend called who protested that it can't be true because he'd seen Ryan leaving his apartment barely 30 minutes before. The taxi driver assured him that it was news he'd heard from at least 2 mates and that his reporter friend that it was true. The caller rang off but not before declaring that may be it wasn't Ryan he had seen after all. The reporter then called back and confirmed that he had been found dead in his apartment that morning. The taxi driver then called a mate to confirm the news and then another. As I got to my destination and exited the cab I could hear the phone go again and the driver declaring "It's true. It's true".

I jumped into my car and headed North listening to 2FM. At the top of the hour the news bulletin reported what it seemed the cabbie fraternity already knew that Gerry Ryan was in fact dead.