Thursday, 30 June 2011

Of Would you in a Wudu?

Now here's a question for you. Have you ever heard of a Wudu? Nope I hadn't until yesterday so I popped into the gent's loo at Birmingham Airport to see what one looked like.
Inside the gents just off from where all the urinals are situated was another room which I guessed must have been the Wudu. It wasn't in use at the time although there were two other businessmen like me curious as to what one was peering in through the door.
Now, I figure this must have two purposes. It allows men to do whatever they do in a Wudu (I'm guessing it's wash their feet) and others to talk about what a Wudu is doing in an airport loo and possibly why the idea has not caught on. There's a dyer shortage of talking points in a men's loo so anything that encourages us to be sociable at our time of need and possibly swap business cards too has to be a good thing if you ask me.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Of Mediation in Northern Ireland

I'm currently working on The Great Mediation Symposium for Northern Ireland due for 21 September. It's quite a challenge co-ordinating input from the private, public & third sector. They all have their own way of working and doing things and you have to understand them pretty quickly to know how best to move forward.
The line up is already looking good. The afternoon parallel sessions are packed full of mediators from a full range of activities including family, legal, community and employment.
The theme of the event is driving mediation towards a tipping point. A number of mediators have said to me recently that mediation is going to be the "next big thing". When I ask them how long they've been saying this many have replied "For the past five years at least"!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Of The Wows of Wimbledon

Yey! It's Wimbledon and what a great one it is proving to be!
The story so far belongs to Sabine Lisicki. Last year she's at home with an injury and has to learn to walk all over again. Last week she beat the French Open Champion on Centre Court in front of 15,000 spectators and millions of viewers at home. She won because she wanted it so badly. You could tell that from every part of her body language - the mental focus was supreme. That's why tennis is such a great game. You get to a certain level and then improvement is all about developing the mental game.
A few years ago there was tennis on a Sunday on account of the bad weather the week before. I queued up almost overnight to get Centre Court tickets and was rewarded with matches including some of the greats that year and one great of all time Roger Federer.Federer didn't really appear to me to be a tennis player but more a wizard with a wand. As one BBC reporter commented he found angles with his racket that your geometry teacher would have told you at school were impossible. Geat stuff!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Of Being in Love with Shakesbeare - or not

I went to Shakesbeare's Globe theatre on Saturday in London. It brought back memories to me of Shakesbeare at school - none of them happy ones.
I hated Shakesbeare at school. I guess at 12 I wasn't that keen on reading and if I had to do it I wanted a book on Dracula, Burke and Hare, or Sherlock Holmes but the Merchant of Venice for heaven's sake? If the reading wasn't bad enough we would then have to write 500 words on Shylock's "pound of flesh" speech. It felt as painful as well, losing a pound of flesh cut with a Shakesbearian knife I suppose.
I tried very hard Saturday night to follow "All's well that ends well" but I struggled. In fact, to be honest by part way through the second Act I had given up trying. Instead I mused why it was that 3,000 had paid good money to be utterly baffled for 3 hours, many of them foreign and a good number standing throughout.
Shakesbeare is known and respected 4 centuries on. He's revered throughout the world. People who know almost no English proudly recite some of his lines like "To be or not to be. That is the question". I didn't get it at school and I still don't get it now. But oddly, 48 hours on I realise that I really enjoyed it and would probably go again.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Of a Right Royal Encounter

A friend of mind this morning is all excited. Her work place is expecting a visit from Prince Andrew. In fact, she doesn't know this for sure. They've been told its a Royal but not which one. But the hot money is on Andrew. She's in catering and will be making his cuppa tea.
I've never met a Royal although I did wave at Lady D once and she returned fire. I was coming out of a concert in Birmingham attended by Princess Charles and Diana. We decided to leave early to beat the crowds and we took a short cut across the car park. Just as we were getting ready to cross a main road a rather nice car shot by and there they were. A strange feeling came over me. It was like I was caught in a moment. I was conscious of very little except looking down and seeing my left arm waving away at them. She smiled and waved back which was nice of her. She didn't have to.
I watched Princess Andrew at work a few years ago at a Royal Garden Party at Hillsborough. Quite why I was ever invited to this I'm not sure but there I was standing behind a line of guests all waiting to be introduced to him. I was earwigging I suppose. There was about 12 of them in a line who had been waiting patiently to meet him. The rumour was out that he was late because he had been playing golf. Guest number one wisely asked him how the golf went and he politely replied that it went well and thanked him for asking. The next three in the line wisely didn't ask him about the golf but number four (clearly out of earshot from number one) did as did number eight and twelve. The poor fellow responded each time "It went well and thank you for asking". What a boring task I thought.
I came away feeling impressed by the effort he made to engage with people he's unlikely to have met before and unlikely ever to meet again. Likely he'll remember none of them. They'll remember the meeting for the rest of their lives. A strange encounter when you think about it.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Of The Olympic Tickets Saga

Oh yes! I applied for a whole bunch of tickets for the Olympic games next year and got....women's weightlifting!
Bring it on!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Of Big Lungs & Big Weeks

I went to see the Scottish Opera's "Rigoletto" over the weekend at the Royal Opera House Belfast. It was very different to the production I remember seeing in London last year.
You might say it was a tale of two halves. The first felt long and hard going and I have to confess to nodding off high in the God's for part of it. My Opera companion assured me that I didn't snore however so I didn't disgrace myself completely. The second half was so much better. It was packed full of emotion, excitement, angst and tragedy. The lead singer had the best pair of lungs on her I have heard in a long while.
I've a huge week ahead. Belfast networking tomorrow, Dublin all day Wednesday and London after that. Bring it on!

Friday, 17 June 2011

Of Late Last Night

Ok so we didn't win last night at the Irish News Awards. That honour went to multinational Allstate so well done to them. But my team were very gracious in defeat and we ended up having a great night - and a late one too. How late I can't be sure because I left well after midnight when others were still just warming up.

What I can be sure about is that when I was swimming my obligatory 30 lengths this morning others were nursing a hangover for there was much partaking in the liquid refereshments last night. Humorous comments were spilling out aplenty about things that were happening in the office - most of which I had no idea about. Oh how we laughed!

We didn't win last night but I came away feeling more proud about my staff than ever before and better about them than any year in which we've picked up an award for Best Place to Work.
I shoot out of bed every morning and I can't wait to go to work. That feeling is only possible when you have a great team of employees. And I do.

Team Legal-Island : Onwards!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Of Questions,Questions

I did a gig today in front of 120 school girls in Belfast. They were having an entrepreneurial day and I was the entrepreneur wheeled in to prove that if I could make it so could they!
Boy they were keen, attentive and hard working. When I asked them at the end if any of them had a question about 120 hands went in the air.
"Where are you from Mr obviously not Norn Iron?", "Where have you put all your money Sir?"
We have the Irish News Awards this Thursday.We're up for champion of champions. But how have we done? That is another interesting question.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Of Clever Ladies and Clever Chaps

Well I had a good weekend, I think. It was productive at least. On Friday night I went to see comedian Tommy Tiernan at the Ulster Hall. He was good but risque. His protestant jibes were close to the line and perhaps too close for a few but he's a master performer. He claims there's a sign by the titanic dock that says "Titanic - well it was alright when it left here".

On both Saturday and Sunday I worked full days trying to get ahead (or at least not fall behind) before I go away on leave. Over the weekend I watched Clint Eastwood's Dirty Harry (a great movie and actor) and Emily Bronte's Wuthering Heights starring Lawrence Olivier. I had seen the film as a boy but it was only this time round that I realised what a great story it is and indeed how well Kate Bush's song of the same name captures the atmosphere, angst and tragedy of the novel. Clever lady that.

Finally last night I dipped into War and Peace to knock off another chapter. I still haven't broken through the first 100 pages but I plan to take it on holiday and give it a good go. He has an amazing writing style Tolstoy. Clever chap that.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Of Having the Balls...

I was watching Embarrassing Bodies the other night whilst waiting for the Apprentice to come on. This was their live show in which people zoomed in via Skype to talk to the two T.V doctors. I watched as Antonio in London Skyped in to explain that he has a nasty lump on his testicles. One of the TV doctors quite rightly asked him if he had been to his doctor and understandably he replied "No. I was too embarrassed to go see my doctor". He then promptly stood up at the request of the presenter dropped his trousers and showed 12 million people his lump. Why is it I find people so difficult to understand sometimes? Maybe it's our obsession with celebrity that makes us do things like this. "Hey that fella is quite ordinary but his balls have been on tele...."

The Apprentice was rubbish this week. They're a washy bunch all incapable of taking decisions and sticking to a proper plan. Jim's clearly going to win it. He's a great team player and the only one as far as I can see that has well dare I say it...balls..

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Of Technically a Bit of A Disaster

Technically, I'm not having a good week. I'm talking about technology here for it is letting me down - or perhaps more truefully I am mistreating it. On Monday my MG failed its MOT. It broke down on the way to the test centre. "On the way" makes it sound as though there was a good attempt at the journey but there wasn't. I had barely got the car out the garage when the battery gave up on me. Not to be defeated I got the jump leads out again only for these to melt and deliver a terrible smell of burning as I tried the ignition and wonder why there was no response. I think I had short circuited something.
Never one to be easily defeated I then connected up the portable battery charger and the battery charged enough to make the indicators work (but only when the driver's door is open for some reason - work that one out!) but not enough to start an engine.
Time to call a man who knows what he's doing in my garage methinks.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Of Growing Old Disgracefully

I spent most of my birthday on Sunday with my Rels in Cheshire. I love visiting them and old haunts that prompt great memories of happy times together as a child.
One thing concerned me deeply however. I guess you might say that I use my cousins for a bit of bunch marking. Each time we meet (which is rarely more than once every two years) I compare how I'm doing in terms of my weight, my greyness and my wrinkles. I have to say this time round I did not do well for they were all looking in good shape with the boys sporting far too much hair of its original colour for my liking. You'd think on my birthday at least they'd have made more of an effort to make me feel better about growing old.
Pictured in the photo are back row : Peter (cousin Jen's partner), Richard (middle cousin (in D'artanian stance)) William (youngest cousin) and me. Front row : Jane (wife of Richard), Aunty Ann (without an "e"), Ben son of Richard and Jane Uncle Brian, oldest cousin Jen with Ewan son of William and Michelle peeping behind.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Of Four Great Dames

Wow! Four days for my birthday weekend in London being treated to performers in very different disciplines but each at the pinnacle of their career and each with remarkable stage presence.
On Thursday I went to see the Queen of Jazz, Dame Cleo Lane at the home of UK Jazz, Ronnie Scotts. This woman is 83 but can still cut it and wow can she connect and talk to an audience. She listens, she laughs, she converses and she sings.
Friday night and it was KD Lang's turn to impress at the Royal Festival Hall. I understood immediately why everyone says that you must go and see her live. Wow can this woman belt out the notes.
Saturday and it was Tamara Rojo principal ballerina at the Royal Ballet. She jumped and fluttered her way around the stage like she had wings on her shoulders and compressed air by her feet. She looked extraordinarily fit, supple and yes pale too - no doubt a result of the thousands of hours of practice in studios to get to the top of her game.
When people ask if I had a good birthday. I say No. I had a great birthday. Dames thank you.