Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Of Memoirs of a Fruitcake

I've just finished reading Chris Evan's book "Memoirs of a Fruitcake". This is a great read easy on the brain and highly entertaining. It's astonishing on many levels. First, how in his short life so far he's managed to meet so many huge names and at some point employ a good number of them too when he owed his radio station. Without name dropping he tells the story of how he was in the South of France on holiday walking down the road and who should he bump into but David Frost who said he was staying at "Andrew's". Not knowing which Andrew he was referring to he agreed to have dinner with them both later that evening. Later that evening he's zipping the world's finest and most likely expensive wine with Andrew LLoyd Webber and his wife, among others.

The extravagance and decadence is astonishing too.Evans had or has a weakness for Ferraris. At one point he owned 7 of them. He lived in a property so good in California that he forgot he also owned another outstanding house in England to the tune of £8 million.

But whats perhaps most astonishing of all is that Evans survived to write this book. For years he'd do his show, go to the gym, sleep for an hour then go out on the rip from lunchtime pretty much until the small hours of the morning. After little more than 3 hours sleep he'd be up to do it all over again.

Monday, 29 August 2011

Of ADR and Mediation

This LinkedIn thing is a funny business. Legal-Island set up an HR group to discuss HR issues in Northern Ireland recently. Loads of people joined but there have been almost no discussions - except those contrived by me.
Yesterday I started a discussion in a mediation group and contributions on my question have been spinning in from all parts of the globe.
I'm now contemplating using this discussion as part of the Mediation Conference we have planned for later next month where we'll be debating the very question dropped into LinkedIn. It will be quite a thing to start a debate on something needed for Northern Ireland which others around the world have already commented on. For reference the question/comment dropped into the "ADR Resources" group is as follows :

Driving Mediation into the Mainstream - is it all about the tipping point?

I wonder if I could invite some comments on the following. Mediation has been around in Northern Ireland for a good 30 years in various guises. We now have an ample supply of mediators many of whom I have met and will declare that mediation's time has come and will soon be considered "mainstream". When I ask them how long they have been saying this they reply "oh the last 10 years at least"!

Does anyone remember this situation in their jurisdiction and if so, could they help in terms of what finally drove mediation over the tipping point?

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Of Singing the Blues on a Cruise

Sometimes, usually when you're not expecting it your night just comes together. And it did last night. Some friends and I joined a Blue Cruise up the Lagan in Belfast and what a blast it proved to be. Beautiful weather too.
The evening featured "The Doc" on blues harmonica and vocals. I have seen The Doc play before but forgotten just how good he is. For The Doc life is about the blues, about his music, about his harmonica and little else.
The boat was small. A little smaller perhaps than the average tug boat. So it was crowded possibly "friendly" down below as he knocked out the tunes as we went up and down the Lagan.
Half way through the journey it occurred to me that we were pretty close to the water down below and we were listing slightly to the right. I might add this assessment was not blurred by alcohol for I was driving that evening and on the wagon on the Lagan so to speak. As the boat turned to come home it seemed to list even more and I wondered whether it might be advisable to move, along with the most rotund of those below, to port side pretty damn quick.
If we did go down one thing was for sure I thought The Doc would play us out in style.

Working on the Annual Review of Employment Law Conference today.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Of On Ya Bike

I was in Dublin yesterday for meetings and I thought I'd give the Dublin Cycle a go as I had places to visit dotted about all over the city and two wheels made more sense than four and a meter. Or so I thought. It did not start well. The first bikeport in Abbey St didn't take credit cards and I was directed to one in O'Connell St that did. Only it didn't or at least not my credit card. The second took my money but reneged on its promise to produce a receipt with the all important code I needed to release a bike. It was out of paper.
I was on a mission and determined not to give up so I walked to bikeport no. 4 at Customs House. Nothing about this port was working the lights were all out. I finally hopped on a bike half way to my destination and trundled up the road to St Stephens Green. It was rush hour and it took some concentration. Pedestrians stepping off the pavement in your way other cycles overtaking vans with doors poised to open and knock you off. It was every cyclists for himself.
On the way back from my last meeting I was running short of time and decided it was time to get a taxi. I choose badly. The driver said he'd pop out to the post office to pay a bill on the way to the train station "if I didn't mind". On his return he took the opportunity to ask me a few questions and deride Antrim, the legal profession (forgivable) all women drivers and migrants (not so forgivable). I cancelled the journey prematurely and finished it on foot. More cycle journeys equals fewer taxis - has to be a good thing I thought...

Working on the Data Protection Conference today - loads to to do.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Of Good Weekends and Bad Ones

I'm just off the back of a superb weekend spent along the North Antrim Coast and in Donegal. It's a difficult part of the countryside to beat when the weather is good, and it was - very good. Drive by Malin Head round a few corners and there's an old curiosity shop full or nicknacks old railway signs,pottery and all sorts of everything else. You go in and there's no-one there. Then "as if by magic" the shopkeeper appears having hurtled down his lawn from from his bungalow nearby to help you with prices or just to help you feel you shouldn't leave without buying something. It's a curious experience.

Not having such a good weekend is Colonel Gadaffi. Today is probably one of those days when you may just remember where you were or what you were doing when his regime finally fell. Well I do. I drifted off to sleep last night listening to the BBC World Service. I awoke regularly throughout the night. Each time I did the rebels had advanced just that little bit closer to the centre of Tripoli and by the morning they pretty much had his compound surrounded. If they catch him alive I wonder how he's going to cope with his loss of status, power and control. Maybe he'll do a runner and end up owning his very own curiousity shop somewhere in a very remote part of the world.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

Of An Altogether Waste of a Day

I was in London today to give evidence for the prosecution in an asault case. We were all warmed up and ready to go when the prosecutor walked in and told us that the defendant was pleading guilty afterall. He explained that the defence solicitor had written three days ago to inform the CPS but had sent the letter to the wrong court which is why he had only just that moment found out about it. Quite apart from the fact that the defence lawyer had had over three months to talk some sense into his client and then enter a guilty plea, the wrong address saga had cost the state thousands. For me alone to be there the bill ran to flights, a night in a four star hotel, taxi and train fares. This never a got a mention in court either publically or once the judges had retired.

The defendant had assaulted a guy following a road rage incident. Rather ironically the victim was a criminal defence solicitor and the guy passing who witnessed it and got in between it all (moi) just so happened to be a former criminal defence barrister. As the saying goes he should choose his fights more carefully.

I have never seen such a poor address to the Bench by a prosecuting lawyer relating to a guilty plea in my life (and I've seen many poor ones).

Monday, 15 August 2011

Of The Great Mediation Symposium Northern Ireland

We're all hard at work at the moment on the great mediation conference for Northern Ireland. I think this evert promises to be one of the most exciting we've done at Legal-Island in many a year. We have a great mix of speakers representing the legal, business and community sector and some really interesting presentations all day. In the afternoon we have one session in which leading mediators from the interface areas of Northern Ireland will be talking about lessons learnt from 30 years of mediating in the conflict zones. Top stuff. Who'd want to miss it?.

Of Fit n Ready to Go

I played tennis on Saturday. Yesterday I went for a five mile run and this morning I swam 1 kilometre. I have to say right now I'm feeling fitter than I have been in probably 10 years. It's so nice to think as you age that your body is still capable of improving.

Now the plan is to work on my mental fitness and agility. Reading "War and Peace" is certainly helping the mental concentration but I feel I need to return to the cards and still my speed memorisation again. Watch out Ben Pridmore. Here I come!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Of Come Dine With Me or Anyone for that Matter

A number of friends of mine are all single and have different ways of eating on their own. One plays loud music each time she sits down to a meal "tout seule". Another is divorced and lives with his two children. When they are away for the weekend visiting their mum he will, as he calls it, "Eat on the hoof". This he explains is eating standing up like he's too busy to sit down and I guess the food is consumed almost unnoticed. A third who is Polish tells me he sets the table for two people. Polish tradition apparently dictates that you should set the table for the welcome unexpected visitor.
For me well I guess I sit down and get on with it. I may listen to the Beeb, watch the Beeb on T.V or just read a newspaper. I wonder if there's room for an App here? "Come Dine with Me" for those who would prefer not to dine on their own even virtually rather than eat alone.

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Of Exercising the Mind and Body

I'm trying to work out the best way to exercise in the week. I would stick with swimming but it's so boring. I've tried cycling to work but then I often need a car when going for lunch for a business meeting. This week I could run to work because I've no visitors coming in that require me to be suited and booted. The problem with jogging to work is that even after using the company shower here you sweat a lot and that's not great.
I guess that means I'm back to swimming. Perhaps I just need to give my mind something to do as I go up and down the lengths. Learn Japanese? Memorise Pi to 300 decimal places? Go through a recipe for dinner?

Saturday, 6 August 2011

Of Jobs Aplenty

Excuse me but isn't there meant to be a credit crunch on or something? Aren't businesses supposed to be fighting for work offering top quality service at rock bottom prices?
So far I've asked four different firms to come to my house to quote me for a job. Granted it's not a huge one but it's not small either and well worth the trouble one would have thought for anyone looking for two to three days' work.
The first firm turned up and their sales guy was impressive. He could talk the talk and gave some good advice. I noticed him grimace when I asked for an itemised written quote. I just got the impression that this is not what he does or certainly likes to do. I've heard nothing from him since. Firm No.2 showed up yesterday without apology 30 minutes late for the appointment and were well, ok. Firm no. 3 failed to show up at all without calling to let me know. No.4 is booked to disappoint me on Monday next at 12.30p.m. Come on No.4 surprise me. Inspire me.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Of "Das Boot"

I watched the German war classic last night "Das Boot". I don't think I've ever seen a better submarine war film. It portrays brilliantly the inhuman conditions of submariners in the Second World War and the appalling risks they had to take.

The film tortures the viewers. You begin to identify with the men on board U-96. You root for them too. They are after all someone's son, brother or father and they bravely face unbearable danger in the most awful of conditions. But then you remember that they are on the side of the Nazis and the most evil political movement witnessed in centuries. I guess that's what makes this such a great war movie. It gets you asking questions. It makes you feel uncomfortable. It makes you query the purpose of war. Shouldn't we always do this when reviewing wars?

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Of "Au Natural" Every Time

There can't be many meeting places better than the one I experienced on Friday at Baker Tilly, London. Wow! What a view!

There's something about a good meeting space that can make all the difference to a meeting.
Yesterday I was sat opposite a man in a white stripey shirt against a white background who proved almost impossible to look at without feeling dazzled. The great thing about Baker Tilly's meeting space is that there is no background to speak off except the London skyline. Being a bit weather dependant there are loads of inside rooms too but who would opt for that when au natural is an option?