Monday, 26 September 2011

Of Grand Farewells

Yesterday evening  I drove to Birr Castle County Offaly with Jayne to help launch the Legal-Island balloon. The launch site couldn't have been much nicer. Birr Castle looked majestic with a helicopter parked just in front in amongst huge and fine grounds. Guest passengers this time were Michael Kennedy Partner at Byrne Wallace and his lovely wife Eimear. They were both very brave as they nonchalantly hopped into the basket and floated away. As we waved them farewell I remembered that I had forgotten to tell them both that just two months ago the balloon had failed its MOT on account of woodworm in the basket. But I saw no sign of a shoe or two sticking through the bottom as they shot off into the distance. They'll be just grand I thought...

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Of Kiss n Tell

Ok I confess. I watched "The Bachelor" the other night on Channel 5. Junk T.V I know but I needed to unwind on a quality bit of trash after a long week.
The Bachelor is about a single guy called Gavin who is looking for love and has to eliminate one or two women every week from 25 hopefuls as he stays with them in glamorous parts of the Med.
He seems to be taking the task very seriously for there are numerous shots of him looking stressed or ridden with angst as he takes the awful decision which one of the troupe doesn't get a rose at the end of the day and is therefore eliminated.
I had clearly caught an important episode on Friday because a crisis had struck. Kerryanne, one of his hot favourites, had been caught snogging one of the camera crew after enjoying too much Mediterranean plonk. Gavin was not amused. He dealt with Kerryannegate though with the utmost of professionalism. First, he gave her an opportunity to explain herself. Then he sent her to a separate hotel away from her accusers whilst he decided what action to take. He then talked to more of the girls for their view on the incident. He looked upset and why shouldn't he? For Kerryanne was on the show to follow and fall in love with him not some half baked clapperboard guy whose only connection with celebrity was that he helped film them.
The fact that Gavin to date has shared moments with and snogged just about all of the remaining contestants seems to have got lost on both him and the programme's commentator. Trashy stuff hey? And I love it...

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Of Ministers and Presidents

So there we have it a busy week nicely in the bag. The Justice Minister attended his first Legal-Island conference on Wednesday and he struck me as an all round good guy. The kind of guy who would be wearing a white hat in any old Cowboy and Indian film.
I thought he would arrive five minutes before he was due to address us and leave immediately afterwards but no not a bit of it. He checked in a good 45 minutes beforehand and stayed until coffee time at 11a.m.. That meant I had some serious unexpected hosting work to do as I also kept an eye out to make sure the President of The Law Society wasn't on his own nor was the President of the Mediators' Institute of Ireland likewise the President of the NAHT.
On Thursday and Friday I was on a Train the Trainer course in Dublin with the Legal-Island MD Jayne. We had to complete a personality test and I was declared an "Activist" ahead of being a "Pragmatist" then "Theorists" and finally a "Reflector". There was a description that went with "Activist" that I was supposed to recognise which included that Activists are doers, risk takers and the life and soul of a party. The trainer asked me if I recognised myself in it. And said I did but added in my mind no more than if I read my horoscope profile or indeed that of any one else.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Of Big Stuff on Heavy Shoulders

Wow we have a big day tomorrow for that is the day of The Great Mediation Symposium. In attendance will be over 130 delegates and some very important VIPs. Our key note speaker is flying in from New York, the Northern Ireland Justice Minister is giving the opening address and we have a grand total of 27 speakers/facilitators contributing to the event including two Presidents (Law Society and MII) and a Q.C barrister.
But we're ready. The Legal-Island team will swing into action and produce top quality goods like we always do. Bring it on!

Monday, 19 September 2011

Of The Hell of Good Intentions

I was swimming this morning my obligatory 30 lengths of the pool. I clocked my moods as I swam up and down and it went something like this :
* First 10 lengths : self resentment, anger and annoyance for I could have been in a lovely warm bed feeling all toasty with another 30 minutes to go before having to crawl out my pit. Instead I was in a pool, wet and cold and my limbs were fighting hard not to do want I wanted them to do.
* Next 10 lengths : limbs and muscles are beginning to remember they do this frequently and there is little point resisting. I'm finding my flow and starting to watch fellow early bird swimmers in other lanes to see if I can overtake them or stop them doing the same to me. Getting a sense that life's not so bad afterall
* Last 10 : feeling good , personal pride is beginning to accumulate tipping into being damn right self righteous as I pull myself out of the water and stride confidently to the shower room.

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Of Up Selling - It's really not that difficult

I went into my friend's pizza takeaway last week in Belfast. I suppose I wasn't in the best of moods.
His pizza business is not going well due largely I guess to the presence of three competitors including Domino's with 3 miles of his joint.
My friend wasn't there. One of the assistants saw me come in but and I waited for a greeting which never came. I would have settled for eye contact and a smile but it just wasn't going to be my night. At the counter I waited for him to say something. He didn't. Neither did I. There was a pregnant embarrassing pause until he finally relented and said "Yes please". " I'd like a medium pizza with extra mushrooms" I proclaimed. "Is that it?" he replied adding that it was £5.50 before I had been given an opportunity to respond. It was but then suddenly it wasn't. "No it's not" I said. "I'd like you to ask me something". Another pregnant silent pause followed. "I'd like you to ask me if I would like anything to drink with my pizza". He duly did and fetched a bottle of water out of the fridge."Is that it?" he demanded again. "No it's not" I spat back "I'd like you to ask me if I would like anything else" as I stared directly at the Ben & Jerry ice cream on the shelf below the bottles of water. I could see he was becoming very irritated and this pleased me.
"Would you like anything else?" he protested. "Yes please I'd like some choc chip ice cream please". "Now how much do I owe your boss more than £5.50p. "£11.50" he begrudged me.
I watched him prepare and bake my pizza to make sure nothing was added except extra mushrooms.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Of Early Morning Thank Yous

I awoke this morning determined to rise early and get to the pool in good time and a gentle pace becoming of 6.30a.m.. It didn't happen.
I was out the door in good time but half way to the pool I realised I'd left my soap in the house. I diverted to the newsagent to buy some on my way. On arrival I realised I was out of change. No problem I thought I'll use the cash dispenser inside the shop. But it was out of order. I tore over to the one at Tesco where I faced my first dilemma of the day :buy soap at Tesco or head back to the shop to get it there. Not as easy as you may think for the lady in the shop is a little darling. She works hard, gets up at the crack of dawn and deserves my wonga far more than Tesco. I headed back to the shop, grabbed the last bottle of soap and jumped in the queue behind four others. Whilst waiting I observed that the shopkeeper said "Thank you" after she had told the customer the price. "Thank you" again when taking the payment and thank you finally when handing out any change. Three "Thank yous" per customer four customers in front of me made 12 every 5 minutes or at least 120 an hour upwards of a thousand a day I thought as I thanked her for her change.
I raced to the leisure centre now running late cursing for not saving myself all this stress in the morning by doing a quick check before leaving the house.
As I entered the pool area the attendant asked me if I had used the male changing rooms first thing yesterday. When I assured him I had he replied" Oh cos ya left your bottle of soap which I kept for you. Here it is". "Thank you" I said. Or at least I hoped I did.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Of Windy Ways

Boy it's windy out there. There were 6ft waves in the pool this morning. The girls look more like feather dusters than hens (therein may lie their ulitmate fate perhaps?) and well it's real "nail ya kids to the floor boards" stuff.
The last time I experienced anything that bettered this was in Cuba. We were all having fun watching poolside parasols lift into the air and land some 100 metres or so away in the sea until it also lifted one of the hotel guests and deposited him straight in one of the pools promptly followed by a sun lounger to boot. The poor fellow was in quite a state I felt so guilty for laughing for ages afterwards. Cinco segundos to be exact.

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Of a Great Shopping and a Reliable Driving Experience

I went shopping early this morning for a bag of chicken pellets for the girls at Greenmount Stores in Antrim. This is shopping as it used to be : old fashion style. Once inside, the man behind the counter asked me what I had done with my MG and how it compared with the BM I was in today. I explained it was far more exciting in the MG. In the BM you know you'll always get to where you are going. I added, but there's a certain smell about the interior of an MG of real upholstery and of when Britain used to be great. He replied "Yes I'm just about old enough to remember that. But it rusts and falls apart too easily" he replied "The MG or Britain?" his mate interjected" We all laughed.
It was nice to see you again today Sir said the shop assistant as he loaded my bag of pallets into the boot.
Boy this is great shopping I thought as I drove away - can't wait till I need another bag of chicken pellets...

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Of 10 Great Pairs of Lungs

I'm currently listening to Adele's latest album 21. Boy it's good. I don't think I've been this excited about a female artist's album since Kate Bush rocked my world with The Kick Inside. There's something about a great female voice that once let go it just wraps around you body and soul. So here's my top ten of favourite female singers/voices :

1. Janice Joplin
2. Ella Fitzgerald
3. Ruby Turner
4. Kate Bush
5. Shirley Bassey
6. Barbara Streisand
7. Dolly Parton
8. Adele
9. Carly Simon
10. Christine Collister

"I will always love you.....oooo"

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Of Sounding Off About War n Peace

I discovered today that there are support groups online for those in the process of reading War and Peace! One member advises you to read another much shorter book whilst attempting W&P just to remind you that it is possible to finish books!
I'm on page 300 having knocked off another 10 pages this morning whilst walking the neighbour's dog. Now you may be forgiven for contriving a mental picture of me walking along the river's edge whilst also peering at a thick clump of a book but it was not like this. Instead, I walked Isla to a picnic bench where I sat and read for half an hour while she brought me a stick which I promptly threw in the hedge which she would retrieve some 5 minutes later when the process would begin all over again.
The novel is so heavy that when I left it on the passenger seat of the batmobile the alarm sounded indicating that  whoever was on the aforementioned seat wasn't wearing a seat belt.I've worked it out that if I can do 10 pages every day I'll have finished it by the end of October. Onwards Soldiers! Bravely!