Sunday, May 31, 2009

Holiday in the sun...

Well who would have thought? I finally got around to taking my first full week off since last June and the weather has been superb. So much so, that I've overdone it a little over the last couple of days and I'm a bit too sore to venture out into the sun again this afternoon.

As May is our family birthday silly season, Little Sis and family have been staying at my place for the latter half of the week and the weather has meant that we could all actually venture out and see some of the local attractions between munching birthday cake and other goodies. And yes, I did say local attractions.

Thursday we headed out to Willingham Woods for a walk and thanks to a couple of recommendations from Delcatto, also managed to track down the giant golf ball on the top of the Lincolnshire Wolds and sample a multitude of different flavoured chocolate at Special Edition Chocolate before stopping off at Brigsley on the way home for some home made ice-cream.

Friday afternoon, we took our lives into our hands and headed off towards Cleethorpes beach (bound to be quiet on a sunny half term afternoon). As it turned out, it was busy but not as packed as you would have thought. Plenty of opportunity for a bit of sandcastle building, shell collecting, donkey rides, general laying about frying on the beach and finishing with a trip on the Cleethorpes Coast Light Railway.

Yesterday morning, the five of us headed off to Weelsby Woods with our bikes. Aside from being surprised to see how they had cleaned the place up since I was last there (a considerable number of years ago), it was interesting discover the number of cycle routes surrounding the area that are within easy reach of home. We rounded of the day with a barbie which despite my efforts to keep helpings modest, still ended up with far more than we could eat between us

So everyone has gone again now and I'm sat with the remains of last nights barbecue to finish off, all the while wishing I'd been a bit more liberal with the sun screen and trying not to think of what might be waiting for me at the office tomorrow...

Friday, May 22, 2009

More musical perspective...

Even though I can claim to have a little sister who is celebrating her 35th birthday today (Happy Birthday Sis!), I've never been particularly bothered by age.

As I am quite generous with my working hours Monday to Thursday, I feel no guilt whatsoever in trying to claim the odd one back by getting a flyer on a Friday afternoon. If I get away early enough, I get to hear the non-stop oldies feature on Steve Wright's radio show on the way home, although I do sometimes struggle with the concept of what some people consider to be "oldies".

Amongst today's collection I heard a song I'd completely forgotten about which despite my initial horror at not being an "oldie", I discover this evening is 29 years old. Now there is a girl who works for me who is mystified by those of us that refuse to admit to middle-age and firmly believes that nobody should indulge in bedroom activity after the age of forty - this song is older than she is.

Back in the day of course, we were mid Mod-revival and having found myself much more comfortable in the "rocker" category, could never have owned up to thinking that this was actually a good song.

These days of course, I'm too o... actually never mind. Let's just say that the passing years have allowed my musical tastes to become much more eclectic and I'll say that I think this is a good song without caring particularly whether anyone agrees with me or not...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Hidden messages...

Driving into work this morning, a magpie flew across in front of me and as I instinctively did the saluting thing, I was surprised that at that very moment Stevie Wonder sang out from the radio "Superstition ain't the way". Hmmm... strange coincidence.

On the way home tonight I glanced over the horizon to my right and at the split second that the church tower of St Mary in Wrawby came into view, Labbi Siffre sang out "bless you and bless me". Hmmm... that's funny, something similar happened earlier.

It's only when I sat down and worked out that I spend about 400 hours a year sat in the car, listening to the radio, generally gawping at the scenery as it goes past, that I realised that this probably goes on all the time and I just happened to notice it today...

Sunday, May 17, 2009

A quiet evening with my mate Jack...

Although I happily managed to avoid the selection process itself, there was clearly no way the British media was going to let this year's Eurovision Song Contest go by without playing our entry to death at every concievable opportunity.

I'm in no place to criticise Mr Lloyd Webber as a songwriter and you can't deny that Jade Ewan is a very talented singer, but as I have heard said many times before and since, it just wasn't "Eurovisiony" enough to win.

As a result, there didn't seem much point watching this year when you can't cheer on your own team, but sure enough, come eight o'clock I found myself watching it regardless and in hindsight, I'm glad I did. Not that the actual songs were any better than usual but I thought Graham Norton did a great job on the commentary given the restrictions he would have been working under.

Better still, there was a much funnier unrestricted alternative commentary on Twitter courtesy of Jonathan Ross, Sarah Cawood and Phil Schofield. Being the open forum that it is, it also meant I was able to contribute about 30 tweets on the event and with a bottle of JD at hand to help the evening go by, its the best laugh I've had (on a night in) for ages.

So spasiba to the Russian hosts, until this time next year in Norway...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Hey Big Spender...

I doubt I'm the only one who has heard enough about the current politician expense scandals. Initially, it seems ridiculous that people of such responsibility who already earn a high salary should go to such lengths to claim items of varying levels of trivia on expenses.

Stephen Fry clearly believes that it is more a question of media frenzy by journalists who surely should have something more important to investigate/report and to an extent, I'm inclined to agree with him. After all, plenty of us have bought a meal in a restaurant/hotel/service station way beyond the price that we would ever spend from our own pocket. Significant difference here being that first of all, its our money being spent and secondly, not many of us have had the opportunity to extend such perks into thousands of pounds worth of personal luxuries and home comforts.

I suppose the breaking point for me was today's comment that Health Minister Phil Hope has decided to repay over 40 grand in expenses to help to restore his integrity. If we are talking about real integrity, then surely the real reason he has decided to repay it is because first of all he was wrong to claim it all and secondly because he got caught...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Motivation? It Pays The Bills...

I fully accept that I am not alone in working in challenging surroundings.

All too frequently I find myself struggling with the cultural differences of some of my international colleagues, disappointed at how difficult it is to make my seemingly valid opinions heard, or more recently, utterly astounded and the issues considered to be most important to the future of our business.

Unfortunately for me, I have a reputation for not being afraid to speak up (I like to think tactfully) when I believe something is wrong. Where in the past such behaviour was nurtured and encouraged, we are now fast becoming an organisation who storms ahead based on knee jerk reaction and with little regard for the people managing the business nearer to the coal face. We left that behaviour behind 10-12 years ago but it is difficult to draw the fine line between being someone who thinks he has some ideas worth sharing and being the gobshite who thinks he knows it all.

After a wave of redundancies and an order book far quieter than many of us can remember, you would have thought it appropriate to start pooling the resources of the management teams and formulating a strategy to secure our company a place in the future. However, it has been decided that we should tackle this by getting everyone to move offices again. After all, it's been almost a year since the last one.

Cue weeks of disruption, lost telephone and PC links, disorganised workstations and general frustration. Everyone is being pissed about because someone on high has decided to put the music back on while we all run around in circles, quietly hoping that a seat will still be available when it stops again.

Unfortunately, the harsh truth is that we all have to be grateful that we are in work at all. Deep breath and count to 10... again.

If you're lucky, amidst all this sort of nonsense something comes along to cheer you up and this video received from one of my colleagues did just the trick this morning - with apologies to the politically correct brigade out there...