Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Summer's here. The weather's crap. Glastonbury was a mud bath. Rain's stopped play at Wimbledon and from where I'm sitting in Tooting you can almost hear the cries from SW11 of 'COME ON TIM'.

Yes, we thought he was dead and buried but 'The People's Champion' is back and pulling at our heartstrings. I was working in an office yesterday and the girl sitting opposite me kept getting texts from her boyfriend. 'He's winning 12-11!'. 'Guess what, he's just saved a break point!' And finally 'Yes - he's won!!!'

Admittedly, our expectations are a bit more realistic nowadays. Can he get through the first round, rather than can he beat Federer? Still, so far so good. He's on court as we speak playing another Spanish nobody and no doubt Henman Hill is rocking. I've not seen him on telly yet but I'm sure Tiger Tim will be pumping his fist at every point he wins, his wife will be clapping politely and his dad will be scowling.

Could this be his year at last? We live in hope.........'COME ON TIM'

Monday, June 25, 2007

Gordon Brown or James Brown?
In a recent speech Gordon Brown said that Labour needed to find its 'soul'. Does this mean that Gordon Brown is seeking a new party theme tune? Is he looking to Soul music as a means of distancing himself from Tony Blair's Britpop associations? I guess he remembers how 'Things Can Only Get Better' kicked off the new Blair era so successfully.

If so what Soul classic would be appropriate for Gordon Brown?

Well, he definitely can't use Aretha Franklin's 'Respect' as this has been appropriated by George Galloway. I guess that being an ex-Chancellor the most obvious choice would be the Contours 'First I Look at The Purse'. Although if he wanted to appeal to the old-Labour supporters he may choose The Jackson 5's 'I Want You Back'. To support the Olympic Games he may decide to choose the Temptations 'Ain't Too Proud to Beg'.

Can't think of any more. Any other suggestions for the Gordon Brown Soul Classics?

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Jarvis Loves Karen

Last night Karen went to see Jarvis Cocker perform at the Royal Festival Hall. Being such a big fan, Karen got front row seats. (I stayed in to look after the kids having been away all week)

As the show progressed, it became clear that Jarvis took quite a liking to her. Firstly, he shook her by the hand. "I was the only one he did this to"

Throughout the show he then kept popping down to see her. He gave her his half empty beer bottle and a little plastic thing that he found on stage - see photo. Do you think they'd be worth anything on Ebay?

All the Jarvis fans kept saying to her "you're the Chosen One"

Its been quite a week for Karen. She's now a fully qualified Business and Economics teacher and on Wednesday got offered a job at Burntwood School, which is just down the road in Earlsfield. Fantastic news.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Day 4 Germany

Have just landed in Hamburg, the 2nd and final stop stay in Germany. One more session and I fly hope tomorrow night. Hamburg is much more happening than Dusseldorf. An staying in one of those trendy minimalist hotels with 'Buddha Bar' style music in reception and very low lights. My room is so minimal I've only just worked out where the door to the bathroom is. Still can't find the wardrobe.

The key things I've learnt about Germans so far are;

1. The trendiest band amongst young people is Tokio Hotel . I've never heard of them, but apparently their fans scream Beatles-style when they're in concert. I guess they'll arrive in the UK at some point.

2. Facial hair is still cool. At least one guy in each workshop had a beardy look and there were also a couple of moustaches.

3. Loads of people smoke. The airport cafes and restaurants were full of smokers and lots of people kept nipping outside on the terrace next to our meeting room for a quick fag during breaks.

4. Sandwiches are always cut diagonally and have a cocktail stick in them. A bit like a single decker Club Sandwich.

Shall I nip down to the minimal bar for a minimal beer? Probably not. Still need to find my wardrobe.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Day 2 Germany

Beautiful day in Germany and the session went well. 3 more sessions to go. Bit of a Groundhog day thing going on. People, as ever, very friendly and relaxed. Managed to go for a run but spoilt it by a beer and some pasta from room service. Germans don't do nice pasta. I think they use tarragon and dill a bit too liberally. However their pizza's pretty good and you can't fault their beer.

Just dropped my phone and the screen won't light up. I can still use it to make and receive but can't read any texts or use my diary. What a pain. Have only just got my laptop repaired and now this! Will need to get a new one.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Germany Day 1

Have just landed in Germany which will be my home for the rest of the week. Am staying in Dusseldorf until Thursday and then off to Hamburg. My first ever visit to Dusseldorf and I haven't got a clue where it is exactly and what its like. Must find out more to aid my lunchtime chitchat.

Am running the same workshop for 4 days. My challenge is to encourage my German attendees to think more creatively, which should be fun. Same material, different faces. A bit like being in a Rock band I guess but without the cheering and groupies. I definitely won't be doing any encores. 5pm and I'm off. Will try and go for a run every night if I can. Hopefully I won't get asked for dinner.

Staying in a pleasant nH hotel. They've left 2 pieces of chocolate on my pillow and I've eaten them both. Flew economy class in Lufthansa and the food was a bit stingy. I find those grey leather seats so depressing. I don't know why.

I'm just about to read Sarah Waters The Night Watch before I go to bed, on Karen's recommendation. Have just read the backcover blurb and it sounds like its set in wartime. Hardly appropriate is it?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Getting Old

There are lots of signs that age is catching up on me.

1. I go to more 50th birthday parties than 40ths. Went to one last week and have got another one at the end of June. Am more interested in the food than the booze.

2. I stole the 'Daily Telegraph' from the BA lounge last week and read it on a flight. I found that there were lots of really interesting articles in it.

3. I learnt to play Bridge this weekend.

4. After a couple of days of dry weather I start worrying about my allotment.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Derby Games in London

The Premiership fixtures have been announced and this is when Derby will be playing in London.

18th August Tottenham
22nd September Arsenal
20th October Fulham
8th March Chelsea
19th April West Ham

Anyone want to go?

Derby have also got this new badge for their shirts. Now this is a good logo.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Yellow Mangoes

In my local greengrocer you can now buy yellow mangoes from Pakistan. They come in boxes of 5 and each one has a sticker on with a little piece of tinsel attached. They're not available for that long and taste absolutely delicious. £5.49 per box. Buy some now.

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Royal Festival Hall Re-launch

This weekend there were a series of events to celebrate the re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall. The weather was great, there was loads of free stuff and everyone was in a good mood.

The Royal Festival Hall is pretty much the same as the old place only better. Same 50s style look and feel, but with nicer bars, more places to eat and hang out in and the smell of new carpet.

The concert hall looks pretty much the same but the acoustics have been improved. Saw an event which featured the South London Choir amongst others - which includes Karen, who has managed to appear at both the Albert Hall and the Royal Festival Hall within 12 months.

Friday, June 08, 2007

Our Dreadful Logo

I've lived with it for a few days. I've done by best to try and like it but I can't. It lacks charm, wit, stature, style, beauty and most of all a sense of pride. I'm a big fan of the Olympics and am so looking forward to the London event. Wolff Olins how could you have done this?
What I'm Reading

I'm about halfway through Engleby by Sebastian Faulks and am really enjoying it. Its a real departure from his previous books such as Charlotte Gray and Birdsong, so if you're a fan of his, you might be disappointed. If you're not that keen on him, you might be pleasantly surprised. Its set in the 1970s and 1980s with some great period detail and is written from the point of view of a really intriguing central character - Mike Engleby.

I was reading it on the Tube today and Engleby decided to go for a couple of pints of lager in the basement bar of Bar Oporto on the corner of Shaftesbury Avenue- which caused me to sit up. This is the Bar that my brother used to own a few years ago and the basement bar was where we spent the Millenium evening and where I had my 40th birthday party. What was equally surprising was that it was the late 1970s. I didn't realise that Bar Oporto had such a long history. I wonder if Sebastian Faulkes was a regular?

Will Bar Oporto will feature later in the book? I'll let you know.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Bye Bye Seth

Finally back in the UK after a 13 hour flight from KL. Saw the 'Queen'. Good for a video night in. Not really a cinematic experience.

Was really disappointed to learn that Seth Johnson's contract with Derby won't be renewed next year. He's such a committed player and adds real strength to the team. No wonder the fans love him. His presence was a key factor in Derby winning the Play Offs and we've got no obvious replacement.

I guess we have to trust that the management have got it right and that maybe his injusry issues are more critical than we think. However am still disappointed and hope that somehow he'll still end up playing for Derby at some point in the future.

Monday, June 04, 2007

KL Day 3

Have not stepped out of the hotel today. Full-on client workshop followed by a Chinese banquet. Fantastic food, but seemed to go on forever. Had a quick drink in the bar where a band was playing Santana songs, before I returned to my room.

One more day full day before I get the flight back home.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

KL Day 2

Spent a relatively quiet day in KL preparing for our workshops tomorrow.Its incredibly hot and steamy here. Went for a walk but soon had to dive into a Mall to benefit from the air conditioning. Shopping is obviously a key pastime here and it was packed. All the ususal brands you would expect are on sale, including a lot of luxury brands. There's a big Louis Vuiton shop right next door.

For dinner we went to the famous KL tower where you can see the whole of the city. However, just like yesterday there was a torrential downpour so we couldn't really see very much until later in the evening.

The favourite topic of conversation is food. As Malaysia is largely comprised of Malay, Chinese and Indian people, there is lots of choice. So far its been really good and its very easy to overindulge.

Big day tomorrow so must get an early night. Really looking forward to my 'Heavenly Bed'.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

KL Day 1

Just arrived in Kuala Lumpur for a 2 day workshop with my colleague Mark. My first ever visit to Malaysia. It involves a Sunday evening dinner so we arrived in good time to try to avoid the jetlag. Drove through a very dramatic thunderstorm and arrived at the very swish Westin Hotel, famous for their 'Heavenly Beds'.

To help shake off the 12 hour Malaysian Airways flight we decided to go the gym which was great. Feel a lot better. We'll probably explore the hotel now and figure out the best place to eat.

Should try and get some sleep relatively soon, even though I'm feeling wide awake. Let's hope the Heavenly Bed lives up to its name.