Sunday, July 29, 2007

What I'm Reading

I've just started reading this fantastic book called 'The Damned United' It re-tells the story of Brian Clough's disastrous 44 day reign at Leeds United in 1974 alongside flashbacks to his early days as a manager at Hartlepool and Derby.

What's so compelling about this book is that its written through the eyes of Brian Clough - as if he's written it himself. The attention to detail is amazing and no doubt the author has done huge amounts of research to ensure it is as accurate as possible. I've just read a bit where Clough has dropped his wife and kids at the swings at Normanton Park whilst he's gone for an interview for the Derby manager job.

Its a fabulous, pacy read and Clough's voice and character along with the period detail of the 1960s and 1970s comes through loud and clear. I wonder if the La Gondola will get a mention?

Essential reading for anyone with a Derby connection and even if you don't like footie, I'm sure you'd enjoy it.

Am about to go on holiday to Italy and am so looking forward to sitting on a sunlounger and racing through this book.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Can I have a 99 please

Why is a 99 called a 99? Who invented it? Lots of people have asked me this over the years and I've never known the answer, which is a bit embarassing given my upbringing.

However, have discovered - reassuringly - that nobody really knows but there are lots of strange theories. Here are my favourites.

1. When Italy had a monarchy, the king used to have a special army of 99 guards

2. An Italian family in Scotland invented it in the 1920s and their cafe was 99 High Street

3. The initials 'IC' from Ice Cream form the Roman numerals for 99.

Loads more info on wikipedia

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

New Nike ad

In today's workshop I showed this new Nike Ad which was recently shown in South Africa. What do you think of it? It created a lot of discussion.

I'm not really a fan. Its powerful but feels very Adidas to me. Nike has always had a touch of humour and lighthearted-ness which I feel is missing here. Not sure its the right thing to do.

One of my favourite Nike ads is still the 1998 ad with the Brazil team stuck in an Airport which featured a young, slim Ronaldo and a cameo appearance from Eric Cantona. Makes me want to play footie every time I see it.

Pipe Smoking

During a break in today's workshop I discovered that one of the attendees was a pipe smoker and that his favourite brand was Condor. Its been years since I've come across anyone who smokes a pipe and I have to admit that I found the smell of the pipe tobacco quite pleasant.

Years ago of course pipe smoking was much more common and one of the most famous pipe smokers was the late, great Eric Morcambe.

Does anyone remember that on their show, Eric and Ernie used to sleep together? No-one batted an eyelid at the time.

Watch this. It'll make you smile

Sunday, July 22, 2007


In yesterday's Times there was an article suggesting that Newbury could replace Ludlow as the next foodie destination on the strength of the Vineyard in Stockcross. Well, I'm not sure that Newbury is quite there yet. I always associate it with the Vodaphone head office.

However, the food at the Vineyard was stunning and there is a huge winelist. So if you fancy a real gasto treat then its worth visiting. Also worth considering staying there. The rooms are really comfy and there's a spa. In terms of decor, its still not sure whether its contemporary or traditional. Tries to do a bit of both and doesn't quite succeed in either.

However, this place is all about the food and drink, so don't let that put you off.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Posh Hotel

Am staying at a very, very nice 5 star hotel which has a restaurant with 2 Michelin stars. Its called the Vineyard at Stockcross near Newbury.

We're about to go on a tour of the wine cellars, a wine tasting followed by a 10 course dinner. Fortunately, I'm working so I'm not paying. Thank goodness.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Saw Volver last night. What a great film. Can't think of a Pedro Almodovar film that I've not enjoyed. Penelope Cruz was really good. I've never particularly liked her but now I'm a big fan.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Derby's New Adidas Kit

Its now on sale and will no doubt become the coolest in the Premiership.

I'm going to order mine now.

Speed Stacking

Last week at a workshop, someone told me about this craze in the USA called Speed Stacking. Now I'd never heard of it and have no idea how big it is, but there some amazing videos of it posted on Youtube.

Will it ever become a big craze in the UK? Maybe it is already...

Tony Buzan Lecture

I decided to go a lecture yesterday at the Louise T Blouin Institute in west London by Tony Buzan. I spend so much of my time teaching it was really nice to be able to sit in the audience and take it all in.

Tony Buzan is a renowned business guru and expert in creativity who invented that well known creativity tool Mind Mapping and has written dozens of books on how the brain works.
Although he acted a bit too much like a guru for my liking I do agree with all the things he says, namely that:

- everybody is creative although many people don't realise it
- we only ever use a tiny proportion of our phenomenal brainpower
- there's so much more we could achieve if we put our mind to it.
- there are so many things we could do to improve our creative output.

If you've never done Mind Mapping its easy and I suggest you give it a go.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Oh no. Today's Friday the 13th. Just realised!
What else have I learnt about Holland?

This is what some of the Dutch people were telling me over dinner last night. (They may have made up some of it)

1. Mark Overmars the ex-Arsenal footballer lives very near by in a village called Epe. He's a local celeb.

2. Holland and Jamaica are the only 2 countries in the world where soft drugs are legal.

3. You buy can drugs at coffee shops - but you can't buy coffee.

4. There are no Starbucks in Holland except in the airport.

5. The Dutch really are tight with their money - hence the expression 'going Dutch'. They never tip.

6. Allo allo is still shown on Dutch telly and is really popular. They know all the characters (Herr Flick, Renee, etc) and can quote all the lines.

7. They're not very fond of the Germans. Maybe that's why they like Allo Allo.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Still in Holland

My third day in Holland and I'm getting quite used to Dutch food. In particular:

- tons of cheese, which is served at every mealtime

- these little sugary hundreds and thousands which they call 'sprinkles' and pour on their bread. I've never seen anybody apart from the Dutch eat these

- milk which is served at lunchtime. I guess that's why most of them are so tall. It looks really odd when you see adults drinking milk.

Am staying at a hotel in the middle of a huge forest called the Golden Tulip. Still not seen any windmills and not one person is wearing clogs. How disappointing. Plenty of bicycles though.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Sunday at the Cornbury Festival

For once the sun shone and it felt like Summer had arrived in Oxfordshire.

We met up with the residents of Landcroft House and had a good look around all the stalls and around the site which was small and friendly. Not quite Glastonbury but a great day out.

A highlight was the Innocent Village Fete which had lots of games and gave out loads of free samples.

We even managed to see some live music which included Suzanne Vega who was on fine form.

Unfortunately we had to leave early and missed The Feeling and Blondie which was a real shame. I had to get up at 4 am to get an early morning flight to Holland. Will be here all week and have got 5 days of workshops / training sessions in a row with 2 different clients.

Looking forward to my holiday in Italy.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Dove Advertising

I played this Dove viral ad called 'evolution' at my workshop yesterday. It caused quite a stir and sparked a lot of discussion. It takes something special for a team of jaded, know it all marketers to go 'wow'.

No wonder it won the Grand Prix for viral marketing at the recent Cannes Advertising Festival.

Monday, July 02, 2007


End of day 2 of my workshop. Just been looking out from my bedroom window over the golfcourse through the gloomy clouds and come to the conclusion that I don't think I'll ever play golf. Apart from the fact that I don't think I'll ever find the time, I find all the 'stuff' that surrounds the sport a bit depressing. Things I hate about golf are:

1. The middle class clubbiness of it all. You have to belong, fit in and be a certain type to be part of the golf scene.

2. The maleness: it all feels very businessy and blokey. Lots of people with blackberries strutting around, doing deals, feeling indestructible

3. The terrible clothing: those Pringle jumpers, slacks and shoes with tassles.
On the other hand, tennis is a fantastic sport - and not just because its Wimbledon at the moment. Its inclusive, a mental and physical challenge, sociable without any of the baggage that surrounds golf. I must play more often so if anyone fancies a game - get in touch!
Happy Birthday Bev

Just back from a fabulous weekend in Devon where we celebrated Bev's 50th birthday party. Bev? 50? No, I can't believe it either.

It was so nice get out of London and spend a bit of time with some old friends. The party had a great local live band and everyone indulged in some mad drunken dancing.

On Sunday the rain held off so we all managed a barbecue on the beach followed by a game of rounders with the kids. Not played for ages. Such good fun.

Am now staying in a big hotel in the middle of a golf club, just by junction 11 of the M4 after being dropped off on the way back from Devon. I'll be staying here until Wednesday running workshops. Despite suffering from a combination of fatigue and excessive alcohol consumption I've just about managed to survive day 1.

Must get an early night.