Thursday, December 24, 2009
Not because the magazine is particularly bad, it's because I'm sick of seeing all the must-see movies that I've missed, feeling guilty about not going to all the fabulous exhibitions that are on and all the great bands that are performing that week.
On the other hand, maybe I should just get out a bit more.
Yes - it's true. I'm not a big pub goer so I can't definitively say whether or not there are any decent pubs in the area. However, when the Antelope appeared in Time Out and had a great review, I thought it was worth a visit. Anyway, it was really good - great food. It's the second new pub on the same road - the Tooting Tram and Social. It's owned by the same people and is also really nice. Just shows - there's more to Tooting than great curry houses.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Over the weekend there were a number of reports of how Dean Ashton, the West Ham striker was forced to retire from the game aged 26, after getting injured during an England training session. A story that was less widely publicised was the fact Derby had terminated the contract of Giles Barnes after several seasons of injury.
3 years ago, aged 18 Barnes was Derby's star performer and was tipped for great things. He was strong, had pace and scored lots of goals. However, since then he's never played regularly and it appears that the age of 21 his career might be over. I've always rated him and thought he had the potential to become a fantastic player. Last year he had a loan spell at Fulham but was never fit enough to play. You never know, he may well still make it, but the odds are against him.
Another famous footballer whose career was terminated by injury was, of course Brian Clough. And as we all know, the rest is history.
Well, not quite. We had our first away win of the season on Saturday and are unbeaten in 4 games. If this carries on for the next couple of weeks, we'll be certainties for the play-offs. If we lose, we'll be flirting with relegation. It's a thin line between success and failure in the Championship.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Met up with a friend at The Wellcome Collection on Euston Road. It's a place dedicated to the history of medicine, and is full of interesting stuff.There's a really nice cafe space, bookshop, library and some great exhibitions. At the moment there's a fabulous exhibition called Identity which explores our sense of who we are. If you're looking for a place to meet up with someone, then give it a go.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
Am really pleased that U2 are headlining the Friday night show at Glastonbury. Everyone I know who has seen them has raved about their show. However, the main reason I'd like to see them is that in 1981 I sold my ticket to see U2 to a mate of mine. They were unknown at the time and apparently they were amazing. Since then I've always wanted to see them. Now's my chance.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Saturday, November 14, 2009
I'm a big William Boyd fan and was not disappointed by his latest book 'Ordinary Thunderstands'. It was a classic thriller / murder conspiracy novel where the central character gets caught up in stuff he doesn't understand. However, what I particularly liked was the London setting. Most of the action takes place in modern day Chelsea and Rotherhithe and other sections around the river.
It's certainly not his best book (Any Human Heart is my favourite), but still really good. Recommended.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Long Fu Girls Weekend
A couple of weekends ago we had our Long Fu girls reunion, where girls from the same orphanage all got togther. This time it was the 10th year and we held it in Liverpool, where one of the families lives. (Pam, Les, Olivia and Josie)
I've not been to Liverpool for many years and was really impressed with it. It has really smartened up, but still has a lot of character. As ever, it was great to see the girls again who are now in senior school. Can't believe how tall they are. Thanks to Pam and Les for organising it. I think we brought good luck to the city as against the odds, Liverpool beat Man U.
Am making a quick visit to Paris for workshop today. Took the Eurostar yesterday - only 2 hours 15 min and arrived in time for supper. I've forgotten how great French food can be: soupe a l'oignon, magret de canard, tarte tatin. All classics. All fantastic. It's even OK to eat out on your own. Must get back into French cooking when I get home.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
Have just arranged time off to go olive picking in Italy at the end of the November. There's about 50 olive trees that need picking and I've enlisted the help of a few friends to help me out...with the promise of lots of trips to the local restaurants. I've also managed to get a couple of locals to help me out, who will have the experience and equipment to know what they're doing.
We'll then take then to the olive oil mill just outside the town. My very own olive oil! How exciting.
On Sunday morning a crowd of us met in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern with the sole intention of sketching. I found it quite a challenging brief. The space is huge, there are lots of long perspectives and it gets very busy. In the end I managed to sketch a view of St Paul's from the 4th floor.
What I really enjoyed was looking at other people's sketches at the end and getting inspiration from their amazing work
Next sketchmob is in November. Click here for details.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
On Sunday, Glastonbury tickets sold out within 12 hours. Last year it took weeks. It may be because 2010 will be the 40th anniversary, but I also think its because people are feeling more upbeat about next year.
Thanks to help from our friends Pete and Teresa, I'm pretty sure we've got tickets. We've not received confirmation yet, but I think they're booked. No acts have been announced yet, but I'm sure it'll be fantastic.
Friday, October 02, 2009
I've been travelling to Dublin quite regularly over the past few weeks and everytime I get into a taxi I brace myself for the non-stop moaning of the taxi drivers. They usually complain about the number of other taxi drivers that are on the road nowadays, how long they have to wait and how little money they're making. And of course, they blame the foreigners. I used to look forward to chatting to the drivers in Dublin who used to be cheerful chaps. It's not the case any more.
Today one of the taxi driver unions was on strike, blocking the centre of Dublin. Can't imagine it would do their cause any good or that they'll get much sympathy.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Am just back from some market research in Hamburg where we were exploring the world of hamburgers. Nobody mentioned the fact that the origin of hamburgers was the city of Hamburg. (ie the American immigrants who came from Hamburg).Maybe its because they're so ubiquitous that nobody made the connection.
Anyway....Hamburg is a really nice city. Definitely worth a visit
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
Have just finished a 2 day training workshop for a big new client - the first in a series of sessions. I always find that I go through a range of emotions when undertaking these sessions.
Anxiety - in advance of the workshop: will it go well? am I prepared for it? will the delegates be nice?
Relief - the evening its all over: thank goodness it wasn't a disaster, glad the client / delegates are happy
Depression - the day after, I always feel incredibly flat, even if its gone well. It may be a combination of fatigue, stress, or simply feeling low after the high of an intense group experience.
The day after ie today, I always find it hard to move onto the next thing and end up doing menial, distracting stuff. Hence - this blog post in the middle of the afternoon, when I should be doing something more meaningful instead. Must resist the temptation of playing on the Wii.
Friday, September 11, 2009
Last night I went to my first ever Sketchmob event, organised by Trevor Flynn of Drawing at Work. About 15 of us gathered at the steps of British Musuem with our pencils and sketchpads and went to draw whatever we found interesting in one of the galleries. We all shared our sketches afterwards and Trevor gave us guidance and feedback. We all went for a drink afterwards. A lovely way to spend a Thursday evening.
Trevor's got a number of sessions lined up for the rest of the year - at the Tate, in Soho, where we'll work on different skills. I'm by no means an artist, but it certainly ignited an enthusiasm for the subject and I'm looking forward to future events.
I'm sure Sketchmobs are going to take off big time. Remember - you heard it here first!
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
Monday, September 07, 2009
Didn't do that much reading over the Summer. However the book I really enjoyed was Stieg Larsson's the Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. Virtually everyone I know has read it. Nicely drawn characters as well as great plot
I also read books based in Italy. Really loved The Talented Mr Ripley. Can't remember the film very well, but the book is a real period piece. Very stylish. Want to watch the film again. I also liked Somerset Maugham's Up At the Villa, set in Florence. Short, pithy. Can be read in a couple of hours. Perfect escapism for a quiet evening in.
Monday, August 31, 2009
After a final weekend in Tuscany, the laptop's on, I've dusted down my post-it notes and I need to sound sensible in meetings. The biggest challenge over the past few days has been to learn the lyrics to 'Viva La Vida' which we played non-stop on the car's cd. Didn't quite crack it (If I could rule the world...etc, etc) although Mae and Bev are word perfect.
Quite a nice re-entry into the working world. Took a train from Arezzo to Montreaux via Milan and am staying in the very posh Trois Coronnes hotel in Vevey - view over lake Geneva, posh toiletries, fluffy dressing gowns and chocolates on the pillow, etc. Will be here from a few days.
Had a quite kip in my room this evening, dreamt of bruschetta and tagliatelle. Dinner with client in a hour's time. Need to snap out of it....
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Have been on holiday for a lot of August and deliberately chose to keep away from my computer as much as possible. Spent a week in Scotland at Glenuig, on the western coast of Scotland. The most beautiful part of the British Isles I've ever visited - lochs, lovely remote islands, mountains. Went seakayaking which was great. Shame about the midges and the unpredictable weather.
Also went to Italy to spend a week in the blistering heat of Tuscany. What a contrast. Our house is looking really nice. Am so pleased with it and feel fortunate to be able to go there.
Now need to get back into work mode which is always tough, but have a got a busy few weeks ahead.
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
I know they're not everyone's cup of tea, but Coldplay put on a great show at the Verizon amphitheatre on a hot sweaty evening last Friday. They worked really hard to build a rapport with the audience, twice performing on tiny platforms amongst the crowd of 20 000 and continuing to chat with them between songs. I also loved seeing all the big yellow balloons they projected into the crowd during their performance of Yellow.
Coldplay are on a big US tour and strangely I felt quite proud to see a very British band 'conquering' America. They even gave away free CDs to everyone on the way out which was a really nice gesture.
Friday, July 24, 2009
They love their music in St Louis and there's a thriving jazz and blues scene.Last night I saw an amazing singer called Kim Massie perform at an Blues bar called Beale on Broadway. Was a privilege to be there. We sat in the open air until 1am on a hot and steamy evening drinking Bud listening to great music that made you feel glad to be alive. How lucky am I.
Off to see Coldplay tonight in a huge amphitheatre - will be quite a contrast. Work's over, so will be a great way to end the trip.
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Am staying in one of my favourite hotel chains, the Westin, in downtown St Louis, right across the road from the St Louis Cardinals baseball stadium. Managed to get a decent night's sleep in my 'Heavenly Bed' and spent the morning visiting supermarkets to get products for our workshop tomorrow.
We've hired a big car so have been driving around the mean streets of the city with the help of my Garmin. St Louis is not what I expected. It's big and fairly industrialised and like most cities its quite divided. There's a lot of posh houses and nice parks, but equally there's quite a few poor neighbourhoods.
The city has a great reputation for jazz and blues, so may well go and seek some out this evening in a local bar. Its also home to Anheuser-Busch, so there should be some good beers on offer. Coldplay are playing in St Louis this Friday. Not sure whether I'll go or not.
Have already tripled my daily caloric intake after a huge breakfast. One of the best things about being in the States. However, am sure I'll have a steak this evening. I also really like all that 'have a good day' cheefulness. Puts you in a good mood.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Tomorrow I'm going to St Louis for the first time. I'm not even sure where it is, although I know I need to change at Chigaco. Will be there for the rest of week. As ever, feeling slightly anxious - what should I pack, have I sorted all my work out, will the workshop go ok, will all the flights connections work. Haven't got a clue what to expect. We'll see....
Monday, July 13, 2009
Monday, July 06, 2009
Friday, July 03, 2009
At Glastonbury on Thursday, news broke about Michael Jackson's death. On Friday, acts were paying their respects. On Saturday, the dance tents were playing his songs as were the performers. By Sunday, the comedians were trotting out the old Michael Jackson jokes.
Here's a video of Dizzee Rascal conducting a Michael Jackson singalong.
Thursday, July 02, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009
Excuse the dodgy quality. Its hard to dance and record at the same time. Here's Dizzee Rascal. Last year Jay-Z showed that hip hop does have a place on the big stage. Nice to see some home grown talent put on a great show this year. Look carefully and you'll see Karen and our friend Teresa looking very happy.
Jarvis Cocker on Saturday night at the John Peel Stage. Great showman. Lots of friendly northern accents in the crowd which was very comforting
Blur on Sunday night. 'Oh My Baby, Oh My, Oh Why'...from the song 'Tender'
Best Crowd Response
Jumping around to the 'wah oo' bit in Blur's Song 2
Most Disappointing Performance
Bruce Springsteen. I really don't get why he's supposed to be so good. Crowd seemed to love him. We left for Jarvis after half an hour
'Silent Disco'. A real laugh.
Rain on Friday
Sun coming out on Saturday
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Tuesday, June 23, 2009
Tuesday, June 09, 2009
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
My tastes are pretty lowbrow. I'm not a big theatre goer, and have only ever been to the Opera on a couple of occasions. To be honest I wasn't really looking forward to seeing Romeo and Juliet last Saturday, especially as we had the 2 girls with us.
Well, I really enjoyed it. Largely because I vaguely knew the story and because the Globe itself is a fantastic venue. It helped that the weather was nice and there was lots of sword fights, music and dancing to keep my attention. The girls liked it too. Great thing to see on a Summer's evening.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Friday, May 08, 2009
Funny Business Books
A similar book that I enjoyed was Matt Beaumont's e . This was written several years ago, before Blackberries when we were just discovering the joys of email. Its focuses on the life of an advertising agency who are pitching for the Coca Cola account and the emails that fly between the people who work there. Really funny.
I can also highly recommend anything written by a friend of mine Guy Browning. He used to write a column called Office Politics, which became a book. All the characters seemed to be based on people we worked with at our old agency Added Value. Check out Weak at the Top, too.
Tuesday, May 05, 2009
Just back from a weekend in Derby. Apparently Archie Gemmill buys an ice cream off my dad and my auntie most weekends at Markeaton Park.
He was a phenomenal player - one of Derby's greatest. He's probably best remembered for this fantastic goal for Scotland vs Holland in the 1978 World Cup. This even got a mention in the film Trainspotting.
Monday, May 04, 2009
Thursday, April 30, 2009
On Monday I went to Cork where I spent time being shown round a meat processing factory ie a place where they slaughter cattle and prepare the beef that is packaged up and delivered to your supermarket. I'm about to begin some work for a meat company.
I must admit, I declined the invitation to look at the slaughterhouse, but I did find the visit to the factory really interesting and very reassuring. The conditions were very hygienic, very automated and the meat was of the highest quality.
If you're into food and cooking, I think its really important to understand different cuts of meat - which part of the animal they're from and what characterises them. The more the know, the more you can appreciate it.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
You can just about see the KL Tower and 1 of the Petronas Towers from my room on the 30th floor. Key activities in KL are shopping and eating. Have successfully managed to eat loads, but don't fancy wandering round the huge malls.
Went to visit the National Museum today. Highlight was the first ever Proton car - built in 1985. So hot and humid that its not much fun wandering around. I can see now why the air conditioned malls are so popular.
Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Arrived in KL earlier today where I'll be for the next few days. Saw Frost/Nixon on the flight over which I really enjoyed. Another great performance from Michael Sheen. He's amazing. Staying at Le Meridien which is a very nice hotel. Been for a swim in the outdoor pool and got myself in 'the zone' for my workshops.
In the hotel there's a dinner being held on behalf of the Reverend Jesse Jackson. Was advised by the staff to hang around the reception to catch a glimpse. Decided not to.
Didn't sleep much on the flight, so need to get some kip.
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
Just back from a few days in Italy to check out the progress on the house. Well, finally its all coming together. The electricty and water supplies are connected and the walls have been plastered. The doors and windows have been made and are waiting to be installed. The builder is about to lay all the floors with the terracotta tiles which arrived last Friday. The only thing we're waiting for is the kitchen which is due to be ready by the end of April.
So fingers crossed, we should able to stay at the end of May. Is costing a fortune but will look fantastic.
Sunday, April 05, 2009
Thursday, April 02, 2009
We were discussing this last night. Mine has to be Charlie George's first goal in Derby's 4-1 victory against Real Madrid in the European Cup at the Baseball Ground in 1975. A first time shot with his left foot from an Archie Gemmill cross. I was sitting in the front row of the stand just above the post where the goal went in. I think I had the best view of it in the whole ground. Whenever I'm feeling a bit depressed I replay this moment in my head.
George went on to score a hat-trick - including 2 penalties. One of them from a classic Francis Lee dive in the box.
Click here to view it.
The Damned United
Last night I saw the Damned United, which I'd been looking forward to seeing for some time. I lived near the Baseball Ground and supported Derby from a very young age so can remember this period very clearly. The La Gondola restaurant - which my grandad owned was also nearby and often the players used to come to visit. Happy days. Even today the Clough legend lives on, especially now that young Nigel is the manager.
I really enjoyed the film and hearing the Derby fans chanting as the credits rolled did bring a tear to my eye. I can understand why the book upset the Clough family, but the film was a very affectionate portrayal. There were inaccuracies, but the central characters were brilliant - particularly Clough, Longson and Revie. However, I didn't think Timothy Spall was particularly convincing as Peter Taylor. You forget how grim and miserable the 70s were and this comes across really well.
Some of the real life footage was excellent too, especially the Derby team scoring goals and seeing the 'real' Clough appear at the end was a nice touch too. It was a less than flattering portrayal of Leeds. But they always were a dirty team weren't they.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Had some spare time after my workshop was over on Friday and spent a really interesting day sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City. The most interesting place to visit was the Vietnam War Museum, which explained in graphic detail the story of the War from the Vietnamese perspective. Lots of military hardware and harrowing photos were on display. It all felt very vivid. Not America’s finest hour.
Apart from that, it was a case of wandering around the hot and humid streets and getting a feel for the place. It’s not particularly vibrant, but compared to other Asian cities I’ve visited It’s very friendly and relaxed. What’s distinctive is the number of motorcycles and the constant noise of revving engines. You soon get used to zig-zagging through the traffic when you cross the road.
Would like to see more of Vietnam. A few pics below.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Just flew into Ho Chi Min City today (formerly Siagon) where I'll be working for the next few days. Am staying in a lovely hotel - the Caravelle in the city centre. Changed at Doha in Qatar - never been before, which was surrounded by desert. Saw Quantum of Solace on the in - flight entertainment, which I rather enjoyed.
Not slept much so need to get some kip. Nice views from my bedroom window.
Friday, March 20, 2009
You read a lot about pester power when you're doing consumer research ie the power of children in influencing purchase decisions. It happens most commonly in supermarkets, where children ask for stuff they like or simply drop things in the trolley without you noticing.
However, at the moment all conversations with my 11 year old daughter revolve around her wanting a mobile phone. I see this as a completely irrational request - who would she phone? Hardly any of her friends have one and she never goes anywhere on her own. However, she constantly points out the 3 or 4 friends who do have phones as evidence that I'm being unfair.
It goes beyond conversations. I get print outs of competing phones left by my bed from websites. I get pages torn out of newspapers. She even asks me how my work is going as she knows I happen to working with a mobile phone operator at the moment.
When she goes to senior school in September and she has to walk to school on her own, then I can see the argument for a mobile phone. Before then, its just simply a desire to impress her friends.
Being a marketing consultant I can hardly complain about pester power...but it is annoying and I guess is how our economy works. The desire to impress others - as well as satisfy your own personal craving - lasts a lifetime.
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
On Sunday I went to my first ever Life Drawing class, run by a friend of mine Trevor Flynn who runs a company called Drawing at Work . Drawing, for many people – including myself - is a scary subject. It’s something we don’t do regularly and as a result we feel we can’t draw. I had no idea what to expect or what I would produce.
However, in the hands of a fabulous teacher like Trevor it becomes less scary and genuinely enjoyable. A lot of it is down to learning the ability to look, learning basic technique and lots and lots of practice. Staring at a naked body for several hours is not something I do very often.
Now, after one day I’m not going to pretend that I’ve got any real talent for drawing, but I do feel that I could improve and develop. However, as with most things in life there are no short cuts and to produce work of genuine merit is a lifetime’s journey.
If you’ve not done any drawing for a long time I can recommend you attend a drawing class – particularly one of Trevor’s.
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
I arrived on Monday morning after a nice, but rather empty BA flight. Highlight was watching Vicky Christina Barcelona, Woody Allan's latest. Escapist nonsense with some very sexy actors. I loved it. Managed to glimpse the New York skyline in the distance on the way to a large conference centre where I've been based for the last couple of days.
Escaped for dinner in Princeton tonight with my work colleagues. Its a very posh and quaint little town, famous for its Ivy League university. There's certainly a lot of smart shops and we had a lovely dinner in an Italian restaurant.
One more day of the conference and I'm off home tomorrow. I love coming to America, although this time its been short and sweet.