Monthly Archives: May 2003

Gone Fishing

I’ve been on holiday. I visited my godson in Norway and spent a very nice time watching the parades on 17th May – the Norwegian national day. I’m going to upload some of the pictures when I have time.

I truly appreciated the sense of space and time out that the break gave me. The Monday and Tuesday before I left were very, very stressful days at work. I am so glad that I was really able to get away from the daily stresses of life to and spend time with friends (good company, good food and good times are a great cure for many things).

Of course the rest of the world has been moving forward while I’ve been away. Phil Gyford‘s written one of the best summaries of working for a so-called dot-com business – it reminds me so much of places I’ve worked.

On this day…

2004: What’s Happening on Channel Four?

Friday Five – Organisation

The Friday Five

Some weeks I find it hard to think of things to say on this blog and sometimes I simply don’t get the time to write any of the things I want. I seem to be on a bit of a roll at the moment. There are reasons why I have the time that I will go into another time. Anyway, for months I’ve been meaning to do the Friday Five. It might be Sunday but so what?

  1. Would you consider yourself an organized person? Why or why not?
    Yes, I think I am fairly organised. I have a tendency to keep lists. I don’t necessarily do the things on the list but at least I know what I haven’t done.
  2. Do you keep some type of planner, organizer, calendar, etc. with you, and do you use it regularly?
    Yes, everything I do is logged in Outlook’s calendar and transferred to my Palm Vx. There’s even a calendar on my ‘phone which I sometimes update
  3. Would you say that your desk is organized right now?
    No, organisation and tidiness are not the same thing in my book. Neither my desk here nor my desk at work is that tidy but I do know where everything is.
  4. Do you alphabetize CDs, books, and DVDs, or does it not matter?
    Yes, my CDs are divided into categories and then sorted alphabetically by artist (oh, and chronologically for CDs by the same artist).
  5. What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to organize?
    I was best man at a wedding and organising that was pretty difficult. I’m not keen on trying to organise other people

On this day…

2004: Tate’s Anniversary

Michael Moore’s Website

I have just submitted my reviews of Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men and Downsize This to Amazon. While reading the reviews I visited and was intrigued to read this.

Well, take a look at my Oscar “backlash”:
On the day after I criticized Bush and the war at the Academy Awards, attendance at “Bowling for Columbine” in theaters around the country went up 110% (source: Daily Variety/ The following weekend, the box office gross was up a whopping 73% (Variety). It is now the longest-running consecutive commercial release in America, 26 weeks in a row and still thriving. The number of theaters showing the film since the Oscars has INCREASED, and it has now bested the previous box office record for a documentary by nearly 300%.


On this day…

2004: Celebrity Gardening

Here Comes The Euro?

At the beginning of June The Chancellor of the Exchequer has to determine if our economy has passed the five test that would allow the UK to adopt the Euro. Nobody is expecting him to say that all five tests have a “pass”. In fact, from what I have read, most will fail. What I’ve found interesting in my recent reading is that I have not read a great deal about the political future of Europe. It’s all about the economic impact on the UK and not about our role in an enlarged Europe (with or without the Euro). Of course, the economic impact is important but those who predicted that the UK would be pushed to the edges of European politics if not part of the Euro-zone seem to have been proved wrong. I think this is interesting because, to a certain extent, it weakens the argument to adopt the currency. If the UK continues to be able to play a significant role in Europe do we need the Euro? It’s an interesting shift in the argument.

On this day…

No other posts on this day.

A Bit Ratty

For those not in the UK, Greg Dyke, is Director General of the BBC. It’s the top job and one which carries great responsibility. The BBC, you see, is an institution that the British public has a strange relationship with.

The BBC is funded by a license-fee. If you own a device capable of receiving television pictures you have to cough up the money. It funds, however, not only two terrestrial networks (with regional options), several other cable/satellite services and a whole host of radio stations (digital, local and national networks) but also the excellent online services.

Personally, I love the BBC and believe they are a fantastic resource providing tremendous value for money. In my younger days they used to pay me to empty coffee cups and answer telephones at local radio. Better than serving fries by my, shallow, standards.

Greg Dyke’s position is tricky. Being a publicly funded body he must strive to be seen to be politically impartial (although, of course, all major political parties believe they are not getting their fair share of air-time). He must be public-service driven because as we all pay for the BBC we all expect something of it. It has a unique position amongst broadcasters in that its funding mechanism provides opportunities to make programming that would not be made if the BBC had to commercially fund all its projects. Similarly, it has to be commercially focussed. It has to compete. If the audience share dips too much then we will start to hear cries to abolish the license fee because nobody is watching (or listening).

Now I think Greg Dyke does a good job. He was, if memory serves correctly, a big cheese in commercial television in the UK (in fact, I think he made rather a decent sum of money at it). He seems to have adapted to the less commercially focussed BBC well (at least, they can’t admit to being as overtly commercially focussed as their rivals).

There is one thing that however well he does, will follow Greg around forever. It makes easy copy for lazy journalists. Greg Dyke’s sin, you see, is that he was responsible for the introduction of Roland Rat to British TV screens. Roland Rat, a children’s TV puppet, is regularly cited as having saved commercial breakfast television – TV-am anyone? – in the UK. You see, that’s lazy. Of course it was a kids-ratings winner and certainly helped pull audiences to that channel, but then so did Anne and Nick and all those other sofa-bound people. But Greg Dyke and the rat are linked forever. He may be very proud of the rat, I don’t know, but I wish people – nay journalists – would stop pulling this fact out as though it was a revelation to the rest of us. Moreover, I wish they would stop using it in serious articles about the BBC.

This week’s Economist is a case in point. There’s an interesting article on a speech given by Greg Dyke about the BBC’s coverage of the conflict in Iraq and how BBC journalism was impartial and balanced compared to the flag-waving of some American networks. It makes some interesting points on the BBC’s positioning of its news services. But the unnamed writer has to mention the bloody rat: “Mr Dyke, whose background is in commercial TV and who brought Roland Rat, an irritating puppet rodent, to British breakfast TV …” And there I stopped caring about anything else in the article.

So, this is my call to all journalists about to write about the BBC. Forget the dratted rat. He was irritating but he probably wasn’t aimed at you. Please stop mentioning him. Greg Dyke was successful running commercial TV – that point is now proved and the rat isn’t, as far as I am aware, a criminal offence. Write about what’s happening with the BBC so that all of us license payers can pontificate about it for hours but please, please, please stop taking about the rat.

On this day…

2004: Fantastic London

Downsize This!

Downsize this book coverInspired by Stupid White Men to read another of Michael Moore‘s books, I came away thinking that Downsize This was actually a better work. Sure, some of the scenarios are silly (‘What America Needs Is A Makeover’) and many of the examples a little dated (some have been overtaken by world events). It’s also true that some of humour doesn’t seem to sit well with the subjects but it is, nonetheless, a very welcome voice in the sea of opinions.

Moore does attempt to be humorous with his staple subjects: corporate greed and accountability, right to freedom/life and social and environmental responsibility. Like Stupid White Men the book makes subjects accessible that are often not covered by mainstream media.

If Stupid White Men has made you think about reading more then this is a good start if you’re happy to have many more American examples as the main topic. If you’re looking for something a little more British then this is not the book for you.

Read other people’s opinions at Amazon UK.

On this day…

2004: PMOS Says Nothing At All

Fly Away

Why do I put myself through this on a regular basis? Occasionally I have to travel for work. Travel, they say, broadens the mind and I am sure that it does. But sometimes I wonder why I have to put myself through the ordeal.

I am not the greatest person to get on an aeroplane but for the best part of four years my working life has meant dealing with (and visiting) customers across Europe. I really enjoy these trips and it’s great to meet people face-to-face that you would only normally deal with on the telephone or via email. And, although I shouldn’t moan, the downside is that I never get to see any of the fantastic places that I go to. I’ve lost count of the number of times that I have been to Milan and never seen anything other than airports, offices and taxis. It’s such a shame.

I never really had a fear of flying – at least not in the sense it stopped me doing anything. I just get nervous at take-off and then, generally, I am fine. I like a decent sized jet with seats that have sufficient padding on the arms so that, when I grip them, my knuckles can go white without serious injury to my hands. Once in the air, I am OK. Nothing to bother me until the return journey. So it’s not really too bad travelling to most of Europe for business. I appreciate the fact that I can travel and count myself lucky that it’s only a few minutes of unease.

So, here I am today in Dundee. I have customers to see here who are very pleasant people to work with. I’ve been planning this trip for a couple of weeks and I had planned to take the train until I realised that, at best, it was going to be a six hour journey. I had to take a flight to give me any chance of doing some other work today.

Now these flights are the worst. I can’t stand the small 30-seater planes (that seem to be a cross between propeller and jet driven) that bring you here. My nerves are shot and my palms sweaty. At take-off it’s easy to mistake the arm of the person in the next seat with that of the plane. Again, I am fine once high enough not to be shaken around by a passing air current that, I suspect, has desires to knock us 500 miles off course. That moment, however, as we’re picking up speed and racing down a runway, sends a panic through me that I hate. Unlike those other journeys, these small planes seem to make me sweat and grip for longer than normal. The planes don’t go as high and so I can see the land – which I don’t think is good for me.

The fear is, of course, irrational – at least these flights are no different from the others. The more nervous I get about taking this short flight the worse I feel. I know that it is silly and I become annoyed by my own fear – I’ve taken so many flights it should be like taking a bus (which I think I do less than flying). I can’t stop the sick feeling. Every lurch of the plane, every shake and noise is analysed in a way I do not do with larger aircraft. Every expression on the stewardesses face analysed for a sign – should that clunk have happened? Should that beep be sounding? Should this window rattle so much?

And the very worst bit of it all? I know I have to do it backwards tomorrow evening.

Next time, I’ll take the train (maybe).

On this day…

2005: links for 2005-05-06
2003: Violent Lyrics

Violent Lyrics

New Scientist is reporting that a new study suggests that songs with violent lyrics increase aggressive behaviour in people. Well, this should please those who harp on about song lyrics driving all to kill our neighbours. While it doesn’t seem to me to be revolutionary, I note this article because the study, apparently, “contradicts a popular suggestion that music loaded with violent imagery, such as some rap and heavy metal, are cathartic in venting aggression” [source]

I think I have missed something here. I thought the popular suggestion was that such lyrics turned us all into gun-wielding maniacs and that such music needs banning. Or have I missed some social change somewhere …

On this day…

2005: links for 2005-05-06
2003: Fly Away

Visit Rye

Landgate at Rye

Landgate at Rye

We went out to Kent today and, on whim, took a small detour to Rye:

Rye is a delightful town situated in Sussex, England. Rye’s history can be traced back to before the Norman Conquest, when, as a small fishing community, it was almost surrounded by water and lay within the Manor of Rameslie. The sea has retreated and now lies two miles from the town and sheep graze where the waves once broke on the beach.


It really is a beautiful little town.

On this day…

2003: Entertainment At The Start of May