Thursday, 31 December 2009

Christmas past and New Year's honours

So it's over for another year. My turkey remains are already a glorious soup though there was nearly a terrible mix up with the hound which I only realised when I tried to take a huge poultry carcass for a walk and then noticed the bubbling tureen was yelping. Barkles didn't appreciate his Christmas stocking. Because he's a dog and hasn't got a bloody clue what Christmas is about. Like most of the population.

I have sorted through my cards which gives me a tremendous opportunity to end the decade with a flurry of name dropping. An assortment of cheap folded cardboard correspondence from umbrella bosses and MPs plus one from Gordon and Sarah (no surname needed here surely) who included me on their mass mailout of 25,000 pre-printed cards. Much better than an impersonal email sent to all and sundry that people seem to go in for these days. Gordon and Sarah's card was in support of one of my favourite charities, for obvious reasons, Water Aid.

Since you're not asking, I don't like to talk about my charity giving, usually. It is a private matter, between me and my blog. I support various umbrella charities but in my position I can't be seen to favour one member over another so I wouldn't do anything as crass as to list the ones I give cash to lest I upset the others. I also give to my old Oxford college, St Boloc's, naturally, as it hasn't got nearly enough money as it is and that's how the system works.

I can't do with all of this season's greetings diplomatic political correctness gone mad. It is offensive to suggest that we can't say Merry Christmas as if we aren't celebrating the festival of mass commercialism and I bet you don't get Muslims going round buying shit they don't need by the trollyload and gorging themselves senselessly (after sundown) during Ramadan.

There were some interesting shouts in the New Year's honours pat-on-the-back smugfest. As you may know, I sit on the committee that allocates gongs in the umbrella sector but God knows who they get to divvy up the medals in the main event. I certainly wasn't happy to see one of the opponents of our plans to run prisons, Glenys Phelonn, get an OBE . She is ceo of the Bloke Who Used To Be In The Halifax Adverts League of Brolly Reform. But if I had been on the appointments committee I wouldn't have voted for her getting anything.

On the positive side it was good to see one of my fabulous members, Karen Truckle, ceo of Gamp Action for Children (rebranding ceaselessly for the last 140 years), become a Dame. She can be seen in Aladdin at the Bromsgrove Empire til the end of January.

It was also fantastic to see those three chord rock Gods, Parfitt and Rossi get their due. Surely this was merely the establishment maintaining the class based status quo and they richly deserve those Status QuOBEs. If you can be honoured for something as trivial as not changing the bleeding record for a prolonged period of time, I will surely qualify myself sooner rather than later.

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 24th Dec

Here it is, the final piece in this 24 bit online jigsaw. I am supposed to be issuing my Boggmas Message blog at 3pm tomorrow (with 140 character summary on Twitter) but I expect I will be fast asleep by then, gorged to the eyeballs on fizz and cheese, Barkles laying contentedly at my feet. Merry Christmas.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 23rd Dec

We all know that Rihanna is my ultimate bird. Or is she??? Click here for today's advent adventure.

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 22nd Dec

I haven't got a drink problem despite always maintaining I haven't got a drink problem even though no one is saying I have. OK? Right, who fancies a nice Xmas tipple? Click here to enjoy a warming festive beverage.

Televised debates

I hereby challenge Hubert Carrington of NCVO and Dylan Twirley of NAVCA to a televised debate on the future of the umbrella sector, sometime in the New Year. If we can't secure any coverage from a major channel we could arrrange to have a mass brawl (in which Maxwell, Crikey's replacement, Twomore, Allcock-And-Bull, Hoxton, Sloe....anyone really) and flog it to Bravo or somebody. Let's get serious and start using X Factor politics or populist entertainment to promote effective brolly leadership. That's reality, folks.

Monday, 21 December 2009

The power of online campaigning

Some of you may have seen the media excitement about this year's battle for Xmas number 1. Not since St Winifred's School Choir hymned the virtues of Grandmas has there been so much resting on who would gain the coveted seasonal single bragging rights. Basically, an online campaign run through forums and twitter was established to stop evil Simon Cowell's hand-held X Factor winner gaining top spot for the fifth year runner by virtue of people being too stupid to realise that vapid karaoke was not the real deal.

The logical alternative was to suggest a song by radical noise merchants Rage Against the Machine (Killing in the name of) as a witty riposte. So it boiled down to buying something cos its singer won X Factor and we are all sheep or downloading something cos an organised campaign told us to. Plus de la difference or something. And I dunno what people were supposed to do if they liked them both (unlikely admittedly).

But the campaign worked and was hailed as a victory for people power and nu-media and real music - a nod to the days when the Xmas number 1 was about quality and proper artists such as Bob the Builder and Mr Blobby and Cliff and need I go on? Apparently nearly 50 people who downloaded the RATM ditty actually listened to it and 14 quite liked it.

Therefore I have decided to establish a similar campaign to try and influence the result of this year's Premiership. I am fed up with Chelsea or Man Utd winning simply by virtue of having the cash to buy better players. I think if we harness the collective power of twitter etc we CAN elevate the Oxford United (naturally) team from 1992/93 to top spot in English football's elite league. Look at their squad here. People like Jim Magilton can still cut it I am sure with twitter behind them.

And then after that we could perhaps use this new found combined muscle to influence things that really matter.

The 132nd posh lunch of the year and giving a toss

My first official function after my op was a, surprise surprise, luncheon. We were very fortunate to have as guest speaker the erudite man of God, the Bishop of Chartres, Dick London. I am not one to go round bashing bishops and he was dressed exactly as a priest should be, decked out in expensive finery and symbolism, not like these apologies of modern priests you see dressed normally in jeans and T-shirts. Incidentally, Dick was commenting on how organised religion has become marginalised but I can't see why this should be so.

We were hosted by those shrewd custodians of many of the umbrella sector assets, CCLAPD Blue, who must be doing very nicely despite the recession if the food and chablis on show was anything to go by. Once again, I fail to see the slightest shred of irony in an event discussing how to address the problems of the world while participants trough top quality food and drink. It simply isn't true that this attitude and divisiveness in society is part of the problem in the first place.

The Bish had some interesting stats on levels of tax relief he has been able to secure from those stingy gits at the Treasury. I may have to enlist him in our tortuous campaign to secure greater tax relief on the purchase of brollies as gifts that I think we have, no pun intended, a God given right to receive without actually having to do any work in encouraging the taxpayer themselves to buy into the scheme. I am getting very cross about this now and if the government doesn't decide what they are going to do I am going to start using words such as "arse" in my blog.

Anyone would think the Treasury was simply trying to keep as much money as possible for themselves to spend on stuff. I received a very patronising letter from some stuffed shirt at the Treasury that had the temerity to suggest that I read some report or another. Well I shan't, so there. Instead I will stamp my foot and demand that the government gives us the loot. It's an approach that has never worked before but like a stubborn child I will persist. Why? Just, because.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 21st Dec

James Purnell threw a Xmas party last week for all of his friends in government. It was going pretty badly and then I turned up. An uninvited gatecrasher. And took this picture.

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 20th Dec

No explanation needed for this one. Click here for seasonal umbrella related illegally utilised web photo imagery.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 19th Dec

A new mnemonic for remembering the colours displayed in today's Boggmas ball of stuffing. Rain Obviously Yields Great Brolly Increased Value.

Thursday, 17 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 18th Dec - Only a week to go until it is 365 days to go

We are all feeling the somehow unexpected thrill of it being bloody cold in winter, as if this had never happened ever before in the UK. Global warming? Nay, say the deniers (thickness of stockings - that one's for Tonya Newshound at Canopy Finance). We have a frosting of snow. How can it be so? Whatever. We all need either a web-enabled big soup or a virtual brandy to cope - and it is poured here and here and here .

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 17th Dec

We have a kind of "Where's Brolly?" game today. Can you spot the gamp among this smorgasbord of taste tingling treats? Clue: You'd have to be blind not to. Not that there's anything wrong with being blind. Some of my biggest decisions have been made whilst in a blind panic.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Kept in the dark

Well, the pre Christmas shinanigans are in full swing now and there is no finer sight than snow flecked brollies. But I am still a bit shaken by my misadventure yesterday. The National Canopy and Visor Organisation (NCVO) had once again managed to blag a room at the Houses of Parliament for their Xmas schmoozefest and as I am officially barred from the home of democracy (no vote was taken on this) after an "incident" last year I decided to try and sneak in. On reflection hiding in one of the attendees' bag wasn't a great idea. I got through security but then had to spend the party inside the bag in the cloakroom as the bag was padlocked. So all I got to see of events was this.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 16th Dec - is anyone still bothered? Only 8 painful more days to go

A Bogg dog is not just for life, it's for Boggmas. Click here to see a cheeky little gift I have bought for my beloved Barkles this Xmas.

I'm going on tour

I am pleased to announce the dates for my 2010 UK tour, The Big Arse. The letter I sent out yesterday (see below) contains all of the details. Souvenir tour T-shirts, umbrellas and copies of my Xmas single (with the Umbrella-ella-ella Boggaoke remix as a b-side) will be available to purchase at each venue. Dates for my European tour (Le Grand Derriere) and my World tour (Big Arse Goes Global) will be announced in the New Year.

Brolly leaders


Invitation: The Big Arse Tour

I would like to invite you to join me at a meeting of umbrella sector leaders taking place in 2010. This meeting is part of ‘The Big Arse’ tour, during which I will meet with brolly sector leaders throughout the UK, to hear their ambitions and concerns for the year ahead, and show off my new scarf. Members of BUBB are welcome to attend, but Dylan Twirley is not.

The recession posed many challenges for our sector in 2009 though not as many as I claimed it would. We must now look forward to the year ahead, the obstacles that may come our way and the prison contracts we must seize. We are entering a period of dramatic change, with public spending cuts and a General Election in sight. It is now critical that there is a voice and support for gamp sector chief executives.

Dates and Locations

Butlins, Weston-super-Mare 09 February 2010
Well Oiled Brolly Tavern, East Lambeth, London 10 February 2010
The Civic Society Hall, Wolverhampton 11 February 2010
The Barbed Insult Inn, Diss 18 February 2010
St Boloc's Student Union bar, Oxford, naturally 19 February 2010
Some shithole or other in Cambridge 34 February 2010
The Rotary Club, Blacbury 09 March 2010
A random working men's club, The North 10 March 2010
(Hector is doing this one, it's too far for me to go to)

I look forward to seeing you at a big arse gathering near you.

Yours in brollies

Robin Bogg

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 15th Dec

I have released my festive single. Could this be the Christmas Number 1? It's gotta be better than the X Fatcor record or that Rage Against the Machine spoiler thing that people are backing to wind Simon Cowell up. Anyway, all he'll do in response is get Joe and Olly (Jolly...very festive) to release a cover of the RATM record to make sure his parnsips are buttered very nicely thank you.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Almost beyond parody

The outrage! As I lay prone on the operating table the anaesthetist leans over and asks: "Are you retarded?"

"RETARDED! HARDLY " I reply as majestically as is possible in one of those flimsy NHS gowns, fixing him with my best Paddington Bear hard stare. But there the conversation ends as the bottle of Bull's Blood that the nurse had warned me not to drink but I had to because Pavlov told me to took its effect.

The op went well though the drugs they used were rather strong so I apologise for any opium-induced flights of fancy in what follows. It's all the fault of the warlocks.

I note that the government seems to have planned it's whole agenda around me being on the slab (though I wasn't technically in a mortuary). The Witchfinder-General, Sandy Burnham-Drownham issued some more nonsense about the NHS and umbrellas. I wouldn't be surprised if the government has engineered my eye problems deliberately to keep me quiet. Like the time they suggested I went for woodland strolls with Dr Kelly.

And Hector Rule made use of his caretaker-manager moment by sending out a flurry of press releases with titles including "Umbrella governance is actually bloody brilliant", "Why we should merge with the union, Divide", "The Umbrella Bank is a right waste of time" and "Don't wear ties". Actually, I agree with the last one but that's not the point.

Speaking of the umbrella bank, it's such a shame that people always try and stand in the way of progress and comments such as "we don't need it" and "there is no appetite for loans" are disappointing. The evidence suggests that they do want loans. In offices all over the country, whenever someone is nipping out to get a sarnie at lunch time and it stars raining they aways ask around to see which of their colleagues can lend them an umbrella. But like any new idea some people simply haven't got the imagination to envisage future demand.

Why, picture the scene, a small urban pub, 25 years back, lager leaking from the kegs, gob all over the floor, Black Lace seeping from the jukebox. Two handsome folks on their bar tools (sic):

Dylan (name plucked entirely at random, it could so easily have been Heston or Kevin or Curly): "Well I'm certainly not getting one of these new fangled Sinclair C5 electric car thingies."

Deborah (ditto, it could easily have been Beth or Debra): "Nor me, I am quite happy with my Vauxhall Viva."

Dylan: "Exactly, no evidence of demand."

This scenario could equally be applied to the invention of the TV, which people said wouldn't catch on. But here we are 80 years later and quality remains paramount. If the Umbrella Bank is allocating brollies in 80 years from now based on shallow talentless freak shows and the public's opinion via a phone vote then we can say that the nay-sayers were proved well and truly wrong and my analogy was the right one to use.

As AC/DC might have put it if they were from Oxfordshire, I have been "Back in Blacbury" recuperating and have bought a selection of Xmas cheese from Lidl - Dairylea, Laughing Cow and Primula are all safely stored in the outside carsey with the festive fizz. Which is where Barkles is also currently locked up too after cocking his leg and baptising the Christmas tree decorations.

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 14th Dec

My Christmas wish list is here. Obviously, this omits the things that I ask for every year - Umbrella bank, better umbrella governance, wider tax relief on the purchase of umbrellas as gifts, James Purnell as Umbrella Minister - but it's a start.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 13th Dec

Another stolen (or should that be stollen?) copyright protected bit of festive umbrella art from off t'inteformation supersleighway here.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 12th Dec

No point wasting my best images on the weekend crowd. Hang on, what am I talking about? Keep your true loyal audience sweet, here for a reward.


Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 11th Dec

This is what I shall be having for breakfast on Christmas day.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

PBR - Pretty Bad Really

Of course the spin will dictate that the key announcement in yesterday's PBR (Predictable Brownite Rubbish) was superb. There was a firm commitment to establishing the Umbrella Bank with up to 75 million of the unclaimed brolly assets being retained by the banks. This "firm" commitment follows the government's earlier commitments to think about it when we get a spare 5 minutes, sleep on it, run it up the flagpole and see if it flutters in the breeze, kick it around, explore it further, support it in principle if it will shut you up, and then consult on it and is all down to my lobbying. Oh and Sir Reggie Coining's initial visionary idea.

In reality, the fact that it is "up to" 75 million is less encouraging. That could mean 45. Or 768. Stop buggering about and hand all of those brollies over. And no point wasting time setting up a new institution. Give it all to Brolly Investment Business. I am sure no one would disagree with that and demand that the new bank be established as a mission-driven financial institution, operating independently from government and retail intermediaries. Unless they're mad.

The rest of the PBR was Poor Brolly Result with very little of cheer for the umbrella sector. But no matter, I am off to Loch Boggnachar in Scotland for a couple of days rest and recuperation prior to me having some further work done on my vision.

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 10th Dec

Today, a little glimpse of the emporium from where I will be buying all of my Xmas goodies. I love good food me.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 9th Dec

Today's little tub of interwebbed brandy butter is a tribute to that very great man Donald Holding of Feudal. Never have so many heads been hunted in the name of commission than by this bloke. He even secured the gig for Santa in the first place.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 8th Dec

Old Saint Nick using a traditional method of keeping the pressies dry here.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Beating 'em, joining 'em

Have recovered now from the BUBB Xmas party on Friday afternoon, which contained the usual high jinx. I won't divulge any of the embarrassing antics of myself and the staff - after all, as the saying goes, what gets photocopied, stays photocopied - but in hindsight going to Oxford Street to look at the Christmas lights, which someone had told me featured umbrellas, after drinking the number of snowballs I had, probably wasn't a great idea.

I was back there on Saturday to have a more sober look at them and as you can see from the picture, the use of brollies and fairy lights really is impressive.

I was also impressed with the hordes of protesters gathering to protest against capitalism and climate change. There was something ironic that on a day when Oxford St was car free to enable greater pedestrian mobility, you couldn't move for placards. And some protesters displayed an hypocrisy to climate change and capitalism that even I would find hard to beat. You couldn't help but admire those who I saw stuffing their faces in McDonald's (that most anti-capitalist and environmentally friendly of all the companies - beef production has zero impact upon the planet) and then enjoying the Xmas festivities on Oxford St while doing a cheeky bit of Christmas shopping (that most anti-capitalist and environmentally friendly of all the pagan celebrations hijacked by religion - where loads of presents are purchased with almost zero waste and packaging). Fair play to them. Still it was a day out and an excuse to paint their young children and drag them along as well.

Elsewhere I have been busy making a virtue over my pig-headedness earlier this year to disclose my expenses. The media circus over this was bang out of order and what did we learn once we had all spilled the beans? Steve Crikey at CFDG really needs to get out more, Deborah Allcock-And-Bull at the Directory of Gampal Strange is a party girl and Hubert spends more than me. So what? It tells us nothing (apart from the fact that, luckily, Hubert spends more than me ha ha ha ha you spendthrift Hubert, playing fast and hard with your members' money). There is currently a working group looking at this matter (and I'll be asking to see their expenses claims) but I am having no truck with it, especially as I wasn't asked to be part of it. We do our job, we incur expenses, we claim them. End of.

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 7th Dec

"Deck the gaols with wreathes so jolly"...a little glimpse of what happens when incarceration and Christmas meet. Click here. Ironically I nearly ended up banged up again after BUBB's Xmas party on Friday though I am sure "abusing a photocopier" is a trumped up charge. As is "running half naked down Oxford Street singing to the Chistmas lights".

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 6th Dec

Something decorous but tasteful today. Like myself. Click here

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 5th Dec

The hound all kitted out for Christmas. Click here.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 4th Dec

Today's virtual choccie angel is something from one of the cleverest and most brilliant men ever to subject me to a restraining order. Please click here.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Going round in circles

Some of you may have noticed that the brilliant Fab Jobsworth has joined the blogosphere with the wittily titled Seb Blogsworth (did you see what he did there?). I haven't read it properly but at first glance his posts seem very amateur. They are well written, beautifully punctuated, impecably (yes, I know) spelt and generally coherent. The namedropping is well below the European directive's minimum and there is not nearly enough rambling. It simply isn't good enough and I shall advise him to try writing later at night after a couple of glasses of the old red stuff.

I was intrigued to see some of the suggestions in yesterday's effort. Basically Fab is advocating that we rename parts of the tube network, add new colours to the underground map and scrap the Circle Line. I think we should go even further and let BUBB take over the whole thing. Why stop at prisons? When you consider how many umbrellas are left on the tube network every day it makes perfect sense.

I would start from scratch and prioritise a high speed link from East Lambeth to Blacbury (at the very edge of Zone 27). The line could be called the Electric Boggoloo Line and the train the Boggwarts Express. It would need a new colour on the tube map (Oxford Blue, naturally).

And this leads me smoothly onto my latest plan, which involves BUBB taking over the running of Britain's enchanting canal network. We would keep it obsessively organised and tidy, sort of canally retentive. Also our friends at NCVO have their offices next to the Regent's Canal and it would be strategically very useful if I had unlimited access to the waterway at that point so I could go past in a boat all day long shouting things at Hubert.

You can tell when a sector is on the rise when there are queues of graduates (not all Oxford, unfortunately) desperate for a job, any job, even in brollyland. But it is also nice that the public sector is keen to offloads large chunks of expensive infrastructure responsibility onto those who will consider getting involved anything whether it be core to their interests or not.

As Mark Twain once wrote: "Always acknowledge a fault. This will throw those in authority off their guard and give you an opportunity to commit more."

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 3rd Dec

Delightful surprise just here.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Letter to the Chancellor

Robin Bogg, Notdunpourin’ Cottage, Blacbury, South Blacburyshire, England (the South of)
Plus 260 BUBB members (names and addresses supplied)

Dear Alistair

This chain was started in the hope of bringing prosperity to you within three days (post permitting). Make 260 copies of this letter, leaving off the top name and address and adding your name and address at the bottom of the above list and mail to 260 of your friends to whom you wish prosperity to come.

In omitting the top name, send that person (£5) wrapped in paper, as a “charity” donation (gift aided, naturally), and in turn, as your name leaves the top of the list, you will receive loads of letters and lots of cash which you can invest in the brolly sector, which really does do a fabulous job.

Have faith and do not break the chain or you will receive the most terrible luck and will probably lose the election. Read carefully and take a chance. I did.

Please hand this to another friend (if you have any) if you do not wish to continue this chain.


Chief executive, BUBB

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 2nd Dec

Get your web-enabled treat here.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Getting on bored

I had a BUBB board meeting yesterday but arrived several hours late. I was on my way when I spotted Dangerous Divv, big brother of former charities honcho and now minister for hot air and wasted energy God Megagrand, walking down the street. I shouted after him, as I want to know why God hasn't returned my texts for awhile. But he didn't hear me so I followed him in a taxi, onto a tube, onto the Gatwick Express and onto a plane bound for America. He was in mind your own business class and I was not (don't want Tonya Newshound at Canopy Finance doing her job at this point plus I would like to point out that as I had jumped all the barriers at the stations in my pursuit of Divv AND hid in the toilet on the train to avoid a fare I saved a fortune in needless expenses - at least until the fines come through).

I managed to mug an air hostess in the toilets for her uniform and snuck into the posh seats with some of those packets of snacks that look 40 times bigger in the brochure and a can of Britvic for Divv.

I sidled up to him and he said fondly: "You get around. I thought I'd shaken you off. Now piss off and leave me to read the Beano in peace." I was escorted back into cattle class and ejected from the plane at Birmingham. Which was particularly painful as we didn't stop there.

I got back to London for part of the board meeting and was able to join in the agenda points I was most interested in, namely chief executive remuneration, our expenses policy and our new conflicts of interest policy (drawn up by my good friend Donald Holding of Feudal headhunters). We also had our boredom appraisal but that fell flat as most of the trustees were asleep by the time we got to it.

Boggmas Gampvent calendar - 1st Dec

Off we go...

Open flap here

Monday, 30 November 2009

Deck the halls with gamps and brollies

I am now back in the UK, with the all important task of preparing for Christmas. As well as BUBB’s legendary office party to organise, there will be a sleigh-load of receptions and drink-ups to fit in. I have been banned from organising the office Secret Santa after last year’s scandal when I rigged it to ensure that everyone bought me a pressie. The trustees got wind of it and I was severely reprimanded. But still avoided the (Santa’s) sack. So this year Fab Jobsworth has done it and I have drawn Hector Rule. Any suggestions as to what I can get him would be very welcome as to me it seems he already has everything he wants. Except my job.

I will also be attending a number of high-church Christian ceremonies and services celebrating this most pagan of festivals. This is not because I am particularly religious – as far as I am concerned there’s too much religion in Christmas, we need to put the commercialism back into it. But it does give me a chance to comment on the architecture of various churches and chapels and wheel out some Biblical quotes.

And there is the BUBB nativity play to organise. This is always tricky to cast though Geof Sachell will be sweet Baby Jesus and Marina McMoan will be Mary. We always struggle to find any wise men but Ben N’Jerry will play a King who comes from the North bearing gifts of Gold-plated brollies, Gampinsence and Umyrhhbrellas. I will play the shepherd and the rest of the team will be sheep blindly following me about. Joseph (played by me) and Mary will travel to Oxford, naturally, and try and gain shelter for the night. After being turned away by all of the local prisons, which are full, they head to a pub in Blacbury where the innkeeper (played by me) invites them in and they all get trollied on fizz.

Hopefully, I will be able to get some partying in by wearing one of my many other (festively adorned) hats as well. I know that the organisation formerly known as Umbrellabuilders has some unspent money that will only go to waste come the end of March so I reckon we can have a proper knees-up with some of that.

And I am planning to release a Christmas single. Without giving too much away it will be a festive reworking of one of Rihanna’s classic choons.

I updated my Xmas card list over the weekend (Dylan Twirley removed and I need to find out James Purnell’s new address. Again). And I have taken a strategic decision that Hubert Carrington at NCVO will get one this year but I won’t send it until the last minute. I didn’t send him one last year whereas he did send me one. I figure he won’t bother this year and will then be embarrassed when he gets mine without time to hastily dash one off in response.

And tomorrow sees the launch of the Boggmas Gampvent calendar. This will be hosted on my blog and also on my Twitter feed. Join the party!

As well as mince-pie munching and mulled wine guzzling we will have to observe the correct protocol around the pre-Budget report next week. This involves firing off our usual wishlist of things that we know won’t happen and then having a hissy fit afterwards when they don’t happen.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Trinidad - a highlights package

I finally dragged myself away from the beach and arrived at the Commonwealth conference in Trinidad on Wednesday. It was, if I’m being honest, about as much fun as IMPORTANT PEOPLE blathering on about IMPORTANT ISSUES, and most of it was way over my head

As well as speeches and presentations there was a series of round table discussions at square, triangular and hexagonal tables. The main talking points were the financial crisis and climate change. And how are we going to deal with them? Simple. We have produced a 14 million page document which will be printed off and delivered by aeroplane to every single Commonwealth citizen. Funded by all the member governments, this should not only leave a carbon footprint the size of Belgium, but could bankrupt some of the smaller, poorer countries and use up a shitload of paper. Take that, rainforest!

Still, all of our hot air on climate change and the environment will be a useful primer for the Copenhagen lip service gathering next month. I fully expect that this event will come to a grizzly end a lot quicker than the politicians expect it to.

Speaking of carbon footprints, all of my own travelling has trampled its size nine all over the globe lately, but it’s OK cos I have grown a bit of basil in my window box in East Lambeth.

Away from the real problems of the world I was horrified to read, as I lay on the beach, comments by the Witchfinder-General Sandy Burnham-Drownham about the NHS being the government’s preferred supplier of umbrellas for medical reasons, eg. to those with an allergy to rainwater. Once I had looked up the word “preferred” in my dictionary (Oxford English, naturally) I got quite angry. What about the umbrella sector?

This coupled with another attack on the brolly sector by the unions, which included a spelling mistake (you’d never catch me lazily getting someone’s name wrong in my blog) means that we face a real threat from those who say public sector good – brolly sector bad.

Luckily, I had some light relief on Thursday night as I was able to catch up with some of my cousins, who live their life in limerick form.

One, the first Bishop of Calcutta
Was known as a bit of a nutter
He got all divine
On communion wine
And smeared all the wafers with butter

Next day, I was forced to go to Tobago for a day trip. I protested that I had already been there but to no avail and I was frogmarched by police out of the hotel and onto the boat at some ungodly hour.

There was much excitement on Friday night when Queen arrived. Some people think it a travesty that Brian May continues to flog this bloated pomp rock horse post-Mercury but they did a stirring version of Fat Bottomed Girls and the assembled dignitaries were shaking a shoe with aplomb.

But now it is time to come home. There is much important stuff to be done. Christmas is fast approaching and the BUBB Christmas party needs some thought. After all, my arse won’t photocopy itself.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Fashion tips for CEOs

When travelling, always go for lighweight, non-iron shirts. Oxford cotton, naturally. Other helpful hints include: Never put your pants over your head when going through passport control and don't wear comedy Mickey Mouse socks to official functions. Oh and remember that duffle coats and Caribbean beaches don't mix well. I should write a book. Or at the very least be brought to one.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Life's a beach

It's Tuesday so I must be....out of the office, probably abroad. Yes, I am in Trinidad. At least I thought I was, but I went to Tobago by mistake. No matter, it is very nice here and I'll saunter off to the correct destination once I've had a few more rum punches, coconut croissants and Caribbean cliches.

I've certainly been racking up the air miles this year and my passport has more stamps than a toddler's tantrum convention. I have now visited over 10 countries. And that doesn't include the North. Or Wales. I can't exactly recall what is happening in Trinidad, something to do with brolly sector honchos from Commonwealth countries and some big Commonwealth shindig. A quaint, patronising throwback to the heady days of Empire it may be (we will be speaking the mother tongue, Oxford English, naturally) but it shits all over the bureaucratic nonsense that is the EU.

We will be discussing some pretty fundamental human rights issues and Uganda may be in for a blow to the kidneys if they don't back down over proposals to give the death penalty, or even worse, send people to prison for prancing around with an umbrella in a "gay way". I am all for innovative solutions to filling yet more prisons, run by us naturally, but it wouldn't work in the UK, where most people just look miserable when carrying a brolly.

It would be nice if Fab or Geof were here to carry my bags and fan me with cocktail umbrellas. But I saw an interesting snippet about Obama's recent trip to the Chinese takeaway. Or was it China? No matter: "Obama made at least some impact on the Chinese public, though, as soon as he got off the plane in Shanghai: He was carrying his own umbrella. That impressed many Chinese, who are used to seeing their political leaders with an underling holding their umbrella for them. One Chinese online commentator suggested: “Why don’t we learn from U.S. President Obama’s spirit of umbrella-holding?”"

I do agree with Obama in that I don't let anyone hold my brolly for me. But that's because I don't trust them. I have seen Hector staring longingly at a number of cherished pieces from my collection. However, there is nothing wrong with showing staff who the boss is and getting them to perform menial tasks. That's what they are there for. I don't even bother with delegation. I let Hector do that for me. Saves me more time for foreign jaunts.

Monday, 23 November 2009

You pay what you get for

I am going to reheat another tired old campaign of mine now. I have long felt that the standard of brolly governance would be much improved if people could be paid to look after their gamps. Ignoring the fact that most people quite happily own a gamp voluntarily and are happy to do so and that having adequate time to devote to looking after an umbrella is often a bigger barrier than the money, I will still push this suggestion forward in the hope that I can make a tidy packet from overseeing yet more brollies. Some have pointed out that this would simply lead to all of the bigger and more expensive umbrellas ending up in the hands of 20 or so brollycrats milking a comfortable second living. And as long as I am one of them what's wrong with that?

What I really need now to finish off my argument is to shamelessly piggyback on the memory of a respected high profile brolly sector notable who has died recently and was once connected with a committee that had some radical views that are only very tenuously linked with my own. I could then claim that my ramblings are just a 21st Century reworking of hers even though they aren't and anyway, she isn't here to defend herself any more. But even I wouldn't do that would I?

The other reason why high salaries and extra remuneration is so much on my mind recently is that I accidentally bought this recently and have cashflow issues. Apparently, if you wave your hand around during an auction you can end up buying something you don't want. Who knew?

Thursday, 19 November 2009

A brave trek to sanctuary

On Monday, my blog had a picture of a poor delicate flower of a brolly which had been abandoned after sustaining severe injuries in last weekend's winds. As you can see from these new pictures, there is still hope for it. Yesterday I noticed it had moved 2 feet and was sheltering 'neath a rock.

Today it had moved again, away from the rock, towards the safety of the nearest house. It still has some distance to go but I will monitor its progress. Of course I could just pick it up and help it myself but I fear
I would get a reputation such as the great Victorian leader Gladstone (himself linked to umbrellas) had for assisting fallen women.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Personalising stuff for members

We launched our interim first draft not-quite-finished initial-findings-with-no-firm-conclusions-as-yet report of BUBB's Commission on Personalisation yesterday. All attendees received their own personal copy with their name on it.

The personalisation agenda is a big opportunity for the brolly sector, especially if we all work together as one. If everyone was made to have their name emblazoned on their umbrella it would mean people could be re-united with their lost gamp much quicker if they leave it on the tube. And it would save the government a fortune on ID cards.

After that I went to a meeting with the excellent brolly sector team of Veronica Squif and Vanessa Doublechin who batter us in government by doing things like suddenly pulling the plug on the campaigning fund that people used to fund the printing of slogans on gamps. Witches. This is clearly not compliant with the terms of the Compact (a small fold-away brolly that fits in your handbag) and is something I really should be making more noise about instead of wittering on about peripheral concerns such as Lotte Shight and the bankers. But as Hubert Carrington's mob at NCVO have already taken up the baton on this one I am finding it very difficult to agree with them and work in partnership.

Bogge de Jour

You may have seen in the news this weekend that the former prostitute who funded her PhD as a high class call-girl, and then wrote of her encounters under an assumed name, Belle de Jour, has finally revealed her identity. Obviously I am suspicious of the motivation of anyone who feels the need to hide behind a ridiculous pseudonym. The rumours circulating that I am in fact behind the equally mysterious Bogge de Jour diaries, about a brolly enthusiast pimping out high-class umbrellas to fund his City & Guilds in plumbing, are well wide of the mark.

On a different note, it is interesting to see Gordon Brown planning a handover of power in Afghanistan. If the brolly sector is going to have a bash at running prisons, I say to hell with it, let's have a pop at running a war-torn, conflict riddled Asian pseudo-democracy as well. Who's up for it?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Zero tolerance

There should be proper punishment for people who take feeble umbrellas like this out into the weather we have had this weekend. What are they thinking? When we're running the prisons there'll be special units for brolly wallies so they can learn the error of their ways. And I am going to start a programme of little visits from one of Don Boggi's boys (Gamp champions, or Gampions), perhaps offering a little protection for people's umbrellas, if you know what I mean. Right, time for breakfast. Meatballs and croissant.

The Boggfather

Did you hear me on the radio on Saturday evening? I was discussing the topic that I can't mention any more, excessive salaries, on Gorgeous George Giveaway's lively show on Talk Shite radio. He called me "Capo dei capi" - boss of bosses. So Dylan Twirley and Donnie Fiddly and Lotte Shight and anyone else who crosses me had better beware. For I am the Boggfather, Don Boggi. I'll make them all an offer they can't refuse, such as borrowing an umbrella from me when it's raining. I keep my sworn enemies close, and everyone else closer. Capiche?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Boggian boggedness

Bumped into Dame Luci Vinyl (chair of the Umbrella Commission and feisty defender of the brolly brand) on a pedestrain crossing in Westminster. She was furious, especially as the cab I was in had jumped a red light. But when she calmed down we got talking about the thing I said I wouldn't blog about again - salaries. She was pleased to see me defending umbrella interests and praised my Boggian doggedness, or Boggedness as I like to call it.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

We need Fiddly salaries

My breakfast was immeasurably improved when I opened an email from brolly accounting guru, Fresh Princey. You know he's a guru because he goes around telling everyone he is. Of course I wouldn't dream of reproducing a private email verbatim just to make a point about me deserving a fat wedge but let's just say that Fresh was very supportive of BUBB's position on excessive salaries.

I will now try and draw a line under this whole affair and worry about something else. Like whether to back the Labour or Conservative philosophical approach to the role of brollies in society as the election approaches. I have been attending a number of lectures recently which have been illuminating.

On one hand Labour have such intellectual giants as Ian Scorn. On the other, David Cameron went to Oxford, naturally. And where was Gordon Brown miseducated? The University of Edinburgh. Being schooled overseas at what was probably formerly the Polytechnic of Scotland or something won't do. Cameron it is.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The actions of one effect us all

I am still shaking like a jelly in an earthquake at the sheer cheek of Donnie Fiddly at Divide about the supposed excessive wage culture in the umbrella sector. I have asked my deputy Hector Rule to write him a letter (his handwriting is better than mine but that in no way makes me unfit in itself to run anything). Hector made some splendid points and finished off by offering Donnie out for a fight.

Donnie may have only been referring to the few cases of ludicrous pay in our sector but he has to remember that highlighting the one or two examples that are out of line tars everyone else with the same brush. Or to put it another way, it only takes one loose cannon to bollocks it up for the entire sector.

To try and calm down last night I watched Harry Potter. What a pile of sub-Blyton shite that was. There were points whether I wondered if it was really meant for children.

And fabulous news this morning as Maggie Pott, chief executive of Tomorrow's Brollies, which seeks to find ungainful employment for redundant umbrellas, has been made a pier by David Cameron. She has to stand in the sea at Southend while balancing fish and chip shops, roller coasters and amusement arcades on her back.

I ring to congratulate her. She is momentarily phased, which is a bit of a blow as I only meant to faze her.

Monday, 9 November 2009

People who live in glass houses, shouldn't.

Oooooh, I am HOPPING MAD. I have got my knickers so far in a twist that I frighten dogs when I speak. I have got myself into so much of a lather that Fab Jobsworth is using me as shaving foam. I am so heated that you could fry an egg on my forehead. (I only said "could", incidentally Hector. I didn't expect you to take me literally and leave me with egg all over my face.)

Why am I so incandescent with rage? Donnie Fiddly, head of the Divide union, has made some comments about excessive salaries in the umbrella industry, while he sits there on his fat pension-plan protected arse earning millions of pounds a year plus perks and bonuses.

I am not saying he doesn't deserve it - his is a challenging role for a complex organisation and anyone who can climb the greasy pole and stay at the top for years in a job they are clearly unfit for gets my full admiration. But leave the brolly sector out of it, eh Donnie?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Dinner, conference, party, exhaustion

Feeling a bit better now so I’ll write up the bits I can remember of the last few days.

The pre-conference dinner on Wednesday evening went off incredibly well. We had 8 MPs, 2 permed secretaries, 3 mincers and the head of the no. 2 policy unit. So plenty of meat for my members to get stuck into, though on reflection we probably should have served chicken rather than roasted human flesh.

I had to have a quiet word in the umbrella minister Veronica “Gubbins” Squif’s shell-like after she took the piss gently out of me during her speech. No one gets away with that. And when talking to an influential guest with the ear of the Chancellor, I slipped him a micky then tattooed the words “Umbrella Bank needed urgently” on his forehead.

It ended up being a late night but it was an early start at the conference the next day, where we had more top speakers than you could shake a brolly at. Although I did try.

I kicked things off with some wise words from Genesis. In many ways the situation that BUBB is in at the minute as an organisation mirrors this pop combo’s own in the mid 70s. I am obviously Peter Gabriel – flamboyant, larger than life, sometimes incomprehensible while Hector is Phil Collins. Quiet, steady and providing the strong backbeat that underpins my own work, while waiting patiently to unseat me and change direction. And then release a series of ever-increasingly bland MOR solo records.

As Phil put it himself:

“Just as I thought it was going alright
I find out I'm wrong, when I thought I was right
It's always the same, it's just a shame, that's all

Running around, staying out all night
Taking it all instead of taking one bite
It's always the same, it's just a shame, that's all

I could leave but I won't go
Though my heart might tell me so
I can't feel a thing from my head down to my toes

So why does it always seem to be
Me looking at you, you looking at me
It's always the same, it's just a shame, that's all”

I can’t remember all of the presentations as I was twittering away like a good ’un (“If you follow me, I will follow you”) rather than concentrating. But my Great Aunt Maud and Vanessa Doublechin both sounded eloquent and erudite without actually saying much.

BUBB’s own Northern soul, Ben N’Jerry also quoted some Genesis.

“Ooh, Superman where are you now
When everything's gone wrong somehow?
The men of steel, the men of power
Are losing control by the hour

There's too many men, too many people
Making too many problems
And not much love to go round
Can't you see this is a land of confusion?

Well this is the world we live in
And these are the hands we're given
Use them and let's start trying
To make it a place worth living in

I won't be coming home tonight
My generation will put it right
We're not just making promises
That we know, we'll never keep”

Some appropriate philosophy there I am sure we can all agree.

Then it was off to party. The brilliant Fab Jobsworth had got hold of some fireworks but there was a bit of an incident involving Barkles. The age-old safety rule says that pets should be kept indoors on bonfire night. However, I can report that this is daft advice if you decide to light fireworks in your house. Unfortunately a stray rocket set fire to the hound’s back leg. Geof Sachell responded instantly by dousing the poor mutt in champers, while I shouted out “Don’t waste the good stuff”. We had a good laugh afterwards, especially when my superb head of comms, Marina McMoan joked that we should rename the singed creature “Sparkles”, which ironically is the name of the dog in my spoofer Stephen Bubb’s blog.

It is all a bit of a blur after that but I must have gone for a late night bike ride if the evidence presented in this picture taken the next day is anything to go by.

As I blog I look at the lemon that my sister gave me and contemplate how many BUBBles I have consumed over my 5X years.

Friday, 6 November 2009


Not. Feeling. Great. Will. Resume. Blog. About. Dinner. Conference. Party. Over. The. Weekend. It. Has. Taken. Me. Ten. Minutes. To. Type. This.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Anyone want to see a picture of me as a baby?

I will write some in-depth waffle from our conference today later. The important thing to say for now is that lunch was tremendous, really first rate. There have been some presentations as well, but they are just filler really between the coffee breaks and lunch.
And as word has somehow leaked out via the twittering classes, my supposed-to-be-private birthday party is tonight at the Well Oiled Brolly Tavern, East Lambeth. If you want to attend you need to knock three times on the back door.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Meeting heroes: Jack, Mandela and Reggie

Another early start! Barkles was not impressed at missing out on his walk once again while I swanned off leaving a trail of exclamation marks behind me! This time a breakfast at BUBB's offices (which I found after asking a friendly local bobby) with Jack "Far right" Herbert MP, the Tory spokesperson for DefRoes. Having come across Jack on quite a few occasions now I am deeply impressed. He is one of the Tories and will be in power soon so I will say what it takes to keep him sweet. Bright, thoughtful and charming. I'm a fan. And shameless.

This is also in no way connected to the fact that when he had the justice brief he was clear the brolly sector had to play a much bigger delivery role inside and outside prisons. Quite right. You can smuggle a lot of contraband into chokey inside a gamp.

We began with a little banter on meat eating (as you don't, usually!) when I asked him what he was planning to do on farting cows . "Ride 'em like the gassy broncos they truly are," he replied instantly. His recent blog was eloquent on the glories of roast beef and the iniquity of the recent Stern pronouncement on cutting out meat eating to save the planet. Heaven forbid that we should give up prime hunks of steak for the greater good.

This led to comments on the absence of bacon butties in the BUBB breakfast offering, though the Lidl rice krispies were particularly excellent. Jack argues, correctly in my view, that we need to encourage people to be sustainable rather than penalise them. If people are told they can't eat meat then it risks turning them away from taking sustainability seriously. We must beware the "hair shirt" brigade who want to scare and punish us all. Hear, hear! No hair shirt tendency at BUBB I can assure you! We will go to great lengths and personal sacrifice to prove we don't have a hair shirt mentality and will punish ourselves rigorously in pursuit of presenting such an impression.

I then had a meeting with some geezer with a normal name that I can't even begin to bother spoofing, from LURCH (London Umbrella Recycling Community Hub). He told me how the Victorian Umbrella Loving Vintage Association had offered the local council a deal to provide rain protection in their parks with their splendid old age brollies. An offer refused by the Council who contract this out! Government has to realise that the umbrella sector can play a useful role on many levels.

I then had a meeting with a Global Hero, but at many removes. I was meeting 3 of the bar staff at a pub frequented by South Africans. It's a real privilege to buy a drink from people who lived in the same country as the Mandela family. There are few figures more admired globally than Nelson Mandela and what a thrill it is to now be able to tenuously and shamelessly use his kudos for my own personal benefit, especially as in the 80s I was active in opposing the wickedness of the South African apartheid regime by boycotting Chenin Blanc and cape oranges. Probably.

Then on to a meeting with another Hero (and I do use the capital H for grovelling effect) of our sector, the great Sir Reggie Coining. Reggie is not just one of the pioneers of venture capital in the UK but the author of the idea of a umbrella investment bank here, funded by unclaimed brollies. He must be so disappointed at how the government have let him down, especially considering how much dosh he has donated to the Labour party in the hope of deflecting attention away from his own very cosy non-domiciled tax arrangements.

It is one of the joys and honour of the BUBB role that I am able to meet with such eminent and interesting people, whether they like it or not. And hopefully to convert those contacts into making real change for our membership . I think that is what is called a caveat for endless hob-nobbing and name dropping.

Finally, I am wondering whether I should trade in the Blackberry for an i-Phone. Or as I call them, a me-me-me-Phone. Waddya reckon? Could make a nice birthday present for myself.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Measuring impact impact impact impact impact

Everyone wants to measure the social as well as the economic impact of umbrella organisations. And so there are some 70 different impact measurement tools around. What I want to do is find an impact measurement tool to measure the impact of different impact measurement tools. And then create something to measure the impact of that tool and so on ad nauseum in a never-ending spiral of measuring rather than actually doing anything.

I saw a great example of impact measurement from Germany today, pioneered at Doodlebug University, and as soon as I have it translated into Bogglish so I can properly determine whether it is bollocks or not, I will let you have the powerpoint slides. But before then I would never dream of promoting something I don't really understand just because it fits in with my not so hidden agenda.

And it is all systems go for our annual conference on Thursday (and don't forget, it is my birthday as well - feel free to lay on your birthday wishes via the comments box or Twitter). I am looking forward to cheerfully saying that the worst of the recession is yet to bite, in a very smug way. To be honest there have been times when I did worry whether the umbrella sector would suffer as badly as I predicted but thankfully it looks like the time-lag effect is going to be positive, at least for my soothsayer reputation, if not for my members.

Celebrating All Saints

Yesterday marked the 16th anniversary of All Saints so I went to a special sing song event. Readers who know of my almost fanatical devotion to the vocal charms of "umbrella-ell-ella" chanteuse Rihanna will not be surprised that in the 1990s the Appleton sisters, Melanie Blatt and Shaznay Lewis rocked my world with their exquisite female harmonies, infectious melodies and philosophical lyrics.

A group of fans get together every year to have a massive karaoke party where we belt out gems from their peerless back catalogue.

An extra treat this year was the attendance of the Anglican church's arch-pop-culture-bishop, Dr Rowan Williams (pictured). Obviously he came in disguise and removed his false beard to escape media attention but he led the chorus on "Never Ever" which was a real treat.

Also present was one of London's leading karaoke exponents, our intern Jan Tygers, who is currently working on BUBB's policy of sucking up to the Tories. Not only does he earn the distinction of being one of the first work experience bods in history to be spoofed in a blog but he has a fine set of pipes. He does not sing in the office, or not so as I have noticed but then I wouldn't have as I am never there. My staff could be hosting whole productions of The Ring in my absence for all I know.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Rain pelteth

Sitting in the waiting room at the hospital so plenty of time to blog, tweet and catch up with emails. After a successful eye operation earlier in the year I am booked in for follow up surgery. While the initial procedure went well, a slight correction is required as apparently I am squinting too far to the right as the general election approaches.

I seem to have upset the BBA (British Banking Apologists) with my comments last week about its chief executive, Lotte Shight. Apparently she didn't say we should all "move on" from the banking cock-up. This was a quote wrongly attributed to her by the press and then repeated by popular satirical news programme Have I Got Paraphrased News for Those Who Believe Everything They See on the Telly. OK, Lotte, I am prepared to apologise but stop whinging about it eh? Move on, darling, move on.

I also decide that perhaps I should retire from Twitter as there is too much unpleasantness and bad puns on there. However, my big decision provokes little reaction, other than "well sod off then" which is bloody typical. When Stephen "national treasure" Fry gets a little grumpy and threatens to stop it is BBC news. When I do it, nothing. I even have to set up my own "Save Robin Bogg" campaign. But people need to see the bigger picture. Twitter would soon fold without me and my 167 followers.

My spirits are lifted, however after a stroll by the Thames. I have an excellent lunch at the Ponce de la Tour which is of course where Bill Clinton once had an overpriced steak with Tony and Cherie. This gives me a shameless opportunity to include a picture of Bill with the umbrella I gave him in New York recently.

Note that I am not in the picture as I am taking it. If I were to be in it as well it would look suspiciously like I had asked someone to record the apparently casual and unstaged moment for posterity.

While this is a spurious reason to include a photo I think I can do better. I muse upon the journey of the Thames to the sea and how the seas join the ocean and if you keep going you might land up on a Pacific island where the natives are head hunters, just like my good friend Donald Holding (click on the link for a reminder of what he can do for you as I rarely mention it myself).

Admittedly, Donald's publicity material is a little basic. It was designed by someone he headhunted (Oxford graduate, naturally) but unfortunately their strengths were in poetry not graphic design.

Speaking of poetry, Blacbury looked splendid at the weekend as it was pissing it down. The whole town was like to bubbles when rain pelteth (I don't want to be patronising and arrogant now but I am going to be anyway - rain pelteth is a poetic allusion to those schooled on the national curriculum and so unaware of poetry. Obviously only those of us who have had proper education could possibly even begin to hope to enjoy literature.)

Friday, 30 October 2009

Twitter ye not

Getting myself out of bed early this morning was no laughing matter as there was an orchestra of hammers playing the 1812 overture in my aching noggin. I was supposed to be fresh for a meeting at number 10 with Vanessa Doublechin of the Cabinet Office and the Witchfinder-General Sandy Burnham-Drownham. However, I had a tupperware party at my East Lambeth pad last night for local talent, which all got a bit messy.

I invited my counsellor and two dynamic, nay brilliant Lambeth brolly vendors, and we were joined by my irrepressible and irreplaceable director of strategy Fab Jobsworth. I am a bit worried that Fab will look to move on to bigger and better things soon but fortunately employment contracts at BUBB are carefully worded so that using such terms about someone as “irreplaceable” in a blog essentially ties them into the role until I say they can go. And I can always create a new role at BUBB, then get Donald Holding at Feudal to headhunt Fab for it so that DH gets a slice of commission.

My counsellor had just bought a new brolly so needless to say we got stuck into the cheap fizz. We sorted out the problems of the brolly sector but were too battered to remember any of it.

We also hit upon an ingenious, or so I thought, plan to both discredit BUBB’s shiny new Herbert-lite nemesis Dylan Twirley at the National Association for Visor and Canopy Action (NAVCA), and simultaneously raise the profile of BUBB’s pouting cover-girl deputy-chair the gorgeous Hillda Ogden-Newton&Ridley.

Fab explained that he knew how to hack into other people’s Twitter accounts, a skill he learned doing spy studies at Oxford, naturally. We thought it would be a wheeze to post some ludicrous comments from Twirley about Hillda having a veneer of allurability or something, thus giving her a chance to respond magnificently and show up the quisling prison-denier for what he is.

However, it has all got a bit out of hand and an unseemly row as broken out, with some childish snidery on Twitter. It is quite sad that these new social media outlets are being used in place of the more traditional forums for debate. What is wrong with sounding off when drunk in a blog, for instance, like we did in the old days? Sometimes, the world moves on too quickly to the benefit of no one.

The other big event this week was the Brolly Investment Business (formerly Umbrellabuilders) away day, which we held in Blacbury. I am firm believer in away days as a way of both avoiding the office and getting everyone into a new and different environment to informally discuss things. Holding it just down the road from my Blacbury cottage was ideal as it meant I could keep nipping home to get some domestic chores done.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Like observers at the scene of a car crash

Had a scrummy breakfast with a banker this morning. Croissants and kippers on the taxpayer. Obviously, as I have said many times, bankers are still Satan’s sneezejuice. But they shouldn’t all be tarred with the same brush and some, such as the ones buying me breakfast and sponsoring our conference, are not too bad.

But the most evil person on earth is surely Lotte Shight, head of the BBA (British Banking Apologists). She continues to defend the whole sorry shower and is operating way beyond her remit by heading a trade association and pig-headedly sticking up for her members’ interests whether they are to the benefit of the wider community or not. Something you would never catch BUBB or any other representative membership organisation doing. She says we should all “move on” from the banking shambles. “Move on?” We’re not sodding gypsies near a middle class market town.

All we need now is some economic analysis from the pampered, privileged numpties in the Royal Family. Then the giddiest of all the biscuits will truly have been taken.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Lunch with Marilyn Pullman MP

We had Marilyn Pullman MP in for cucumber baps and butties yesterday as part of our ambitious plan to meet everybody who might be involved with the next Tory government. We were very fortunate she could make the time as she often struggles to find an affordable nanny for childcare.

As well as her providing a fascinating insight into her background in the umbrella sector, it also means that in the last week I have met up with three Tory MPs with, shall we say, less than flattering back stories concerning expense claims. I am taking the opportunity to get as many tips as I can.

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

I can't make my mind up about bankers

Some people make the mistake that brolly investment is all about large organisations but in reality it can have a powerful impact at a small, community level. Which is why despite no one being agreed on how it should operate, I am once again urging the government to get on with setting up the Umbrella Bank and calling on the private banks to release the hoards of unclaimed brollies they are sitting on. It would garner the evil bastards some positive publicity and would be peanuts in comparison to the bonuses they continue paying themselves. Still, you know what these bankers and City types are like. You wouldn’t catch me cosying up to them.

Had a splendid dinner last night at the arch-Conservative hang-out, the Blue Rinse Club….not often I get to dine out in such a right-wing hell-hole (a sign of the times you might think, as in make sure I am in with the soon-to-be-powers-that-be?)

Dinner was organised by my vice chair at BIB, the great Millicent Chegwin (former investment banker). Also there was My Great Aunt Maud MP (former investment banker) and loads of other City suits. I know, I know, I am unbelievable aren’t I?

The power of balloons

Yesterday evening saw me with a bunch of balloons at Aldgate East...for the launch of something or other that Brolly Investment Business is involved in. I figure balloons are the way forward when seeking publicity. The original (or virgin) balloon boy, Richard Branson, garnered huge column inches for his repeated crashes.

However, in true Branson style our original plan went badly wrong. We overdid the helium on the bunch that Fab Jobsworth was holding and a strong gust of wind sent him soaring towards Canada. All attempts to get the rescue services involved floundered as people thought we were just copying the balloon boy hoax. The police seemed to think that Fab would emerge later in the BUBB attic. Fab - do send us a postcard from the Niagara Falls if you make it.

Our launch event was at a splendid canape making social enterprise "Beyond the Pale". Their manifesto says it all: "We believe getting together to munch posh food while chewing the fat of the world's problems is great." It's a philosophy we rather believe in at BUBB.

So like the balloons taking off over East London our stomachs are overinflated and full of gas.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A call for action

Friends, colleagues, Hubert

I am seeking your assistance. The organisers of the Chain Reaction event on 12 November are asking for donations of umbrellas to keep delegates dry, should it rain (and let's hope it does), as accessing some of the workshop space will involve a very short walk outside. Click here for more details.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Counting the cost

You know how it is when you are away on holiday or business. You glibly invite everyone you meet to come and stay with you if they are ever in your area. You never really expect they will so you can imagine my surprise when a coach party of Japanese umbrella enthusiasts rocked up to my house in Blacbury over the weekend. They were people I had apparently met during my launch tour of JUBBLIES in Japan a month or so ago.

What could I do? It would have been extremely rude to have turned them away so that was obviously my initial plan. But they ended up crashing on my floor. And then ate all of my croissants. And fishfingers (raw).

One good thing came out of it, however. A few years ago BUBB developed a full cost recovery toolkit to enable umbrella manufacturers to calculate the true cost of making umbrellas and the resultant value of them to society to ensure that they then charge a fair price. We had millions of these things printed and have not even come close to recovering our costs on producing it despite ceaseless plugging of it at conferences. As such, I have boxes of the wretched thing in my shed.

Luckily I was able to do a deal with the Japanese on them taking them off my hands. Apparently, the type of paper they are printed on is ideal for origami. Result.

Today I am back in the office unfortunately but on the plus side it is BUBB's annual "bring your pet to work day" so Barkles will get a chance to terrorise Fab Jobsworth's rare breed pig (Oxford Sandy & Black, naturally). I expect Geof Sachell will bring in his pet snake (and then pretend it has gone missing in my office) while Hector will doubtless bring in his parrot to repeat everything I say. The rest of the staff will bring in their sheep (Oxford Down, naturally) which will then unquestionably follow me about the office all day. Should be fun.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Pay as you go

Another busy week. I finally managed to pop into BUBB's offices briefly but won't be doing that again for awhile. Half the staff struggled to recognise me and Hector (I assume it was him) had left a whoopee cushion on my seat and hung all my reproduction Magritte pictures upside down.

Fortunately there has been plenty happening out of the office to occupy me. We have launched our annual survey of remuneration in the umbrella sector. Many vendors of brollies have reported that they have frozen the price of brollies due to the recession. Additionally plenty of chief executives across all sectors have had their pay capped meaning they cannot lavish vast sums on brollies, further dampening (pun very much intended) brolly inflation.

This is a situation that cannot be allowed to continue. I for one have an expensive lifestyle to maintain and this relies on a thriving umbrella sector. Those Lidl frozen dinners and croissants won't pay for themselves. We need more activity from gamp headhunters such as, now let me see, Donald Holding at Feudal, to keep the pressure up on prices by offering ridiculous sums to poach exceptional brollies. And I trust those rich, smug bastards at JPMorgan et al will be spending their bonuses on rain protection as well.

We also had a bored, sorry, board away day. I spent most of it tweeting on my Blackberry under the desk but everyone else seemed to find it interesting.

We then had a meeting for all members interested in running prisons. We should also hold one I suppose for members vehemently opposed to the idea so as to be truly representative for all of our membership. But we won't bother.

One of our members suggested that we rename ourselves BeelzeBUBB, as we just do what we want and to hell with the consequences. As always, the devil is in the detail.

Looking forward to a weekend in Blacbury. It is harvest festival at St Gubbyns so a great excuse to palm off all those tins of economy baked beans that have been going dusty in my pantry onto old folk in the name of community and charity.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

A bad day for censorship

My efforts to suppress reporting on the time I dumped a consignment of stolen brollies in Africa have finally come to an end. For three years my lawyers Barter-Bucks have successfully bullied any media outlet which has tried to write about this. But thanks to some do-gooder bleeding heart liberal press banging on about freedom of speech, and a load of people with nothing better to do on Twitter, my anonymity has been blown.

The irony is that no one really cared about the original act and by going to such ends to keep it quiet I have only succeeded in drawing more attention to it.

But rest assured that any publications that have tried to stitch me up on this (mentioning no names the Blacbury Bugle) will find me less willing to provide quotes on brolly-related matters in the future.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Seize the day, go on, just bloody well SEIZE IT

I receive a quick note from a journalist at Brolly Times ("A little bit Canopy Finance, a little bit Brolly Weekly, but not as good as either") asking for my reaction that David Cameron's speech at the Tory party conference failed to mention umbrellas at all. I don't see this as an issue. It didn't mention "looking after rich bastards" either but we know that is what they will do.

If you read closely enough between the lines, and believe me, I have, then what he actually didn't explicitly say at all but is still clearly apparent if you have imagination is that the umbrella sector will basically be running everything from hospitals to prisons to Little Chefs.

We need to be ready to seize the day so that we hit the ground running when the Tories get in. We need to educate the public that we are a multi-billion pound force in the economy who spend money wisely and don't waste it on expensive media campaigns educating the public that we are a multi-billion pound force in the economy who spend money wisely.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Peace and science

I am not happy about being pipped once again for the Nobel Peace Prize. I have travelled the world selflessly spreading umbrellas and peace. Yet Obama's tinkering around the diplomatic edges and merely engaging with the rest of the world at a more normal level (ie leaving America) than his predecessor and smiling a lot is deemed worthy of the cash, I mean honour.

But maybe I can aim for one of the science prizes next year. I am very excited to announce that we have nearly secured funding for a new project. We intend to fire brollies at the moon to try and establish whether there is rain there. Rumours that Hector Rule will be strapped to the same rocket are yet to be confirmed.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

A great honour

Well, Team BUBB certainly know how to enjoy themselves! (When they're not being bored shitless at endless party political conferences, obviously). After a busy day listening to Tory after Tory making style over substance policy announcements, our 48 strong contingent took themselves off to the Brolly Pride evening and had a hoot.

It was held in a dingy canal-side cellar bar where one imbibes looking constantly over their shoulder lest their Blackberry gets snaffled. That master of headhunting and search Donald Holding gets another plug here FOR NO APPARENT REASON.

All work and no play makes Bogg a dull boy, not to mention his team so we got into the party mood (at no cost to our members...other than reputational).

I was fair bleary eyed when I headed back to London for a meeting of the honours committee, which decides which umbrellas should be recognised for outstanding service. The system has its critics with some people claiming it unfairly favours umbrellas owned by the rich or civil servants. But that isn't the case these days and at least 2 poor people have had their gamps rewarded in the last five years. The honours range from MBE (Member of the Brolly Elite) to Companion of the Order of the Shower. There is also a special Pantomime Dame of the Brolly Empire award given to entertainers who have camped it up with a brolly to great effect. Robbie Williams, Take That and the precocious squirt who pranced his way to Britain's Got Talent glory last year have all been recipients of this.

Basically we sit down and dish out gongs willy-nilly for several years and hope that that will entitle us to our own reward when the Queen has a birthday.

I have also been putting the finishing touches to plans for our big annual conference. I won't give too much away, otherwise you won't come. But I can say that it will be held on November 5th, which also happens to be my birthday so God knows what sort of state I will be in by the end of the day - there could well be fireworks.

I also hope that I avoid the sort of pranks that used to be played upon me at school when other kids would wheel me around as a sort of street fundraising device then throw me onto a bonfire.

Cabinet office minister Vanessa Doublechin will be making the keynote speech so that should be 30 minutes of your life you won't get back. See you there.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Staffing issues

Another busy day at the Tory "promise the earth" summit. However, I have had to deal with an act of gross insubordination from Fab Jobsworth. He was caught in a rain shower while queuing to get through security and whinged on Twitter about it. He even had the cheek to moan about buying an emergency umbrella.

He is a silly sausage coming to Manchester without a brolly, and even then, should rejoice in the act of buying a new one. It's people's forgetfulness that keeps the spokes of the gamp industry opening. He will be punished in my usual way - a kind of water-boarding torture but involving heavy drizzle where the victim has to stand outside in the rain and plead for a brolly. I pretend I can't hear him for up to 7 hours after which time he is allowed back inside.

All go on the lip service front!

What a result. There can clearly be no greater sign of sincere Conservative party seriousness to the umbrella sector than holding its annual conference in Manchester, rain capital of England. And BUBB are here in force. I may even bump into some of my cherished Northern members but let's hope not, eh?

The first day was an impressive roll call of Tory politicians and hangers-on telling us exactly what we want to hear. Rhetoric and empty promises are the order of the day here but seriously, when have politicians ever made pledges they don't keep when elected? It simply does not happen. Therefore we can enter the election period safe in the knowledge that such luminaries as Rick "All Systems Go" T'Hurd, Dom Blond and my Great Aunt Maud have committed to a greater role for the umbrella sector in service provision and an umbrella bank. And they'll let us run prisons. And, when capital punishment is reintroduced, we will have a key role implementing the Markov method - poisoning people with poison tipped brollies. That will stop them claiming incapacity benefits.

Hubert Carrington of NCVO has been lording it. He didn't take well to my comment about the inappropriateness of him hosting a "fringe" event. "All the great leaders have been bald, Robin," he snorted. "Oh yeah," I replied. "Which ones? Blair? Bhutto? Sugar? The Viscount Goderich?"

"Churchill. Just Churchill," he chuckled. "Oh and possibly Steve Gritt."

The only low point has been the croissants. If you really want to keep the oiks out and let's face it the Tories do, £4.50 is far too cheap a price to pay for a quality reheated flaky-Franco-pastry breakfast snack.

Oh, I have decided to introduce some low quality blurry shots of people speaking from all of these events I attend onto the blog so you can play "guess the speaker". And here's the first one. What do you reckon? I'll give you a clue. He went to Oxford, naturally. So that narrows it down at the Tory conference. To about a 1 in 2 chance.