Thursday, 28 May 2009

I am back for real

OK, I am properly back now. This is me, Robin Bogg, typing this all by myself. All my own thoughts and work, and not the words of anyone else pretending to be me. I have missed blogging while my eyes have been recovering but I realised it was pointless to try and type when I couldn't see the wood for the trees let alone the screen on my Blackberry so have reluctantly given it a miss for a few days. But a few tentative tweets on twitter have showed that when it comes to typing I haven't lost it and I am ready to blog.

I get out hospital tomorrow and have decided to go away for the weekend. It was a tough decision as to where I should go. Usually there is only one destination - Oxford, naturally. But I feel the call of the seaside so will be off to Bog(g)nor Regis.

Today I am catching up on emails and doing a bit of mindBoggling around BUBB's new strapline but more of that in a future blog. What I do want to do is quell any nasty rumours that are circulating about me. There has been some unpleasant tittle tattle (no doubt started by Hector Rule) that my trip to hospital was nowt but a ruse to lie low while the furore around my second home allowance and expenses died down. I can categorically deny this was the case as well as any suggestion that I have acted outside of the rules (set by me) regarding what I can claim from BUBB funds.

A key part of my job is assessing umbrellas both in urban and rural environments therefore it is entirely right that I need a cottage in Blacbury as well as my flat in East Lambeth. And how I juggle these arrangements in my tax returns is between me and the tax adviser (paid for by BUBB). And I will argue very strongly that such items as a house for my rubber duck, a ditch round the walls of the cottage, croissants, rubber bands and a hedge trimmer are essential to my job. So I hope that sets the record straight.

One final note. I see today that "loathe him or hate him, you just can't love him, can of worms opener in chief, shit stirrer extraordinaire" Aaron Brothel has quit his role as director of umbrella comparison website Unintelligible Drizzling. Aaron has certainly made a bit of hornet's nest carnage in the umbrella sector with his controversial views on umbrellas but he is a nice chap who only wanted to increase accountability and transparency. And that was his mistake. People don't want transparent umbrellas on the whole. They want a traditional black or stripy opaque fabric so they can hear the rain drumming down, not see it as well.

Aaron is off to become a geography teacher, a role I am sure he is eminently qualified for through his sweater collection. He will be replaced by Robert Swamp (a fellow chap who shares his name with a water-based geographical feature) who until recently was head of the GampImPact coalition, a woolly collection of umbrella enthusiasts also banging on about accountability and devising impact measurement tools to assess the effectiveness of umbrellas. You know the sort of thing, coming up with a metric to calculate how much dampness your Lyle & Scott avoids by using a golf umbrella thus extending its life by x years, or the amount of embarrassment saved by having a carefully sculpted hair do preserved by the protection of a pink handbag dolly brolly. Well meaning but all nonsense of course, and now that BUBB has taken over the running of GampImPact we'll stop all of that immediately.

Saturday, 23 May 2009


Sorry about the last post. I can't see a bloody thing at the minute after my eye operation (I am dictating these words to Fab Jobsworth who is typing them into my Blackberry) but I was so bored I tried to do a quick blog even though I am supposed to be resting. Apparently it came out as complete gibberish. So no change there.

AND I am completely furious with my deputy Hector Rule. I am told that he posted something last night pretending to by me. He must have guessed my password (Oxford, naturally) and logged on to my account. I will deal with his insubordination when I am out of hospital (I may send him to talk to our Irish and Scottish counterparts as a punishment) but for now, for the record, I refute everything Hector said in my name, especially the bit about sending a Xmas card to Hubert Carrington.

Fab. Fab. Stop looking at the nurses and concentrate. Fab. Did you hear me? Are you getting all of this down? Yes? Good.

Right, where was I. Oh yes, Hector's fake post. Rest assured that when my eyesight has recovered I will be up and running as normal, indeed the rest period may give me greater gusto to pursue my obsessions. OK Fab, that's enough. Can you go and get me a lilt please?

Asg ca cjksjhkl

Gdkja cjhbc clhlhcn kliefh ije. odh CAJDH KLHhl lkaniquiur8n c qijn ihqin ihdih ldhq James Purnell Hlkdlj lichjli ah cjkow c lkijipa ijcpi clkl.

Friday, 22 May 2009

I am back

Well the operation wasn't as bad as I feared and I have missed blogging. Lying around in hospital has given me time for reflection. I have decided to tone down my abrasive style of leadership, stick Hubert Carrington of the National Canopy and Visor Organisation (NCVO) back on my Xmas card list and reign in my criticism of governance. I accept that setting up an umbrella investment bank is not something to be rushed and will engage less grudgingly with other organisations.

I must be going as the nurses are doing their rounds and will confiscate my Blackberry if they find out what I am doing.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

Boggus blubus blogus interuptus

I am sorry to report that this will be my last blog for a few days. At an appraisal meeting with my chair and the board yesterday I was told that I lacked vision and an eye for detail, and was short sighted in my strategic approach. Therefore I have booked myself in for some corrective surgery to get my peepers sorted. I go under the knife tomorrow and will be out of action for a bit. I have been told that Blackberrys are banned in hospitals but I am going to pay no attention to that so as soon as I have had the bandages removed I will be back blogging away, also ignoring any medical advice about resting my eyes and staying off work. Apart from anything else, I can't let Hector Rule have too much time running the show or else I may find I don't have a job to go back to. See you soon.

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Governnace (sic) and the Umbrella Commission


The Umbrella Commission MUST do more to help and give the power to chairs and boards to reign in the excesses of maverick chief executives.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Tied up in knots

I have never been one of those fashion fascists who subscribes to the view that just because someone (usually a bloke) ties a bit of colourful cloth around their neck it automatically somehow makes them smarter and more important. It doesn't. It just means they have tied a bit of colourful cloth around their neck. Or willingly subjected themselves to the noose of the klothing kommandants.

That is not to say that Robin Bogg is not a dapper dresser. My Matalan suits are as sharp as anything those ace faces might wear. Its just I don't see the need to dangle striped polyester material from around my collar. It's no good having silken button covering scruff frippery if the rest of the look is scruffy. As Satre once said: "Un vagabond dans une cravate est toujours un vagabond."

Indeed far from elevating its wearer to some exalted plain of sartorial splendour it can have the opposite effect. Exhibit A: The comedy cartoon character tie. And does any apologist for neck embellishment really find that gingham gland garniture is enhanced by the food stains that inevitably appear? There is no more amusing but demeaning sight than a room full of city types, slurping soup with ties thrown back over their shoulders, in an attempt to keep cream of tomato off their dry clean only Tie Rack throat trim.

I am obviously a fan in principle of the notion of the old school tie as a means of appointing staff. But I see it as more as theoretical part of the interview process rather than a literal requirement of garb. The need for a nape cape is just another way that the powers that be have used to stop Robin Bogg gaining access to those in the know, as illustrated by an incident yesterday.

I was strolling along Piccadilly enjoying a morning shower when I suddenly came over a bit unnecessary. So I ducked into the Ritz to use its fantastic toilets. 30 minutes later I came out into the foyer where there was a scrum of security and press. "Not again," I thought. Can't a man answer the call of nature in a plush West End hotel without ending up in jail and splashed all over the papers, as happened when I ruined the carpet at the Hilton. But then I spotted that amidst the posse was former US President Bill Clinton.

They all headed down the corridor into a room with the sign "Strictly by invitation only" slapped on the door but I managed to sneak in and grab a seat at the back and settled down to hear the wise words of a man history has judged better than it should simply by not being as bad as what immediately followed.

Charming, charismatic and self assured. But enough about me. Clinton was rude, dour and nervous. 50 minutes of waffle from someone who seemed to think that just because he was the most powerful man in the world we all want to listen to his opinions. Not one word about umbrellas. At the end of his endless piffle stream I took the opportunity to ask him a question I had wanted to for years.

"Got any cigars, Bill?"

He didn't like that and said something along the lines of "Oi you scruffy limey, where's your tie?" before asking his heavy mob to eject me from the hotel for breaching its dress code. I managed a witty "I hope your greetings card shops all go bankrupt" as I was airborne through the grand entrance before thudding onto the Piccadilly pavement.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Grey sky thinking

It has been a wet and blustery weekend and a question I received on Twitter on Friday highlights one of the issues for modern umbrellas. Someone called Peter Kyle (which I suspect is a pseudonym my deputy, Hector Rule, uses to make mischief and keep me on my toes) wanted guidance on how to prevent his umbrella turning itself inside out in the wind. I said what I always say to such questions. Stay inside. Or buy a better brolly.

To put it bluntly, the quality of a lot of gamps on the market is appalling, they simply aren't good enough to withstand even the merest of breezes. So I have spent some time this weekend brainstorming with myself (a process I call mindBoggling) and my grey sky thinking and thinking outside the spokes, to use two further examples of Boggspeak, have resulted in my latest brainwave.

What we need is a quality standard to which all umbrellas must conform. And I propose this be called the Bogg Standard. It would need to be rigorously implemented but at least the public could be assured that anything carrying the requisite kitemark (perhaps a picture of a Robin, or a bog) wasn't going to collapse just because a dog three streets away farted the week before.

No doubt someone will point out that a quality assurance scheme for brollies etc already exists, and yes it is true that Canopies Evaluation Services have been promoting its MUGRETE (Maintaining Umbrella and Gamp Reliability, Excellence, Trustworthiness and Efficiency) initiative for almost 11 years. But never let it be said that Robin Bogg is afraid of reinventing the wheel. Plagiarism, copying and repeating are three qualities much undervalued in this country. Not my words but those of some bloke I overheard at Lidl, who I have knicked them from to pass off as my own.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Job creation

It's been all systems go with the job creation scheme the government is implementing as a result of my persistent badgering of James Purnell. We have had a total of 48 launch events including a lunch launch, a launch lunch, a pre-launch lunch, a pre-lunch-pre-launch-brunch, a soft launch lunch, a hard lunch launch, a credit crunch lunch, and (on a hunch) a paunchy munch bunch launch lunch (with punch). Oh and a few breakfasts.

The result of all this trumpet blowing and buffet bothering as been the creation of many jobs with thousands of pounds of public money being paid to administrators, event organisers and caterers. Result. I should add that as befits anything to do with umbrellas, while some of the speeches have been lousy, the canopies have generally been excellent.

There has been a lot of assertion about the value of the scheme without much evidence to back it up and we have to be careful with this. Without a shred of evidence I assert very strongly that we need even more assertion and and less evidence if this thing is to fly. But overall it's been a great start and with a few more launches yet to come, we'll be keeping the events industry in employment for a while yet.

Of course this whole thing wouldn't be possible without James.

James James James Purnell
I love you so much that it makes me unwell
If you'll be my Basil, I'll be your Manuel
And let you harass me in a Torquay hotel

James James you're a true rising star
A dynamic performer who I'm sure will go far
I'm sorry I infringed your personal border
So please will you lift that restraining order

James James won't you come to your senses
For I can assist with your tax dodge expenses*
Which were so much more devious than those of Hal Pope**
A sign of your talent that should give us all hope

If you lose your umbrella I'll buy you another
If you need your flat cleaning I'll lend you my brother
James my affection is moderately sinister
I wish, oh I wish, you were umbrella minister

James James we can share many capers
I'll constantly shower you with policy papers
I give you permission to stroke my sweet dog
And I'll drop your sweet name all over my blog

**former umbrella minister

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Beards, spare ribs and governance

I was chatting to a guy called Philip at the Palace about my blog a couple of days ago. The Peking Palace that is where I went for an afternoon blow out with my deputy Hector (all you can eat for four quid before 4pm). Philip was sitting on an adjacent table minding his own business and working his way through a huge plate of spare ribs so I decided he looked well up for hearing about my blog. "What's a blog?" he asked. "Do you eat it? Is it on the menu here? If it ain't covered in spicy MSG based gloop, I ain't interested." Hector started chuckling and Philip snarled at him, "what's so funny beardie?"

I should explain at this point that Hector has been growing some ridiculous pseudo Sino style facial furniture that makes him look a bit like an old school Peking emperor. I won't repeat verbatim what Philip said next about Hector's chin chintz but rest assured it wasn't very complimentary about the Chinese, indeed had echoes of some well publicised racist gaffes that his namesake Prince has made over the years. Staff came rushing over to see what the commotion was and it all got a bit heated and confused. As a result Hector has been banned from the restaurant for life for mocking Chinese tradition with his whiskers and I have decided to ban facial hair for BUBB staff (male and female) as a precaution against any further incidents.

However, I have been much cheered by the publication of a new report about umbrella governance, Umbrella Matters, by those eggheads at New Fillcanopy Capital. For years I have been banging on about poor umbrella governance and it now seems that someone agrees with me. It is chaotic and needs sorting out. Umbrella owners must be allowed to receive payment for brolly custodianship or else we risk seeing more images such a these.

But too many people are interested in keeping the status quo, though quite what championing a bunch of aging three chord guitar rock heroes has to do with it I am not sure. These apologists for the current system argue that payment and abandoning the voluntary principle will lead to conflicts of interest and situations whereby the great and the good just take on more and more umbrellas simply to rake in the cash, without being able to dedicate adequate time to owning any of them properly. And I for one do not see a problem with that. The Umbrella Commission must act now.

Monday, 11 May 2009

Parallel lives

Sometimes the world of parody can become so entwined with the events it is spoofing it can get really confusing. As I have mentioned before I have a spoof blog, called Bubb's blog. Written by a fictional character called Stephen Bubb it is an entertaining read though a little unbelievable at times. The author, whoever it is (I suspect it is one of my staff) quite cleverly lampoons aspects of my colourful life and puts in me in slightly bizarre situations with hilarious consequences. They are also quite clever at pre-empting how I will react to certain situations and all in all given that even mocking publicity is good publicity I tolerate it with good humour.

But lately some of its content has started to affect the approach I take to my own real life existence and has got me in a bit of a tizz. Firstly, Stephen has developed an unhealthy interest in prisons and how charities should run them, (charities being the spoof blog's equivalent of umbrellas). A far fetched idea I am sure you will agree and completely beyond the boundaries of belief even by the standards of satire. But what I can't work out is what aspect of the umbrella scene Stephen is trying to parody as I have never had any interest in prisons being created for umbrellas or even designed along the classic circular spoke folding design. The night I spent in a Washington jail in March was more than enough to put me off the punitive incarceration approach to justice.

And then, Stephen announced he was moving. To a new house near Brixton prison. So entwined have our lives become that I didn't stop to think about it and have spent the weekend packing my belongings into tea chests for the house move that I must obviously be about to undertake myself. But it was only when I had wrapped the 234th umbrella from the loft in bubble wrap that it struck me that I had no intention of moving, indeed have nowhere lined up to move to. The whole packing exercise was some sort of sub-conscious behavioural decision based on the growing reality of the spoof blog in my own life.

I am now totally paranoid that Stephen knows something I don't and all the talk of prison and moving is an elaborate lead-up to my inevitable arrest later this week for one of the many dubious schemes I have been involved with in the past. Perhaps Stephen has a stack of evidence about me and the whole thing is code for me being rehoused in Brixton jail once the police get hold of it. Stephen, please, I beg of you, if you do have any documents that could incriminate me, keep them to yourself. After all, you need me blogging to keep your own spoof blog going and I don't think they allow Blackberrys in prison.

Friday, 8 May 2009

A right lottery

Today started with a breakfast meeting with my Umbrellabuilders chief executive, Donovan Morris, and Lester Twomore of the Brolly Lottery Fund. We have a good natter and catch up, which was pleasant enough but for some reason Donovan and Lester insist on having kedgeree. I hate kedgeree. If God had intended us to eat fish and rice for breakfast he wouldn't have invented croissants and coco pops, now would he?

I am a big admirer of the work Lester has done at BLF and its umbrella grants schemes have certainly come a long way from the early days when its reputation was clouded by such harebrained schemes as providing umbrellas for guinea pigs in Peru. But I do take the opportunity, when Donovan nips to the jacks, of ordering Lester in no uncertain terms to keep his greedy hands off the unclaimed umbrella loot. We want this to set up our umbrella bank yet there are rumours that the government has earmarked BLF to allocate it. Lester comes round to my way of thinking, especially once I have held his face over his kedgeree and almost choked him with his flashy tie, and all is back to normal once Donovan returns.

I head back to the office in good spirits, especially as it starts absolutely pissing down with rain. The streets are awash with colourful brollies and it fair puts a spring in my step.

However, there is trouble looming when I get to my desk. Apparently BUBB's trustees have somehow found out that our office cleaner, Kevin Bogg, is my brother. They are appalled that I have been paying him out of BUBB funds. Their concern isn't the obvious nepotism, indeed they applaud that, or that I have paid him too much. They say that by only paying him £2.50 an hour we run a reputational risk of not complying with the minimum wage. I have been ordered to put him on a salary of £6,500 a year (not bad for a few hours a week, almost as much as I get for chairing Umbrellabuilders), which is apparently the going rate for cleaners these days, and hope that the papers don't find out. I am not happy about this and it rather appears that Kevin has taken me to the cleaners.

Thursday, 7 May 2009


Genius. You can't buy it or teach it, it just happens in strokes. And I had a master one yesterday. The swine flu leaflet finally arrived and what waste of time. The only use I can see for it is as a temporary face mask. Full of instructions of what not to do, all very negative and typical of this nanny state government.

Don't forget to wash your hands
Don't sneeze on your dog
Don't spit in your neighbour's soup
Don't mix your drinks
Don't smoke in bed
Don't let it get you down
Don't stop til you get enough
Don't you (de de de de de de de) forget about me
Don't blame it on the sunshine


Good times


Anyway, I now realise that far from being a threat, this flu lark is an opportunity and there are great benefits to be had from catching it, especially for those early adopters. The initial UK cases secured a fair amount of news coverage and I am sure the patients have become local celebrities. 24 year old woman from Bristol area can't go wrong, can she? Few days of work, some spoons of jollop, Max Clifford on the case and I am sure she'll be opening supermarkets all over the South West in no time.

Already the returns on getting swine flu are diminishing and you now risk being lumped in as one of "four more confirmed cases in West of Scotland" rather than a victim in your own right, which hardly has the same cachet.

However, if managed properly there is still publicity to be had. Take all the schools shutting down. It all adds an extra air of exclusivity to the independent ones and raises the bar for the kitchen sink comps. I am sure once this all blows over parents will be queuing up to secure places for their kids, or moving house to change catchment area.

Which is why I have set BUBB staff the task of getting swine flu as quickly as possible so that we can milk the media cow for all its worth.

On a related point I notice we now have a swine flu tsar. There are loads of these tsars but I say, bring it on, we need even more. And more taskforces as well while we're at it. Tsars and taskforces (or czars and cazkforces). It's an approach to problem solving that sets the UK apart. What better images to illustrate the British way of sorting things out than rich, imperialist, Russian madmen and a convoy of battleships steaming in all guns blazing.

Obviously these all need monitoring which is why I propose a taskforce tsar (me), and a tsar taskforce (run by BUBB and chaired by me).

Finally, I have had the great fortune this week to have had a facebook encounter with a real God and guru of European umbrella academia, Dr Helmut Knobbgagg, a towering intellectual beacon of Euro cream on a rancid butter mountain of gampstration.

If only there was someone with the same brolly nous, kudos and clout in the UK. Sorry? What's that you say? There is? Who? Robbie? No? I can’t hear you. Oh Robin. Robin Bogg. Why, how very kind of you to say so. Just stick the peerage in the post, recorded delivery, fao a genius.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Mayday mayday

Not a great weekend. While you may have been enjoying the bank holiday by pruning the dog or taking your roses for a walk I was stuck at work. In hindsight my decision to lock myself in my office as a precaution against swine flu might have been a bit dramatic but you can't be too careful. However, it does mean I missed my DJ slot at the Blacbury bowls club gig and also the traditional prancing round the maypole on Blacbury village green yesterday. Indeed I had forgotten entirely it was a bank holiday at first and the penny only dropped when I realised that the reason none of my staff (Oxford, naturally) had turned up for work was not because they had all been struck down by the media's favourite porcine strain of a generally treatable and non-fatal illness.

I have not been entirely idle as there is always plenty to do. I have prepared a number of papers for James on subjects that neither I nor BUBB has anything to do with and have been working on plans for my new invention, a boggy (a portable loo in a buggy with integrated rain protection elements).

For those worried about Barkles, fear not, I sent Fab round to feed him (and to get me some clean undies) on Friday.

The government's leaflet should arrive later and I can hopefully then work out what I should do to safely leave the office for a clutch of meetings I have planned this week. This leaflet is a typically British response to a crisis. The important stage in preventing any potential pandemic is early on so what do we do? Send out a leaflet a few days after the scare breaks. I hope they're not using the postal service or we'll all be lucky to see it at all.

Will anyone read it anyway or will it merely be swept away on a tide of bad pizza and roof repair gumph? And what happens if any of the delivery agents have got swine flu? This would merely increase the problem. Perhaps reading this leaflet is not such a good idea. They'd have been much better having Susan Boyle sing out the precautionary information on Britain' s Got Talent as more people would have ended up knowing what to do.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Pearls about swine

I must say it was a huge shock to find out about swine flu yesterday. I had heard people talking about something but assumed mentions of “pigs” and “flew” were just my staff discussing the fact that it will indeed take pork to be airborne before I ever resign. So to hear that we are ALL GOING TO DIE was a major shock. Why has this been kept so quiet? You would have thought the papers would have said something, but no, not a word.

Once I had established the situation I immediately set about preparing BUBB’s emergency response plan. I have locked myself in the office and won’t be leaving until I get the government leaflet telling us what to do. I have issued an order banning tortilla chips and fajitas and I’ve sacked our office handyman, Carlos.

Now is not the time to apportion blame for how this thing started in the first place but I have heard a rumour that it is all Susan Boyle’s fault for spreading it like wildfire on FluTube.

We are being told not to panic but I disagree. When faced with such a pandemic, panic is exactly what is required and lots of it. The media has a role to play here and really must up its game so that the right amount of misinformation is spread as quickly as possible.

We need immediate stockpiling of natty blue masks so as to create a black economy in them when things really get hairy. This will give a boost to growth and help ease us out of recession.

And we need to send round government agents wearing sombreros and carrying bacon sandwiches to ratchet up the tension.

I have put all these ideas and more in a paper that I will send to James, as well as ideas on the role umbrellas can play in shielding people from the spread of gems. Hector and Fab have suggested that I also post a copy to the WHO (the exact phrase was “send it someone who gives a shit”). But quite why Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey would want to see it I don’t know. How will they respond? Write a rock opera? Swinerophenia? Power chords can solve a lot of problems but are no substitute for proper medical attention.