Tuesday, 30 June 2009

More cash

Great news reaches me in Italy with the news that a consortium headed by Umbrellabuilders, which I chair, has been appointed to run yet another new fund. This one will provide cash for those in the construction industry to borrow to buy umbrellas and the government is quite right to plough £70m into Builderbuilders.

We still await confirmation on decisions regarding some other initiatives we have proposed including a fund for grants to old women to buy replacement brollies for the one they have left in the post office (Hildabuilders), one to provide loans and consultancy for Aussies who have just moved to London and need help buying their first gamp (Waltzingmatildabuilders) and a basket of financial support measures for children wanting umbrellas with colourful T characters on them (Bobthebuilderbuilders).

There was also some talk of a risque groundbreaking fund to explore the usage of brollies as sex toys but we couldn't think of a name for it.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Chav lunch, toff supper

Swanning round Italy at the minute on some EuCLUTS (the European Committee of Leadership in Umbrella Technology and Sophistication) beano. Fostering relations, networking, learning, blah blah blah justification, justification, justification, la dolce vita, don't tell the members, stick it on expenses etc etc etc.

Ooops, ignore that last bit. I find myself wondering why computers don't have a delete key, but then I have often pondered that one. Hector tells me they do, and often encourages me to use it, but I can never find it.

Anyway, back to Milan. I could give you a list of meetings I have had with Italian umbrella chiefs but I am sure you would much rather hear about my meal plan. Today at lunch I will be sharing the Italian equivalent of a Greggs steak bake with "Il chavo", the great Italian working class, at a factory producing brollies for one of Milan's fine fashion emporiums. Then this evening I shall be fine dining with some rich bastards who own said boutiques, and no doubt joking about my earlier dining experience with their oppressed workforce.

In many ways, my itinerary is a perfect metaphor for the path of New Labour ideals contained in one day. And I am right with that.

Friday, 26 June 2009

What are we for?

Every so often you get an email that stops you in your tracks. That happened to me yesterday and reminded me of why BUBB is there and what our root purpose is.

Yes, we provide core services to members and play a key advocacy and policy development role in umbrellaland. But ultimately we are about boosting our own coffers and shouting a lot, which is why this email was so appropriate:

"Oh gracious Mr Bogg

I am the only child of that most imperious umbrella chieftain Bro' Ollie M'Brella. Most tragically he has met an untimely demise leaving behind a vast personal fortune of around $14million and his priceless collection of brollies. What I is seeking is a most trusted and respected person to take this off my hands and I am requiring your help in this matter. It will need no more on your part than depositing £23,000 in my offshore bank account to facilitate the paperwork. I know you will use this money to further the word of umbrellas throughout the lands, and would respect your confidentiality and lips sealed on this issue.

Greatest regards

Your most humble servant

Gampo M'brella"

What a stroke of luck. Hector has cautioned that it might be a scam but it comes from a yahoo email address and everything and I am sure it is the real deal. Just imagine...all that money. Think of the launches and taskforces we can set up with that.

On a different note it would be remiss of me not to comment on the other big current news. And I can think of no greater tribute to Michael Jackson than this. Great guy, great supporter of brollies.

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Nice try Hubert

Got back from Ireland to find a parcel waiting or me. And lo and behold, it was an umbrella from my old china, Hubert Carrington, chief executive of the National Canopy and Visor Organisation (NCVO). NCVO is celebrating somehow limping through 90 years of second rate advocacy and policy work (in my opinion) and has produced some commemorative brollies.

It's quite a natty gamp and I immediately took it for a spin round the park. Then I realised that I was inadvertently promoting NCVO so quickly went home and have stuck it away in the shed to be forgotten about. Nice try Hubert but I ain't bigging your lot up in my spare time, mate.

Before I put it away I did have a picture taken of me holding it, which you can see by clicking here. A number of blog readers have been asking what I look like, as despite my high profile, apparently I remain a somewhat elusive and shadowy figure for all those not in the inner circle of the umbrella world. This pic should help sort that one out.

Friday, 19 June 2009


I'm blogging from a glorious rain flecked beer garden in the west of Ireland. I wanted to get away from the appalling weather we are having (sunshine forecast all weekend) so am seeking out some of Ireland's excellent drizzle.

And what is the Bogg recipe for the perfect break? It can be summed up with the following formula, "alcohol, rest, sightseeing and eating" (arse). The day starts with a lazy breakfast of Guinness porridge, then a stroll around town with my best vacation bumbershoot. A long lunch of potatoes and cabbage is followed by a snooze then perhaps a visit to a Bog Mining Museum and a cursory glance at some churches. Then the evening is spent carousing round the pubs seeking the elusive craic and a bit of fiddly diddly music. Perfect.

The other reason for taking a break is that I am thoroughly sick of the expenses row that has been rumbling along, fuelled by my pig-headed refusal to disclose my expenses despite the fact that Hubert Carrington at NCVO, Steve Crikey at CFDG and others all complied without a whimper. I have got nothing to hide but surely that is for me to decide not the press. Anyway, Canopy Finance have now got hold of a copy of my expenses claim form for 2008 (click here to see it...no point being secretive about it now), but the whole thing has left a sour taste in my mouth.

Most people have felt it right and proper that people such as me in positions of responsibility for the whole umbrella sector, whose actions reflect on how brollies as a whole are viewed, should practise what they preach on transparency. But I will choose to highlight the minority that support my blinkered view when speaking about the issue.

I am now going to take hypocrisy to a new level and actually have the temerity and brass balls to sit here and brag about enjoying my holiday, funded out of the salary that I admittedly work hard to earn but is paid for by the members I am accountable to, and criticise journalists for doing their job in seeking information in the public interest just so they can get paid! I know, astonishing isn't it, that journalists should seek to earn a living and perhaps enjoy a bit of "arse" in their lives as well.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Shopping around for brollies

I am off shopping later today, (Oxford Street, naturally). As well as looking for some new strides (Oxford bags, naturally) I thought I might treat myself to a new umbrella. However, this presents somewhat of a dilemma as I have to be very careful to avoid conflicts of interest and be seen to favour buying one brolly over another. The way I usually get round this problem is simply to get people to send me bumbershoots for free. So if anyone feels generous let me know and I will provide details of my drop off point for such things.

All of which reminds me of a story I read last week involving that lovable sexist, boorish, drunken, racist Tory MP Alan Clark. The recent death of Gabon’s President Bongo has led Tory Peter Bottomley to reveal how he had to take fellow Trade Minister Clark’s place on a trip to Gabon after Clark said immigrants should be "sent to bongo bongo land".

Bottomley returned with an umbrella with ‘President Bongo’ emblazoned on it for Clark. Later, when a heckler branded Clark a "bongo racist", he unfurled the brolly, saying: "How dare you. This was a personal gift from President Bongo."

Once again, all too sadly an example of how innocent brollies get exploited and dragged into bigger debates.

Monday, 15 June 2009

Bumbershoots of recovery

I have been pondering for a while how to gain greater acceptance for one of my favourite slang terms for an umbrella - the bumbershoot. If you look in a dictionary (Oxford English, naturally) you will find that it is a colloquial term of American origin derived from combining umbrella and parachute. Click here for more etymology and info on its usage in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang if you really have nothing better to do.

Therefore BUBB has decided to launch a new initiative to raise the profile of this criminally unknown word. My initial idea to change the name of BUBB to the British Bumbershoot Backing Body has been vetoed by the trustees for what I can only assume are spurious acronymistic reasons. ("Makes us sound like a stutterer trying to swear", I overheard one of them remark). Therefore we are launching the Campaign to Raise Usage and Mentions of Bumbershoots Lovingly In Everyday Speech (CRUMBLIES) and will not rest until bumbershoot naturally trips off the collective tongue of the nation.

You don't have to do much, just try and drop it into everyday conversation.

"My, that's a nice bumbershoot you have."

"Oh, your bumbershoot is dripping wet, is it pissing down outside by any chance?"

"Oh bugger, its drizzling like buggery and I have left my sodding bumbershoot at home."

So go on, do your bit and let's make a real difference to the richness of our language.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Straplines - what are they good for?

As I mentioned in a blog a couple of weeks ago, I have been doing some mindBoggling recently around BUBB's brand, values, mission statement etc. It seems one of our trustees got a book for their birthday about all this claptrap and is keen to waste everybody's time coming up with a new logo, image and strapline to explain more clearly what we do as an organisation.

The way I see it is that people already know exactly what BUBB does. BUBB makes no secret about it. People don't always know why BUBB does it but that is a different issue.

Anyway, the board have allocated a hefty wedge of budget for this exercise so rather than bother an expert I am going to ask my old oppo Donald Holding, at Feudal, to help out. Granted he knows nothing about branding but then his naive, ignorant approach may well be what is required.

I personally hate straplines and was shocked to discover they have their own trade body - the Strapline Association ("promoting pointless secondary lines of explanation after the principal statement since 1947").

But I have come up with a few that might work for BUBB. Hector wants to go with something dull but worthy such as "provider of shelter for shelter providers" but I think we should have something a bit more street.

"Putting the bro' into brollies."

Or how about:

"Putting the ergs into umbergamp."
"Putting the OK into spokes."


"Putting the mmmmmm into ummmmmmbrellas."

If anyone has any other ideas that Donald can present to the trustees and pass off as his own to justify his bill then use the comments facility below or email me at robinbogg@hotmail.com.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Outstanding achievement award passes me by...again

Maxwell Trophy? Maxwell Trophy? I mean, OK, yes, Canopies Aid Foundation etc etc, very impressive, I'll give him that. But does he blog?

And can someone let me know if he's finished his acceptance speech yet?

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Award ceremonies

This Thursday sees the most glittering evening in the umbrella sector calendar - the annual Canopy Awards, held appropriately enough under a great big canopy in Battersea Park. Granted, it's a bloody great piss up and the food is always good. Plus the opportunities for networking and namedropping are superb. But I really don't know if I can be arsed.

If I have to sit there one more year while some supposed sector notable scoops the outstanding achievement award that I should be getting then I will scream. The gritting my teeth received after Hubert Carrington of NCVO won it a few years ago set me back thousands in dental work. Sure, people like last year's winner Patrick Pond at the Umbrella Commission are worthy of recognition but come on guys, surely my turn is overdue.

If I do go it gives me chance to once again don the old white tux, which is home to one of the finest collections of red wine stains in the world. Look closely and you can see such vintage spillages as a '74 Rioja from an Oxford reunion dinner, a very rare '63 Chateauneuf du Tim Pape from one of my European jaunts and a '09 Echo Falls Cabernet Merlot from a wedding I crashed in Blacbury earlier this year. Oh and some ribena as well.

Ultimately I think my decision about attending will hinge on whether the new umbrella minister Veronica Gubbins Squif (or VGS as I will now style her) is going and whether I can blag a seat next to her. Being new to the sector I am sure she would much appreciate having her ear bent to the point of fracture about the need for an umbrella bank and VAT refunds.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Welcome to the new umbrella minister

From: robinbogg@bubb.org.uk
To: fabjobsworth@bubb.org.uk
Subject: Blog on new minister

Fab - can you do me a favour? I need to stick a blog up welcoming the new umbrella minister. To save time could you just do something that cut and pastes our old press releases welcoming whoever government has reluctantly palmed us off with? Just replace Gavin Lennon with Veronica Gubbins Squif on the bit that says we look forward to working with such a committed champion of brollies etc etc blah blah blah and stick Lennon's name in where Hal Pope's was on the bit about thanking the outgoing chap for their hard work over the 5 minutes they have been stuck with the brief.

If you "track change" the document you will probably see the names of God Megagrand, Dave Miggins, Victoria MacColumbo, Veronica Osprey et al contained within its history.

I don't know much about Gubbins Squif - the fact she only went to a polytechnic isn't promising, naturally, and that she was once Gordon Brown's tie adviser is worth bugger all as he heads ever closer to the political scrapheap. She did once work at the League Against Cruel Sports Involving Umbrellas but that is her only tenuous connection with sector. Still I expect we'll have to pretend to work with her and see what happens.

I am more encouraged by the move last week of Vanessa Doublechin to become minister of the cabinet office as I used to know her years ago when we both attended a nightschool class in dealing with the Italian media. She replaces Ian Scorn, who has moved to the Treasury, and as an advocate of the umbrella bank could also prove to be a great ally.

Anyway, Fab, if you could turn the above into some sort of blog that would be great. We can't keep labouring this dictation joke so let's make sure this one is a good 'un, eh?


The Gaffer

Global umbrella news

Every day, from all around the world, I hear tales of umbrellas. Some are inspiring, some tragic, some are downright perplexing. But what they illustrate is how ingrained in our everyday lives the 'umble umbrella is.

As you would expect, America is a hotbed of the quirky. Who could fail to warm to the charms of this small town in California with its reports of some quite frankly top notch petty crime or mischief. And one more heinous offence perpetrated against a patio umbrella.

However, the scoundrel may regret it if it turns out to be the same model as this one - an example of when good umbrellas go bad. And click here for a very sad tale of what can happen if umbrellas don't "conduct" themselves properly.

While I am confident that s such delinquency would never happen with a British umbrella, these examples demonstrate the need for umbrellas to have strong representation and regulation to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Finally, I was most touched by the thoughts of this blogger. I am going to try and recruit her, as long as she went to Oxford, naturally.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Abuse of power

This image (click here) serves as a pertinent reminder that even an umbrella, when in the wrong hands, can transform from being a tool to provide shelter to a symbol of oppression. It all goes to show that for societies with hierarchical elements to work effectively, strong leadership needs to be reigned in by robust checks to prevent the abuse of power. Except in representative membership bodies of course!

For further proof of what can happen if the wrong person ends up running the show, click here. And here. Not only did they cock it up mightily, they besmirched the fair name of umbrellas along the way.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Emerging views

Those clever chaps at New Fillcanopy Capital have produced an excellent report on mergers and collaboration in the umbrella sector. They argue that more mergers are essential if the industry is to survive, and I quite agree.

Not that BUBB itself will be merging with any of the other umbrella umbrella bodies of course even if it was in everyone's best interests. Collaboration is bad enough. True, we have in the past paid lip service to sharing offices with the Canopy Finance Directors' Group and the Institute of Gampraising but we weren't serious. So for now we'll just stick to advocating something for our members that we wouldn't consider ourselves.


Jaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaames...why oh why?

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Rain like Mother used to make

Back in the day, (before "back in the day" was such a widely used buzz phrase) I used to dabble in poetry. I rediscovered this the other day. It sums up both my love of rain and the relentless battle we all have with imagining things were somehow automatically better in the olden days, (which they were).

Old school rain
Old school yard rain
The rain of our childhoods
Rain like Mother used to make
Big satisfying drops crashing down on decent sized puddles
Circles ever increasing for a proper length of time
Rain like it used to be
Before they modernised it
Digitalised it
Standardised it
Bastardised it
And put it onto the world wide webbing
As diluted, watered down, dumbed down rain

Proper rain
Rain you could scrub your roof with
Rain that could slake the thirst of a parched river
When a deluge was a proper deluge not a trickle
Not the cheap ten-a-penny lo-budget rain of nowadays
Bought with loose change in Poundworld
Rubbishy tinpot rain that has the cheek to call itself a weather feature
But proper chunky thick-cut freshly oven baked rain
Exact measures of H and O mixed in perfect proportion
Rain that could shatter the umbrella’s fragile defences

Whatever happened to the rain of the Sixties
Did it take too many drugs?
Is that why we now have acid rain?
I am sure it rained properly when I was a nipper
Before Thatcher privatised it
De-sensitised it
Scientists overanalysed it
Re-sanitised it
The church de-Satanised it
While the East de-Christianised it

It doesn’t pour like it used to
On the lush verdant fields that are always greener on the other side
We’re left with a piss poor piss down for the new Millennium
It doesn’t rain cats and dogs anymore
Since the animal rights people complained
It doesn’t crash down on England
Like it always used to
In the days before hosepipe bans

I want rain you can leave unlocked so your neighbours can stop by and use it
The rain of whimsical, wistful reminiscence
Rain that falls endlessly for days
Obscures the view held by windows
And cascades down these misted-up rose tinted glasses

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Bought to account

As mentioned yesterday, I am launching a second career as a politician. A number of eminently winnable seats will be up for grabs at the next election as MP after MP falls on their own sword (purchased no doubt with taxpayers money). The MP for South Blacburyshire, Sir Godfrey Fleece, is one who has said he will go after damaging revelations about his beach footwear appeared in the media. Apparently he designated one pair of loose fitting sandals as his main pair for tax purposes but a different pair for allowance claims. Then he switched the designations – flip-flopping the flip-flops. So I will be standing as an independent next time out, with a particular emphasis on umbrella issues.

This whole sorry episode shows an extreme abuse of power and is highly embarrassing for all those elected to serve. If they haven’t got the nous to use that power to keep these things quiet then they don’t deserve to have it as they are clearly incompetent. If the Chancellor himself can’t stick £700 of dodgy expenses “off balance sheet” what hope have we got of him massaging economic figures to give a positive spin? I have no issue with them milking the system, that is what it is there for after all, like a great big bureaucratic cow. But it is the fact they are witless enough to get found out that makes them unfit for office. And apart from anything else it all makes it less of an attractive gravy train for those that follow to board and slurp from.

I find the whole moral outrage about this a little hypocritical. Who among us hasn’t pinched a biro from work or bought a knocked off illegal soft porn DVD from a bloke in a pub car park sorry your honour I thought it was legit but I can’t find the receipt honest swear on my dog’s life guv.
There is absolutely no difference between knicking an envelope from the work stationery cupboard (value: 2 pence) and avoiding capital gains tax or claiming for a mortgage that has already been paid off (value: tens of thousands of pounds of public money) apart from the obvious difference that the latter is worth a great deal more money, taxpayer’s money at that, and has been perpetrated by those supposed to be making life better for everyone and not just themselves. I suppose congratulations should be in order for the fact that they kept it going for so long – good effort chaps – but ultimately they have paid the price for getting caught.

If I get elected I will back reforms to the system that allow continued exploitation of it with the cast iron certainty of no one ever finding out. But what I will need to get the nod from Joe Voter is a decent campaign slogan. A request I put out to my loyal fans on Twitter yesterday led to the team at Canopy Finance suggesting “Yes we canopy” and “Things can only get wetter”, which are both genius. I will do some mindBoggling myself later, but has anyone any other suggestions? Respond via the comments box or email me at robinbogg@hotmail.com.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Too cheap

I know I have already blogged today but felt I needed to share this. Click here to see an automatic umbrella - for when you just can't be arsed to open it yourself presumably. But the price at which they are being sold cheapens us all. How can one expect quality at that price? Thing will fall to bits in days and reflect badly on all umbrellas.

No doubt it is being produced in some sweat shop in the far East, and while I don't have a problem with the exploitation of cheap labour per se (after all, it's what we built an Empire on), if you are gonna use it, at least put a bigger mark-up on the price of the end product for the good of the industry.

Banged up in Bog(g)nor

What should have been a relaxing weekend break ended up with me in jail. Again. This punitive approach to me is obviously not working and I am ripe for some top quality early intervention rehabilitation work if anyone is keen to take me on as a case study.

Anyway I headed to Bog(g)nor Regis on Friday cheered by the fact that the town's name is apparently derived from the olde English for King Robin of Bog. But it was all downhill from there. For a start the weather was dreadful. Blue skies and sunshine with not a cloud anywhere.

I took a trip to an open air museum, one of these olden days working places with vintage buses and artisans and the like. But their attitude to umbrellas was dreadful, bordering on apartheid. For a start, while most traditional trades and crafts were represented - printing, pottery, walking stick making, broom making - there was no evidence of anyone practicing the ancient art of gampwaining.

And then a sign on the door of the cafe had me spitting with rage. Click here to see an example of the sort of divisive prejudice that is still used against brollies in modern Britain.

On Saturday I decided to head to the pub for a few lunchtime drinks. A combination of the heat, candy floss and low rent pub wine meant that by early evening I was completely brollied. After a misadventure with some local scruffs who tied me to a train on the miniature railway in a park I decided to make a small alteration to all of the town's signs that had the word Bognor on them by adding an extra g. And apparently that is classified as illegal though I question how it can be vandalism if the place is already a shithole. I was released yesterday with a caution but it was all very embarrassing. And I missed the final of Britain's Got Talent.

One thing I have decided over the weekend is to embark on a political career. What with all of these MPs standing down there are a number of winnable seats up for grabs for outstanding leaders such as me at the next election. Watch this space as I will be launching my official bid to become MP for South Blacburyshire later this week.