Monday, 28 September 2009

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside

The conference is in full swing in Brighton though I was disappointed when I set off to what I thought was a BUBB binge meeting last night expecting an all-paid for buffet and blow out to find out it was in fact a fringe meeting. Very fringe. It was in Bournemouth.

The one this morning was a bit better and Hector gave an OK I grudgingly concede kind of speech though the croissants were a perfect metaphor for New Labour. They looked good at first from a distance but turned out to be flaky, crumbling and stale.

I am hoping to catch Peter Mandelson's speech later at 666 o'clock. It will fascinating to hear what new evil and use of the dark arts he has planned as the election approaches. I had a bit of fun with him yesterday when I pick pocketed his security pass when we were playing in the arcades before the conference started, which meant he couldn't get in. Hilarious hearing him rasp "don't you know who I am?" at bemused security guards.

After that it will be more networking and then perhaps a club.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

Still not back in the office

It is now roughly 1 year, 7 months, 14 days, 3 hours, 2 minutes and 45 seconds since I was at my desk, such has been my extensive travelling. I must qualify for special gypsy privileges and Romany caravan miles after all this roaming. All in the interests of umbrellas of course.

I got back from the States in time for a quick visit to Blacbury to see Barkles and put my sprouts on for Xmas dinner and am now down in Brighton for a week at the seaside and sucking up to the Labour hierarchy at its conference. Soon I will be so networked that I will be in danger of strangling myself with connections and introductions. And I have put my back out carrying business cards around.

The last couple of days in NYC went well. I maanged to have a chat with Bill Clinton. I was a bit worried about this as we have a bit of previous but he didn't seem to remember me. He told me we had the best organised umbrella sector in the world. Well, what he actually said was "it's just as well Britain has a half decent brolly membership body as it's always pissing it down, you slimy limey bastard".

Also saw Brad Pitt (loved the beard) give a stirring speech about how he and Angelina were going to try and adopt an umbrella from every poor country in the world to make them look saintly and gain free positive publicity for their films.

Amusingly, Cherie Blair spotted me while I was blogging and bounded over and smiled at me. Luckily, I managed to avoid falling in.

I will leave it there as if I drop any more big famous names I will break the floor. All in all it was a great event though all the false bonhomie and cheeriness got a bit wearing. But it was refreshing to hear not a single whinge all week, probably because all of the people there are minted and don't have to live in the real world they are claiming to help.

Friday, 25 September 2009

Recovering Gore costs

Al Gore may be a failed politican but he has certainly found a role as a prophet for climate change. Or more accurately making a profit out of climate change as he has a new book out soon, just in time for Xmas. How many rainforests were felled to meet the expected demand I wonder?

Networking like crazy

By golly it has been a busy week here in NYC and I have lost track of all of the famous people I have glimpsed from the back of a packed room. I have chatted, mostly about the Brolly Investment Business, with failed politicians, scriptwriters, journalists, media moguls, 16th Century Spanish Infantas, jugglers, knife-grinders and binmen. I have dandered up schizoid sidewalks, mental motorways and bonkers B-roads in pursuit of knowledge and learning.

I even bumped into someone I know from Blacbury, which was a bit embarrassing as I still haven't returned the hedge trimmers I borrowed off him three years ago.

I have asked some pretty searching questions of speakers, on one occasion during the allotted Q&A slot rather than shouted out as a heckle. I have mastered the art of disruptive interruption and ruined a perfectly pleasant dinner with an off the cuff speech about it.

Oh, and I have sorted out the Middle East. It was certainly a lot easier than trying to broker peace between Hubert and myself.

The only disappointment has been Obama. His speech was frankly shite. He seemed more bothered about electrifying the room. While it is impressive that a President can change a plug and rewire an auditorium the crowd were hoping for some wise words rather than a practical demonstration of electrical wizardry.

I was pleased I got some press coverage in the UK for my comments urging the government to stop fannying about with consultation on the Umbrella Bank and just get on with it.I have said it before but it bears repeating that if the government stops to consult and seek public approval for everything it does we run the dangerous risk of becoming like a democracy.

It's funny really that I have such a strong desire to enter banking given my loathing of bankers. Indeed such is my deep distrust of them that I refused recently to entrust my precious Anglo-Saxon family heirlooms to them for safe-keeping. Instead I have buried them in a field in Staffordshire. I won't say which one in case someone goes digging around but they'll be a lot safer there than in a bank.

Monday, 21 September 2009

Clinton hot air initiative

I am in NYC at the minute for the Clinton Foundation's annual shite-spouting shindig. Since Clinton set up his Foundation five years ago as a vanity project to keep the Clinton brand high profile in his attempt to establish the family as a sort of latter-day Kennedy dynasty (without the deaths and that), this waffle-fest has paid lip service to addressing global problems that his eight year administration as President didn't give a shit about and in many cases created or exacerbated.

It is a mark of how respected BUBB is in umbrella circles that I am invited (what were you up to this weekend Hubert?), indeed I am the only umbrella leader here from Europe so God knows who I will chat to. The UK delegation includes Tony and Cherie and I hope I don't catch TB while I am here.

This flannel forum lasts about 14 years and I have been assigned a minder to ensure I don't get into any mischief. Her name, Dr Terry Babcock-Lumish, is beyond parody but if it weren't it would be Gerry Spatchcock-Burnish or something.

Yesterday morning I hauled my hungover ass to church but the service was fair ruined by some ruddy Australian singing rude words along with the hymns. I get chatting with him afterwards, well, strictly speaking I backed him into a corner, and shouted at him about Umbrellabuilders. This is toppermost in my mind following our extraordinarily successful relaunch last week. 8 million people packed into Wembley Stadium to hear me give the same old speech about investing in gamps, unclaimed brollies and setting up an umbrella bank. We also officially announced our new name - BIB - the Brolly Investment Business (as in Heston Mayday, mind your own). We were scuppered in our original plans to name ourselves Umbrella Bank because apparently only banks can be called banks, (though this rule doesn't seem to apply to world cup winning goalkeepers when you write to them asking for the loan of a few bob and they refuse on the grounds that "I am not a bloody bank" despite being regarded as a sound custodian and good at saving things).

We may not be called Umbrella Bank but make no mistake, whatever our label, our clear aim is become one. Our only decision now is whether we become a wholemeal bank or not. Personally, as we'll be giving out bread to promote goodness, I like the term.

But I digress. I can assure you - the blogs this week from this blather gathering will be vital reading and an orgy of name dropping and attempts by me to shoot the breeze about brollies with important people who couldn't care less, interspersed with musings on what we are given to chow on.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Derren! Derren! Can you let me go please?

Derren Brown you myserious sod. Can you please release me from the armchair? I have been stuck here all night and really need the toilet. And my Saturday morning croissant won't collect itself from the bakers.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Whining and dining

It was back to work with, if not a vengeance, certainly a minor retribution. Myself and some favoured members had our annual away day with the Umbrella Office. Basically this is our chance to badger government. We spent most of the day discussing whether our discussions should be Chatham House or not. In the end we decided they should, which means I have now broken the rules.

It is a bit worrying to see the unions rolling back the years and dusting off the placards saying "no cuts" in public spending. This approach didn't work in the 70s when there were loads of cuts. And I've still got the scars to prove it. We need a more constructive approach. Such as begging for more cash.

Thankfully one area where there hasn't been any cutbacks is troughing at the corporate table. We had a dinner for our greediest 100 members last night. The splendid lawyers, Boats Bells & Makeweight, laid on a superb meal and fine wine which was greatly enjoyed by the assembled throng. Without a shred of irony I then spoke on the future of capacity-building for the umbrella sector. I said that with spending cuts inevitable, the sector could not demand the same level of investment in infrastructure that had taken place over the past decade, but quaffing expensive plonk was fine. Everyone raised their glasses and cheered and we then got stuck into the cheeseboard.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

It's OK, don't worry, I have found myself

Yep, I have emerged from whatever vortex I was in (without explanation) and will get back to you properly later. Not sure what I will waffle on about but it might be CUTS. With added bad spleling (sic intentional).

Where am I?

I seem to have gone missing on the way back from the far east. I haven't, as many feared, finally disappeared up my own arse, have I?

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Going ooop North

It turns out I can get into North Korea after all. Some bloke I meet in a bar promises he can smuggle me through the de-militarised zone (DMZ) in the boot of his car. He says he can't guarantee an audience with the Dear Leader but it's a start. But when we get there it's all a bit grim. The landscape is factories and pies. The people speak in strange accents, wear cloth caps and have whippets. Still they have a passion for umbrellas and when we set up KUBBIES I will consider having a Northern office, as I love a bit of regional tokenism me. But for now its back over the border and a flight back home to Blighty. Apart from anything else, Barkles will need feeding. That bone I left won't last forever.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

No one told me there were two Koreas

Damn. I didn't realise that there was a North AND South Korea. And I am not in the one I am meant to be in. Apparently the two countries don't get on and it will be difficult to cross the border and see the Dear Leader about his brolly love. What you might call a bad Korea move.

On the plus side, I have seen a few temples and that and everyone seems to think I am a senior citizen. So plenty of concessions on ticket prices and guaranteed seats on public transport. Result!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Reading outside the box

Whilst waiting at Tokyo airport I am amazed at just how many management textbooks there are available. Things with titles such as "If you're buying this you are beyond help and couldn't manage a sneeze in a pepper factory let alone a business" and "Thanks for the cash sucker - why don't you try managing your book budget a bit better and don't waste money on this". They are all crap of course and I buy every single one, just in case, cos you never now.

Indeed I may just be inspired to write my own book based on my unique style of management, updated from American bullshit-speak into Bogglish.

However, there is one of these authors who I truly admire. Not because I have read his work but because he's the only one that everyone seems to find acceptable as a guru and I am too much of my own man not to follow the herd if I feel like it. I am talking about Murdo Joyfull, whose Tripping Point is the classic polemic about the point where you have so many of these management tomes lying around the office that they become a health hazard.

Joyfull also relates a timely tale about Korean airlines, which does little for my confidence as I wait to board one. Basically, he concludes that they have more crashes because their planes are badly made. And he smashes the myth of innate talent over sheer hard work, luck and being in the right place at the right time (that place and time being Oxford, naturally, during your undergraduate years).

He also makes a point about deferential societies where people find it hard to criticise their seniors or point out problems. Quite right too. At BUBB, what I say goes, no matter what Hector, Fab and Geof may say and do behind the scenes.

Monday, 7 September 2009

Does anyone want to see a picture of me eating breakfast in a kimono?

Another plate of raw marine-kill for breakfast is not a great way to start Saturday and I crave a nice bowl of Golden Grahams. And a croissant. You'd think a culture that has spawned some of the great technological developments would have found a way of cooking fish but no. However, my hotel has a lovely hot spring though there is nearly an incident when I expose myself to a bathful of females after wondering into the wrong room by mistake.

Then it is on to our 48th launch event in Sendai. More dreary questions on "issues" and I waffle on about the need for big ideas and innovative thinking unlike that displayed by some of my colleagues in the UK who manage to be both subversive and reactionary at the same time. I am still seething about an article in Canopy Finance where people seem to think my plans for the Umbrella Bank set up with unclaimed brollies is dangerous. Jesus, one person even mentioned it might be illegal. So what? We'll soon be running all the prisons and then we can get cracking on taking over the entire judicial system and then we'll decide what's legal and what isn't. Mentioning no names but Heston Mayday at Canopy Bank is going to get a right hander if he carries on whinging.

One of the young activists, who is also obviously a piss artist, draws my name in traditional Japanese characters and the translation means "broken record", which isn't entirely inappropriate.

Sendai is a lively town and Pepe Ohdearie takes me out on the lash. I somehow end up competing in an unlicensed sumo event and then it's onto a karaoke bar where my version of Umbrella-ella-ella is met with stunned appreciation.

Sunday is a quiet day and I have a long chat with Professor Nopun Intendedishiro (Nissan Institute of Japanese Studies at Oxford, naturally), the chair of JUBBLIES who has managed to wangle himself a nice little earner by appointing himself as its first paid chief executive, about future ways of working together.

I am frankly completely bored by all of this now and the healthy food is doing my noggin (and digestive system) in. So I decide to duck out of the rest of the launches and head back to Tokyo.

Today I am off to North Korea to try and have a word with the Dear Leader about his recent umbrella obsession. And I'll be over a Maccy D's Big Mac Meal (large) like a bad suit when I get to the airport.

Friday, 4 September 2009

In the land of the rising gamp

I am currently lording it in Japan and am here for the launch of a new Japanese umbrella body, JUBBLIES (Japanese Umbrella Backing Body - Lunching In Endless Sushi). The flight was a shocker. When I was younger I was excited by long trips and travel but now the whole thing is a pain the arse. I had my umbrella confiscated at security (for being a possible weapon) and wasn't allowed to take my dandelion and burdock bottle through as it breached their so called 100 ml rule. You'd think they'd put some signs up to warn people about these ludicrous rules wouldn't you? As a result I arrived knackered and crabby.

For company I have BUBB's international director Pepe Ohdearie but to be honest I haven't seen much of him since we have been here as he has been off larging it in some of Tokyo's more leftfield gentlemen's clubs.

Being asked here is a great honour and the fact that JUBBLIES has adapted our own name speaks volumes for their lack of imagination in anything accept electronics, gadgets and crazy gameshows. I can envisage other far East countries adapting this model so we may well see CHUBBIES or KUBBIES in the future - and you can see here that the North Koreans are already replicating my combination of dictatorial leadership and brolly love.

Another thing the Japanese have take on on board is my love of as many launches as possible and JUBBLIES is getting 404 in different cities over the next 18 weeks of my (essential) visit.

I am asked to give a speech at the first event. There is a slight cock up and a mistranslation means that I do 80 minutes rather than the 80 words they had requested. I drone on about all the great things BUBB does that JUBBLIES could learn from though my remark about the Japanese record on running prisons falls a little flat. I also drop in one of my finely honed anecdotes with a tenuous Japanese connection. Usually the tale of the day my Sony television caught fire is a guaranteed trouser splitter but this lot sit there stony faced.

The Japanese have a touching respect for brollies and a great flair for umbrella design though the traditional bamboo and paper ones (click here) that were popular in days gone by would be bugger all use in a right proper British downpour. However, some of the modern gadgetry jiggery pokery is way out there (see here, here, here and here). While I am not one to make sweeping generalisations on a whole nation's characteristics, let's face it, the Japs are flipping bonkers.

I have been taught a lot about the great Japanese traditions around umbrella martial arts (or gampkido as it is known) by my good friend, headhunter extraordinaire Donald Holding. He is still the only westerner to come to Japan and beat the shit out of some locals with a golf umbrella. And he got an MBE for it, while other more deserving recipients of Royal recognition remain ignored.

All in all the trip has been a real Japs-eye opener. However, I am finding the endless round of raw fish luncheons a bore, and the saki is filthy. My back is killing me from sitting on the floor all the time. And I am going to have to buy some socks without holes in as I am always being asked to remove my shoes.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Good to get away, good to get home

Gorgeous, magnificent, stunning, majestic. All of these adjectives and more can be used to describe my break in Scotland. Not the scenery, that was pretty average. Once you have seen one loch with a mist flecked Munro skulking in the distance you have seen them all as far as I am concerned but the weather was superb. Rain. All manner of rain. The full gamut of precipitation from light drizzle to torrential downpour. A real test for my brollies but they coped admirably.

I was going to post some photos but my camera was acting up. Plus, as we all know there is nothing more boring than other people's holiday snaps.

It was a bit of a gathering of the Bogg family and we had a whale of a time. Highlight must have been when we all got wankered on supermarket blended whisky and did some involuntary dancing on the cliffs. I swung my niece around with gay abandon and there was nearly a major incident when she went spinning off the edge but she survived the drop with minor bruising.

It just goes to show that we British lead the world when it comes to inclemency of weather. And on my homeward journey, gazing out of grimy, rain streaked windows as my train jolted through the earthier Glaswegian suburbs while swigging a Tennants Super was most agreeable. I got into conversation with a local film maker and asked him for his views on how the public perceives umbrellas. The conversation that followed only reinforced my view that we need a national campaign to decipher exactly what the feck these Scots are on about sometimes, such was the thickness of his accent.

Barkles has hated the whole thing - he is no lover of driving wind and rain but I feel fully recharged. Which is just as well as I am off to Japan tomorrow for the launch of the Japanese BUBB, JUBBLIES.