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.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Dreaming bad dreams

"You've got to have a dream, if you don't have a dream, how you gonna make a dream come true." Captain Sensible. I am sure it was what Gordon Brown was trying to say in his piffle laden valedictory speech as PM and party leader at a Labour conference. But in many ways it is a perfect sentiment for my more outlandish projects and plans.

I am completely shattered following the conference and and reunion dinner on Wednesday at my old Oxford college, St Bolocs.

It was great to see James Purnell in Brighton looking resplendent in his tie. Though he would have looked smarter (but less attractive) if he'd put trousers, shirt and jacket on as well.

I was lucky that Hector Rule (who seemed to think that just because the conference was being held near his beach hut he could swan around in swimming shorts and vest), two eyes, one nose, eight fingers, two thumbs, one navel Geof Sachell and and the widely Fab Jobsworth were present. A well networked CEO always needs a strong team around him to hold his plate, refill his glass and ferry canapes. We were also assisted by Donald Holding, the sector's top headhunter, always on the look out for passing talent, the randy old goat.

And so from Brighton is was onto Oxford, naturally. It was great to catch up with all my old chums. Only 18 people said "who the hell are you?" and we recalled many happy hours spent forming the networks and bonds that would serve us all well when the cushy jobs were being allocated over the years. We gorged on swan though the wine was filth, and not nearly as good as I remember. Of course that didn't stop me drinking it by the bucketload and I woke up at 4pm yesterday on the staircase, still fully dressed. Still, it keeps me out of the office I suppose. Next stop Manchester.