Sunday, 28 February 2010

Subjugating earthly desires

"Ahh one of the bloody Oxford, naturally, Boggs" exclaimed the caretaker at Christ Church college when I rocked up there last night trying to to blag a place at some fancy dinner. I had just been to evensong where the Goddy bloke spoke of Lent and the need for us to "subjugate earthly desires to things spiritual". Quite right, excess is the root of all evil in this world and I reflected upon this as I got stuck into the champagne later.

It was a magnificent dinner and we got sloshed and romped in the dining room and sang rude songs in Latin. Then we went to another opulent room and guzzled more expensive drinks. By the end of the night I was subjugated out of my tree and quite unable to recognise the sheer hypocrisy once again of my words and actions, especially when so many beneficiaries of my members are unable to afford a decent umbrella.

Woke this morning feeling very tender but have changed my mind and have headed down to Brighton for the Tory Pre-Election Spin Festival. Well, Hector Rule lives in Brighton and I don't want him popping in and forming any crafty alliances in his pursuit of my job.


Spending a peaceful weekend in Blacbury enjoying the rain. I am supposed to be in Brighton schmoozing the Tories but I cannot be fagged. Not when I have got 2 weeks worth of Corrie to catch up with. Last week was pretty full on. I have been busier than Christine Pratt's whistle and haven't had time to run the UK's premier umbrella body. But that's OK as technically that is Hubert Carrington's job.

After the fun and games of the NCVO conference where I managed to avoid detection all day, the next evening we had a parliamentary reception for the Brolly Investment Business with such political make, I mean heavy, weights as my Great Aunt Maud and Vernica Squif. The wine was awful but as befits our business model we couldn't dish the canapes out fast enough - never mind the quality we just wanted to ensure they were all troughed as quickly as possible. And appropriately the speeches were delivered speedily without much thought as to the impact of the words.

Then the next day it was a breakfast meeting with the Chancellor who laid on a pretty ropey spread of half eaten croissants. "I see the cuts are biting, Darling" I joked as I walked in. "Yes" he replied. "You are getting the leftovers of what the bankers had yesterday. Just like the rest of the taxpayers."

I was shitting myself about the presentation I had to give about how the umbrella sector can transform public service delivery. But I figured that if can't bullshit with authority on the subject who can?

Roz Berry from the Women's Brolly Voluntary Service gave a cracking slide show about its Brollies on Trollies service where they go round to the houses of the infirm and drag them out in to the garden when it is drizzling. They provide them with a gamp thus ensuring that those who would usually remain dry in their own home can enjoy the use of an umbrella.

Hubert Carrington (he typed through gritted teeth) was masterful though Berry nearly got a right hander for suggesting Hubert and I would make an effective double act afterwards. Though if we were to team up, he would be Saint and I would be Greavsie. Suggestions for other double acts on which we could model ourselves welcome via comments please!

The Chancellor agreed to a series of meetings to discuss how we might begin to formulate ways in which we can brainstorm how to drill down into some of the methods of beginning to bring the best of these ideas to the metaphorical table. And then he muttered under his breath "It will be George's problem anyway." But hopefully we can establish a Commission for Implementing Good Ideas Quickly by 2050.

After the breakfast I had a meeting with the BUBB trustees where I had to explain myself. Again. Every bloody year we go through this. 15 hours later when I had finished my chair threw a mug at me exclaiming "I suppose we have no choice but to keep calm and hope you don't make too much of a carry on".

Then it was onto conduct some interviews as I have been busy seeking victims to volunteer to undertake a series of umbrella related torture.

Mind you, this all rather pales into insignificance compared to what my European supremo, Pepe Ohdearie, director of EuCLUTS (the European Committee of Leadership in Umbrella Technology and Sophistication) has been up to. He has been invited to the Vatican to discuss such issues as whether Catholic umbrellas should have covers for protection, but knowing him he will unleash his style and energy and end up going clubbing or to a steam room with the Pope. How do you like your eggs in the morning, your holiness? Benedict.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Unmasking my spoofer part 2

Regular readers will be aware that I have a spoof blogger, one Stephen Bubb. I recently tracked him down to Australia. And I now have more evidence of his existence. Obviously the person aping me would need to be a safe pair of hands and be good at sledging their opponents. So it was no surprise to lean that the Stephen Bubb in question is not only a lawyer but a wicketkeeper.

Right - I am off to cause merry hell at Hubert's annual showcase, the NCVO conference. I am officially still banned for many reasons but I will get in somehow, especially for the drinks and dinner tonight to see if they can successfully organise a piss-up in the Brewery.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Ipswich and banking and Gordon and brollying

What a superb city is Norwich. I'm only sad that the latest gig on my Big Arse tour was in Ipswich. Ipswich is the home town of my director of strategy, Fab Jobsworth, who reminds me that he has been working for BUBB for four years now to which I reply that he will be stuck here for at least another four thanks to the photos I have of him.

But onto the gig. I took a chair with me and we had a superb sing-song. The mood at all of the gigs has been positive which is in stark contrast to the negative rhetoric about the umbrella sector that you see perpetrated by the likes of, err, BUBB.

Bu being in Suffolk meant that my deputy Hector Rule got to go to Number 10. Who says I don't take any notice of restraining orders and decrees from the PM banning me from his house?

He was chairing a meeting of the Better Berating, Bollocking and Baiting Banking Coalition with assorted bigwigs. Two hours of non-stop whinging and intense hand-wringing was apparently very productive. According to Hector, anyway, and I fully look forward to claiming all of the credit when the banking system is overhauled to put customers before profit.

I have been sitting in the Progressively Dull Conference in Westminster today, entitled "Feathering Our Nests after the Crisis". Actually even less interesting than it sounds, but then when you have the Prime Ministers of Spain, Greece, Norway and the UK it would be. Organised under the auspices of the Lord of Darkness Peter Mandelson who seems to command all he sees these days. He's come a long way since those days when I sat on the floor at his holiday home by the banks of the Styx drinking coffee and talking about the old boy networks we'd establish to guide our careers to the House of Lords (him not me....yet) despite high profile gaffes and scandal.

These conferences take place annually and I have been at the last three. The content of discussion and debate is incredibly high and the networking tends to be rather good too which is after all the entire point.

Gordon (Brownnose alert) gave a really very engaging speech despite that rather gloomy external image and he came across in a warm and welcoming way. You could see the conviction in what he was saying and it's an image more people should see rather than the one of a stressed-out incompetent paranoid bully. This whole bullying story is a storm in a teacup hurled across the room at an unfortunate staff member. As the ill-qualified head of a bunch of idiots, desperately clinging onto power myself, I can empathise with Gordon. In such circumstances it would be a very poor leader indeed who didn't occasionally assert his authority by getting a bit tetchy. And violent.

And it has been most unedifying to see some of BUBB's members getting involved. Kirsten Aptlynamed from the National Brollying Helpline was quoted as saying that her organisation had received calls from staff at Number 10 complaining about Gordon's culture of fear - they weren't allowed to take umbrellas out with them when it was raining and he often threatened to hide their gamps if they didn't do what they were told, while threatening them with a great big golf umbrella of his own.

Other brollying organisations such as Brollying UK jumped all over NBH for this threatening them with all sorts including extreme irony. If these brollying bodies can't sort things out among themselves without resorting to bullying tactics then I will come down on them like a ton of bricks.

Brown rather aptly quoted Keynes in his speech by saying "there is no harm in being sometimes wrong - especially if one is promptly found out." A rather splendid thought for us as leaders of the umbrella sector.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Pancakes and bankaches

I love this time of year. The approach of Lent gives me a chance to have a bit of a tidy up and I took three sacks of shit down to the Oxgamp charity shop in nearly gave me a Hernia Hill on Tuesday. It's rather a good little shop but they'd better watch it. My hound, Barkles, was not welcome. They said if I wanted to try and abandon her somewhere (again) I should take her to the Battersea Raining Cats and Dogs Home.

Then it was home for pancakes. I bloody love pancakes. There is no finer feeling then using up all of the stale flour, rotten eggs, curdled milk and rancid butter left lingering in the darker recesses of the kitchen. Much better than cheating and buying a pre-prepared mix from M&S. I even find the lemon my sister bought for my Birthday in November, but it is a little shrivelled.

Unfortunately I was left with 48 pints of batter as I haven't got a frying pan. I gave it up and lent it to Hector Rule for 40 days last year and he hasn't given it back. I think he is using it to bash Dylan Twirley with whenever he gets the opportunity.

I spent the evening struggling to think of something I could forsake for Lent (apart from making empty gestures) but in the end I just gave up.

Yesterday was an early start for a meeting with some sailors at Admiralty House. My excellent head of policy, Geof "two brains, no arse" Sachell revealed that his Great Grandfather worked in the same building. Geof is so intelligent that he took degrees at two different colleges (Oxford, naturally) simultaneously. In fact he is so brainy that he has even figured out what the hell he is doing working for BUBB.

Anyway, turns out his ancestor was Head of Navel Gazing, and somewhat of an intelligence expert having completed his I-Spy Book of Bloody Big Battleships. And he was the very model for M People, whose hymn devoted to introspection (Search for the Hero Inside Yourself) was dedicated to him.

Then it was onto the launch of the Better Berating, Bollocking and Baiting Banking Coalition, a body set up to transform levels of moral indignation and fury at the banking industry. Although it has nothing to do with our core objectives of providing support for our members and campaigning on umbrella issues, I am getting right stuck into this and BUBB will hosting it.

Finally, we haul our Big Arse tour into London and for a gig at the offices of those nice banking and investment types (I will have my cake and eat it - nothing wrong with the City when it suits me) CCLA Confidential. I take a break from lead vocals and that gorgeous diva, and BUBB vice-chair, Hillda Ogden-Newton&Ridley belts out a fantastic version of It's Raining Men.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A book launch

I went to a book launch the other night - for my sister Robina. I think it's her 14th. She writes on nepotism. Fascinating. Obviously I don't read them. Life's too short. But they are good.

Let me just run that past you again. I haven't read them. But am still willing to give them a plug. Such sibling-rolling was I believe central to the ideas espoused in her 7th book.

It was a jolly affair even though the wine was filth. Lots of talented Boggs were present. My nephew, Jamie, had some exciting news about winning £4 on a pub quiz machine. He is off to Brownose College (Oxford, naturally) in October to pursue a career in prison management and end up as Governor of Wormwood Scrubs, thus being able to keep his elderly Uncle in the style to which he has become accustomed - in a prison run by the umbrella sector.

Friday, 12 February 2010

A three week speech

I am currently in the middle of a speech that will take three weeks by the time I finish it. It started at an event on Tuesday where I was impassioned. At least until the chair told me to pull my trousers up. I carried on talking through the night, to myself, and then on Wednesday I was the warm up act for the main turns at the Future Fun with Brollies event.

Over the years I have learnt that public speaking can be great fun. I patronisingly don't know why some people find the idea of sharing your thoughts with thousands of people who are analysing your every word while you dread making a mistake or your words drying up intimidating. I don't speak to a script - there would be no point as I often don't have a bloody clue what I am going to say - or use Powerpoint (cos I can't ). Old fashioned talking out of you orifice ought to carry the day. And on that note I use some quotes from Horace Andy's song Skylarking (which is about chugging, the charity sector's equivalent of Bogging where tabarded eejits pester people on high streets for the loan of a brolly):

Skylarking, skylarking
That's what youth do today
Skylarking, skylarking
Before they stand up firm on their feet

Get a likkle work, a likkle work
And earn their bread honestly
Beggin' you five cent sir
Beggin' you ten cent sir
Cannot help, no cannot help

So you all keep on doing what you all are doing
You will end up, up up in jail (run by BUBB)

I also throw in a bit of Horace:

"Once a blog has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled"

"Faults are soon copied"

"He wins every hand who mingles not-for-profit with pleasure"

Such insights are always designed to show how clever and classically educated I am.

I speak about some of my great umbrella heroes - Mary Poppins, the shadowy "Umbrella Man" in the Zapruder JFK film, the bloke who killed Markov and Rihanna.

In the umbrella sector drive, rage and passion can be messy but we can achieve amazing things. Let us not be downcast and despair about cuts, which is a bit rich coming from me as I have constantly gone out of my way to despair about cuts, while being downcast. Let us grasp the opportunities of climate change. The future decade is one of growth for our sector if the rains start to fall in greater volume.

I am still making a speech as I type, incidentally, and am now off to Birmingham for the next stage of the Big Arse tour.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Taxing issues

Not content with pinching our gift aid, some bright spark has come up with a new way for Leon Pissonthepoor and his Treasury chums to bleed me dry. The Robin Bogg tax. A group of umbrella sector notables has issued a call to tax me every time I open my umbrella. Still, it could have been worse. It could have been every time I open my BIG MOUTH. Looking at the list of signatories on a letter calling for this outrageous revenue cash cow I detect the hand of Hubert Carrington behind this...but I won't take it lying down.

What we really need is a tax on the use of a Medieval hooded chugging thieving ASBO outlaw as the bye-word(s) for wealth redistribution techniques. Or better still a tax on those evil bankers.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Claiming victories

We can notch up several victories on the umbrella sector's bedpost. And by we I mean me. Today the Department of Health conceded some tricky technical point on the consolidation of umbrellas donated to NHS charities with NHS Trust surgical gamps. I didn't understand a word of this and should have left it to bodies such as the Canopy Finance Directors' Group (currently in a state of "Alfredo Garcia" - no head) and the Umbrella Commission to tackle. But as I have pointed out before there is no harm in SHOUTING loudly about an issue you know sod all about even if it hasn't got anything directly to do with the majority of your members and hoping that when the dust settles you can claim some if not all of the credit for it getting sorted.

We have also managed to piggyback credit for correcting some nonsense about parasols having exempt brolly status - you're either an umbrella or you're not -and have forced the minster with responsibility for the National Umbrella Lottery to resign - the curse of BUBB as some people call it. Not so much a curse, more a strongly worded letter with thinly veiled threats.

But before I get carried away I have to mention tax relief on umbrellas purchased as gifts. I was right not to go to the meeting last week as I would probably have been really unprofessional and shouted at someone. It is a disgrace that the Treasury are trying to hold to as much cash as possible during these affluent times. They may as well have never bothered extending the scheme to the great benefit of the umbrella sector a few years ago if they're now going to try and avoid handing over great wodges of cash without us having to earn them.

I could write all sorts of inappropriate analogies about this being just the same as me going into church and robbing the poor box (it isn't, theft is illegal...and anyway, no one found out). I could even finally succumb to using heart string emotional blackmail imagery around Haiti to make my point. I hope that the minister concerned, Leon Pissonthepoor, is ashamed of himself for making me stoop so low as to use the sufferings of millions to flavour my hissy fits and arguments.

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Summit and nothing

What a week. Following my French soiree I have spent the week at a summit where IMPORTANT AND CLEVER PEOPLE have been talking a lot of sense on umbrella public service provision that will unfortunately not bcome reality because the theory is easier than the implementation. I am that buzzing with ideas that I haven't been able to get them down on my blog quick enough. Plus, I don't want Hubert knicking any of them. But one brainwave has struck after all of this mindBoggling that I will share. What better way to boost the umbrella sector than incentivised promotional marketing? Therefore I am launching BOGGOFF - Buy One Gamp, Get One For Free. It will revolutionise demand within the sector and is an idea that the big supermarkets could learn from if they want to offload surplus overpriced stock while conning the customer into thinking they are getting a bargain instead of twice as much of something they didn't need or want in the first place. You heard it here first.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Je mal a la tete et ou est le camping

It was a tough choice. Either I could go to the premier umbrella social enterprise event in the UK, the place in which I live, work and assume to represent the views of many of its organisations, or go to something else happening overseas which has less direct relevance to my members.

Croakyvoice 10 was being held in Cardiff, while in Paris they were launching a new movement for onion-munching social entrepreneurs. So actually, when you weigh it up the choice was obvious. The relative benefits of Welsh cakes and croissants meant I was on Eurostar before you could say "inappropriate and self-serving event choice". Plus the French haven't yet had the pleasure of me patronising them about the Brolly Investment Bank.

As it was pouring with rain it was delightful to be in one of Europe's leading capitals. The same sentence could be used for Cardiff except the word "delightful" would need to be replaced by "a pain in the arse as the wind buggers your brolly up". My French isn't up to much and the bastards pretended not to understand when I spoke in English! The cheek eh?

Through the power of Twitter I was able to pretend I was in Wales and hopefully no one noticed. A new Social Enterprise Mark was launched that looked like a cheese ball someone couldn't finish colouring in cos their felt tip ran out. It costs £99 and if that isn't socially enterprising I don't know what is. I am always suspicious of such credibility badges even though I was offering genuine fake SE Marks for a knockdown price last night. (Incidentally, do children's wind assisted flying toys have kitemarks?)

But following a suggestion from prospective Sheffield Hallam Labour MP, Michael Fish, I am thinking that a similar accreditation for umbrella bodies might work. If you're BUBB you get it, if you ain't you don't.

The other suggestion that came out of the Twitter feed of the Welsh gathering was that you shouldn't say anything about someone on Twitter or in your blog that you wouldn't say to their face. Quite right - Carrington, Twirley, the rest of you - I am sorry for using social media as an avenue for cheap shots and I will tell you all that in person any time you like.

Monday, 1 February 2010

New information - Double standards from Squif

Since I wrote my blog post earlier supporting Veronica Squif', I realise that this afternoon she is talking at Croakyvoice10, the umbrella social enterprise's annual shindig. Which is being held in Cardiff. So while she won't go to one event because she can't bear to be in the same place as poor defenceless captive inhabitants, she will go to Wales. Double standards.

It does bring into question her judgement. Surely saying she couldn't go to the Compact meeting because she had already agreed to speak hundreds of miles away on the same day would have been more plausible and less controversial than the lofty moral high ground she chose to try and occupy?

Compact and bijou - and gift aid reform? You're having a (zoo-kept) giraffe

I see the Umbrella Minister, Veronica Squif, has caused a bit of a stir with her decision not to attend the Compact Annual Meeting because she disagrees with the venue. The Compact is a small foldaway brolly designed to fit in your handbag or briefcase and is used by umbrella organisations to threaten the government. The meeting of all those connected with the Compact, which has recently been redesigned and refreshed, was held at London Transport's lost property office. But Squif said she couldn't go as she is patron of CUPS (Captive Umbrella Protection Society) and she couldn't set foot in a building which glorified in keeping umbrellas locked up. She did, however, send a message via her butler: "The government will not be held captive by the umbrella sector and its so-called Compact. The only refreshed Compact I am interested in is my new make-up kit and I keep that securely in my handbag."

Cynics have said that Squif was making excuses so as not to face a hostile audience after she pulled the plug on the umbrella campaigning fund last year. But I have some sympathy with her. I have on many occasions refused to attend meetings on a point of principle. For example, I am not going to one today on umbrella gift aid reform because they are not providing a lunch. I also see no point in engaging with the HMRC who seem intent on collecting as much tax as possible to spend on the country and stuff. Anyone would think it was their job to maximise tax revenues, especially at a time when the government faces a challenge in meeting public expenditure commitments. I want it both ways. Give us the money and don't cut services but don't enforce the means with which to fund these things.

The Big Arse - Manchester

The first night of my UK tour is a tremendous success, with Northern members rocking out to my karaoke version of Rihanna' s Umbrella. Such is the energy generated that we have to take the temperature of some of the audience. However, I am disappointed not to catch up with my Brazilian cousin who has been playing football for Man City. Robinboggho has just headed back home so I content myself with a few pints of Boggingtons with fans at the aftershow party. Bogg on, baby.