Friday, 29 January 2010

Loan sharks

I am not one to say "I told you so" but I told you so. The case for Umbrella Investment is proven. The Umbrellabuilders fund, which enables people in especially soggy parts of England to borrow brollies, has reached capacity. We have had to close it 14 years ahead of schedule. So successful have we been in meeting the government's main KPI of being seen to be doing something quickly that we have run out of umbrellas to lend. And the government can quote a positive headline figure of huge umbrella infrastructure investment just ahead of the election.

Never mind evaluating the impact of the loans we have made, which you would think would be the true point at which we could determine whether or not we had been successful. Let's assume it's a done deal and pat ourselves on our smug backs.

This proves there is an appetite for loans and if the metric of success is demand then we are golden, baby. That there is such demand shows that umbrella investment is the new sliced bread. After all, anything that people desperately want is automatically great. Such as heroin.

So all those who said that we couldn't flood the market with easy access gamps can eat their hats. Of course, what state these brollies will be in when returned to us, assuming we get them back at all, is another matter. But we won't worry about that for now. We can always send the boys round later if anyone defaults. Or bang them up in the brolly debtor prisons we will soon be running.

Busy day for me today. In a minute I have to face the Gareth Chilcott inquiry to brazenly lie and defend claims I made about Umbrellas of Mass Destruction (UMD) in Iraq. Then it is on a train ooop North for the first leg of my Big Arse tour. It's only Bogg'n'Roll but I like it.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Letter from the Chancellor

At last - I've had a response to my begging letter to the Chancellor. It is quite positive, in that it says piss off politely. Some extracts:

Dear Robin

Before I begin I must point out that I have heard every variation of jokes about my surname - it's like living in Blackadder Goes Forth sometimes - so I will not be signing this "Fond regards, Darling" or anything similar, just to get a cheap laugh.

Sorry it has taken me so long to reply but I have been busy sending out my thank you letters for Christmas presents. I welcome the arguments you outline about the umbrella sector saving the economy. I also found the 453 examples of evidence of people being saved a soaking by using a brolly compelling. If you could just gather up a further 14,536,456,789 similar samples then that should keep you quiet until the other lot are elected and have to worry about "solving society's ills" and all that nonsense.

Yours sincerely


Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Mention no 10,000 for No 10

I hate breakfast meetings (unless there is a stack of croissants and they're held at 11am). Nasty Americanism - and way out of line with the pursuit of happiness I praised them for yesterday. I also hate namedropping but when its at No 10 with the PM and the Lord of Darkness somehow you need to.

It would have been even better if I could have had a proper chat with the two of them but all of these other bloody people showed up for the launch of something.

I managed a quick word with the PM over coffee - well he said "thanks" when I passed him a biscuit - but it was all a bit crowded and the croissants were French so I made my excuses and headed off. Then it was off to Windsor Castle for a meeting. Click here for more details.

Monday, 25 January 2010


We want it! And BUBB has even published a book on it; our country's umbrella sector makes a huge contribution to the well being of our country. How the spirits rise when you realise it is pissing it down and you remembered your brolly. And how delightful it is to see a hated colleague come back from Greggs clutching a soggy pasty because they left their own one on the tube. And in case you think I have got all sloppy and hippy like, let's remember that the American constitution seeks to guarantee life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and the right to bear an umbrella. And the Americans have gone out of their way ever since to spread their own brand of joy throughout the world.

Happiness means many things to different people. To some it is a cigar called hamlet. To John Lennon it was warm gun - a sentiment that came back to oh so cruelly mock him 13 years later.

Most people are too serious to consider jollity to be important in an organisation and I doubt that being merry appears in many strategic plans. But it is certainly a key part of my working day, especially when the networking kicks in.

Ooooh, I am spitting feathers

Deeply irritating when my head of comms, the talented Ms McMoan points out an article in The Times written by Sandy Bunsen-Byrne (what is it with people called Sandy trying to annoy me?) of the improbably named Local National Fragmented Coalition for Co-ordinated Independent Apathy Action whoever the hell they are.

I am so angry that my pants explode and my spelling goes haywire. This numptie suggests that by taking money from the Office of the Brolly Sector, BUBB and other groups including NCVO and NAVCA are silenced into never criticising the government and are thus compromising the umbrella sector's cherished independence.

Er pardon? I can only assume that Bunsen-Byrne has had his head up his arse for the last year and has therefore missed me threatening Sandy Burnham-Drownham with a bunch of fives for his NHS preferred supplier nonsense. Perhaps he was nuzzling his colon when I offered to tear Alistair Darling a new one for ignoring a letter I sent him. He must have been polishing his sphincter when I gave umbrella minister Veronica Squif a hard stare when she refused to hand over some money we wanted.

And presumably there is no internet connection inside his bottom or else he would have seen many examples in my blog (which will be compulsory reading when we're running prisons and the justice system) of foot stamping, dummy spitting and toy throwing when the government doesn't do what I want.

And then he makes the extraordinary claim that 95 per cent of people who work in the umbrella sector agree with him. Amazing. What survey was that exactly? A random sample of people in the Frog and Fucwit at closing time? Because it certainly takes the piss. Only BUBB are allowed to make outlandish claims based on either poorly compiled research or by twisting statistics to meet our an agenda.

Sure I am all for cosying up to government as it is only by doing this that we get the cash in the first place. So there is no place for your shite peddling here. We will continue to both lick and slap arses as appropriate because the government doesn't scare us. If you want to criticise BUBB there are plenty of other more legitimate concerns. Such as what we then spend the government's money on.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Summits happening

Last week we had our quarterly recession summit where all of the big kahunas in umbrellaland get together and scare each other with Domesday scenarios. These summits used to be called meetings but serious times call for hyperbole and self importance. As it's on the recession I wear an appropriate tie (Duchamp, naturally). I do this to emphasise that if we're not careful we will piss everything away and the whole umbrella sector will go down the toilet.

Lester Twomore, head of the Umbrella Lottery Fund wears some expensive and brash silk tie but I think flaunting flashy material wealth at a discussion about how umbrella organisations are battling against the grim realities of a recession is wholly inappropriate.

I make my usual points about the Brolly Investment Bank and the brolly sector's VAT burden and the billions of pounds that our cash rich government should give us simply because we keep on asking for it remorselessly, like a kid on a long car journey ("Are we there yet? Are we there yet?").

I also forget about not blurring the lines between my position as CEO of BUBB with that of being chair of Umbrellabuilders or whatever we're now calling it by plugging loans from the latter. You can consolidate all of your umbrella debts into one easy payment and we're about to launch Cash for Brollies. Send us your unwanted gamps and we'll send you a couple of pence.

I took a call in the afternoon from Rick T'Hurd, the shadowy Tory umbrella spokesman and then had a teleconference call with Hubert, Twirley and some others about the upcoming Tory summit (there's that word again) BUBB is organising to ingratiate ourselves with the likely new government. But if Cameron puts out any more daft vote losing airbrushed posters we'll probably cancel and court Labour again. We have a great discussion and agree it is a fantastic opportunity for us to row together. We can really get stuck in and argue the toss and hurl personal insults and generally have a 24 carat ding-dong.

Then it was off to a roundtable at Feudal to discuss learning from local government. That took 5 minutes so we head off for dinner. I had dog biscuits so I could take the left overs home for Barkles, and I swiped my neighbours lambshank as well, before she'd eaten it. The wine was pleasant but no champagne. Times are hard! Apparently there's a recession on but even so, that shouldn't stop me brazenly chronicling a high-falutin lifestyle.

I do have to watch what I eat at the minute, however. My deputy, Hector Rule, has taken it upon himself to monitor my nutritional intake and I am paranoid he will try and poison me to get my job. He is a doctor after all so will have access to plenty of pills and potions.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Yes it's true; we have no idea what impact we have!

Every so often we beat ourselves off and moan over statistics about umbrellas but bemoan the lack of stats about the impact of the brolly sector. But we know we are great. You don't need so-called evidence to tell you this. In the same way that you intuitively know when criminals and murderers are guilty. You don't require actual proof, which just slows the criminal justice system down. That's it really.

Thursday, 21 January 2010


Before I get stuck into moaning about one company being taken over by another company, should I use the tragic events in Haiti as a way of tenuously prefacing any points I want to make from my own agenda? No, thankfully, other than praise the work of UK umbrella organisations (all BUBB members naturally) providing brolly aid I'll wisely steer clear.

I get taken out to dinner by Donald Holding of Feudal, self-appointed headhunter to the umbrella sector who I haven't plugged for literally minutes, together with some old cove called Sir Henry or something who's carved out a nice niche in chairing stuff. We have much in common - an appreciation for free wine, Rihanna and using umbrellas as weapons. We dissect lots of people over dinner, much to the horror of the waiters who have to clear all of the blood up afterwards, and enjoy a fine Chablis Premier Irn Bru (Holding was not getting away with dandelion and burdock).

As we eat I bemoan the news that Kraft are taking over Cadburys. Even though it is merely a reflection of the realities of a capitalist society (Kraft? profit driven? whatever next?) and is the sort of thing that happens all of the time (Cadburys has itself taken over Frys and Green & Blacks in the past) this is deemed shocking presumably because it is viewed as a hostile US invasion of a much loved British brand with it's warm and fuzzy associations with childhood and crap chocolate. But the Yanks won't find any oil in Bournville.

Kraft will ignore Cadburys' proud quaker traditions and magnificent corporate social responsibility ethos. Cadbury give ALL of their profits, and then some more, to charity. They were paying a fair price to cocoa farmers and advocating fair trade before it was even invented and haven't just belatedly jumped onto the bandwagon for PR and business reasons. They haven't tried to pull any palm oil stunts in New Zealand. Ohh hang on...

Well I for one will be boycotting Kraft products (except dairylea obviously) even though I don't actually eat any of them in the hope that my hollow and meaningless gesture will somehow make a difference. Then I will boycott all products that are sold by profit making companies and starve to death.

On reflection the take-over does open up possibilities for some exciting new products. Chocolate cheese spread, creme cheese eggs or dairylea milk anyone?

And finally I have a right giggle at Luke Big's column in brolly sector rag Canopy Weekly. A most amusing story about my blog appears:

"Yolande Sanderson, new director general of the office of the brolly sector, said in a speech last week at the BUBB AGM that you knew you'd really arrived in the umbrella sector when you got mentioned in Robin Bogg's blog, an honour bestowed upon her last week.

Actually you know you've really arrived if you get your name mi-spelt in the blog of Bogg's spoofer, Stephen Bubb."

So it is official. I make or break reputations. I am the Daddy. Read my blog AND WEEP, Hubert. Incidentally, it is also a nice way of Luke to blag a mention in my blog as well, thus securing his own place in the sector's hall of fame.

Friday, 15 January 2010


A sinking feeling as I opened the curtains to see the snow thawing; will everyone now be able to come to the BUBB AGM and ask awkward questions? What idiot decided to have an open AGM I thought before remembering. It was probably the bankers and Sandy Burnham-Drownham as I blame them for everything else.

But in keeping with the theme of my speech, "Keep Calm and Carry On Screaming for Cash" I soon rally. The year was dominated by the recession and my continued attempts to talk everyone out of work so that my gloomy scenarios would be realised. While things haven't been as tough for the umbrella sector as I soothsayered, I say that we shouldn't give up as there's still time.

We ran 1,104 staggering events throughout the year (including some in the North - oooh get us with our patronising London-centric regional tokenism) where a huge amount of canapes were troughed and champers guzzled, meaning our well networked members were staggering home on average 3 times a week.

I paid tribute to BUBB's committed and talented staff team. We have but 400 staff and I don't know what half of them do but there is a huge pool of unemployed graduates (Oxford, naturally) that need occupying and I am happy to oblige.

One thing I don't talk about is governance and remuneration of trustees. Everyone is frankly tired of me going on about this now though I have instructed Fab Jobsworth to broach it in his latest blog. He does a tremendous job in attacking some misguided bleeding-heart voluntary principle nonsense by governance guru Hilary Hilton. Fab is so on message it hurts. He couldn't have parroted the Bogg line any more effectively if he had worn glasses, owned a dog and weekended in the Cotswolds.

I welcome on board 2 new BUBB trustees and hand them the customary brown envelope stuffed with cash. Just a little sweetener to ensure I keep my job for yet another year. That's progressive governance for you, Hilary!

There was a great sprinkling of grandees and politicians at the parliamentary reception afterwards, which given that they can no longer claim pret sarnies on expenses and the canapes were free is hardly surprising. One of the secretaries from the Treasury popped in to give her boss a message and stated during a brilliant 5 minute econium that what she was actually giving was an encomium and an Oxford graduate with a supposed knowledge of Latin should really know the correct word when trying to be a smart arse in his blog.

She also said that not a month goes by without government drawing on (doodling and scribbling) suggestions BUBB has sent them.

The new director of the Office of the Umbrella Sector, Yolanda Sanderson spoke and even mentioned my blog. So you would have thought the least I could do is spell her forename correctly. Sorry, Yolande.

The weather is playing havoc with my diary, especially after I dropped it into a snowy puddle and the ink ran. I have had to buy my own lunch three days in a row and have learned how not to use the microwave much to the irritation of the staff who have to douse the electrical fire I cause by trying to heat up food in metal containers.

And I see that NCVO are advertising for a new chair. Hubert must have had his furniture budget slashed so there is an opportunity for me to infiltrate NCVO and bring them down from the inside. I will echo the Trojan horse tactic and send them a chaise longue, in which I will hide. That way I can learn all of Hubert's dastardly plans.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Unmasking my spoofer

At No. 10 yesterday morning - and who said I am not discrete in my blogs (nobody did, they said I wasn't discreet) so I am not revealing who I met or what we talked about but I thought it absolutely necessary to drop in the fact about where what I am not talking about happened. Which was No. 10. Downing Street. Impressed?

And it was amusing as I was leaving to meet various cabinet ministers . I walked out with a couple tucked under my arm and took them back to BUBB's office where they are now being held hostage until they promise to include some pledges that they can later break or not honour on the umbrella sector in Labour's election manifesto.

I have also made an important discovery regarding my spoof blogger. Regular readers will be aware that someone going by the name of Stephen Bubb regularly parodies my own blog, indeed even sometimes foreshadows what he thinks I am going to write about. There has been much debate about who this mystery wag is. I have always assumed that it must be someone with a razor sharp mind so it was a shock to realise that it is probably an Australian lawyer.

I also felt that it must be someone with an intimate knowledge of the issues and politics of the brolly scene. Follow this link to see the culprit. The clue (other than the name) is in his areas of expertise. Sure, property law, commercial law, wills, estates etc don't offer much of a hint but "water trading"? I rest my case.

I am now off to the BUBB AGM to see if I can blag another year out of this job. Full report later.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Pin-up hero

Swoooooooon. Did you see it? James Purnell's pin-up status in the Guardian yesterday? He had a comment piece published about New Labour needing vision and vitality, presumably of the sort he could offer. It was a masterclass in critical analysis without suggesting anything new that David "Airbrush" Cameron would have been proud of.

Disappointingly though there was no mention of the role the umbrella sector can play. I have written to James to congratulate him on his words and politely remind him of this omission. Well, I say write to him, Since the Royal Mail have been legally instructed not to deliver anything I send to him I have had to make do with posting a comment on the Guardian website. You can read it here at 8.37am on the 11th January, underneath the original piece.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Snow country for old men

Apparently the country has been paralysed by snow. In winter of all things. Now I am one who likes to keep abreast with current affairs, indeed I shape most of them. I tune into Radio 4 at least once a year and drop comments into conversation that imply I listen to the Today Programme without actually doing so. So it was somewhat of a shock to realise that all of my meetings last week were cancelled or poorly attended because of TRAVEL CHAOS in SNOWBOUND BROKEN BRITAIN.

The Daily Express trotted out the irresponsible and tired line about the cold snap proving that global warming was rubbish. To be fair though their front page on Friday summed up their crass ignorance.


Yet the Express still claims it is a proper newspaper. "

We also had the usual guff about the cost to the economy of work absenteeism etc. What about the boost to GDP from sales of sledges, mufflers, woolly hats? Snow brollies? Increased gas consumption? Panic buying? I myself had a nervous moment when I realised I didn't have enough panic in the cupboard. I rushed down to Lidl but they had sold out.

Still, gaps in the diary have given me time to catch up with things and I have been exploring telephone conferencing. This is a great way to hold meetings without actually going anywhere and thus reduces the carbon footprint and effects on the environment. At BUBB we have taken great care to source the best technology to enable virtual blathering and Fab Jobsworth has travelled to 48 different countries to test out bits of kit before settling on one developed at a huge factory slap bang in the middle of the Amazon rainforest.

I also realise from reading BUBB's constitution, found during my clear out, that we have a constitution with rules and a framework for doing things which is an even bigger shock than the snow. In January. Apparently I am bound by law to brazenly plug the services of headhunter extraordinaire Donald Holding of Feudal at least once a month. So here goes. Donald is so busy creating a veneer of high demand for quality umbrella sector CEOs to ratchet up his commission that he accidentally recruited someone else into his own job. But as he is a world champion in gampkido he just beat the living daylights out of them and smoothly reclaimed his own office.

One thing I have found that may come in useful is this. I will be heading off to see the Witchfinder-General Sandy Burnham-Drownham next week to "talk" some sense into about him favouring the NHS as the government's preferred supplier of medical brollies.

But for now I am relaxing in wonderful snow swept Blacbury for the weekend. I'm running low on blogs but I'll survive.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

A right good clear out

The New Year starts with an irresistible urge to have a right good clearout. That's the problem with a rich festive diet I suppose. Still, having sluiced the decks I can tackle the business of sorting through some stuff in my office. And what a treasure trove.

In a locked cupboard I find four members of the board of trustees who should have been at the meeting when my appointment was ratified in 2000, bound and gagged. Also 14 finance directors.

I also find:

A gramophone with a stuck record on it, repeatedly saying "leadership".

A box containing the umbrella sector's shortfall in governance. Everyone else denied there was such a thing but I had it all along.

A brown envelope with £400 million in irrecoverable VAT inside.

A Lidl humble pie (still wrapped), a bumper sack of apologies (unopened) and an empty file labelled "Regrets".

14 brollies pinched from Hubert Carrington plus 5 billion unclaimed gamps from the Underground.

A tray of half eaten canapes.

Fatwas against other sector body leaders (unissued).

A 1972 A-Z street map (Oxford, naturally).

I still have 3 cupboards to go yet so who knows what else I will find. Would anyone like to hazard a guess?

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Back at the metaphorical workplace

So it's back at the coal face for 2010, or twenty ten, or whatever we're supposed to call it. If everyone just says "this year" for now that would help. The coal face is an apt metaphor for what we face in the umbrella sector this year. Working hard for little reward, left in the dark while all around us closes, coughing and spluttering our way through life.

I am gong to resist the usual predictions: the papers are full of them as I said they would be. But an interesting discussion with the [INSERT 2 COMPLIMENTARY ADJECTIVES HERE] chief executive of London Gamp Recycling (he doesn't bring anything new to his role, just does what he has always done) as we went round Brockwell Park on our heelies made me think about putting down some markers about what to expect in 2010. Or to put it another way, make some predictions.

The economy may be recovering, boosted by the likely increased spend in glossy expensive pre-election spin, but the effects of recession will continue to bite hard on brollies.

To present it pictorially, look at the following triptych of images. These pictures were taken over the course of a week and depict the quite appalling conditions that some umbrellas have to endure.

Brolly abandoned, then moves a little bit, then has a bottle of water. And now it has gone. (I don't have a picture of this but use your imagination).

I am not sure what the precise metaphor is here but I know there is one and BUBB's role this year will be making sense of ever more elaborate linguistic devices to get our increasingly muddled message across in the noisy pre-election lobby decibel heightened noisefest.

Like the disillusioned worker when heavy snow is forecast, I am looking forward to getting stuck in.