Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Long may she rain

At last the Queen has done something useful. And I don't mean summoned me to the Palace for a long overdue gong. During her visit to Canada she has been promoting the sheer majesty of the great British brolly. Marvel at her technique, gamp pulled down low for maximum rain protection, minimum wind interference and less risk to other people's eyes. And check out the flimsy Canadian brollies crumpling in the wind. Click here, watch and enjoy.

Supermarkets and Brighton

Good to see that my local Co-op in Blacbury is advertising the Co-operative fortnight. This in an initiative devised by former New Gampnomics Foundation chief Spread Saladcream. It is all about people coming together and working together for the good of all rather than sticking to their own fiefdoms. It will never catch on.

And sharp eyed readers may have noticed that I have started casually dropping the names of supermarkets into my posts. This is part of a deal BUBB has struck to supply the major names with cheap brollies that they can sell by their exits, at panic inflated prices should the weather have turned for the worse (better) while they have been filling their trollies. There will also be a loan scheme set up so that people can borrow a gamp to keep their noggins dry while dashing to the car in a shower.

So after Tesco and Lidl got an outing yesterday, today is Co-op's turn. Keep an eye out for more sparring partners appearing over the next few days. Product placement and plugging things is a dark art, which can go wrong if not laced with subtlety (DONALD HOLDING, FEUDAL, FOR ALL YOUR HEAD HUNTING AND RECRUITMENT NEEDS) but there is a safe way of doing it. A carefully worded phrase, and hey presto, job done. As easy as a pleasant ramble through summer fields.

Meanwhile, the BUBB hierarchy have been down in Brighton for our annual directors' away day. Plenty to chat about and in this brolly-unfriendly hot weather we managed to find a bit of time to not do any work and enjoy the beach umbrellas. Photos courtesy of Hector Rule including one of Barkles enjoying himself, one of the youthful looking Geof Sachell having a paddle and one of me. Enjoy.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Lidl-isation is nonsense - official

New research from the Brolly Sector Research Centre and Centre for Drizzling and Fillcanopy challenges the belief that bigger brollies are becoming increasingly dominant. So you are bloody well going to hear about it because it matches my agenda.

Over the past decade there is a perception that use of the term Tesco-isation has been on the increase and threatening to take over smaller, community-based terms.

Also, over the last 10 years, the number of brollies in the UK has grown substantially. And there is a perception amongst some that the largest brollies are taking over by offering value at the expense of choice and quality - the Lidl-isation effect. And there has been a lot of silly and divisive nonsense about the increasing spread of big corporate branded brollies, squeezing out small grassroots gamps from people who should know better. These people should know by now that silly and divisive nonsense is only allowed when I initiate it.

Whilst the number of small brollies may not have grown as much as the rest of the sector, evidence suggests that the gap between numbers of medium and large umbrellas has fallen. So if you think about it, there really are increasingly more big brollies than small ones, which is what these people were saying all along. Ooops.

It just depends on where you draw a line between the definition of large, medium and small, and how you cherrypick and simplify the details from the report to fit in with the argument you want to make. Which is let's cut the small is beautiful stuff and recognise the fantastic and important work that our big umbrellas do for millions of our citizens.

On a different note I am pleased that England are out of the World Cup. BUBB staff were pleading with me to have time off to watch the Slovenia match. Sod that - they have work to do. We're a professional organisation and haven't got time to slob around drinking cheap booze on work time unless someone is sponsoring a launch event for us. Though I am not altogether draconian and they were allowed to do what they wanted for yesterday's match. I just hope they enjoyed it.

I didn't watch it as I was far too busy composing love poems and sending roses to my new favourite minister, Derek Gherkins. He's like James Purnell to the power of four. And that's just his waist size.

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Influencing on St All Bran's Day

Appropriate that the feast day of St All Bran was used for a Budget where many people feel they have been shat on from a great height, and will continue to be so. Regularly. From a government lacking in moral fibre.

Osborne has called it a "progressive budget". Well, yes, in that it got progressively worse as he droned on.

I had a meeting with Agatha Snide of DWP today. Agatha was the founding director of the Centre for Social Injustice and is now a special adviser to IBS. She failed to become an MP at the general election but luckily has managed to get into government through the back door.

According to one newspaper prior to the election, she reportedly has some "interesting views" on how gayness can be cured, presumably by which it meant that some people will have a lot less to smile about under the Tories. But she gave me no cause to suggest she has a downer on joyful folk. She also denied that when the David Laws scandal broke, Cameron sent Laws along to see her "for a chat".

This evening sees BUBB's any excuse for yet another official reception, this time for new MPs with Rick T'Hurd MP and me acting as hosts. But the highlight of the day will be dinner with the ubiquitous Dom Blond, who is all over the background to the new government's ideology like a bad suit. And he is still trying to take credit for my Bogg Society idea. Mind you, given what they are likely to do with it, him and Gnat Pee can have it. I don't want to get the blame when it is exposed as a sham as it undoubtedly will be.

Silver lining

We got our Budget analysis out nearly an hour quicker than Hubert's mob. Take that, Sir.

Oh lawks a Lordy

The Budget. Seven shades of shitty news. VAT has increased. Who could have predicted that? Apart from everyone. The umbrella sector already faces an irrecoverable VAT bill on the non-business use of gamps of £1.3bn or £0.5bn depending on who you listen to. This rise will hit us hard.

And there is going to be further pain to come. Therefore BUBB is launching Cuts Watch, a microsite devoted to keeping tabs on hairstyles in the sector (eh, Hubert?). For all the latest barnet-related gossip, it's the place to go.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Preparing for the Budget

Budget day. We are all shitting ourselves, no one more than weedy Osborne. Apparently he tried to throw a sickie earlier as "I am scared that people may be nasty to me later and call me poohey and other horrible names like in the old days at school". He claimed he had a temperature. However, Dave caught him sticking his thermometer in his morning cuppa and told him to "pull yourself together and get ready to bash the oiks".

What can we expect? Cuts and tax rises are coming that's for sure. Will there be a tax on umbrella usage? More cuts of gamp-based services in disadvantaged areas? Let's hope not.

What is fascinating about this budget is it it is the first one for 458 years where I will not be calling beforehand for my usual wishlist of VAT reduction, more gift aid and a Brolly Investment Bank, much to everyone's relief.

Things that we already know:

Cuts already biting. Suddenly, on Budget day, there is no 12.30 World Cup match although Osborne has confirmed that the Budget was moved forward to 12.30 as he's gambling our economic recovery by spread betting on Uruguay vs Mexico at 3pm.

Vince Cable is spending the morning sitting in front of a mirror practicing his "I'm perfectly comfortable with this, it's exactly what I'd have done" face.

Osborne has dropped plans for a levy on reasoned tabloid news coverage about Jon Venables as "uneconomic".

Osborne will announce windfall taxes on people who put superfluous "u" into his surname and on James Corden's public profile.

But his most dramatic and possibly successful measure will be a windfall tax on people who were proved right about what would happen if the Tories got in.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Sorting stuff

Blimey, last week was so busy I am still living it and haven't had time to devote chunks of the working day to blogging about the things I would be doing if I wasn't blogging.

First off, Hubert, Dylan Twirley and I saved the brolly sector's allocation of loot from the Lottery distributors following a meeting with some jumped up pen-pusher, Jim Birose. Despite all the jibes about how we don't work together (started largely because we don't) we can provide a united front when the chips are down, although you'll hear a different interpretation from the other two who always get things wrong.

We looked pretty menacing with our hoodies and baseball bats and Birose conceded everything we wanted just to avoid a pasting. Hubert also threatened to dazzle him with his gong while Twirley got all confused about his ideological position should we get put in prison for harassment.

Then I had 72 straight hours of meetings. And no lunch. My PA had forgotten to make me any fish paste sandwiches so I had to do what other people do everyday and find a shop that sells food. Which is no small task in London.

We had our annual summit where we found out that 55 per cent of umbrella CEOs are breezily naive about future levels of rainfall.

I took some grainy pictures.

I dealt with a flurry of spam emails from some religious chap.

And some of my philosophical gold about Bogg Society was read out in the House of Lords. Which is as close as I am going to get to that peerage I suppose.

Then on Friday I found out that BUBB was hosting its future leaders summit. Or to give it it's correct name, failed coup d'etat. Behind my back Hector Rule and Fab Jobsworth organised an event to try and undermine my own leadership of BUBB. They even had the cheek to launch a new BUBB publication, unvetted by me called: "How to become a brolly sector CEO even if you are not lucky enough to be headhunted by Donald Holding". The cheeky scamps. No pocket money for them this week.

Saturday, 19 June 2010

Egon Spoon

Last week, Chris Huhne's disastrous performance on Question Time, where he seemed to be another Lib Dem stooge delivering bad news on behalf of his Tory masters, led people to question whether he was now the most disliked politician whose name is pronounced Hoon since Geoff Hoon.

And today's news about his infidelity will not have helped. Shockingly, it seems that the energy and climate change secretary has admitted to having an affair with Tory environmental policy and flirting with a u-turn on nuclear power. However, he has claimed that he was merely exploring alternative sources of energy.

Interestingly, his new squeeze has now said that she has quit her job working in PR for one in AV.

With such a high profile he could be just the sort of politician BUBB needs to get close to, and perhaps ask to speak at one of the 15,628 events we have planned for the next month. We could say he was going to make a special announcement about his personal life as a way of shifting tickets. Of course he would need a new name. Egon Spoon sound OK?

Thursday, 17 June 2010

All these meetings get in the way of networking

What a bloody week. I have been that busy I have had no time to blog. Right, off to tend my vegetables.

Monday, 14 June 2010

What is an oddblast exactly?

We have heard that the new health secretary, Alex Bedpansley, who is speaking at our annual Health and Social Care Conference in July will be making an important announcement. I can say no more as I don't know what it is but it will be very important and I am not just saying that simply to encourage people to buy tickets like I did with our Tory summit where we promised a big announcement from Osborne which never materialised. But it will be worth going, honest.

Friday was amusing once I had recovered from my hangover. I did something called an oddblast for The Guardian with the charming and erudite Dick Chapel of the School for Gampal Entrepreneurs. We began well when I called him Dick Winkie! And then Rabid Bundle caps it by asking me a question when he refers to me as "Hubert". How we bloody laughed. Me through gritted teeth.

Not sure what an oddblast is exactly, or on which page of Wednesday's Guardian it will be printed, but I hope it wasn't taped as I was expounding my views on Bogg Society with some rather colourful language. I even said Bogg Society was like a long piece of string on which the Tories hang lots of rhetorical bollocks!

A pleasant day ahead. Hang on, who I am kidding? I am having lunch with Hubert and Dylan. No doubt if NCVO and NAVCA merge Dylan Twirley will try and claim half of Hubert's knighthood for himself.

Saturday, 12 June 2010

I am not calling him Sir Hubert, I can tell you that for nowt

One sodding meeting of the honours committee I missed as I was busy lunching, and what do they do? Slip in a crafty knighthood for Hubert Carrington. He is never going to let me hear the end of this. The one saving grace is that he got it for services to the brolly sector, NOT his preferred term, gampal society. And any honours list that rewards Catherine Zeta Jones for services to living and working abroad or whatever she got OBE for cannot be taken seriously.

Friday, 11 June 2010


I feel dreadful. I woke up in a broom cupboard this morning in the Gampsvenor Hotel with a head like a bag of hammers. What a great night at the Canopy Awards, even though I didn't win anything. The outstanding leadership gong is being kept warm for me this year by the charming former umbrella commissioner and chief executive of the Jason Gumtree Foundation, Brolia Winwin. She deserved the award alone for keping her acceptance speech short.

The overall canopy winner was Community Service Gampteers for its splendid initiative protecting children's brollies. A fitting honour for its departing chief executive, Dame AlwaysUsesABrollyToKeepHerHairDryAsHerCoatIsHoodless. And the overall canape award was won by a prawn vol au vent from one of BUBB's many launch parties over the past year.

The only sour note was a mindless comment from one of the celebrity award presenters. Lanky beanpole Campari swigging faux-cockney actress Lorraine Chase said she couldn't wear a black dress without looking like a rolled up umbrella. As if that is a bad thing! Get back to Luton airport, treacle.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Gift aid; time to change the record

The annual report of the Gampraising Standards Board has been published. An interesting document in the way that pages of dull stats often are! We read that direct hail generates the highest number of complaints by umbrellas, but this only represented 0.003% of the reported volume of precipitation.

Just shows how complaints about gampraising are blown completely out of proportion. But also illustrates how crucial gampraising is for our sector.

And this afternoon we have a meeting with Rick T'Hurd MP and treasury minister, Irene Beiging MP, at HMT to discuss gift aid. BUBB and its members have become deeply frustrated by the previous government's not doing what we wanted on reforming the system giving tax relief for the purchase of umbrellas as presents. We have been in "talks" for two years and because they refused to just hand over the loot I threw my toys out of the pram and refused to talk to them anymore. Hoping this new lot will be more open to handing over hard earned Treasury cash at a time when all the talk is of savings and cuts.

T'Hurd had better come up with the goods on this as I am still upset at his plans to divert Umbrellabuilders cash. He had the nerve to tell the Commons that we had distorted the market. Not as much as we'd hoped to, Rick. But give us time.

All this background could make for lively scenes at tonight's Canopy Awards, especially if I end up chatting to Rick after 14 bottle of red. I am off to the Gampsvenor in a minute to get there early enough to rearrange the place cards. I have just polished my shoes but cannot find my revolving bow tie with flashing lights. No matter, my white dinner jacket has been mopped down so that only a couple of red wine stains are visible and I look forward to adding a new badge of vino later. And you never know - that outstanding leadership award might come to Daddy tonight as well.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Mess with Rihanna and you mess with Britain, mate

Very pleased to see that Chris Brown, ex paramour of Umbrella chanteuse and siren Rihanna has been refused a visa to enter Britain because of his conviction for beating her up. Quite right too. But also worth noting, tucked away at the end of the statement: "Chris Brown was also refused entry to Britain because, to be frank, his music is a bit crap. We have enough talentless drones of our own without foreigners coming over here, taking cash from our impressionable, doe-eyed teenagers."

Monday, 7 June 2010

Not a waste of a good crony

My long time association with the larger than life, sorry lardier than life, communities minister and pie botherer in chief (honorary position formerly held by John Prescott) Derek Gherkins has paid dividends. Thankfully, after a word from me at last week's tupperware party, he has decided to "scrap" a tax that I was seriously worried about - the waste of space tax.

He has also ruled out charges for excessive household waste saying "I'll go around and scoff everyone's left overs myself". And when faced with questions about the UK's growing landfill problem he simply said "it's OK, I've booked a burial plot overseas".

Derek is quiet right of course. It is our absolute right as citizens to produce as much waste as possible and then whinge about our Council Tax going up to cover the cost of removing it. What good is a throwaway, disposable society if we can't throw shitloads of stuff away and dispose of bucketfuls more stuff as well. Indeed, why should people spend ages sorting rubbish out into different boxes and bins when they can simply just leave it in the street and hope someone else takes responsibility for clearing it up (at more expense to the taxpayer)?

And it is good to see the new government getting into the spirit of things by binning loads of suggestions, policies, commitments and legislation from the old regime. These are difficult times, which as millionaire David Cameron wisely said, will be tough for everyone but at least we are all in it together. I am sure the very poorest in society will be relieved to know that Cameron and his pals will also be shivering and hungry pretty soon as well.

Some woolly liberals might think that it would be a time to cut waste. But no, we will instead reduce wasting time on worrying about waste. And pull in our waistlines as well. Unless you are the communities minister, naturally.

Waiting for honours. Again

This Thursday sees the umbrella sector's annual gathering of the great, the good and Hubert Carrington for the Canopy Awards. This year it is being held in one of Park Lane's swanky (I think that's the right word) dinner jacket and bubbly traps, the Gampsvenor hotel. Brollies from all walks of life will be rewarded for excellence in rain management while Very Important People will network like one great big white middle class speed dating evening. Conducted on speed.

It barely seems 12 months since I was once again inexplicably passed over for the outstanding leadership award, indeed I was in two minds whether to go at all last year (see here) and I have similar reservations again, but surely this year my turn will come.

The other reason I will pop along on Thursday is that it gives me a further chance to blur the distinction between my two high profile hat wearing roles. Brolly Investment Business, which I chair completely independently of my BUBB position and never mention in any way whatsoever in this blog so as to avoid any accusation of conflict of interest, is sponsoring a category as part of our promise to government to get rid of as much cash as possible in the shortest space of time. We are bankrolling the disability category, which seeks to recognise all the great work that some organisations do with broken gamps.

Many reasons have been mooted for why I have repeatedly been ignored for prestigious recognition by my peers for my unique work. Some say that the organisers are worried that my acceptance speech would go on for so long that everyone would have to show up at work the next day still dressed in their finery having slept at their tables. Others cite health and safety concerns. Several large venues refuse to accommodate events where I will be present because they can't safely fit my ego into the room. And the exits simply cannot cope with the stampede of a 1,000 people that sometimes happens when I get up to speak.

Some shrewd observers point to the fact that the criteria for winning this glowing justification for a life's selfless toil are unfairly loaded against me. Apparently, to win the oustanding leadership award you have to have actually been outstanding and a great leader rather than simply talked a good game in a blog. Highly unfair.

Anyway, I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on Thursday night. For those who don't know what I look like, I will be the one in a stained white dinner jacket, with my tongue stuck like a limpet to Rick T'Hurd's ear. Oh, and if the rumours are to be believed, my spoofer Stephen Bubb will be making an appearance. I hope they don't sit us on the same table, though it would be intriguing to find out who he (or she) really is. Actually, I hope all of the people on my table have a good sense of humour. They're going to need it when they find out I am gracing them with my presence.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Dropping more names than a clumsy phone book delivery boy

Back at work yesterday after a few days off. I had a lovely time in Scotland visiting the relatives, bothering the Boggs, and boggering the bothies or something. I would post a load of pictures from my holiday but I know no one wants to see things like that. I also spent a couple of days dicking around in Oxford, once again haunting my old visits, viewing the past through rose tinted glasses, trying to achieve rowing success through association with my athletic nephews and generally making sure the bastion of elitism is ticking over as ever, naturally. I could show some family snaps of all of the young Boggs being terribly successful and privileged at Oxford, but again, why would anyone be interested?

Yesterday, I managed to drop a thundercloud's worth of names, then grab a quick coffee with James Purnell. Oh James. Were that you still in politics, you would piss the Labour leadership contest.

Then in the evening I went round to Derek Gherkins' house for a tupperware party, a Fray Bentos pie buffet and a game of twister.

Not much happened in my absence. Everyone is still trying to figure out what Bogg Society means and how it will work in practice. I am going to spend some time over the next few days pestering as many politicians as possible by dropping their names in my blog, revealing just how close I am to them, being vomit-inducingly sycophantic and giving them a copy of the great speech I made on Bogg Society, in my head, last week. A marvellous piece of oratory that unpicked all of the contradictions with this great big pie in the sky. Including my own. Mind you if it is pie in the sky I hope they have placed it beyond the reach of Derek Gherkins' ladder.

Bad news as my director of strategy Fab Jobsworth has got engaged. He knows that the only thing he should be married to is BUBB and his job here. Mind you, got to hand it to the smooth bastard. Atop of Blackpool Tower with an engagement ring he stole off his Grandma. You can't teach class like that. Well, you can. At Oxford, naturally.

Good to see Hillda Ogden-Newton&Ridley has linked through to my blog from hers, more people should do that, eh Hubert? (who can't even be bothered to write a blog, probably because he is too busy doing his job and stuff).

And as Gemma-Plane Crash, chief executive of Beatbrollying, has made some compliments in her recent blog post about me (after slagging me off in the past) I will mention that here as well. Nothing like self-aggrandisement.

It's funny how many people say to me these days "this is not for the blog" as if I am in someway indiscreet. Mind you, there are also those who feed me stuff hoping to get it mentioned without causing them any repercussions. They know I have the brassneck to write anything without worry of the consequences. I guess just one of the penalties of writing the sector's second most widely read blog - obviously my spoofer's Stephen Bubb's is much more widely regarded.