Sunday, 31 October 2010

Health and the Hartleys

Had to head off to Blacbury yesterday to have my annual health check. All is fine despite rumours that I am dying to get into the House of Lords. I did pop into the cemetery. It's a beautiful quiet spot and the autumn colours were remarkable in the glorious sun yesterday. These things are very important when you are dead. I would hate for any noise to disturb me or the view to be rotten. Not that I shall be buried there. I have requested that my skin be turned into a the canopy for an umbrella, with spokes and handle constructed out of my bones.

As despite my unhealthy lifestyle my check up went well I had a good check up, I popped into one of my favourite local pubs, the Bullshit, for a pint of special brew and soup.

I must say it looks lovely in David Cameron's constituency. Which is nice for him as he can completely forget about the real wold and how shite it is going to look nearly everywhere else in the next couple of years.

I even had time for a spot of fishing. A little known fact (until I blab it all over my blog). One of my brilliant (hoodwinked) BUBB Trustees is the granddaughter of JR Hartley and she invited me along to the river with her family for a spot of fly fishing.

Printer cartridges and ginger rodents

Earlier on I was thinking I need to do some printing but the new ink toner cartridge I ordered from Yemen based hasn't arrived yet.

Then I saw the news. Apparently the UK terror threat level has been raised from red to CMYK.

One thing is for sure, all of this fuss about that suspect package is going to make it a lot more difficult to order explosives on the internet in future.

And to add to my problems I am apparently in trouble with animal lovers for likening red squirrels to Danny Alexander while speaking to Channel 4.

Some pictures from my decade celebration

As you may know, the other week I had a reception to mark my inexplicable decade of tenure as chief executive of the British Umbrella Backing Body (BUBB). The cheeky bastards organising it decided it would be oh so funny to hold it at the House of Lords and there was a huge banner greeting me at the entrance saying "This doesn't count as a Peerage, Bogg".

Anyway, below are some photographs from the night. As you can see it was a veritable namedropper's top shelf collection of anyone who is anyone in the world of brollies (and likes a free scoff-fest).

Mix up with Channel 4

I was just about to cook Sunday lunch earlier for my parents and younger sister (a traditional Lidl microwave job with lashings of packet gravy) when Channel 4 rang.

Having had several glasses of fizz I get completely the wrong end of the stick and think they are coming round to film me for Come Dine With Me. Obviously I accept. I have to do several takes by the time I have got stuck into several bottles of Blossom Hill 2010, and they have to film one particularly garbled anecdote 48 times. Plus Sparkles keeps trying to hump the cameraman's leg.

So imagine my shock just now when I find out that I was actually being filmed for Channel 4 news and the nation is treated to my refreshed and illogical views on the cuts. All very unedifying. Donald Holding has just texted me to say "gravitas and regal - in much the same way as Prince Harry in a nightclub at 3am"!

Still it could have been worse as even in my cups I spoke far more sense than Jim Bored of the fantastic "Bogg Issue", the charity which helps rehouse abandoned brollies by getting scruffy people to sell them to members of the public on the street. Bored was setting out his views on how the brolly sector should organise itself in light of the cuts.

His vision of the Bogg Society is "to scrub out duplication and promote pan sector work". In other words, expect people to share umbrellas. Interesting. But bollocks.

I'd be very happy to chat to Jim about this. While cooperation is fine it isn't as simple as that. Anyway, I can point to many fine examples of umbrella sharing and BUBB's own work in promoting this. But I would have to hope that Jim didn't then turn around and point to the fact that none of the main umbrella bodies seem capable of considering working together without falling out, let alone merger, or I would look a bit of a hypocrite. Which would be deliciously ironic if this was to happen while calling someone else one!

James. Just James. Oh and pay as well. But mainly James. And a little bit of Donald Holding

Last week ended in a flurry of meetings, topped like cream on a trifle by one with James Purnell, who in my eyes will always be the real leader of the Labour party. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell. James Purnell.

We talk about Bogg Society. My Great Aunt Maude has said recently that it will be messy and anarchic which is of course government speak for "we don't have a fucking clue what we're doing with this". I questioned Gnat Pee about another glaring paradox at the heart of current government thinking on Twitter last week but he hasn't bothered to reply even though I am number six of his famous five of Bogg Society unofficial advisers. Presumably he has empowered some active citizen to volunteer to reply on his behalf so he doesn't have to.

Bogg Society, as much as anyone has bothered to define it, is about strong local communities yet the government cuts mean half a million public sector brollies will be unemployed. Osborne seems to think that the private sector will magically find a use for these gamps, but even if it does, it still assumes that brollies can just move freely from the driest parts of the country to the wettest, which even if it were practical, would mean disrupting the very communities upon which Bogg Society relies.

We also had our BUBB pay survey launch, sponsored by brolly headhunter extraordinaire, Donald Holding of Feudal. What he doesn't know about securing gratuitous plugs in my blog isn't worth knowing. Interestingly the price of umbrellas has remained largely static over the last year despite the best efforts of headhunters such as Donald to keep prices artificially high so as to secure larger commissions.

The undeserving poor quality brollies

One of the more reprehensible features of the recent debate on cuts has been the emergence of those who believe that poor quality brollies deserve to suffer.

My recent lecture (did I tell you about my lecture? It was very good. No, not good, long) reminded members that not so long ago many people believed there were deserving and undeserving umbrellas. And anyone listening to a recent Any Questions would have heard the revolting modern expression of this by Dingo Starr, a man of whom it is hard to think of anything other than crazed loon historian.

Poor quality brollies do not shirk work, they just need support to enable them to provide adequate shelter. There is a real problem that many umbrellas in deprived areas are being painted as workshy idlers scrounging off their owners and not doing a proper day's rain protection. Sure, some do try and hide away in the corner for fear of getting wet but they are a small minority. If we're looking for brollies not pulling their weight and contributing to the UK much better to focus on the expensive ones who avoid British rainfall by sheltering in tax havens.

Testing times indeed for the umbrella sector but we are up for the challenge. Indeed the situation seems to have brought the best out of me. It is as if I have suddenly remembered what my job is - representing the interests of umbrellas and NOT myself. It may make for less of a car crash of a blog but so be it. I expect my spoofer Stephen Bub is kicking his heels wondering what to write because he has nothing meaningful to parody as I reel off blog post after blog post of largely sensible and well thought out wisdom.

I expect it won't last, especially once the pre-Christmas networking kicks in!

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Good Bogg Hunting

Back in the office after a few days off. I went to Boggnor Regis, where I managed to avoid the kind of trouble I got into last time I was there (see here). Then I spent a very pleasant couple of days hunting on Exmoor, where I got myself a nice little trophy for my office.

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Give me that £100m

Well done to Rick T'Hurd for securing a £100m "drop in the ocean compared to what the umbrella sector will miss out on elsewhere" transition fund, amid the carnage of the CSR.

But for this to be truly useful it needs to be looked after and allocated properly, ie. by errr me. So come on T'Hurd, show me the money.

Just off to a reception at the House of Lords (one day, my pretties, one day) to mark my 10 years at BUBB. I don't think I can contain my excitement about this. I will get so caught up in the gallons of BUBBly and the back handed compliments and admiration of my peers that I'll probably be silent for several days as I both recover from a hangover and try and wipe the smug grin off my face.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Awaiting the CSR

The new CEO of the Umbrella Commission is shaping up well. In a speech two days ago it is reported that Gamp Danger said:

"The umbrella sector should be encouraged by the sentiment emanating from government that the affairs of brollies are climbing the political agenda blah blah blah.”

Spot on. A message BUBB has been making for years. I suspect that this is in no small part down to a "visit" that Fab Jobsworth and Geof Sachell made to see Gamp a couple of weeks ago, reminding him of his responsibilities.

Obviously a shrewd man Mr Danger, who has a fond regard for his own health, though he does illustrate the old adage that like policemen, Umbrella Commission chief executives are getting Younger all the time.

So we await the CSR! The Canopy Shredding Review. Cancelling Shelter from Rainfall. There will be pain for umbrellas, that much is clear.

How many Boggs does it take to change a light bulb?

Been a busy few days. I have spent most of it in a wine addled fog. I managed to fall off a chair changing a light bulb and I find vino the perfect anesthetic.

Enjoyed a speech by my old mate Derek Gherkins. He does bang on about localism a lot, which is ironic given his size. He actually deliberately makes rash policy pronouncements as he is keen to try eating humble pie. And Cameron always uses him in cabinet meeting discussions to add weight to an argument

Other things you may not know about him include that his surname used to be Gherkin but he changed it when it became clear he needed to refer to himself in the plural. He is an MP in a safe seat which is ironic given the constant danger his sofa is in when he sits on it. And to calculate his own circumference he uses a mathematical formula involving pie.

Last week we also had our board away day. I find the best way to prevent my trustees from questioning what I am up to is to get them pissed so we enjoyed a wine tasting the night before. Everyone was shedded which meant that the next day they just went along with what I said in the hope I would shut up and let them get back to their hangovers.

And I went to Bristol. And came back again. Nothing funny happened.

Friday, 15 October 2010


As people know, I am a rabid networker, never attending one event when four will do. But despite this I remain a shadowy figure, the Banksy of the brolly sector, cropping up, making an impression, daubing shit on a wall (well, perhaps not the last one - not since that epsiode at an NCVO event once when the police were called) but leaving people unsure as to who I really am, forever masked by a strategically positioned umbrella.

Therefore I was intrigued to discover that someone has claimed I was at the Brolly Comms digital communications conference on Wednesday when I wasn't (or was I?). Under her Twitter handle @VONNENews, Carry Spokes, the Comms manager of Geordie Umbrella Backing Body (Including Nearby Sunderland) (GUBBINS), sent the following message click here

Apart from the fact that I didn't even know there was a call for gamps in the North East where they all wonder around with the bare minimum of clothing and protection from the elements, I was intrigued as to what evidence she had. And it all comes down to couscous, which has blown the cover of many an umbrella chief executive throughout history.

She is using the following message I sent (here) in response to a message from Nick Hoover (here) as proof of my attendance.

Now it is entirely possible that at digital communications events, someone could use, ooooh I don't know, digital communications to give the impression of attendance when in fact they were bunking off at home.

Carry, though is convinced (see here and here) and has even issued the following description (here).

Of a certain age? I ask you. However this does beg the question - if the person described wasn't me, who was it? Because rightly or wrongly some people are now under the impression it is me.

However, I'll leave the final word to Nick Hoover - can anyone help with his call for evidence (here)?

PS One thing I did discover at the conference (which I wasn't at) is audioboos, a way of recording something to send to people.

I have done my own audiobogg (click here). Have a listen to see if the voice matches the alleged description of me above.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Has Gnat Pee met Conscience Clean?

Sir Conscience Clean has revealed glaring problems in how government commissions. For example, commissioning a tax evader to report on government waste is a major error. Or huge common sense depending on how you look at it.

Clean's 145,648 page report, 245,000 copies of which have been printed on non-recycled paper, on government waste concludes that government needs more central commissioning of brollies and a more joined up approach. He is right. Calligraphy is very important.

But it is also an extreme waste of time to try and suggest that different government departments should talk to each other and have a common approach just to be efficient. It would be madness. Next he'll be suggesting that all of the umbrella bodies get together and agree about stuff.

For example, Clean has clearly not met Bogg Society guru Lord Gnat Pee. In a discussion I had with him he suggested that most government brolly commissioning will move local (ie. local areas such as Monaco - where the tax advantages are always Greener).

Yet in many cases to do so will involve the loss of economies of scale and encourage duplication and waste; exactly what Clean is warning against.

Of course I agree with Gnat that all brollies must look to their laurels. Big brollies need to continue to show flexibility of approach and guard against rainfall. They must retain trust of their users.

But also, and Gnat did not raise this point let alone raise a brolly, small brollies need to develop capacity and professionalism so as to provide the best shelter for their beneficiaries. This is not a game of small good, big bad.

The problem of Big Brolly is one I don't recognise as he articulated it. I think Gnat needs to get to know our great national gamps a tad better before preaching about them. Of course as umbrellas grow they must take care to marry efficiency with not poking pedestrians in the eye. Trying to divide the brolly sector on size is hardly a helpful contribution to building a Bogg Society is it Gnat.

(And we still await clarity on what Bogg Society means. The latest definition is that the government is empowering citizens to define it for themselves so that the State doesn't have to).

So I shall be looking to Gnat spending time with the big brollies to get to know their work. I am sure we can allay any concerns he has. And we shall get him on side! Even if we have to threaten him with the biggest brollies we have. Markov style.

And Gnat, do meet Conscience Clean! He will advise you in no uncertain terms that Shoreditch is not a tax efficient place to live.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Andrew Marr and blogging

In response to Andrew Marr's comments about bloggers:

"Most citizen journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all. A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed, young men sitting in their mother's basements and ranting. They are very angry people. OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk. But the so-called citizen journalism is the spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night."

I say:

"Some BBC journalism strikes me as nothing to do with journalism at all. A lot of Andrew Marr seems to be a socially inadequate, big eared, slightly seedy, middle aged man sitting in a studio pontificating. He is a very angry person, especially if it comes to threatening legal action to protect his privacy. OK – the country is full of very private people. Many of us are private people at times. Some of us are private and and don't want people to know about aspects of our private life but are quite happy to bully Gordon Brown with questions about prescription drugs. But this so-called BBC journalism is the spewings and rantings of very hypocritical person on a Sunday morning."

Thursday, 7 October 2010



I have just found out that the youngest member of the Bogg family (identity concealed to protect their reputation - I am not one of these bloggers who throws in loads of information about what their nieces and nephews are up to, which Oxford, naturally, college they are attending, what rowing competitions they have won etc etc) has had his umbrella pinched. From his pre-school. Which is held in a church of all places.

God definitely took his eye off the gamp there.

If I find out who did it I swear I'll do time.

I suspect this crime has been perpetrated as an attack against me by one of my enemies, so I have drawn up a shortlist of people I have pissed off recently. Obviously there isn't room on the internet to type them all but here are the main contenders:

Sir Hubert Carrington - NCVO

Nadine Dorries MP

Guido Fawkes

Dylan Twirley - NAVCA

Lord Gnat Pee

Donnie Fiddly - Divide Union

Hector Rule - my deputy who wants my job

Fab Jobsworth - my strategy director who recently lost a brolly of his own

The rest of my 4,846 strong team

Tony Blair

Bill Clinton

Lotte Shight - British Banking Apologists

The woman behind the cheese counter in Lidl

Lester Twomore - Brolly Lottery Fund

Earl Scalding - NCVO research geek

Meanwhile, if anyone sees this brolly, whoever may be carrying it, whatever their age, please make a citizen's arrest, snatch it back, and send it to me at BUBB. Or email me at to arrange a drop-off.

Bogg Society - time to piss or get off the Bogg

I am flipping cream crackered. Three conferences in a row. There is only so much flesh pressing and bullshit and cheap fizz one man can take. And even though I am not that man, I won't be doing it again next year (except if I do).

And have we moved any further forward on Bogg Society? Have we bollocks.

It is still rhetoric without substance. My Great Aunt Maud admitted it will be chaotic which translates as "we haven't got a fucking clue how it will work either".

Gnat Pee described it as "a society in which people do not feel small" which is a circular nonsense non-definition. Never has one man said so much and yet said so little than good old Gnat.

Cam's speech had so much waffle about Bogg Society that it should have come with jugs of maple syrup. Still the Party faithful lapped it up though they were warned for health and safety reasons to remember to remove the wool from their eyes when driving home.

Still, it has at least been good for numbers at events and the BUBB fringe event was packed. There were health and safety concerns but Derek Gherkins responded magnificently by simply eating delegates that were blocking the fire exits.

And it looks like the Bogg Society Network has been a damp squib with meetings cancelled for fear of violence. Empowered citizens marching on Northern town halls wielding brollies was obviously not the image that cuddly, lovable, employer with impeccable HR record Walmart wanted to be associated with. People talk about the Lidlisation of the brolly sector as a negative thing but I find it particularly hypocritical that the Bogg Society Network should be sponsored by Asda. Replacing Big State with Big Fuck Off Supermarket Chain isn't really on.

Seriously. this whole Bogg Society nonsense needs hammering out. And throwing away. It's all very well Dom Blond speaking at 345 floppy fringe events and giving it the big "ooh look at me, I am Dave's ideas man" but it requires more. Especially when you get the constant impression that the government's only idea generally is making things up as it goes along.

I fully expected Dave to open his speech yesterday by saying "I will be making some major policy announcements but I can't say what as I haven't thought of them yet".

It is no good the government saying Bogg Society is what you make of it. By empowering citizens to volunteer to come up with ways in which citizens can be empowered to volunteer to do things, the whole thing ends up getting lost in a cycle of confusion.

Still, it should mean plenty more opportunities to get people together to talk about it. Which generally means free canapes. And hot on the heels of the news that Greggs (Patron Saint - St Derek of Gherkins) are to start selling croissants, it does mean I will be exhibiting a well fed contentedness in the pre Xmas run up.

Monday, 4 October 2010

The day Nadine Dorries went too far

I am in Brum(brella) for the Tory party conference and if I catch sight of Nadine Dorries, the lovable Mid-Bedfordshire MP I will not be responsible for my actions.

She has a track record of reprehensible behaviour and indeed it was her callous comments about disabled people, Twitter and benefit scrounging that led to last week's Bobgate incident (for which Guido Fawkes has still not apologised).

Quite ironic really that an MP who has constantly wasted time blogging drivel while claiming (arguably) dodgy expenses from the taxpayer should take the moral high ground on such an issue.

But a blog post from today here shows that now she really has gone too far.

She has disabled an umbrella. Which presumably she will now accuse of being a scrounger if it seeks help. And not only that, as has been pointed out to me by tweeters (work avoiding scroungers the lot of them probably) @graemestirling @MrBoffly and @Mark241, in the same way that she considers the disabled "unpeople", she then calls the broken gamp an "unberella". Either she is coining a new derogaTORY term for brollies or she can't spell. And as an MP, both are equally bad.

Dorries has done lots of things in the past that have led people to scream for her sacking but this really is the giddy limit. She's got me to answer to now.

PS Speaking of sackings, as @melonhead999 points out: "I want to give the first policeman an award for sending her the wrong way, probably on purpose, I'd sack the second one"

Patronising old people

Eventually got back back from Manchester and did some radio stuff about Hermann Rockes' moral index for brollies rubbish. I have made my 486 year old Great Aunt Maud famous now by citing her right to give brollies to donkeys if she wants to be a senile old deluded bat who values legacy rich donkey brolly organisations as more worthy of her donations than people in need of proper shelter.

Incidentally, it was the UN's Patronise Old People as a Wrinkled Burden Day last week. It is disgraceful how we treat old people. We should make use of them. We should whore them out as soundbites in radio debates to make a point, like I do.

Or possibly we should just put them out to grass in the human equivalent of donkey sanctuaries when they become past it. I know that is what Hector Rule is insinuating with his "New Generation - Time for a Change " banner that he has put up in the office. I'd take it down if I had the strength but I need a lie down and a decent cuppa and to listen to the Archers and anyway I can't read it so it doesn't bother me that much and I said to Elsie, do you know Elsie? Her from number 68. Well anyway, where was I, I am 58 years young you know. I think...."

Next stop - the Tory smugfest in Birmingham. And I reckon I may have a few things to say to Gnat Pee about Bogg Society.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Bobgate - a Staines on my character

I am outraged. I don't know if any of you are aware of infamous political blogger Paul "Piss" Staines (aka Guido Fawkes). He is one of those unscrupulous gossip mongers of the worst kind (makes me look an amateur). It was him that was behind the "William Hague is gay" rumours recently. And yesterday he quite brazenly libelled someone as a benefit scrounger in a storm about Twitter addiction (click here for a useful summary).

But far worse than these two, and countless other examples of his unregulated and unaccountable shit-stirring, he has smeared me.

See here for the inexcusable offence in question.

Yes, that's right. He has called me Bob. I know that accuracy is not one of his strong points but this wilful distortion of facts is typical of just how low Guido will stoop. Indeed even lower than anything he has done before.

Bob. I ask you. I am not a Bob. Nob maybe. But not Bob.

True, I did call him a "monstrous arsehole". But, for once I checked my own facts before firing off a knee-jerk insult. And yes, all of the available evidence points to the fact that he IS a monstrous arsehole and any court in the land would agree with me.

Guido has refused to apologise, indeed has arrogantly sought to make light of his callous slur (see here).

Guido may scare other people but he doesn't scare me. Either he apologises for calling me Bob or I'll, I'll, I'll well I don't know quite what I will do. But it won't be nice. And may involve sarcasm. And possibly spoofery, satire and worst of all, parody. He won't like that. Especially as he obviously considers himself to be beyond it given the way he carries on.

It is behaviour such as Guido's that gives the arguably questionable practice of hiding behind a pseudonym to attack others a bad name.