Thursday, 26 February 2015


Image result for alex katz

There is a new exhibition of paintings by Alex Katz just opened in London. He is American and a contemporary of Warhol [he is 87 years old].
Not sure myself, although all the usual critics are going bonkers over it.

Friday, 20 February 2015


Is that a yes or a no?
What was the question?
Yes or no.
Well what would you like to do?
I’m asking you.
Well possibly…
Is that a yes?
Don’t hector me.
I didn’t mean to hector.
Why are you being so belligerent?
I’m not being belligerent. I just want an answer.
You’re so unreasonable.
It’s a simple question. Yes or no.
Don’t bully me!
I’m not bullying, I’m asking a reasonable question.
Because you know the answer you want.
I don’t. I don’t care. I just want to know what your answer is.
You’re just like my father.
I’m nothing like your father!
Now you’re shouting at me!
For fuck sake! Yes or no?
You’ve got a problem, you know that?

Image result for toddlers playing
from wednesdays Guardian

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


Image result for jigsaw puzzle

Leadership; can it be taught? Possibly, actually. Its like anything else, if you want it badly enough, you will put everything else to one side and pursue it until you find it, or are defeated.
What is it? At its most basic I suppose it is about implementing plans and motivating people. I’ve done that. When you own the business, it is easier than if you are a mere manager, doing someone else’s bidding. I have been in both situations in my life. When you are the business owner, you have to learn leadership fast because if you don’t, good people will depart or worse, leave and start up on their own taking your clients with them. When you are working for someone else and it is clear that they are calling the shots, it is harder I think. Staff will follow you and defer to you as long as they feel you are making the right judgements and decisions but the grass will always seem greener elsewhere to some people and you have to accept that.
Just let them go.
You can go on leadership courses and I have been on a few; it’s all very well of course trying to motivate a salesman who is a law unto him or herself but when you are confronted with the situation, you either forget the good advice you got on that course last March or find that your problem is rather different to the theoretical one you dealt with in class.

This mini-post was prompted by someone recently telling me about a leadership course she had attended where they all formed teams [been there?] and given a jigsaw puzzle to assemble. Without the picture.
She straightaway started looking for corners and edges but someone else on the team was a leader. This person turned the pieces over so you could only see the brown cardboard side . . . . no coloured pictures . . . and that transformed the task. It was still difficult but you were now putting together random pieces without the distraction of blue sky/blue sea/ blue smoke/ blue icebergs.



Image result for wolf hall tv

For me Hilary Mantel is unassailable. I wouldn’t wish to get into a conversation about who is the greatest writer in English just now; but for me at least she is the benchmark for English language prose fiction. Of course, you miss her voice in the TV production; she didn’t write a script, she wrote a book. The pictures are wonderful still, however; it’s just a different [fabulous] experience.
So I am a fan for whom it could have been totally studio-bound with a cast of nobodies. Instead of which it is all shot on location with the cream of British acting, production, directing and set-decorating talent. Could have been filmed on the sound-stage; would have been easier. Notoriously difficult to film on location, even more so in historic houses where sound and light bounces off the walls yet somehow you still have to hide the cables and wires. But definitely worth it.
So disappointing to read on the blogs that viewers find it boring and slow. BBC loses a million viewers, according to the Mail. Interiors are too dark, it says on IMBD. I think this is the Game of Thrones effect; there has to be a rape or a murder every five minutes to keep viewers engaged but if HBO made it it wouldn’t be slow; wouldn’t be deep; wouldn’t be great Art.
Rylance’s minimalist acting is mesmerising; Lewis, compelling. Grace with her angel wings, gone in a breath.
I don’t actually watch much television. Two hours max in any one day. I’m a radio person who reads books really. I may not be the best qualified person to post about Wolf Hall in other words but I love it.

Sunday, 15 February 2015


Image result for st helier jersey

A few years ago I had to drive to the island of Jersey, which if you don’t know is fourteen miles from the coast of Normandy in France and a hundred and thirty miles from Poole in England. No-one would contemplate driving to an island; you would take a boat or ferry or fly there.
My company did a fair amount of work on Jersey, yes all the way from Team Valley and in 2004 we won a large contract in St Helier that needed numerous meetings. Previously, for other projects I had always flown; this is a pretty straightforward flight by prop plane out of Heathrow. One regular flight out about ten in the morning and one return flight per day in the afternoon at half-five. Unfortunately at this time, due to illness, my doctor had advised me not to fly for six months so I had to find another way of getting there.
What to do? I just couldn’t take a week over it; I had a business to run.
These days there are a wide selection of ferries available from either Poole or Portsmouth. The fast ferry from Portsmouth for example only takes four hours but back then there were only two ferries per week and the journey took almost thirty-hours; I assume the ships were geared towards truckers. Poole by the way is a 7hr journey from Gateshead non-stop by road or six and a half hours by train with about two-million changes.
So, no-go.
There is a ten-times a day commuter ferry from St Malo. Only takes twenty minutes; plus, I wouldn’t need my car because the meetings were all in St Helier, just a five-minute walk away from the ferry terminal. If I could get myself to St Malo by say ten-thirty, take my meeting on Jersey, leave by say three, back to St Malo by four at the latest . . . .
Thats what I did.
So, leave Gateshead after work around four. Drive to Dover 5hrs. Car ferry across to Dunkirk 2hrs [24 crossings a day]. Drive down the French A84 to St Malo, 5hrs; meeting, back up to Dunkirk and home the next day. Knackered, but home. Drove through the night; every French radio station was playing electronic disco music. Couldn’t find Bizet or Debussy anywhere.