Archive for November 23rd, 2007

There is an elephant in the room…

I had the misfortune, some years ago, to spend one night and a morning at a ‘conference’. It bored me rigid. Unfortunately, given that I was was one of the visiting ‘unpaid’ speakers, I had no choice but to attend. The setting was an old country house, turned into a flash hotel. Dress code was smart casual. I had no desire to add to the herd of wildebeest all wearing chinos and loafers, and wore an old, but well cut, Crombie sports jacket, a blue shirt and jeans with Chelsea boots. I attended the Chairman’s introduction. Senior Chino wearers sat at a table on a raised dais. For some reason the ‘conference board’ reminded me of a Russian May Day parade in the good old days of Brezhnev. I took a place near the rear to observe the proceedings. Chairman Chinowearer told us that he was very pleased we were at the conference and welcomed us. It was then that he started using some very peculiar phrases, of the type parodied / analysed in The Office and, most recently, in a brilliant article in the Independent today.

We were, he told us, going to be doing some blue sky thinking and be pushing the needle. We would also be running things up the flagpole. Chairman Chino did not manage to use all the phrases identified in the Independent article, but he certainly swallowed the frog, made a big ask, said he would touch base with all of us and god knows how many times he managed to use the phrase paradigm shift.

Dinner followed. Fortunately two of the more senior attendees enjoyed their wine and left the earnest chinowearers to touch base with each other and we managed to get fairly over refreshed. As I was simply involved as a speaker at one of the next morning’s sessions, and not ‘part of team X’ , I was largely ignored by the delegates. I’m not a boy scout. I don’t like wearing badges, so I had left my badge in the conference pack given to me on arrival. Anonymity can be useful on occasion.

The next morning was dire. After breakfast we were invited to attend a focus group after which we would break out into workshops to do some more blue sky and out of the box thinking. As the Indie article pointed out… it was Alexei Sayle who said “Anyone who uses the word ‘workshop’ who isn’t connected with light engineering is a wanker.”

I took an executive decision to absent myself from the workshops and went off for coffee with another speaker. I did, however, attend the ‘Challenge’. This was truly fascinating. The organisers had an ex-SAS man to give an inspirational on survival. Fascinating talk. He made sense and spoke English. He told us, inter alia*, that it was important to have the will to live, that he had a very strong will to live and survive.. and that he would live until he was 150 to get all the tax he had ever paid, back as a pension. The Chino wearers just nodded. I thought it was actually rather a good joke and had the bad manners to laugh.

I detected an underlying anarchy/ hysteria brewing as the morning progressed. There was, clearly, an elephant in the room. Everyone knew that the conference was not going well – and it wasn’t. It was just too ‘urgent/eager’ and verging on happy clappy. But no-one said anything.

My own rather meagre contribution to the conference was to talk about the internet… or the information superhighway as my ‘session chairperson’ insisted on calling it. I got away with it… without mentioning the word ‘traction’ once.

Anyway… if you haven’t got the faintest idea what I am writing about….and if you want to ‘jump the shark’… read the excellent Independent article… and all will be revealed.


* post-ironic?

Read Full Post »

An interesting article in The Times today about barristers.

“In summary, solicitors should probably have the last word. They are prepared, the survey finds, to put up with what they say is barristers’ eccentricity and lack of people skills because they value their expert knowledge and advocacy.

It’s a profession that seems to draw those kinds of people ,” one said. “I don’t think it’s necessarily a problem; they can be extremely good advocates. You just can’t have a conversation with them.”

Frances Gibb on Barristers: What do we think of them?

Read Full Post »

That was what a week that was….

“Events, my dear boy, events”.

It was, of course, former PM Harold Macmillan who used this memorable phrase, but Gordon Brown seems to be being driven by events rather than driving events.

What an extraordinary week. 25 million records lost by HM Revenue & Customs, the Northern Wreck statement in the House, England crashing out of EURO 2008 (Brown did not attend this event after campaign by The Sun), yet another foot and mouth disease leak from Pirbright … Law Officers, the Crown Prosecution Service supremo, Lord Goldsmith, the current Attorney-General and Solicitor General coming out against an extension of detention without charge powers and … Admiral Boyce and several former Chiefs of Staff making a concerted attack on Brown’s unsypmathetic attitude to the armed forces in the Lords this afternoon.

The Times reported on this: ” I tell you, these men do not mess around. They not only know the SAS, they are the SAS. It was only modesty, and possibly because they were wearing smart suits, that prevented them from abseiling in”

Puppet Chancellor Darling will, no doubt, be looking forward to the weekend tabloids and broadsheets. The phrase systemic failure is being used more and more in the media. It has become a buzz word. Cameron and Osborne circle like buzzards. The Conservatives are nine points ahead in the polls – their highest poll rating since 1992.

Perhaps the HMRC CDs will turn up pasted to the front of one of the tabloid Sundays as a freebie this weekend? Or maybe it will be this CD?

As I continue to suffer from the delusion that this is a law blog… Victorian Maiden has comment on the Law Officers attitude to detention without charge.. and a wry comment about Lord Goldsmith’s statement that he would have resigned had Blair succeeded in getting a 90 day period through. ‘Vinegar Vera’?…

Former PM James Callghan used the phrase “Crisis? What crisis?”….

The Times is suggesting that Gordon Brown has nipped off to Uganda attend the Commonwealth conference to escape for a few days…

In the meantime…. I cannot drink Rioja until Sunday (Infra)… now… some may say… that is a crisis.


Fellow blogger (and ever vigilant) John Bolch over at Family Lore has a useful link for those of you who have children and may be worried about identity fraud.

Read Full Post »