United Kingdom – or not?

I generally avoid Politics here – especially where I can’t make much difference. But the Scotland decision is here. For the last week or so the campaigns have been on a knife edge – a 50:50 split seems to be the order of the day. Most of the surveys tend to ignore the ‘don’t knows’ – so they don’t really know.

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We will know the outcome shortly…

My real concern here relates to the great unknown. It looks to me that people are being asked to take a decision for a long term future (with a one-way street) but they don’t have the full details of how it might (or might not) work. The arguments about currency are a case in point – so if Whitehall decide not to let Scotland use the pound what will they do? I’m not saying that you should say ‘no’ on this basis – simply that it is critical, surely, to have these sort of issues resolved.

What does seem clear is that this is the way of Government. We don’t think anything through. We put in place policies (or ideas mostly) without proper thought about how the detail will work. And the Scottish referendum just highlights this. Perhaps this is what Parliament wants – leave enough doubt to let people choose the ‘safe’ route – keep the status quo?

But this vote could have a number of people follow their heart not their head. It could be an emotive judgement without worrying about what the future looks like in detail.

I don’t really think anyone wins here?

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Iphone6 and a watch…

Our timing at work is impeccable. Our contract expires with Vodaphone in a weeks time. This coincides with the launch of the new iPhone! This means we get to have some new toys to play with. And after my disastrous flirtation with the Samsung I can’t wait to get my hands on an iPhone 6 plus!

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I’m hopeful that Apple have finally listened to us about the appalling battery life of my 5s. Because other than that it is pretty much perfect. And a new bigger screen should be a welcome addition to the feature list. Perhaps that’s my age?

It also looks like our new contract will be on the 4G network. I’ve been playing with a borrowed data card for the last few weeks – it’s amazing!

But there is also a much leaked and unsurprising toy for 2015 – the Apple Watch. Wearable tech as the moniker goes has really failed to catch on. I have a Jawbone UP – which is great for monitoring steps and sleep (!) but has limited features after that. Other tech bracelets and watches just don’t seem to have caught the publics imagination.

But if anyone can buck the trend it is likely to be Apple. They have a habit of making things that you never really wanted and making you want them. I definitely want an Apple Watch!

And with the watch sci-fi really does come to life. This sort of device was in the comics when I was a kid (a couple of weeks ago according to some) – but is now (nearly) reality. Making calls from a watch? Reading a letter (aka email) on your watch? And amazingly telling the time too?

I think they will buck the trend – but which model will I choose…

MIPIM UK – will it work?

If you drop by here regularly you’ll know that I am frequent visitor to MIPIM – the annual property show in the South of France in March each year. This year was my 10th visit. Although a subject of ridicule; this is a tough show. It is four days of meetings, from noon until the early hours. It’s a brutal networking show.

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In October the organisers are bringing the show to London – for three days. MIPIM UK will be on a smaller scale but nonetheless important. It will be held at Olympia (a pretty miserable substitute for the Croisette in Cannes?). A number of cities are going – including Nottingham.

It is suggested that there will be 100 stands and 3,000 delegates (compare that to 25,000 people in Cannes!).

The real question will be whether this will work. Less people, less inspiring location, no yachts and October in London?

I hope that it does, I have my delegate pass and I have meetings arranged already.

These events are what you make of them, but I can’t help but wonder if this will easily transfer into London. It isn’t intended to replace the Cannes show, but supplement it. I guess only time will tell – it will be easier to get to and from …

Pray for sunshine?

Squash – round up

I went back to work for a bit of a rest last week; virtually a week of running the European Club Championships was quite an undertaking. It took an enormous amount of effort on the part of many people. By all accounts it was a success.

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You can see all of the results here – and see hundreds of images taken at the event.

We saw some inspiring squash in the week – by some world class players. Nick Matthew, Adrian Grant, Simon Rosner all featured. As did Laura Massaro. These are players at the top of their game – if this had been tennis this was the equivalent of Roger Federer coming to Nottingham!

But this is squash and doesn’t have the kudos of tennis. We have to work much harder as a sport to get the coverage. We are trying to do this.

These pro’s were a credit to the sport. Nick and Laura are ‘celebrities’ on the circuit – both have world rankings of 2. Both won medals at the Commonwealth Games and yet they happily posed for photographs and gave autographs freely. I know that this sometimes gets in the way of the training and pre-match rituals – but neither complained once.

In fact, Laura played one of our mad keen juniors – just one game. But without doubt this made Olivia’s day – and possibly year. These moments are priceless and, in my view, were the real highlight of the tournament.

The tram that just never quite arrives…

I try to avoid being negative about this fair city – but …

We are having a new big train set in case you haven’t noticed. And when it is done I’m sure it will be great. But my office (at NG2 Business Park) remains a place that bears the brunt of the significant work being done to deliver this project. Works started in May 2013 – I didn’t keep all of the newsletters (number 16 arrived yesterday). But here is the timeline issued in the November 2013 issue :

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So ‘finishing’ in April / May 2014.

In May 2014 though there was another newsletter setting out some new arrangements for me to get to the office and this, “We apologise in advance for any inconvenience these works may cause you, and would like to assure you we will do all that we can to keep disruption to a minimum”.

On 9 June “The works at the ng2 junction and on Enterprise Way are expected to be substantially complete during this summer. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience that these works may cause you, and would like to assure you that we will do all that we can to keep disruption to a minimum”.

On the  11th August another update including, “As you will be aware, works to install tram tracks and the ng2 tram stop have been taking place at the ng2 Business Park on Enterprise Way, as part of the expansion of Nottingham’s tram network to Beeston and Chilwell (No shit Sherlock)…. The permanent traffic lights at the entrance to ng2 (the Queens Drive / Enterprise Way junction) are now expected to be in use in September, once they have been connected to power and tested, when the current turning restrictions will be lifted. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience these works may cause you, and would like to assure you we will do all that we can to keep disruption to a minimum.”

Yesterday there was great news, “The main works at the junction are now expected to be complete in October, at which point the traffic restrictions on the Queens Drive / Enterprise Way junction will be lifted. We apologise in advance for any inconvenience these works may cause you, and would like to assure you we will do all that we can to keep disruption to a minimum.”

So, other than the repeated apology works are expected to be complete in October. Note that there is no year …

 

Serious Squash!

As I mentioned in my last blog – my life has been somewhat taken over by a small squash tournament at The Park Nottingham!

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The tournament started earlier today – involves 20 European Teams (12 men and 8 women) competing for the Titles “European Club Champions 2014″. You can follow it if you are interested here.

Today we have seen the World Number two in action on our show court – Nick Matthew played at 9am today and beat Lewis Walters the Air-IT Nottingham number one player. But we have also had Laura Massaro in the club – she is world raked two as well – she plays tomorrow. This afternoon Simon Rosner, WR12 played and won. This is world class squash – all in The Park.

If you’re local and can get down – do come and see us. It’s free entry!

Squash really does deserve a place in the Olympics 2020 – and we are seeing great publicity. Laura was filmed this afternoon for the BBC as you can see.

The Nottingham boys held their own today – their first match was drawn 2-2. The ladies fared less well losing 3-0 – boys play four matches, girl three.

Onwards and upwards !!

Doesn’t time fly when you are having fun…

Sorry I have been a bit quiet! It’s probably the longest period between blogs since I started in 2009!

There’s a couple of reasons – life at the Squash Club has been more than a little hectic – last week we completed the refurbishment of our gym – with a £55,000 investment. It looks amazing. This week the Club plays host to the European Club Championships – and I get to play Tournament Director. With 20 teams from across Europe the logistics have been challenging.

Oh, and work life has been manic too. Good manic.

The blog might have a bot of a one track flavour this week around the squash – so apologies if you don’t play (you should). But not todays blog.

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On Friday I was in St Helier, Jersey – for the day. I had to go to a client meeting. I fully accept that 99% of readers will regard this as somewhat glamourous. A 5.30am start is far from glamorous for me. But I get where you are coming from. A couple of weeks ago I blogged about being ripped off on these flights.

If the red-eye flight out wasn’t bad enough we got delayed coming back. It was something to do with one of the members of the cabin having man-flu. So they had to train someone else up. We eventually took off – with little in the way of apology.

But the best part was arriving back at Birmingham. The plane had obviously been worked hard so was put in a sleeper bay – miles from the airport. So we had to get a coach. Except it wasn’t there. It took 10 minutes to arrive. I just wonder how this works – surely our arrival wasn’t a total surprise to the airport? And we were late so the bus thing might have been early? It never ceases to amaze me how this whole flying function works – or rather doesn’t.

It really must be the only client facing industry in the world where the customer really is the last in line. And the only industry where delays and problems are so frequent that apology is a pointless emotion.

Rant over. On to happier stuff next time – promise!

What do you get the man who has everything?

It’s my Birthday today apparently. As my late father would say, I’m as old as my tongue and bit older than my teeth.

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Each year I get asked the (nice) question about what I want for my Birthday. This is a tough one – I actually don’t want for anything. Apparently if I want something I buy it. This isn’t actually true because I want a Porsche Cayman GTS.

When I was a boy I wanted a Raleigh Chopper – which was the equivalent of a Porsche to a 7 year old. I don’t want you to feel sorry for me – but I never got one. They were too expensive and so I had a second hand model. I also have a suspicion – never proven – that my parents considered the drop handlebars of the Chopper to be ‘dangerous’. And I was precious. Clearly.

Yesterday – as if God himself was listening – Raleigh made an unbelievable announcement. They were releasing 400 special edition bikes – in Emerson Fitipadi John Player Special colours. Replica Raleigh Choppers!

I’m now the proud owner of an order form for one. It arrives in late September. It’s fair to say that I’m excited – if not a little disappointed with the lack of it today.

The reaction so far seems to rather muted. “Where are you going to put it”, “Are you actually going to ride it”, “Why”.

I really can’t understand why there isn’t universal envy.

The answer to the question at the start is obvious to me – as it has been for the last 45 years – a Raleigh Chopper…

The Fly BE rip off

I have to travel on business to Jersey at the end of the month with a colleague. We have clients in St Helier and we need to see them about a number of their property assets. Last time they came to us – it is our turn to go to them.

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After having booked two flights for a day trip (It is a long day!) we, unfortunately heard form the client that he had been called away unexpectedly. We needed to re-arrange for two days later.

I have no issue with paying the difference in the flight costs – in this case £9.00 for each of us. I don’t even mind if Fly BE needed some recompense for some sort of administration fee. But the latter was £140. This is nothing short of outrageous. The whole change was done by me on-line. There was no necessity to speak to anyone. I did the work – a few clicks and a credit card number.

I do realise that there will be plenty of small-print which if I could be bothered to read I would be proven to be required to part with cash for a minor change. But the costs are disproportionate. The airline have lost nothing – we are still flying with them – just 48 hours later. It’s the same time flights from the same airport.

The flights were not cheap – £275 each – now that climbs to nearly £360! And we don’t have guaranteed seats or any baggage allowance…

It does leave a sour taste when you know you have been ripped off. Well and truly.

Office or no office?

I blogged back in April about ‘Agile Working’ – a term borrowed from my daughter. Yesterday I touched upon the market place and questioned the future of offices.

Cloud-Computing

In the last few months I have started to see a number of different spaces which people work from and, perhaps, a maturing of the technology we use – which will, in my view, change the way we work forever.

It wasn’t that long ago I used email for the first time – 1994. I remember having a blackberry for the first time – I think that was 2006? WiFi is now everywhere and my internet connection is 152Mb at home.

It seems that the server is now dead. We will soon be working from servers in ‘the cloud’. This means access anywhere with a connection. Digital dictation and photography are ‘normal’. FaceTime on apple and Skype are as good a videoconference facility as most people need – often for free (even around the world). Connectivity is getting easier. Most of this stuff can be done in a coffee shop.

So why do you need an office.

In London, where prices for space reflect the scarcity there are organisations who now operate a ‘not your desk’ policy. It is genuine hot-desking. You turn up and grab the nearest desk. Your ‘phone’ is now part of your computer – it switches between a landline and VOIP. Some firms have moved away from desk phones – relying on mobiles. I do to an extent – not many people call me in the office.

So the only real reason for an office is social interaction and organisational discipline?