Young professionals

At the Nottingham Means Business Lunch today I met Dan Miller – a 16 year old in a hurry! Dan has set up a network called Young Professionals – which he is launching at Antenna on 30th June 2015.

young-people

This is something I am really keen to support and encourage you to do so too!

I will be chairing the second ‘Round Table’ event which is promoted by the Nottingham Post later in June. After out last debate it was clear that we had a room full of passionate business people – but a real lack of young people represented. The next debate is going to focus on how we improve links between schools and businesses. We are also going to look at the role of colleges and what the bright young things need to grow and prosper in Nottingham.

We are keen to join the dots in the journey from school to work…

If you know any young people who might be interested in taking part – let me know! We need to get a good representation of the younger generation!

In the meantime – please support Dan in his endeavours!

It’s my Birthday soon…

So this week I have touched upon a potential present – but having carefully thought this through, a Tesla wouldn’t be a gift – just an ‘essential’.

spitfire

Then an email arrived in the week with a potential fantastic gift idea. It appeals to me as I do still have a Pilots Licence – although I might need to do some circuit bashing to get my hours back. I last flew about 15 years ago – but it is just like flying a bike.

Christies auctioneers are selling a Spitfire. A genuine rebuilt Spitfire in their special sale on 9th July.

You can read all about it here – and it is a fascinating story of how the Spitfire emerged from a Calais beach and was then painstakingly restored. It really is an amazing story and a true ‘one-off’.

It might stretch your wallet a bit though – the sale estimate is £1.5-2.5m…

But I’m worth it?

Squash and Charity

Last Friday was our first Inter-Firm squash tournament at Nottingham Squash Rackets Club.

Liz Cartwright and Jak Garratt - he was exhausted!

Liz Cartwright and Jak Garratt – he was exhausted!

We were raising money for Cancer Research UK. It is my firms chosen Charity for 2015.

I was delighted that we managed to get 17 teams to take part – each with five players. After four hours of play Nelsons Solicitors emerged victorious – winning the top prize. My firm came second. B&M Installations took best dressed team, my good mate Ash Cowdrey won Player of the Day and Novice of the day went to Sam Eades at Mabers. The Wooden spoon went to Cartwright Communications.

Of course the real winners were CRUK – we raised around £970 for them – thanks to generous donations, entry fees, raffle prizes and sponsorship from Smith Cooper and Innes England.

We managed to avoid any accidents and played 131 games! It was great to see so many people enjoying this fantastic sport, meeting lots of new contacts and raising money at the same time.

Our next Charity Event is the sponsored bike ride to Skegness we do in a couple of weeks time. I’m still training!

If you have a few pounds spare we have a Just Giving Page – here. Any donations would be more than welcome!

Saving the planet – one step at a time…

I think it’s time I put my name down to save the planet. My diesel guzzling car isn’t helping and I think this is bad. Although the bike rising is going OK (more on that in another post later) I still need a car.

tesla_P85D

On Saturday I may just have found the car I need. I had actually seen the car in San Jose last year – see my blog here.

I test drove a Tesla P85D. Not a drop of petrol or diesel passes over the threshold of this car. You plug it in. It costs around £7 to charge at home and then you drive for around 275 miles. No Road Tax, no London Congestion Charge, zero emissions. Tree hugging as standard.

It was simply awesome. And blisteringly fast.

The car has some features which Apple might regard as killer apps. First there are two modes for driving – ‘Sport’ and ‘Insane’. The latter is necessary as far as I can see. Then there is a James Bond mode – changing the screen icons and images to the amphibious Lotus! It will park itself and come back to you later (useful if it is raining). It has ‘auto-pilot’ too allowing you to take your hands off the wheel and allow it to drive – presumably so you can do your emails?

But, as you can see, it looks like a normal car. It drives like a supercar – getting to 60mph in 3.1 seconds.

On the road it is around £80,000 – but the tax breaks are massive.

I was surprised at just how good it was. And to think that it will be saving those rainforests too .. a no-brainer?

It’s the economy stupid

I usually avoid politics on my blog as it can be devisive. I’m also so old that I remember when your voting intentions were private. I have cringed over the last few weeks at some Facebook posts I have seen. I have questioned ‘friendships’ having read some quite outlandish posts.

economy_stupid

But there was an outcome last week and, whilst, ‘narrow’ it is a result. I think there were a few key pointers. Firstly, people when uncertain will revert to the status quo. Secondly, Miliband didn’t look a ‘leader’. Thirdly, the economy is rather important. We are also in a fragile recovery and Cameron did win that message.

We found out in the campaign that he carried around the ‘joke’ letter Liam Byrne left for his successor in the Treasury as he left office in 2010. It famously said, “I’m afraid there is no money, with kind regards – and good luck!“.

So, life returns to normal?

Well, not quite. The column inches since Friday morning have been awash with a feisty little Scottish lady – Nicola Sturgeon. She clearly hates the Tories and is not afraid to say so. She is keen on getting her message across – she’s not having anything to do with England wanting to balance the her books. Scotland is not having austerity any more. We can – but she’s not. We’re not all in this together.

A couple of observations:

1. She is not an MP and has no more right to be in the House of Common than I do.

2. Her Party, whilst impressive, is in opposition. As far as I can see they can’t ‘demand’ anything.

3. The undertones (and I may be wrong here) seem to be that they want independence – certainly from any frugal fiscal policy. But I thought the people voted on this? And not in favour?

It will be interesting to see how this plays out over the next few weeks, months and years?

In the meantime – business as usual?

The NHS – who pays?

I had the misfortune to spend 5 hours of my life in Nottingham A&E at the weekend. It is an eye-opening experience – especially after dark.

A_and_E

I had plenty of time to ‘people-watch’. I observed three principle categories of folks (customers as my mum so eloquently put it!). First are the sporty types who have suffered at the hands of some physical exertion. The second are old folks who have fallen or similar. The third are those who couldn’t quite hold the volume of alcohol (or drugs?) which they thought they could.

One of the latter category I had the pleasure of sitting next to for 20 minutes. He was having a CT Scan – he told me he had been seriously messed up in a fight and wondered if he was going to die. I told him, helpfully I thought, that we were all going to die. At least that kept him quiet as he contemplated this profound proposition.

He was drunk.

I was reflecting on Valencia last week – a place where alcohol is quite freely available at breakfast (I saw more than one person drinking a lager with their breakfast). What I did;t notice was any drunken behaviour – although I know it will exist.

But I also know that in Spain if you are carted off with blues and twos in an ambulance – you get a bill for the pleasure. It seems to me that this is an entirely reasonable proposition. This is, after all, self-inflicted injury. It is only you who pours the drink in. And if you can’t handle it why should we all pay?

Some have suggested that it would be difficult to police and administer – but surely the costs of that need to be administered. There is little incentive to offer a value for money service. After all – you are probably having your life saved?

Virgin Media and BPO Collections

You might remembered that I blogged about my attempts to leave Virgin Media on behalf of my mum – that was back in January. You can read the blog here.

Matters have not improved. Despite the debacle of trying to leave this corporate giant – the sour taste continues. Although I believe I gave them notice to terminate my mums phone and TV service they disagree. They want £54. And I’m not paying on a point of principle. I did give them notice. They recorded the call.

This has caused them some issues. Richard has appointed a debt collection agency. BPO Collections of Glasgow. They fall into the category of single cell amoeba. Their job is to harass and badger you until you pay. I have refused and told them so. In fact I suggested they issue legal proceedings.

They have adopted a new tactic. They have somehow got mums mobile number and are now calling that. Their conversations with her must be interesting as a Parkinson’s and Dementia sufferer this sort of detail is going to be a struggle. But she was a little distressed by them asking her for money in the week – fortunately someone else was there with her and told BPO to call me.

They just did. I’m on a train back from London. They want me to read out her ‘security’ details. I suggested I couldn’t on a busy train. There was a sense of deja vu for me. I had a similar issue with Vodaphone last year (what is about telecom companies?).

Me and the nice girl from BPO agreed that we weren’t getting anywhere and parted company.

I know how they are paid – it is purely on results – but the way in which we are treated is nothing short of disgraceful. As for calling people who cannot deal with their own affairs – that is over-stepping the mark. The rules of the game have now changed.

No more Mr Nice Guy.

Valencia – now that’s what I call Architecture

I was in Valencia at the weekend – catching up with my little girl and hearing all about her Yoga training!

Valencia_2015-5153

It was the first time we had been to Valencia – and I was impressed. I had heard great reviews about the architecture and it doesn’t disappoint.

It is very much a City of two (or three) parts. The third part is a one that the tourist need not see – blocks of apartments thrown up in the 1960’s and 70’s – we’ll gloss over that!

The old town is just an amazing maze of windy streets with buildings nearly touching in parts. It is very easy to get lost – even when you have a sense of direction. There is real history here – played out over thousands of years. The Churches are incredible – the Cathedral is just stunning. They also have the Holy Grail – which took some finding – as it rightly should! A trip to the top of the Cathedral tower was a test of fitness – 207 steps was the price to pay. But the view was worth it.

The central market is an example of how we should shop for food – no vacuum packed, ‘pretty’ food here. Fresh and cheap. This is a proper market and the colours, sounds and smells are an assault on your senses.

But the real treat for me was the modern architecture – principally around the City of Arts and Sciences. It sits in the drained riverbed of the former River Turia. There are four key buildings – El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe, L’Umbracle, L’Oceanogràfic, El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia.

Each is completely ‘mad’ in terms of what we expect buildings to look like. But theses are works by two very forward thinking designers for the 21st Century – Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela. Calatrava’s blinking eye at the Planetarium is just brilliant.

It helps when the sun shines and you see these white structures against a deep blue Valencian sky – but this is exciting architecture. It challenges and it has a wow factor. It is architecture we need more of?

Squash and Charity – Cancer Research UK

I mentioned yesterday that I am coming to the end of my tenure as Chairman of Nottingham Squash Rackets Club. I spend a lot of time in the club – I still love the game and play as much as I can.

cancer-research-uk-logo1

A few months ago I was approached to see if the club would be willing to host an inter-firm tournament – in an effort to raise money for charity. As my firm have nominated Cancer Research as our Charity of the Year 2015 – this seemed like a great idea.

So the date is set – Friday 15th May 2015.

It will run from lunchtime – through the afternoon until we crown one form the winners. Entry is £25 for a team of 5. The team must be mixed and contain one ‘novice’. There will be some judicious handicapping as well to give everyone a chance.

My firm, Innes England are co-sponsoring the event with Smith Cooper.

We already have interest from a number of firms but are hoping to get as many people involved as possible. We want to raise money for CRUK and have a networking and social afternoon.

If you haven’t played (or are a bit rusty) we are running some sessions with coaching – for free – in the run up to the day.

If you can’t get a whole team together – we have a team of waifs and strays who are still looking to recruit bandits players.

You can contact me at tim@nsrc.co.uk for more details if you are interested.