Robin Hood – just for the record….

if you are a regular to this little part of the blogosphere, you will probably know that I was part of the Sheriff’s Commission a few years ago. The Commission was set up with a view to making the most of our best asset and world-wide brand. I went with the Sheriff of Nottingham to America in September 2009 and we prepared a report which looked at what made a World Class attraction.

The Sheriff of Nottingham, Leon Unczur, being interviewed on our USA trip 2009

We also identified a number of people and organisations who were pretty skilled at delivering these attractions. We had meetings with them and they all, without exception, believed that Nottingham was more than capable of delivering a world class attraction.

Then the Sheriffs Commission was all but disbanded – the reality was that it had become too large. Decisions and a coherent direction from big committees is difficult. So a small group was formed with Ted Cantle – former CEO of the City Council – at its head. I was asked to join the group – but a few days later was asked if I would step down due to a ‘conflict of interest’. I did do, because my time at the Commission was given gratis. I know when I am not needed or wanted. The conflict was tenuous to say the least!

I did express a view to Ted that I thought his group lacked ambition – I was concerned that the Castle was being painted and the contents were being shuffled around.

This week in the paper there was news that the big attraction isn’t on its way anytime soon – due to the economic downturn. The economy is in a different place from when we were in the USA just over two years ago.

I can agree with the latter, but I can’t help but express my surprise that progress hasn’t been made. My surprise is simply that I know there are people out there who are still interested in progressing the project…

Seven Billion People…. a few minutes ago

There was news today that the population of the Planet had reached 7 billion – 7,000,000,000 folks crawling, walking and ambling around. I mentioned before that to visualise this you need to fill a Post Box with sand – the individual grains add up to approximately 7bn. Alternatively put all the people side by side – and they would fill the greater Los Angeles area.

There has been spectacular population growth in recent years – in 1930 the number of bodies was 2bn, by 1960 it had reached 3bn. At the current rate of growth it is expected to hit 9bn by 2045. On the day I was born in 1962 there were 3,209,507,604 people about (including me).

Can the planet cope? Do we have the resources we need to survive?

We are pretty good at adapting, but resources are finite. As an example these people will all need fresh water – and of the water on the globe 97.5 percent of it is saline – of the other 2.5 percent freshwater, two-thirds of it is frozen…

Oil will almost certainly run out – so we do need to find sustainable fuel sources. Solar and wind are looking pretty good?

In the short term we may need to sort some housing out. Current estimates suggest that 134,000 new homes were built in the UK in 2010, the lowest number since World War II. It is reckoned that 230,000 new households are being formed every year. By 2025 there will be a housing shortfall of 750,000 in England alone. If this is replicated across the world, we will have a lot of people squeezed into fewer and fewer buildings?

There is just one thing though – who was the 7bn’th person. They deserve a prize!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Green stuff, Nottingham Tagged 000, 7, 7000000000, 7bn, , Fresh water, Los Angeles, people, Population, Population growth, United Nations, , World population, World War II

New York The High Line part two

It looks as though we might time our return to New York just right. We are heading back to the Big Apple in a months time; I was last there in January.

One of my favourite parts of the City is a public park which manages to blend old and new. Originally opened in the 1930′s the High Line fell into disuse in 1980 and was about to be demolished when a few people got together and elided it was with saving. It re-opened in 2009 was a Public Park. It is brilliant!

And the second phase has just opened – extending the present line by 10 blocks to the north. This is one of the City’s most interesting and unique settings. The High Line is a raised walkway with flower beds, benches, viewing galleries all built in the highest quality materials. It really is superbly executed. The first part cost a cool $153m to rebuild. The last part extends the line to approximately 1.5 miles and makes this a pretty long ‘park in the sky’.

This is a great example of how public spaces should be. It is really well managed, is unique in how it works – it weaves in and and out of buildings. It was part of a catalyst of things which helped reinvigorate an area (The Meatpacking District).

Sometimes it takes this sort of project to change perceptions and kick-start development.

Perhaps we need a few projects like this in the UK?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Green stuff Tagged High Line, Meatpacking District, Meatpacking District Manhattan, Metro Areas, , New York City, Park, park in the sky, The High Line,

Steve Jobs RIP

I didn’t get a chance yesterday to blog about the very sad passing of Steve Jobs. I was a sad day.

I can’t add much new but there were three quotes I saw in the day – which I thought summed things up really well, so my contribution is to shamelessly steal these..

Firstly, President Obama, “Steve was among the greatest of American innovators – brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he could change the world, and talented enough to do it.”

Secondly, the phrase he borrowed from Wayne Gretzky, “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”

And finally, an unattributed comment, “There are three apples that changed the world. The one in the Adam & Eve story, the one that fell on Newtons head and the one that Steve Job invented.”

All so very true of the genius of this man.

I think the world has genuinely lost one of the most influential people of our time. RIP Steve Jobs.

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged , Apple founder, Barack Obama, History, Pancreatic Cancer, Pioneers, RIP Steve Jobs, Steve, Steve Job, , , Wayne Gretzky

Price Fixing – or a coincidence?

We haven’t been to New York for a while so are planning a quick trip before Christmas. November is a great time of year for the Big Apple…

I have been checking on prices – ideally flying out on a morning flight and avoiding an overnight one back – they mess with you. I’m happy going into either JFK or Newark – and vice versa for coming back. We would normally fly Virgin Atlantic – I have thousands of miles (even if they’re not worth very much).

But we always check other airlines too. BA offers Premium Economy too – they call it world traveller. And they fly into JFK…

Imagine my surprise when I checked the flights….

Now that is what I call a coincidence. The same price – to the penny! You couldn’t make it up?

Come on Willie and Richard – tell me you didn’t have a chat about how much you would charge me to fly to New York? Or is this the most amazing coincidence ever?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged BA, Big Apple, coincidence, , Newark New Jersey, Premium economy, price fixing, Richard Branson, , Virgin Atlantic Airways, Willie Walsh

Lessons from golf?

I have never had a golf lesson in my life; my playing friends might suggest that it shows! I can normally hack around a course, but the flashes of brilliance are more than outweighed by some less than brilliant shots. Consistent I’m not…

But this isn’t a blog about golf lessons, but rather about the lessons we can learn from golf. I heard Rory McIlroy before his winning round at the US Open on Sunday being interviewed by the Sky Sports reporter. He was talking about “small targets”.

Small targets was a two-fold technique. The first, in golf, is easy. You aim at small targets – especially the 4 inch diameter one in the middle of a green. Hit it often, in few shots and you will win.

But Rory was talking about a technique of breaking a course down into smaller constituent parts. And this is a great method we can use in our lives. My late Partner in business, Alec Hardy, would always say that it was easier to have a job list of three matters than one of twelve. He could get through three and then start another three, rather than have the distraction of a large number of things. The larger the list, the more distracting the chatter from it all. This was McIlroys point – don’t worry about Hole 17 when you are on Hole five.

It is easy in our modern lives to get caught up in lots of jobs. My professional life is punctuated by hundreds of ongoing jobs – and sometimes trying to prioritise them is harder than the work itself!

So – bin all the long job-lists. Break them down into small targets. Make short wins – string a few together and you might win a US Open!

I am booked in for a golf lesson shortly. That will be interesting!

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business Tagged , Congressional Country Club, , Rory McIlroy, Sky Sports, small targets, Sports, U.S. Open,

Wollaton Park – another missed opportunity

I live very close to Wollaton Hall and Park – one of Nottingham‘s finest Elizabethan mansion houses surrounded by 500 acres of public open space. It really should be a treasure – like Nottingham Castle. Should be but sadly is not.

I was at the Hall at the weekend. There was a motor show – I though on for the whole weekend, but actually only on for Sunday. Never mind, there’s always the coffee shop and cafe. Sadly cappuccino gets mixed up for latte (a common problem).

We ventured into the shop – although it looked closed – I presume there was a power-cut – there were no lights on! And the stock was the usual tat. A girl behind the counter looked rather bored.

The highlight of the shop was above my head – a Mk1 Raleigh Chopper bike – built in 1970 – within a few miles of The Hall. I hadn’t realised that they stopped producing this iconic bike until 1984. The ape-bars, motorbike seat and central mounted gear change were the epitome of cool back in 1970. The price was £32 – which was clearly far too much for my parents – I never had one.

But back to the shop – and the Hall generally. The cafe is better than it was a few years ago, but they need to learn how to make coffee. The shop desperately needs sorting out. As does the visitor experience generally. The place looks unkempt. The grounds are more ‘wildflower meadow’ than neatly kept. The toilets hover around average.

Wollaton Hall is a great asset for the City, but we just don’t see it as such. I don’t think it would take a lot.

One of the great examples we saw in America 18 months ago was the use of volunteers (especially at the Getty Museum in Los Angeles). It wouldn’t be difficult here to do that? In the meantime this looks like another asset that wastes away and we miss another opportunity.

The carbon question…

Chris Huhne seems to be in trouble with the Mail on Sunday – who have devoted a number of weeks column inches in trying to bring him down for allegedly getting his wife to take his speeding points.

But there was a sideshow in this weeks paper which levelled an attack on him for the work he is doing on the UK’s green agenda. His Carbon Budget commits the UK to reducing its carbon output by 50% over the next 14 years. A tall order.

What was really interesting about the article was the language – it was suggested that in the policy-making bubble of the Palace of Westminster it is “settled” that there is such a thing as ‘global warming’. Even the most vocal of global warriors dislike the phrase and say the Scientific community don’t know for certain – it is work in progress. And the University of East Anglia (who were at the centre of the last ‘data’ storm) have now suggested that there has been ‘no statistically’ significant increase in global temperatures since 1995…

I have always been a sceptic of some of the stories that are put about. The low point was the Al Gore ‘An Inconvenient Truth‘ shambles. Someone should have told us it was a work of fiction – we all thought it was a documentary.

At the back of my mind is that we should take care of the planet – and shoving pollution out can’t be good in the long term. But we have to make sure that what is being done is relevant. If the UK ‘only’ contributes 2% of the Worlds emissions we need to prioritise. None of the big polluters (The USA, China or India) have carbon reduction commitments – if they did so, it would have an impact. Until you realise that the human race only account for 3% of the total carbon dioxide produced…

My research work on the correlation of values on green buildings is nearly complete – and it seems to show that the commercial markets are not buying into green buildings – but more of that later.

I have always said that we really do need some clear Scientific evidence to demonstrate that we are causing the problems. Then we can respond accordingly, but in the meantime – we will just go around in circles?

Are we real – part 2

It might help if we all pinch ourselves this morning – if it hurts, this is great news.

Yesterday, the World may have ended. As I write some of my blogs in advance, I scribble this missive on Friday night. Thus Saturday the 21st May hasn’t yet happened. I publish this on Sunday morning by remote control. So I don’t actually have to be here for this post to appear in the world. So, it could be that I’m not here, but then nor are you.

Thousands of people around the USA (there doesn’t seem to have been much coverage here) have spent the last few days taking to the streets and saying final goodbyes before Saturday, Judgment Day, yesterday, was when they expected to be absorbed into Heaven in a process known as The Rapture. Nonbelievers, they believe, will be left behind to perish…

And I thought Rapture was a song by Blondie. Not as good as Hanging on the Telephone, but good nonetheless.

Sorry, perhaps I am not taking this seriously. We could all have started to fade away to stardust and I am making jokes about pop music. Apologies.

Normal service will return tomorrow. If we are still here?

ps Check there’s no one missing nearby?

By Tim Garratt Posted in Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Bible, Christianity, end of the world, Judgement Day, Pop music, Rapture, Religion and Spirituality, , USA

Are we real?

I sometimes wonder if the internet is a good thing. I think it is on the whole, but it can also be a haven for spreading rumours – which if picked up enough can easily turn into ‘fact’. In the last couple of years you could be forgiven for losing track of reality. My suggested storyline goes something thus…

9/11 – was a carefully co-ordinated attack, but not by Al Quaieda. I think it was by Prince Phillip who had become bored with small time killings – like of Princess Diana. And the buildings at Ground Zero were demolished by TNT – not by aeroplanes. Fortunately we got a new President of the USA to sort the mess out – but worryingly he is not entitled to be President because he was not born in America. His papers are forged (photoshopped I think). He was born in Mexico. But the (phoney) President did manage to get some headlines in (not) capturing Osama Bin Laden – why won’t they show the pictures – because they don’t have him. He’s not dead. There’s no body – thus no murder. Conveniently they have chucked the body in the sea. So he’s got to be alive – which is why the Pakistani’s didn’t know he was there – because he wasn’t. He is alive and well with Princess Diana, Elvis, Lord Lucan, Red Rum and the real President of the United States. They are in a compound in Afghanistan – which is worth $1m. The latter fact is the only true part of the story – because everyone can value!

There is little point watching the news because they are all just puppets of our Governments.

Sometimes iit’s like we are living in a real life edition of The Matrix. I have to pinch myself to see which time zone I am residing in…

Still, the ‘authorities’ do sometimes make their own life a bit more difficult than they need to – surely we should get some of the facts right first time – did OBL have a gun and was his wife a human shield or not? The US seemed to make a meal of the facts – and the non-believers ammunition. And so the story rumbles on.

It wasn’t like this when Angela Rippon read the news – you believed her!

PS Have you noticed it is Friday 13th? Spooky….

By Tim Garratt Posted in Business, Grumpy Old Man! Tagged Angela Rippon, Conspiracy Thgeory, Diana Princess of Wales, Elvis, Friday 13th, Lord Luca, Osama Bin Laden, President Obama, Princess Diana, Red Rum, The Matrix, TNT, , USA, WMD