There's never a stungun around when you need one

Resilient – or Not

Over recent weeks, I’ve been having dealings with a number of companies I don’t usually deal with. There’s probably more on those to come, once the issues are sorted, but what’s struck me initially is just how ill-prepared they are for anything going wrong.

I’m not talking (necessarily) at the whole ‘disaster recovery’ level, where the business will die if it doesn’t have backups and a spare data-suite etc. hanging around on the off-chance. This is more at the customer level, but (to my mind) no less important for all that.

In three different cases over the last couple of months, I’ve been promised call-backs from various people, all of which haven’t happened. The excuses differ, but basically come down to “the person who organised that was away and no-one else knew anything about it“.  Now, I get it, stuff happens: people go on leave, get ill, or change jobs. (And sometimes all three) But that lack of handover, lack of communication, lack of back-up procedures and so on, is a worry.

What would have happened if – for example – I were a customer, wanting a quote or whatever, and expecting a response that doesn’t happen? Or when complaints are waiting to be handled, because the only person who knows about it has chuffed off somewhere?

For my own business and work, I make sure my end client always has access to a copy of the stuff I’m writing and doing. They get to see what’s changed, and can see that work’s being done, even if not necessarily the details and the ins-and-outs of the code. But they have access – so that if I get hit by a bus tomorrow, or go off with some kind of long-term illness (or any of the other options) then they can carry on. I don’t kill their businesses by being unwell, or dying.

In this age of technology, it’s not even that difficult. Calendars and emails can be shared, and accessed by colleagues (assuming the procedures are in place) when the owners are away. Out-of-office notifications can be set at the server level by IT if they’re made aware someone’s long-term ill etc., and emails can be auto-forwarded to someone else if the original person leaves.

It’s not at all difficult – but it still seems to be too much effort for any number of companies and organisations to set up. Lowest common denominators, and all that.

Missing Things

Over the weekend, I was down in London again and walking around the same area I know already.

Usually I’m pretty observant of stuff around me, and generally aware of my surroundings, so it was a surprise this time to suddenly spot something I hadn’t seen before, and had to divert and check it out.

The mysterious object turned out to be “Bellerophon Taming Pegasus“, a sculpture by Jacques Lipchitz, which is part of the Broadgate Art project, which is pretty fab in many ways.

As it turns out, I’ve seen a number of the installations from the Broadgate project – except I hadn’t realised that they were part of that project – and having finally found the website, I now want to have a wander and see the other bits.

Following on from that, we spotted another art piece round in a weird little back yard, which turned out to be part of the National Gallery’s Grand Tour, a high-resolution print in full frame, just hanging on a wall in a public place.

It’s one of the things I love most about walking round London though, to be honest. There’s always something new (or at least not previously noticed) to explore, as well as the way you can be walking along and suddenly find (for example) the tower of a 17th century church, places like the Worshipful Company of Fan-Makers, and umpteen other strange and wonderful things you don’t expect to see.


Among other things this week, the heat (or at least the heat in UK terms – in most places it’s barely temperate) also had another effect at my house.

Sometime in the week, I’d thrown away something sticky – I suspect one of the fresh lemonades that’d gone out of date – and while I was out at work yesterday, it’d obviously gone off, fermented, and popped the bottle. In the bin. Which meant that I came home to a kitchen floor covered in sticky gunk, that had then become an absolute snack-bar for flies. There were hundreds of the fuckers.

In the end it took a load of paper towels to absorb the majority of it, plus two full moppings of the floor before it stopped being sticky. The flies took longer to fuck off, along with judicious application of fly spray to annihilate the twats, but all was well in the end.

It was another of those things that I could’ve done without – but also it would’ve helped if I hadn’t thrown the sodding things in the bin anyway.


Too Warm

As usual, it’s July, so here in the UK we get a bit of a heatwave. Someone else (I believe it was George II) described the British summer as “Three hot days, and a thunderstorm” and that’s not far from the truth. This year, it started on Monday, and Tuesday was the hottest day of the year so far, hitting nearly 34° C (92° F)

I try to not gripe about the weather – I know, terribly unBritish of me – because well, realistically it’s just the British weather. We have a strange weather system/environment for a number of reasons, but in general we’re really remarkably middle-of-the-road, and thus not set up at all to handle extremes. (Or even what we refer to as extremes, and which other countries regard as “normal”)  That means we don’t fit air-conditioning by default in houses, and we over-insulate them. (Similar infrastructure lacks show up in Winter, when we grind to a halt in levels of snow that Americans and Canadians look at and laugh)  We’re just not cut out for long periods of heat – because we never get them. Maybe a week or so is usually the longest for any form of ‘heatwave’ without the respite of storms, rain, and anything else our weather system can throw at us.

As it is, I do feel the heat far more than I feel the cold. I’m naturally very warm (temperature-wise, if not personality-wise) which is great in Winter, but leaves me as a sweaty blob when we hit these hot days.

I try and prepare for it all – this year I’ve been organised enough to put a fan in the bedroom (which certainly helps at night) and got some cold and frozen stuff that’ll be useful. Additionally, a bottle of frozen water makes a great bag-cooler, and can then be really nice as it thaws out, while also keeping other drinks cold in the meantime.

In short, I do what I can. I’m not a massive fan of it at this point, but *shrug* it’s just part of life. I’d still rather the temperature were a few degrees cooler, but there we go, it will be in a couple of days time, I’m sure. I’ll enjoy it while it’s here – sitting out in the sun at lunchtime, and as it cools down a bit in the evenings, or getting to the coast when I can – and that’s all to the good.

There was going to be a point to all this, and I now can’t remember what that point was. Hey Ho.


It’s fair to say, the weekend just gone was pretty varied. Busy too, but definitely varied.

Friday evening was spent with friends seeing a small gig by Professor Elemental – very silly all round, but also very late, as he didn’t go on stage ’til 22:30 in the end. It meant I didn’t get home ’til nearly 2am…

Saturday morning was spent at the cinema, seeing the new Ghostbusters film. (Small review : Enjoyed it a lot, far more than I expected to, and it’s just entertaining silliness) Then in the evening I was over in Cambridge, going for a thoroughly enjoyable and fantastic meal at Midsummer House.

Then on Sunday I was awake by 6am, and generally too warm. So one “oh sod it” moment later, I was on the way down to Whitstable and Tankerton, and spent the day by the beach, roasting quietly.  Happily and fortuitously, it turned out that Whitstable Castle was having a food fair, so that was lunch sorted. And then mid-afternoon driving home, looking at all the queues on the other side of the road and thanking God I wasn’t involved in it all, considering how hot it still was.

Finishing off with a quiet evening catching up on recorded TV etc., it was a very pleasant weekend – but definitely surrounded by all the random…

Brexit – A Prediction

Today the UK has changed Prime Minister, with Dodgy Dave stepping down, to be replaced by Theresa May.  It’s going to be an interesting time, to say the least.

My own prediction now for the Brexit process will be this :

  • Brussels won’t allow any negotiations to happen until the UK has stated it’s intent to leave the EU, by signing Article 50
  • UK Government won’t sign Article 50 until the basic negotiations have happened, or at least are happening

And so, we’ll have a deadlock – where the UK Government can portray Brussels as “The Bad Guys” who won’t allow us to leave, because they’re being too harsh.

And that, I suspect, is where it’ll all stall, a total impasse that means the entire Brexit thing will gradually fade from the public mind.

Life Stripped Bare

This week, Channel 4 had a one-off programme called “Life Stripped Bare“, which turned out to be pretty interesting.

It was basically about how people handle having no possessions. All their items, furnishing, clothing – everything – is taken away and put in storage, leaving them with absolutely nothing except the walls of their homes. It was slightly gratuitous, as all the participants had to strip off, leaving them to start the process completely naked. I understand the reasoning for it, but yeah, there seemed to be a lot more focus on that than was strictly necessary.

Each participant (a single woman, a house-share of a man and woman, and another house-share of two men and a woman) was allowed to get back one item a day from storage – although in all three cases, that storage unit was at least half a mile away, so they had to make the effort and journey in order to get those things. In autumn/winter. The first couple of days, where clothing was limited (to say the least) showed off their inventiveness all round – and the single woman in particular, whose first choice was a bolt of material, from which she fashioned a load of things, rather than just one thing.

It was interesting though, seeing what the people valued, what they couldn’t live without, and then what they did once everything was returned.  Naturally, with the participants being late-twenties and early-thirties, one of the things they had real problems living without was their phones, and being pretty much permanently connected to the world.

It also made me think about my own attitudes to possessions, what I have, what I value, what I could live without if I chose to. I think a lot of that would come down to semantics, for example whether “books” counts as one possession as a whole, or whether each one is an individual possession.

All told, there’s a lot I could live without if I had to or chose to. I wouldn’t want to be reduced all the way to zero possessions – I don’t think anyone truly would – but I think I probably could handle a significant reduction if I had to.

Anyway, it was an interesting programme, and made for some interesting thoughts – which I may write more about at some point in the future. Or not. We’ll see.

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