Thursday, 21 April 2011


Andy Parson's tour stopped off at Cheltenham Town Hall this evening. I'd enjoyed the stuff he'd done as one of the main writers for 'Spitting Image' as well as 'Have I got news for you', 'Mock the Week' etc. but he's also excellent at stand-up...on stage for an hour & forty minutes and held the audience with a mix of everything from anecdotes (including a long story about a jar of Hellmann's Mayonnaise containing a pair of underpants (don't ask!), to political rants/musing.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Just like riding a bike...

Donned my brand new jodhpurs and my old hard hat to head off to the stables this afternoon...first proper riding lesson for ¼ century…There have been various comments which we won't repeat about me being in the saddle again, and my lesson prompted an audience of half the kids at the stables due to its sheer novelty value, but nothing deterred me and I absolutely loved the session...

However it has to be said ’sore’ would be a major understatement…& I have a feeling it may even feel worse tomorrow!
Didn’t stop me booking the next one though!

Monday, 18 April 2011

Got in to the office today to find that one of the female staff had made a formal complaint about a male colleague...he'd apparently put his hand on her shoulder a couple of times whilst he was talking to her and she deemed it 'inappropriate!' and had brought it to management's attention. Because it's been raised officially we can't just ignore it so had to do a formal investigation/interview/reprimand etc. The poor chap was genuinely bewildered about what he was supposed to have done and worried sick about how he was being perceived. After going through the process and then informing her it had been dealt with she said I didn't realise that it meant he would have to have the issue on his file. Sheeesh...! How can anyone be so unaware about the level of political correctness and the consequences of alleging sexual harassment nowadays!!!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

New recruit AWOL

We recruited a Canadian for a reasonably key post in Iraq. He had no knowledge of our business hence we brought him into the UK for a weeks induction. He did his stint in Head Office without incident and was booked to do Hostile Environment Awareness Training on Monday but never got to the location. The first I know is a call from one of the admin staff at the training centre asking where he was. The team rang his mobile, plus the hotel he’d been staying at in answer.

The hotel confirmed he had not checked out so I asked my staff to go round to his hotel to see if he was ok in case he had fallen ill. Security let them into his room where they discovered his wallet, passport and mobile were all on the bed but no sign of him! Who goes out without any of those bits? All seemed really suspicious so seeing he is a foreigner as well as an employee the duty of care bit kicked in and we took the decision to alert the police and report a missing person.

Upshot is he materialised back at the London hotel considerably later, more than slightly fact barely standing and completely incoherent. The hotel kindly contacted us and we let the police know they could call off the search, as he was alive. We gave him chance to sober up but with the instruction to report in today for an interview with the police, and another with my deputy who is a 50yr old ex Para Sergeant really wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of that with a hangover!!

The story goes he'd apparently decided he did not see the necessity to have HEAT training so had 'entertained himself' for the day without bothering to discuss or apprise anyone of this decision. Needless to say he’s been terminated before even starting his job. Can't believe he's been so stupid. He's given up his previous job and now blown it with us before he's even really started. What's weird though is he thanked my colleague for his flight tickets home and said he was going to Buckingham Palace to take some snaps of the Changing of the Guard....Unbelievable...

Monday, 11 April 2011

Pipe dream

According to Wikipedia,
A pipe dream is a fantastic hope or plan that is generally regarded as being nearly impossible to achieve, originating in the 19th century as an allusion to the dreams experienced by smokers of opium pipes.

Once upon a time when the threat of redundancy was hanging over me yet again at my previous employers, I mused what I might do with my pay-off and future. As a child I used to love going to Randolph's Cafe in St.Helens, and an ice cream parlour in Clayton Square, Liverpool which not only sold a multitude of flavours, cones, and toppings but also Belgian Waffles which were decidedly exotic in those days! I dreamed of opening a place which sold everything from Bourbon Vanilla, to Turkish Delight and anything in between. My vision went as far as interior design and clientele. Living in a tourist area with a high number of private schools on the doorstep I am only surprised no one else has stolen my plan.

So why has this idea come to the fore again? One of the aged parents & I took the younger Sprogletts to visit 'Antonios' in Billinge with it's selection of Lime & Liquorice, Lemon Meringue Cheesecake, Raspberry Ruffle, Blue Lagoon, & Bubble Gum ice creams. The whole concept of running somewhere like that still appeals massively... I love the idea of making people happy by providing such an array of delicious treats; for kids to have somewhere special where they can be indulged...

One day when I'm burnt out from this job I will retire and put on a pinny....

Saturday, 9 April 2011

You know you've stayed somewhere too often when

the hotel staff greet you by name!
So back In Dubai to do more interviewing...nature of this job means the candidates are somewhat geographically dispersed and whilst Skype is a good starter for 10, I certainly wouldn't consider making employment decisions on that basis.

Other than interviewing I met with our facilitator who is in the process of finalising the 'fit' for our new office on Sheikh Zayed Road which is opposite Dubai Marina, and next to the Jumeirah Islands. The place looks great and it'll be so nice to be able to interview somewhere other than a hotel foyer plus the views should be stunning!
As a lone female I think the Business Development Director and his girlfriend felt obliged to ask me to go out with them for the evening and I was trying to decide whether to be a gooseberry or stick with room service when one of our customers turned up - this naturally necessitated providing entertainment as part of a good client relationship management process so I didn't feel quite so much like a spare part!

It's funny how life works the course of conversation with the larger than life American convoy client over dinner & numerous Long Island Iced Teas it turned out he needed a humongous crane. This brought to mind the Middle Eastern Correspondent's many tales of old about using cranes to drop swimming pools into the rich's gardens as opposed to knocking down walls or messing up gardens. So introductions to Rallyman were made and I am hopeful that the convoy guy's problem will now be solved :o)

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Dining out

I was invited to a business presentation and formal dinner by the recruitment consultant who previously took me to the RAC Club. This event was held at 'the Cavalry & Guards Club' on Piccadilly - again very much along the lines of an old fashion gentleman's club. Fab building and loads of artwork of soldiers, horses, battles etc.

Initially my colleague and I managed to get misdirected and ended up at a book launch for the first error which was a bit of a farce as it was bewildering and amusing in equal measure...I have no idea who on earth I was talking to, but whoever they were, they were interesting company and didn't seem to mind us gatecrashers quaffing their drinks.

In the end however, we found the correct location. The guest speaker was Stuart Tootal DSO OBE who'd led our Troops in Afghanistan before resigning on principle at the lack of basic equipment. Very interesting chap who conducted a presentation around military versus corporate leadership and the associated issues. It wasn't your usual management theory, but far more practical, dare I say it, common sense approaches, which he's successfully put into place in a corporate environment. You can easily see why he commanded so much respect but what I really liked about him was he wasn't arrogant, genuinely appears to believe in empowerment, and obviously has stacks of integrity....major bit that's missing from most people in senior positions from what I see.

Following the talk there was an 'open floor'. I'm always slightly intimidated by the fact that I've not got a military background, and feel like I'm the token female but couldn't help contributing the the ensuing debate and really enjoyed the evening which was rounded up by a very nice dinner.