Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Meeting Management

The morning meeting went on for far too long today - the diagonal stripes of sunshine across the table gradualy strightened to the vertical.

Inbetween mentally undressing the young and very beautiful and sharp and cool and lovely and cruel and ambitious project manager, taking the occasional note, and slurping Coke, the passage of the sun across the table and the diamond sharp winter landscape through the slats in the blind reminded me of John Betjeman's poem Upper Lambourne:

Up the ash-tree climbs the ivy,
Up the ivy climbs the sun,
With a twenty-thousand pattering
Has a valley breeze begun,
Feathery ash, neglected elder,
Shift the shade and make it run

Shift the shade toward the nettles,
And the nettles set it free
To streak the stained Carrara headstone
Where, in nineteen-twenty-three,
He who trained a hundred winners
Paid the Final Entrance Fee.

Leathery limbs of Upper Lambourne,
Leathery skin from sun and wind,
Leathery breeches, spreading stables,
Shining saddles left behind
To the down the string of horses
Moving out of sight and mind.

Feathery ash in leathery Lambourne
Waves above the sarsen stone,
And Edwardian plantations
So coniferously moan
As to make the swelling downland,
Far-surrounding, seem their own.

Great stuff. And she didn't say 'impact' once.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Shiny Happy People

After a dull and rather disappointing week-end, I’ve just had one of those all-to-rare ‘isn’t life wonderful!’ moments.

It’s hard to describe the emotion without sounding mawkish or sentimental.

But something about watching the young guys and gals playing table football while I ate my lunch in the rec room and half watched MTV over the new Richard Ford novel suddenly made me feel very happy.

Perhaps the protagonist Frank Bascombe (one of the nicest guys in American Lit) influenced me or maybe it was just the warmth of the room and its people.

When Will They Admit It?

Tom Tomorrow's website is here.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

When Love is Over...

The young and very beautiful and sharp and cool and lovely and cruel and ambitious project manager I'm hopelessly in love with used the words iMPActeD, and IMPactING, and ImPaCT several times during the meeting between four and five this afternoon.


To misquote someone or other:

"When love is over, how little of love even the lover knows..."


Monday, January 22, 2007

Portmeirion Gone Bad

Have just spend a vivid week-end with “T” in her house in Jaywick – a sort of Portmeirion gone bad. Built in the 1930s as a somewhat optimistic leisure industry project, the many holiday chalets quickly became permanent homes to people who couldn’t afford a full sized house. The Luftwaffe provided the final incentive to fill the place to capacity in the late 1940s and early 50s.

“T” lives in a perfectly good brick 1980s house surrounded by tiny wooden chalets in the notorious Brooklands part of the village, supposedly one of the most deprived areas of Britain. It certainly looks very strange, as if it should be on the Gulf of Mexico rather than the shoreline of Essex. The style is rather twee 1930s mock-Tudor single story bungalows (‘chalets’) in wood and concrete, with the occasional more daringly modern Art Deco ‘studio’ in concrete and pebbledash. The American feel is enhanced by the pot-holed ill-maintained concrete roads, which are laid out on a grid-pattern.

Brooklands is named after the
famous racetrack, and almost every street in the area is named after a famous car manufacturer of the period. The result is the kind of scheme a couple of ten year olds might dream up but adults would reject as too infantile: Austin Ave is next to Alvis Ave which is next to Humber Ave, next to Riley Ave. Essex Ave breaks the mood a little, but then it’s next to Vauxhall Ave, Lancia Ave and Fiat Ave. Best of all are the avenues named after cars nobody remembers now such as Lanchester, Singer, and Crossley.

Add the beach, the dunes, the Martello Tower, some surprising sunshine and “T’s” library of approximately 4000 books and you have the material for a good week-end.

Monday, January 15, 2007

The Very Bad Idea, Part 2

To view Part One, see October 2005. Yes, Bush has had that long (and the rest) to come up with an alternative strategy...


Thursday, January 11, 2007

Never Reinforce Failure

There’s a cardinal military rule taught at places like Sandhurst and West Point and Saint Cyr but is in fact as old as Homer, if not older.
The rule is this:
Never reinforce failure.
In other words, don’t throw good money after bad. Don’t waste more lives on an operation that has already failed. It’s almost impossible to make a bad plan succeed by throwing more resources at it, and the result is almost always to make a failure larger.
President Bush has just disregarded this golden rule. It puts in him notorious company such as Field Marshal Douglas Haig, Marshal Robert Nivelle, and even scum like Adolf Hitler.
To ignore this rule is the cardinal military sin, because it means you’re asking your people to suffer and die in vain
So I’m going to stick my neck out here and predict that another five brigades of American troops in Iraq will make no long-term difference. Another five divisions wouldn’t.
That the war, if one recalls it’s various justifications and objectives back in 2002-3 is lost, and that the only result of this reinforcement will be more dead and mutilated people on all sides.
After so many years, I shouldn’t really be surprised at Bush’s stupidity and pathological inability to face reality, but… I am. This is a last desperate throw of the dice - only he’s gambling lives rather than dollars.
The shock and awe at what he’s done today makes me angry and sad and bitter.
America and indeed the whole world deserve better than this pathetic, superstitious, stupid man.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Living the Dream

Wish I had something to write about but the first few weeks after Christmas always seem empty.

Highlights of recent days:

  • I've won an E-Bay auction for a Nissan Micra Haynes manual.
  • In the Top Gear book of Crap Cars, the Nissan Micra is described as gay. This may well be true - the Micra is the only car I've owned that makes you feel ridiculous when you lock it up in the multi-story carpark. The idea that anyone, let alone a teenage joy rider would do more than glance at it with contempt is absurd.
  • The Internet has helped me to diagnose that the Micra's input shaft bearing is failing. I already knew that the headgasket is leaking. Replacement of both these items is going to be 'a right bastard,' to quote The Sweeny.
  • We managed to play some tennis last Friday.
  • I seem to be one of the few people in Britain who isn't on a diet.

Hope to have something to actually write about soon.

In the meantime, happy new year.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

It Never Gets Any Easier

Back to work after 11 long days off...

It never gets any easier.