Archive for June, 2010

RIP another piece of my youth

Nicolas Hayek, the man who founded Swatch has just died. It came as a surprise to find that the company only formed in 1985, because I think that by 1986 everybody I knew owned one. They’re still going but, like Benetton, a brand of a particular time is usually for the time.

Our feelings about CCTV images

There is something deeply disturbing about CCTV images. The reason for this is very simple. It’s because the news media habitually use them to show us the events in the immediate build up to something dreadful. Often the images depict normal scenes from life, people on trains, walking through a shopping centre, on the phone, holding hands. This is why such images are popular among film makers as a way of making us feel tense and uneasy.

I was thinking about this on a bus in London on Friday. The bus had a CCTV screen in front of the passengers showing jump cuts of the interior from different angles. But what was it for? To remind some of us we were being watched? To  remind the others that if anything happened, it was all on film? To me, the grainy figures on the screen just looked vulnerable.

Life in the fast lane

Life gets faster all the time. But it should still be fun.

Sweat the small stuff

Some of my best friends are German*


As soon as it became apparent that England would be playing Germany on Sunday, it was a matter of seconds before some idiot would start going on about the War. The tabloids have their own excuses for doing it but marketers don’t. Sure enough yesterday, the promotion pictured above was crapped into my inbox by the people at Village Hotels. It’s not just that it’s offensive in the way it uses a tired stereotype to sell something, but also that it’s so incredibly dull and stupid.

So farewell then North West Regional Development Agency

Not a title to trip off the tongue, but then nothing about this organisation was ever really digestible or transparent. It’s fallen victim to the new Government’s budget cuts but when it was set up by the previous administration I sent for an information pack to see what it was all about, especially to see how it might support my own business.  Its objectives were as vague as its budget was immense.

So it’s no surprise that one of the main criticisms all of the RDAs have faced is that they focus too much on the wrong stuff, not least on supporting big companies who don’t need that much help. It came as no surprise when three years ago the role of CEO went to professional glad hander and middle aged man in suit Steven Broomhead, the former head of Warrington Borough Council and principal of the local college, ie somebody with absolutely no experience in business whatsoever. He spent 1.5 billion in three years at the helm. I never heard from them once in the ten plus years they were in existence, although I have a registered limited company and did try to find out what they could do to help. Couldn’t tell you of any tangible achievements for small businesses at all really. I can only conclude their demise is neither here nor there to the small businesses of the region.

And yes. I know I’m moaning.

Atomkraft – nein danke

I am in a hotel in the town of Waldshut in southern Germany. Waldshut lies directly on the German – Swiss border, marked on the south side of the town by the Rhine. The taxi ride from Zürich is extremely pleasant, sunny, livened by the (German) taxi driver’s conversation although he mistakenly identifies Manchester as the home of the Beatles when I tell him where I’ve flown from.

The view from my hotel window over the Rhine and the fields suffers from having the Leibstadt nuclear power plant in it. When it first comes into view the driver reminds me of some interesting expressions the locals use to describe the Swiss.

June 2010

Desk Jockey